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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 healthcare settings, such as:

  • the NHS
  • social care
  • the non-statutory sector

Although it’s primarily a method for working with families, it provides a hugely valuable way of working with individuals, couples, teams and organisations.

Our foundation 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.

Learning environment

Our course is taught by systemic therapists and professionals from different service contexts, and benefit from visiting lecturers with different areas of expertise from across the South West.

You’ll learn alongside Doctorate in Clinical Psychology students to add to the richness of learning.

The maximum group size is 50. We work hard to ensure that teaching is specifically adapted to take the group size into account, with lots of opportunities for small group work and role-plays, as well as larger group discussions.

You'll be able to access Bath’s services and facilities, including resources designed to improve your academic skills and enhance your employability.

Course directors

  • Dr Chloe Constable, Clinical Psychologist and Systemic Psychotherapist
  • Erica Pavord, Systemic Psychotherapist
The lake at the University of Bath campus with buildings in the background.

Professional accreditations

Our foundation course is accredited by the Association for Family Therapy.

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.

During this course, you’ll cover topics such as 1:

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

You’ll be awarded 12 ECTS credits (or 24 CATS credits) at master's-level upon completion of this course. In order to complete the master's level qualification in systemic psychotherapy, you’ll be required to engage in a further three years of study.

Learning and assessment

The course involves 11 teaching days at the University of Bath (one per-month) - teaching days are always on a Friday. It starts in late September.

You are expected to complete 120 hours of independent study in addition to structured teaching days. This includes the time necessary for reading and all assignments.


  • Lectures
  • Seminars
  • Workshops


  • 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 reflexive log

Career prospects

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

As well as using this course just for your professional development, you may also be able to use this as Accredited Prior Learning (APL) to progress onto an intermediate or master's course at any institution where this is offered

Entry requirements, fees and funding

Our entry requirements for this course, and details about tuition fees and costs.

Entry requirements

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 accreditation of prior experiential learning (APEL) or equivalent route if you do not have the required professional qualifications or a degree level qualification, but can demonstrate that the foundation level course would be useful for your work (e.g. if you are working as an assistant psychologist, support worker or teaching assistant and/or you have the ability to study at postgraduate level)

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

Fees and funding

The course fees for 2024/25 are: £2,840

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

Find out more about our fees for 2024/25 entry. Course fees may increase annually.

Learn more about how we decide fee status.

Budgeting an extra costs

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

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 2024

Application deadline: 3 June 2024

Overseas deadline: N/A

Application eligibility: Only UK students are eligible to apply

Regulator: The Office for Students (OfS)

Apply for 2024 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.