Postgraduate Taught

MSc Music Therapy

Welcome to the only music therapy course in Scotland. It will help you channel your musical ability into helping people and qualify you to work as a music therapist in two years.

Do you love music? Do you have a real interest in helping people with a wide range of needs? Would you like to develop these passions into a rewarding career? Then our very popular MSc in Music Therapy could be precisely the course you are looking for.

You will find case studies on students and graduates of this course at the foot of this page.

Why QMU?

  • This is the only course of its type in Scotland.
  • The course is positioned within QMU’s School of Health Sciences and so offers you opportunities for interdisciplinary learning.
  • The course offers an integrative music therapy approach.

Course overview

As a music lover you will be personally aware of the transformative power of music. Music therapy uses this power to provide valuable relational experiences to children, adolescents, adults and older people with a wide range of needs, including learning disabilities and mental health needs.

As well as the practical skills of playing an instrument or singing, music therapists must develop theoretical knowledge in several areas. On this course you will learn about psychodynamic, humanistic, developmental and music-centred approaches to music therapy. Your studies will give you understanding in the following areas:

  • therapeutic musical skills, with an emphasis on improvisation, interaction and application in a therapeutic context
  • psychological, developmental, and music therapy theories
  • knowledge of different client groups and settings
  • self-development
  • observation and critical thinking skills
  • professional issues, such as ethics and team communication
  • research, assessment and service evaluation

Some lectures in theoretical studies are shared with students from QMU’s MSc Art Psychotherapy.

Exit awards

MSc (240 credits)


To obtain this MSc at QMU you must complete a number of credit bearing modules.

Teaching, learning and assessment

Teaching includes practical and academic elements with an emphasis on experiential learning and teaching methods, including lectures, seminars and tutorials. Practice placement is supported by clinical supervision at QMU.

Assessments are both practical and written. Personal development is fundamental to therapeutic training and it is a course requirement (according to the Health and Care Professions Council) that students attend regular personal therapy throughout the course, with a minimum of 40 hours attendance. This personal therapy is non-assessed and students are required to cover the cost.

Teaching hours and attendance

Each module requires you to attend classes at QMU and to study independently. Attendance requirements at QMU will depend on the module. Typically, Year One students attend QMU on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and in Year Two, classes are on a Thursday. Practice placement days are in addition to this.

Class sizes

Normally, there are around fifteen students in each cohort.

Links with industry/ professional bodies

Part of our strength comes from our location. Being based in Edinburgh means that the course has been developed over time in cooperation with key national cultural agencies and other bodies with a strategic interest in the development of arts organisations and festivals. Our location in the ‘festival city’ also allows for strong practical links between the course and the many arts, festival and cultural organisations based in and around Edinburgh, across Scotland and the UK. The course is validated by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).


Year One

  • Practice Placement 1 (30 credits)
  • Interdisciplinary Studies 1 (30 credits)
  • Therapeutic Skills and Interpersonal Learning (30 credits)
  • Research Methods (30 credits)

Year Two

  • Practice Placement 2
  • Interdisciplinary Studies 2 (30 credits) 
  • Interpersonal Learning (30 credits)
  • Professional project (60 credits)

The modules listed here are correct at the time of posting (September 2018), but are subject to change. In the event that modules have to change, QMU will seek to use reasonable endeavours to ensure that there is no detrimental impact to students. Please check this site for any updates.

Single modules for CPD

It is not possible to study single modules from this course.


Practice placements take place in a variety of settings. Students complete two blocks of practice placement during the programme. They are organised by QMU and are allocated by the Professional Practice Tutor who ensures that each student has two contrasting practice placement experiences.

In Year One, practice placement is with a music therapist, one day per week from October to March. In Year Two, students attend placement two days per week in both semesters and work in a more autonomous whilst receiving regular clinical supervision..Placements take place in Edinburgh and across Scotland, Ireland and England, depending on where students are based.  


On graduation you will be eligible for registration with HCPC, and will be qualified to apply for work in organisations such as the NHS, education, charitable bodies, social services, or in the private sector. Music therapists are employed throughout the health, education and community sectors. Registered music therapists are eligible for full membership of the British Association for Music Therapy. Most of our graduates have found employment within care homes, schools, the NHS, and charities. Many others have become successful freelance practitioners.

Entry requirements

UK Students should normally have:

  • any honours degree or equivalent;
  • a high standard of practical musicianship and flexibility on at least one instrument (for single-line instrumentalists or singers, proficiency on an harmonic instrument is also required) and
  • relevant experience with people in the community, education or health settings.

International: Where your honours degree has not been studied in English, you will be required to provide evidence of English language competence at no less than IELTS 7.0 and no individual component score below 6.5.

Interview: Applications can be made between October and May. Interviews are usually held between January and June.

The personal statement should include: reasons why the applicant feels drawn to the profession of music therapy; specific musical skills; and details of relevant experience within caring professions.

Some applicants will be asked to attend interviews and audition.This will usually include group improvisation with other applicants and an individual audition in which the applicant will: play prepared pieces; improvise on a given theme; and sing a short song of their own choice (if voice is not main study).

The interview will assess each applicant’s personal suitability for this profession, ability to reflect, and readiness for the demands that the course entails. For overseas applicants, auditions and interviews may be conducted by video conferencing. 

Criminal Records Check: A satisfactory criminal records check will be required.

Application deadline

1 May. This course is highly competitive with limited places. We advise applicants to apply early to be considered.

More information and contacts

Admissions or Philippa Derrington on tel: +44 (0)131 474 0000

Please Note:

The delivery of this course is subject to the terms and conditions set out in our 2018/19 Entry - Terms and Conditions (Postgraduate).


Course Overview

At QMU and on practice placement
Full-time: 2 years
Start Date
September 2019
Study Abroad
School of Health Sciences
Fees & Funding

Related Professional Bodies


Engage with the Team

A Student Story (see bottom of page for more)

Shuying Hu - MSc Music Therapy ".... I feel that the combination of practice placements, alongside lectures and practical music workshops, allow for quite a well-rounded education and prepares me for employment right after graduation." Read my story