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Genetic and Genomic Counselling (MSc)

  • Duration: 3 years
  • Mode: Part time distance learning

Start date

Open day

Find out more about studying here as a postgraduate at our next Open Day.

Why study this course

You will be given a thorough grounding in human genomics, genetics, genetic analysis and bioinformatics, in communication and counselling skills, and in the skills required for you to work as part of a multi-disciplinary team providing genetic and genomic counselling for families.


Flexible e-learning programme

Distance-learning, online format enables flexible learning at your own pace.


Expert tutors

Academic faculty includes genetic counsellors with extensive clinical experience and world-class expertise in genetic counselling research


Professional Accreditation

Our programme is accredited by both the UK Genetic Counsellor Registration Board and the European Board of Medical Genetics


Preparation for clinical practice

In year 2, you will be able to gain valuable workplace experience while on an approved clinical placement close to your own location


Research opportunities

The support offered by our expert staff provides you with the opportunity to conduct publication standard research during year 3

The primary aim of this course is to train graduates interested in the clinical application of advances in human genetics and genomics so that they can provide and critically evaluate genetic and genomic counselling services.

This is an innovative, part-time, largely distance-learning course. This opens up our well-established training expertise to an international audience, as it removes the need for you to relocate to Cardiff for full-time study to train as a genetic counsellor. Instead, you will attend short intensive teaching blocks in Wales and engage in online learning throughout the remainder of each year.

The course is particularly suitable for students interested in pursuing a career as a genetic counsellor. It is designed to meet the UK Genetic Counsellor Registration Board (GCRB) Set ‘A’ educational requirement to submit a Notification of Intention to Register with the GCRB (see, as well as the European Board of Medical Genetics (EBMG Genetic Counsellors division) educational requirement to submit a Notification of Intention to Register with the EBMG.

Being primarily a distance-learning course has meant that I’m able to work alongside my studies, which is beneficial to my pocket. It also provides me with structure, gives me a world outside of studies, and allows me to develop other skills which, depending on your job, supplements my studies. I’m really enjoying the course so far. At the first face-to-face teaching block in Cardiff we met a number of patients and genetic counsellors and covered lots about counselling skills. It is a demanding programme, but the assignments are interesting and serve a purpose - they’re relatable to the role of a genetic counsellor! We have weekly tutorials where we use an online platform to talk with each other and the staff in real time – this is always really helpful. It’s a chance to ask lots of questions and discuss topics / hypothetical scenarios (my favourite part as it makes studying feel more like real life) - and you can even do this in your pyjamas!
Alys, Genetic and Genomic Counselling (MSc)

Where you'll study

School of Medicine

We are of the largest medical schools in UK, committed to the pursuit of improved human health through education and research.

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  • Telephone+44 (0)29 2068 7214
  • MarkerUniversity Hospital of Wales, Heath Park, Cardiff, CF14 4XN

Admissions criteria

In order to be considered for an offer for this programme you will need to meet all of the entry requirements. Your application will not be progressed if the information and evidence listed is not provided.

With your online application you will need to provide:

  1. A copy of your degree certificate and transcripts which show you have achieved a 2:1 honours degree in a relevant subject area such as biological or (bio)medical science, social science, nursing or psychology or an equivalent international degree. If your degree certificate or result is pending, please upload any interim transcripts or provisional certificates.
  2. A copy of your IELTS certificate with an overall score of 7.0 with 6.5 in all subskills, or evidence of an accepted equivalent. Please include the date of your expected test if this qualification is pending. If you have alternative acceptable evidence, such as an undergraduate degree studied in the UK, please supply this in place of an IELTS.
  3. Evidence you have gained at least 6 months full-time equivalent (approx. 800 hours) non-family caring experience at the point of application. This can be evidenced by an employer's reference. References should be signed, dated and less than six months old at the time you submit your application.
  4. An academic reference which demonstrates your suitability for the programme. This should be obtained before you apply and will be required before we are able to make a decision on your application.
  5. A personal statement which demonstrates your knowledge, motivation, and commitment to a career in genetic and genomic counselling (you must use the below questions as headings in your statement):
  • What motivates you to apply for this course?
  • What personal qualities and attributes do you possess that would enhance your ability to work as a genetic counsellor?
  • Please describe any experience you have had working with individuals who might be considered vulnerable.
  • If you have previously applied for this course and were unsuccessful, please describe what further experience you have gained which may strengthen your application.

