• Wellcome Connecting Science

What is Genetic Counselling?

Learn about genetic counselling and what genetic counsellors do with this online course for healthcare professionals.

12,918 enrolled on this course

Genetic counselling in action showing a seated genetic counsellor facing and talking with a patient
  • Duration

    6 weeks
  • Weekly study

    2 hours
  • Digital upgrade


Understand the role of genetic counselling in the genomic era

Who are genetic counsellors? Who has genetic counselling and what does a genetic counsellor do? On this course, you will find the answers to these questions whilst learning about the role of genetic counselling in healthcare in the genomic era.

You will discover why people seek genetic counselling and how it compares in different contexts and countries. You will explore the main skills and knowledge genetic counsellors need, as well as their key responsibilities to patients. You will discuss the ethical issues of genetic counselling, and its opportunities and challenges for the future.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 9 seconds Genetic technology is set to revolutionise health care. And genetic counsellors are at the heart of this But to many, this profession’s a mystery. So what is it, exactly, that genetic counsellors do? We’ll be explaining more about the role. And we’ll be using case studies, we’ll be asking, what would you do? We will learn how genetic counsellors practise in the United Kingdom and around the world. We’ll also be learning something about the ethical issues raised by genetic technology. And we’ll also be looking forward to the future of the profession. So join us and discover, what is genetic counselling?

What topics will you cover?

  • Why people would see a genetic counsellor
  • Some of a genetic counsellor’s key tasks
  • A genetic counsellor’s key skills and knowledge: counselling skills, medical and scientific knowledge
  • Ethical issues in genetic counselling
  • What the future might hold for genetic counsellors

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Identify why people have genetic counselling and the different contexts in which people receive genetic counselling
  • Describe the different skills and knowledge needed by genetic counsellors
  • Compare genetic counselling in different contexts and different countries
  • Reflect on some ethical issues that arise in genetic counselling
  • Discuss the role of genetic counselling in healthcare as we enter the ‘genomic era'

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for healthcare professionals, clinicians, biomedical research scientists, and anyone curious about genetic counselling.

Although not required, a basic knowledge of genetics, genetic testing technologies, and inheritance patterns would help support your learning on this course.

“This introductory course provides an excellent overview of the practice of genetic counselling. We recommend the course as a useful resource for all Year 1 STP students on the MSc Genomic Counselling Programme at the University of Manchester.
The course is also highly relevant to any clinician or scientist wanting to know more about the role of a genetic counsellor. The interactive style provides an opportunity to connect with course members and genetic counsellors around the world.” - Dr Rhona MacLeod, Consultant Genetic Counsellor, Pathway Lead MSc Genomic Counselling

What software or tools do you need?

No specific software, hardware or other resources are required to complete the course.

Who will you learn with?

Past Chair Association of Genetic Nurses & Counsellors, UK; Head of Society & Ethics Research, Wellcome Genome Campus, Cambridge; did genetic counselling training in Manchester www.wgc.org.uk/ethics

I am a registered genetic counsellor at Addenbrooke's Hospital. I am also a Staff Scientist at the Wellcome Genome Campus. I conduct my research within the Society & Ethics Research. @TheSarcasticOwl

Who developed the course?

Wellcome Connecting Science

Wellcome Connecting Science develops and delivers open postgraduates courses and conferences focused on biomedicine.

Endorsers and supporters

endorsed by

Association of Genetic Nurses & Counsellors logo

endorsed by

University of Manchester logo

What's included?

Wellcome Connecting Science are offering everyone who joins this course a free digital upgrade, so that you can experience the full benefits of studying online for free. This means that you get:

  • Unlimited access to this course
  • Includes any articles, videos, peer reviews and quizzes
  • Tests to validate your learning
  • A PDF Certificate of Achievement to prove your success when you’re eligible
  • Learning on FutureLearn

    Your learning, your rules

    • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
    • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
    • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

    Join a global classroom

    • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
    • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
    • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

    Map your progress

    • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
    • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
    • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

    Want to know more about learning on FutureLearn? Using FutureLearn

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