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Course content

The MSc in Genetic and Genomic Counselling is designed to give students a working knowledge of the principles and practice of Genetic Counselling which will qualify them to practice as Genetic and Genomic Counsellors. The programme will be delivered by University of Glasgow staff in collaboration with NHS staff from the West of Scotland Genetics Service, so that a current perspective on both laboratory diagnostics and clinical services will be obtained. This programme is accredited by the UK Genetic Counsellor Registration Board.

Why this programme

-◾Teaching is based at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH), which includes adult services, children’s services and maternity services, as well as one of the largest diagnostic laboratories in Europe, and a new, purpose-built teaching and learning facility. The close collaboration between University and NHS staff ensures that the MSc in Genetic and Genomic Counselling provides a completely up-to-date representation of genetic services.
◾Counselling and psychology theoretical and research-focused courses are delivered by University staff trained in psychology, providing a firm foundation for the subsequent acquisition of knowledge and skills in genetic counselling facilitated by GCRB-registered Genetic Counsellors.
◾The University of Glasgow Medical Genetics Teaching Staff won the 2014 UK-wide Prospects Postgraduate Awards for the category of Best Postgraduate Teaching Team (Science, Technology & Engineering), to recognise and reward excellence and good practice; they were also finalists in the 2013 awards and are finalists in the category of "Outstanding support for students" in The Herald Higher Education Awards for Scotland in association with UWS 2016.
◾You will develop your skills in problem solving, evaluation and interpretation of diagnostic data, communication of the results of genome testing to patients, literature searches, scientific writing, oral presentations, poster presentations and team working.
◾The widely used textbook “Essential Medical Genetics” is co-authored by a member of the core teaching team, Professor Edward Tobias.

Programme structure

Component courses are as follows:

Genetic Disease in Clinical Practice

This course is designed in collaboration with the West of Scotland Genetics Service to give students a working knowledge of the principles and practice of Clinical Genetics which will allow them to evaluate, choose and interpret appropriate genetic investigations for individuals and families with genetic disease, and explore the links between genotype and phenotype.

Case Investigations in Medical Genetics

Students will work in groups to investigate complex clinical case scenarios: decide appropriate testing, analyse results from genetic tests, reach diagnoses where appropriate and, with reference to the literature, generate a concise and critical group report.

Distress or disorder: reactions to a medical diagnosis

Note: this 10 credit course may be taken by visiting students, for example as professional development.

This course outlines the process of psychosocial adjustment to a diagnosis or test result allowing participants to establish if and when a distress reaction develops into an adjustment disorder. The implications of diagnosis are explored and evidence considered allowing informed decisions about appropriate referrals to other agencies.

Patient empowerment: supporting decisions relating to new diagnoses

Note: this 10 credit course may be taken by visiting students, for example as professional development.

This course reflects on evidence and experience to explore the psychological and social impact of a diagnosis, or illness, and provides strategies to support resilience and coping in patients. Factors related to lived experience, personal beliefs and values, culture, adjustment processes, decision-making, misconceptions, secrecy and guilt are considered to equip participants in the promotion of patient-centred care.

Effective listening and communication skills

Note: this 10 credit course may be taken by visiting students, for example as professional development.

With a focus on experiential learning and student led study, this course outlines the role of counselling skills to facilitate adjustment and to allow an individual to come to terms with change in a safe way to minimise impact. The focus will be on the theory supporting counselling, developing key listening and communication skills and on establishing reflective practice.

Genetic counselling in clinical practice

This course is designed in collaboration with the West of Scotland Clinical Service, and will be delivered by NHS staff, to provide students with in depth understanding of the practical skills required in genetic counselling. The course will facilitate development of appropriate critical understanding, reflective practice and skills in relation to genetic counselling for providing accurate complex genetic information for patients and their families.

Social science research methods

The research methods course will focus on developing students’ research skills primarily in questionnaire-based qualitative and quantitative observational research methods and students will be introduced to ethics procedures for the college of MVLS.

Community placements 1 & 2

These placements, for 16 days and 20 days respectively, will each take place in one or more care settings for individuals with complex needs (adults or children or both) to enable students to gain insight into effects of complex needs on affected individuals and on their family.

Genetic counselling placement 1 & 2

These placements, for eight weeks and six weeks respectively, in different genetics centres will allow students to observe clinical practice in a variety of contexts, and to undertake relevant tasks under supervision within a clinical team that is delivering a genetic service, to enable the student to develop their own skills as a future genetic counsellor. Following each placement students will discuss and share experiences, facilitated by one of the NHS lead team and a counselling supervisor, to further develop their ability to deal with practical and emotional challenges in genetic counselling.

Clinical genomics

This course will provide an overview of the clinical applications of genomic approaches to human disorders, particularly in relation to clinical genetics, discussing the methods and capabilities of the new technologies. Tuition and hands-on experience in data analysis will be provided, including the interpretation of next generation sequencing reports.

Career prospects

The programme aims to provide students with skills to work as Genetic Counsellors. This programme is accredited by the Genetic Counsellor Registration Board (GCRB) producing graduates who are eligible for entry as a ‘trainee genetic counsellor’.

Visit the Genetic and Genomic Counselling (with Work Placement) - MSc page on the University of Glasgow website for more details!

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