Application Deadline

The application deadline is 31 March. You must submit all the evidence listed in the entry criteria by the deadline in order to be considered for an interview. If you submit an application after this date, we will only consider it if places are still available post-interview.

Selection process

We will review your application and assign it a score based on pre-determined criteria. Applications will then be ranked by score, and the top-scoring applicants will be invited to interview.

At the panel interview, you will need to demonstrate the following:

  • Knowledge of genetic and genomic counselling
  • Reflective and self-awareness skills
  • Ability to reflect on the psychosocial impact of disease and disability
  • Knowledge and understanding of human genetics
  • Year 2 placement plans/preferences

Interviewees will be scored based on pre-determined criteria. The application and interview score will be combined and offers will be made to the top-scoring applicants. Note that offers cannot be issued without a placement agreement in place (this will take place post-interview).

Find out more about English language requirements.

Applicants who require a Student visa to study in the UK must present an acceptable English language qualification in order to meet UKVI (UK Visas and Immigration) requirements.

Criminal convictions

You will be required to complete a DBS (Disclosure Barring Service) check if your application is successful. If you are applying from certain countries overseas, a Certificate of Good Conduct may be required.

If you have a relevant criminal conviction, this will be stated in the check and may affect your ability to enrol on the course. Applicants who are on the barred list should be aware that applying to this course is likely to be considered a criminal offence.

Course structure

The MSc programme consists of two stages: The taught stage lasts for a total of 24 months.  The dissertation stage R lasts for a further 12 months, following completion of the taught stages.  The total normal duration to complete the full MSc programme is three academic years, from the date of initial registration on the programme.

This is a highly intensive programme and a commitment of 2-3 days per week is recommended for general study. There is also the commitment to the face-to-face study blocks, weekly timetabled online tutorials, assignment deadlines, and the placement in Year 2.

Taught Stage

This stage consists of eight modules with credit values of 10, 20 or 50 credits, totalling 180 credits, at Level 7.

You can exit the course after successfully completing 180 credits of the taught (Stage T) component (including all required modules) with a Postgraduate Diploma.

In Year 2, as well as studying modules, you will be required to complete a clinical placement of at least 72 days (full-time equivalent) in a clinical genetic service. This is supported by significant patient interaction.  Access to and concrete plans for your genetic counselling placement is a criterion for selection at interview.  Please consider discussing your plans for placement with the programme team prior to application, by contacting the Admissions tutor.

Dissertation Stage

This stage will include a dissertation of 60 credits at Level 7, to achieve a combined total of 240 credits at Level 7 to complete the MSc programme.

The modules shown are an example of the typical curriculum and will be reviewed prior to the 2024/25 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2024.

Year one

The Year one modules total 90 credits.  In addition to the online modules, there will be two face-to-face teaching blocks in Cardiff in Year 1, the first in September/October, and the second in early June.  The rest of the teaching and assessment will be via distance learning using our virtual learning environment.

Year two

The modules in Year two total 90 credits.  In addition to the online modules, there will be two face-to-face teaching blocks in Wales (UK) in Year two, in December and May.  The rest of the teaching and assessment will be via distance learning using the Cardiff University virtual learning environment.

A major component within year two is the placement module, through which the knowledge and skills you have developed on the MSc in Genetic and Genomic Counselling will be applied and assessed in a clinical genetics / genetic counselling service.  You must complete a clinical placement of at least 72 days in a clinical genetic service, participating in the regular activities of the service and contributing to the genetic counselling of clients of the service in accordance with a pre-arranged Placement Agreement.

Year three

To progress to the Dissertation stage, you must first pass all components of the taught stage of the programme.  In Year three, you will focus on completing your MSc dissertation project.  You will be allocated a dissertation supervisor will be provided who will support you in achieving the goals of the project.

Year three will include one three-day face-to-face teaching block in Cardiff in November.  This block is to provide teaching, guidance and support for your dissertation project and keep you connected with your counselling skills. It will include a consolidation of previous teaching on research design and methodology and enable you to discuss your project plans with the tutors and supervisors.

