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Foundation Systemic Theory and Practice course

Gain a solid foundation in systemic theory and develop systemic skills you can use in your own work setting.

Study with us

By studying this course, you'll gain an awareness of the basic principles of systemic theory and how to apply these in practice.

Systemic therapy is an evidence-based approach used in a variety of different settings, including the NHS, social care and the non-statutory sector. It's more than just a method for working with families, as it provides a hugely valuable way of working with individuals, couples, teams and organisations.

Our course is grounded in reflexive and ethical ways of working, as well as providing the classic systemic texts and latest research outcomes that inform and shape the field.

Foundation in Systemic Theory and Practice

This foundation level course introduces you to systemic theory, practice and research and allows you to develop basic practice skills you can apply to your own work.


The course involves 11 days teaching days (one per-month) starting in late September at the University of Bath. You are expected to complete 120 hours of independent study in addition to these teaching days, this includes the time necessary for reading and all assignments.

Teaching days are always on Fridays.


  • Systems theory
  • Genograms and mapping
  • Inclusion and diversity
  • Policy, key concepts, code of conduct, research and evidence base
  • Structural and Strategic approaches
  • Milan and post Milan approaches
  • Narrative and Solution-Focused Social Constructionist approaches
  • Convening, assessment and systemic formulation
  • Adapting systemic interventions to different populations

Read more about the course's unit content and learning outcomes [1]


There are four assignments:

  • a 4,000-word case report (based on hypothetical practice)
  • an interview and 500-word reflection around an aspect of social difference
  • a 500-word critique of a key systemic paper of your choice
  • completion of a Reflective Log

Learning environment

Taught by systemic therapists and professionals from different service contexts, this course attracts many visiting lecturers from across the region.

You are taught alongside Doctorate in Clinical Psychology trainees, to add to the richness of learning.

The maximum group size will be 50 students, but teaching is specifically adapted to take this into account with lots of opportunities for small group work and role-plays, as well as larger group discussions.

You will be able to access University of Bath resources and facilities, including a range of workshops, to improve your academic skills.

Career prospects

By the end of the course, you will have a firm understanding of the different schools of systemic therapy, know how they fit in historic and contemporary contexts, the theories and concepts that underpin them and key therapeutic interventions championed by each approach.

On successful completion, you will be awarded 12 University credits. You can study the foundation as a standalone course or progress onto an intermediate course at any institution where this is offered. The University of Bath will offer an intermediate course from September 2024.

Many of our students are successfully selected to complete qualifying master's level training in systemic psychotherapy courses (not available at the University of Bath) and go on to become registered family and systemic psychotherapists and supervisors. However, eligibility for this level of study will be dependent on your previous experience.

Fees and funding

Fees and funding information for this course.


The course fee for 2023/24 is £2,710.

There can be flexibility with prior agreement on payment of fees.

Course fees may increase annually. You can view the fees for 2023/24 entry as a guide.

Learn more about how we decide fee status.


You will be required to attend teaching sessions at our campus in Bath. Travel and accommodation is not provided, you should budget for this.

Professional accreditations

Our foundation course is accredited.

Course entry requirements

Our entry requirements for the foundation course.

Our Foundation course is designed for graduate-level professionals with a first professional qualification in a relevant mental health or social care-related discipline. These professions include nursing, psychiatry, social work, clinical psychology, psychiatry and other medical specialties, teaching, occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, and counselling.

You can apply under APEL/equivalence route if you do not have the required professional qualifications, but can demonstrate that the foundation-level course would be useful for your work (for example, if you are working as an assistant psychologist, support worker or teaching assistant).

Details of this can be found in the application pack or on the AFT website. You can also contact for further clarification.

Course team

More information on the teaching staff that will support your development.

Application information

View key information about this course.

Course title: Foundation Systemic Theory and Practice

Final award: Association of Family Therapists accredited course certificate

Mode of study: Part-time

Course code: PS50157

Department: Department of Psychology

Location: University of Bath, Claverton Down, Bath BA2 7AY

Start date: September 2023

Application deadline: 1 June 2023

Overseas deadline: N/A

Application eligibility: Only UK students are eligible to apply

Regulator: The Office for Students (OfS)

Apply for 2023 entry

Apply now

Course enquiries

All enquiries about the course and further information should be directed by email.

[1] - Occasionally we make changes to our programmes in response to, for example, feedback from students, developments in research and the field of studies, and the requirements of accrediting bodies. You will be advised of any significant changes to the advertised programme, in accordance with our Terms and Conditions. This compulsory unit is currently being studied by our students during the 2022/23 academic year.