Systemic approaches to working with individuals, families and organisations (D4)

Course Overview 

*NEW* for 2016/2017 - For Year One of the course, we are offering either Tuesday evenings from 5.30 - 8.30pm, or Friday afternoons from 2 - 5pm.

The course provides students with a well-developed understanding of systemic theory and practice. Students develop practice skills which can be applied to their own contexts and learn to reflect upon the personal and professional dimension of their work.

The course also provides students with a capacity to recognise multiple contexts including political and political discourses that inform their work. On completion of the course students will gain knowledge of systemic concepts  which underpin their work diverse families and organisations.

This course is also delivered in Kent (D4K) and Sussex (D4S) every second year.  The next intake for Kent and Sussex students will be September 2017 and applications will be open from January 2017.

If you experience any issues accessing our secure application and payment system, please visit the issues with your application page.



Home/EU: £2899 International: £5798
Postgraduate Certificate
Postgraduate Diploma
Course Length 
2 years
Course Type 
On site
Study Attendance 
Part - time
Who is this course for?

If you are a professional who is working with, or would like to work with, couples, families or other organisational systems in mental health trusts, social and health care or voluntary agencies, this course is for you. You will be in one of the following roles, or a related position:

  • social worker
  • teacher
  • psychologist
  • psychiatrist
  • nurse
  • learning mentor
  • GP
  • counsellor
  • researcher
Course outline

This course is delivered in: London (Tavistock Centre), Sussex (Brighton) and Kent (Maidstone).

The course consists of the following elements:

  • theoretical seminars
  • application seminars
  • whole-day events
  • peer group projects
  • personal tutorials


Year one

Locations: London (Tavistock Centre), Kent (Maidstone) and Sussex (Brighton)

Theory seminars combine theoretical and experiential learning with an emphasis on interactional learning. In the smaller application groups, you will be expected to present your own work.


Year two

Location: London (Tavistock Centre)

Theory seminars draw on newer theoretical developments, as well as broader applications of systemic ideas. In the application groups, you will be expected to work in an appropriate context and to present your own experience using systemic theoretical concepts.


Years one and two

You will undertake presentations on personal and professional issues, illustrating an aspect of systemic theory. Preparatory work will be carried out in consulting partnerships and presentations will be made to groups.

You will attend a whole-day workshop run by a well-known systemic clinician, author or researcher. You’ll also attend a day conference which includes presentations and workshops by systemic clinicians.

Why study with us?

We offer a high level of training delivered by experienced clinicians and supervisors who work in child and adolescent services. We also have an excellent library which supports students’ learning,  a significant resource appreciated by our students.


To achieve the Postgraduate Certificate award, you must submit and pass three pieces of coursework. To achieve the Postgraduate Diploma, you will need to submit and pass three further pieces of course work. There are no written examinations for this course.


Year 1 of D4 can be studied in one of two ways:

  • Evening classes: Tuesdays, 5.30pm - 8.30pm
  • Daytime classes: Fridays, 2pm - 5pm

Two years, part-time.

Academic award

On successful completion of this course you will be awarded a Postgraduate Diploma, accredited by the University of Essex. If you successfully complete year one only, you will be awarded a Postgraduate Certificate.

Entry requirements

You are expected either to have a first degree in social work, psychology, medicine, nursing, education or any allied field, or to be able to demonstrate an equivalent level of relevant experience. You should be working in a setting that will allow you to apply and develop systemic ideas – a voluntary work placement is acceptable for this.


Entry to year two

You can enter into year two if you have successfully completed year one here or at one of our regional sites. If you have taken an introductory course in family therapy or systems approaches in another institution, you will need to demonstrate the equivalence by providing evidence of the learning outcomes of the Certificate course. You will need to provide a portfolio of work, provide references and pass an interview. You will also need to complete a specific Application for Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) form to support you application to join year two. Please contact the course administrator for more information.

It is anticipated that interviews for entry to year two will be held 1-15 September. Please note that the portfolio and APL forms must be submitted to the course administrator prior to your scheduled interview. The deadline for APEL applications is the 26th August 2016. For more information on this process please contact the course administrator.


The fees for academic year 2016/17 Year 1 enrolment are:

  • Home/EU students: £2899
  • International students: £5798

Please see guidance on the definition of an international student.

Read more information on fees and funding  and fee regulations.

If you have any questions, please contact us.

What students say?

"It is an extremely interesting and intellectually stimulating course."

- Student, 2014 cohort

"I like the fact that they are practitioners who can bring experience from current practice as well as academic rigour."

- Student, 2014 cohort

"I have found ways to use systemic ideas in my practice and joint working." 

- Student, 2014 cohort

Other study locations

We also deliver this course in Kent and Sussex every second year.  The next intake for these locations are September 2017 and applications will open in January 2017.

Kent (D4K)

Please contact course tutor Carol Joliffe and Michelle Newman-Brown for further information about Kent (Maidstone)

Sussex (D4S)

Please contact course tutor Joanna Pearse and Alison Floyd for further information about Sussex (Brighton)


Course dates

The academic year will begin on Monday 26th September 2016.

Please see term dates for full information.

Opening dates for applications

Applications will open in January 2016.

Closing date for applications

Course applications will close in July 2016.