The University is committed to providing a wide range of module options where possible, but please be aware that whilst every effort is made to offer choice this may be limited in certain circumstances. This is due to the fact that some modules have limited numbers of places available, which are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, while others have minimum student numbers required before they will run, to ensure that an appropriate quality of education can be delivered; some modules require students to have already taken particular subjects, and others are core or required on the programme you are taking. Modules may also be limited due to timetable clashes, and although the University works to minimise disruption to choice, we advise you to seek advice from the relevant School on the module choices available.

Learning and assessment

How will I be taught?

You will be taught through a combination of face-to-face and online lectures, tutorials, seminars, self-directed study and experiential learning on placement.

The programme involves mandatory weekly timetabled online tutorials during term time throughout the duration of the course.

Lectures take a range of forms but generally they aim to provide a broad structure for each subject, to introduce key concepts, and to convey relevant up-to-date information.  In tutorials and seminars, you’ll have the opportunity to discuss particular genetic and genomic counselling topics, to consolidate and receive feedback on your individual learning and to develop skills in oral presentation.  Tutorials will enable you to make individual contributions to group study, for example by summarising a particular genetic condition or your dissertation project for the group.

You will have the opportunity to practise and develop counselling, intellectual, team-working and presentational skills by participating in diverse learning activities, such as solving clinical problems, small-group discussions, debates, oral presentations, independent research tasks and written assignments as well as your practical placement activities in year 2. 

How will I be assessed?

You will be assessed through a combination of means including written work (blogs, essays), presentations, reflective pieces, video skills assessment and a dissertation.

The dissertation is based on a literature-review or an empirical study and normally not more than 20,000 words supported by such other material as may be considered appropriate to the subject and should include the results of your period of project work.  Topic areas could include, for example: individual, family or patient experiences of genetic or genomic testing and counselling; patient outcomes from genetic or genomic testing and counselling; social and ethical implications of genetic technologies and genetic or genomic counselling; or the professional experiences of genetic counsellors.

Formative Feedback

Formative feedback is feedback that does not contribute to progression or degree classification decisions.  The goal of formative feedback is to improve your understanding and learning before you complete your summative assessment.  More specifically, formative feedback:

  • helps you to identify your strengths and weaknesses and target areas that need work;
  • helps staff to support you and address the problems identified with targeted strategies for improvement.

Summative Feedback

Summative feedback is feedback on assessments that contribute to progression or degree classification decisions.  The goal of summative assessment is to indicate how well you have succeeded in meeting the intended learning outcomes of a Module or Programme and will enable you to identify any action required in order to improve. 

You will have the opportunity to discuss feedback one-to-one with the course directors, lecturers and tutors as needed.  You will also have the opportunity to benefit from peer feedback from your fellow students.  Tutorial sessions provide a forum for group feedback to and from the course directors. 

How will I be supported?

You will be allocated a personal tutor who will help you reflect on your performance on the course and advise you on study techniques and career planning.  They will also provide a first point of contact if you experience any difficulties.  You will have the opportunity to meet (virtually or otherwise) one-to-one with your personal tutor once per term.

Extensive careers expertise is available within the School.  In addition, our programme team members are experienced EBMG and/or GCRB registered genetic counsellors and can provide career guidance where appropriate.

A range of staff are available to provide further support, including an academic support tutor and a specialist medical librarian.  A member of academic staff acts as a designated Disability and Diversity Officer and ensures that reasonable adjustments are made for students with disabilities.

All modules within the programme make extensive use of our virtual learning environment, Learning Central, where you can access discussion forums and find course materials including recordings of lectures, links to related materials, multiple-choice tests, past exam papers and examples of student work from previous years.  Learning Central will also be used for discussion boards, tutorials, student presentations and class discussions.

You will be allocated a nominated supervisor  when undertaking your dissertation, with whom to schedule meetings, which may be via Skype or other online environment, to discuss progress, provide advice and guidance, and will give you written feedback on a single draft dissertation.

The programme team will support you and your peers to develop strong relationships within the class.  Your fellow students are a great source of support, and the programme team will work hard to create an environment that will foster this as your classmates will continue to be useful sources of support throughout your career as a genetic counsellor.  We will strive to create opportunities for the group to meet and have fun socially during the face-to-face blocks in Wales.  The programme team also moderates a Facebook closed group for all current and past students, and you will be encouraged to create your own class Facebook closed group (which the programme team do not access) to foster supportive class relationships.

What skills will I practise and develop?

The course will provide you with the opportunity to gain a range of valuable skills, both discipline specific skills and more generic employability skills.  Through the programme, you will have the opportunity to develop counselling and communication skills, IT and practical clinical skills, and you will be presented with a number of opportunities to extend your communication and analytical skills.

Knowledge & Understanding:

On completing the Programme, you will be able to:

  1. Appreciate ways in which a range of healthcare sciences contribute to the practice of genetic counselling

  2. Combine knowledge of human genetics and genomics including Mendelian inheritance patterns, cytogenetics, molecular genetics and genomics, for the purposes of genetic and genomic counselling.

  3. Assess and calculate individual genetic risks using the principles of probability and statistics.

  4. Predict the psychosocial aspects of genetic conditions using theories of counselling, sociology of health and illness, cultural awareness, family dynamics and decision-making.

  5. Calculate an individual’s risk of inheriting or developing a genetic condition that runs or may run in their family, taking in to consideration the inheritance pattern of the condition, their family structure and any conditional events that may have influenced their risk. 

Intellectual Skills:

On completing the Programme, you will be able to:

  1. Integrate knowledge of genetics and genomics, including dysmorphology, inherited and multifactorial disorders, cancer genetics, genetic and genomic testing, bioinformatics and screening including prenatal diagnosis for the purposes of genetic and genomic counselling.

  2. Utilise and critically appraise published evidence for the purposes of accurate and appropriate genetic and genomic counselling.

  3. Appreciate and critically appraise the philosophical, legal and ethical issues that arise in genetic and genomic counselling and apply appropriate theoretical frameworks to resolve these issues.

  4. Propose how current counselling theory and research evidence can inform genetic and genomic counselling practice.

  5. Critique the role and development of clinical genetics service within the NHS and internationally

  6. Critically evaluate published research evidence and its role in the delivery of quality genetic and genomic counselling services.

  7. Design, implement and complete a small research, clinical audit, innovation or service evaluation project.

Professional Practical Skills:

On completing the Programme, you will be able to:

  1. Provide safe, effective, patient-centred genetic and genomic counselling with appropriate professionalism.

  2. Apply counselling skills appropriately in genetic and genomic counselling practice.

  3. Critique the wider impact of disability on individuals and families and the services available for these people.

  4. Assess psychosocial responses to the diagnosis of a genetic condition, genetic risk status, genetic or genomic test results or termination of pregnancy, using theories of coping and grief-bereavement.

  5. Defend the importance of confidentiality of genetic information.

  6. Critique ways in which genetic and genomic counselling integrate with other healthcare sciences and health professions.

  7. Apply professional self-awareness and self-reflection to their own professional development in ways that enhance their practice in genetic and genomic counselling, and improve patient outcomes.

Transferable/Key Skills:

On completing the Programme, you will be able to:

  1. Apply problem solving skills to a range of diverse issues

  2. Manage and prioritise workload and time effectively
    for the completion of quality projects, including working to deadlines

  3. Demonstrate ability to work effectively with others to develop innovative solutions and solve problems

  4. Demonstrate initiative, taking responsibility for accomplishing objectives and goals

  5. Listen effectively to understand and process important and/or complex information

  6. Communicate accurately, clearly and concisely in variety of styles, using a range of media to a wide variety of audiences

Tuition fees for 2024 entry

Your tuition fees and how you pay them will depend on your fee status. Your fee status could be home, island or overseas.

Learn how we decide your fee status

Fees for home status

Year Tuition fee Deposit
Year one £7,450 None
Year two £7,450 None
Year three £2,483 None

Students from the EU, EEA and Switzerland

If you are an EU, EEA or Swiss national, your tuition fees for 2024/25 be in line with the overseas fees for international students, unless you qualify for home fee status. UKCISA have provided information about Brexit and tuition fees.

Fees for island status

Learn more about the postgraduate fees for students from the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.

Fees for overseas status

Year Tuition fee Deposit
Year one £12,200 £2,500
Year two £12,200 None
Year three £4,067 None

More information about tuition fees and deposits, including for part-time and continuing students.

Financial support

Financial support may be available to individuals who meet certain criteria. For more information visit our funding section. Please note that these sources of financial support are limited and therefore not everyone who meets the criteria are guaranteed to receive the support.

Additional costs

While most of the costs are incorporated in the fee structure, there are some additional costs that you need to be aware of. You are responsible for all costs of travel (including visas), transportation, subsistence and overnight accommodation, from your home base to:

  • All face-to-face teaching blocks in Wales; this includes a cost of approx. GBP £230 (2017 prices) for the cost of accommodation and meals at the 4-night ethics component at Gregynog Hall (see
  • Local genetic counselling clinical placements
  • Any required re-sit examinations in Cardiff

Additionally there may be an additional cost to you if you require English Language proof reading for your dissertation or other written assessments.

You will also be responsible for the cost of any DBS or local police checks required.

You may also wish to purchase your own copies of core text books.

Applicants proposing placements in the UK or Republic of Ireland must not make direct contact with clinical genetics services in those countries, but can discuss proposed plans with the programme team as part of the application and selection process.

Living costs

We’re based in one of the UK’s most affordable cities. Find out more about living costs in Cardiff.


Postgraduate loans

If you are starting your master’s degree in September 2024 or later, you may be able to apply for a postgraduate loan to support your study at Cardiff University.

Careers and placements

This programme is particularly suitable for those interested in pursuing a career as a genetic counsellor in the UK, as it is designed to meet the UK Genetic Counsellor Registration Board (GCRB) Set A educational requirement to submit a Notification of Intention to Register with the GCRB. The programme is accredited by the GCRB, so that the MSc qualifies trainee genetic counsellors to apply for Assured Voluntary Registration with the GCRB, which enables a trainee genetic counsellor (paid on Agenda For Change (AFC) band 6) to move into an AFC band 7 NHS post in the UK NHS.

It is also suitable for those interested in pursuing a career as a genetic counsellor in Europe and internationally, as it is designed to meet the European Board of Medical Genetics (EBMG Genetic Counsellors division) educational requirement to submit a Notification of Intention to Register with the EBMG. The accreditation from EBMG means that the MSc qualification qualifies trainee genetic counsellors to apply for EBMG registration.

Over 90% of graduates from the Cardiff University genetic counsellor training programmes have obtained employment as genetic counsellors since the course began in 2000.

In the UK and in the USA, the demand for genetic counsellors has increased in recent years. Graduates from existing UK MSc in Genetic (and Genomic) courses will be insufficient to meet the needs of the UK NHS over the next few years, as many UK genetic counsellors are approaching retirement.  The Transnational Alliance of Genetic Counsellors (a partnership of genetic counsellor educators from eighteen countries) have strongly emphasized the need for training more genetic counsellors to practice internationally, specifically across the EU, Asia and South America.


In year two, you will be required to complete 72 days of placement work-based experience in a local (to you) genetic or genomic counselling service.  This will be discussed as part of the selection process as the ability to arrange it is a prerequisite for being accepted onto the course.  The placement allows you the opportunity to apply the knowledge and skills developed on the MSc in Genetic and Genomic Counselling in a clinical genetics / genetic counselling service and be assessed in core competences.  You will need to liaise with the MSc programme team about the suitability of your proposed placement, and provide contact details for proposed placement providers to the MSc programme team, who will negotiate an appropriate agreement between you, Cardiff University and the placement provider.  You will work with Placement supervisors to complete the requirements of the placement, including a placement supervisor’s report, a Case Log and a Skills and Competences Log.

On placement, you will participate in the regular activities of the service and contribute to the genetic counselling of clients of the service.  You will have the opportunity to reflect on your developing skills in genetic and genomic counselling, supported by a local placement supervisor and by online genetic counselling supervision (as defined by the UK Association of Genetic Nurses and Counsellors) provided by the MSc programme team. 

Applicants proposing placements in the UK or Republic of Ireland must not make direct contact with clinical genetics services in those countries, but can discuss proposed plans with the programme team as part of the application and selection process.

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HESA Data: Copyright Higher Education Statistics Agency Limited 2021. The Higher Education Statistics Agency Limited cannot accept responsibility for any inferences or conclusions derived by third parties from its data. Data is from the latest Graduate Outcomes Survey 2019/20, published by HESA in June 2022.