Postgraduate Taught

MSc Art Psychotherapy

Applications for the next start date in Sept 2022 will open in October 2021 and the 2022 course pages will be released at the same time.

Art psychotherapy is a profession with creativity at its heart! The programme at QMU has the potential to offer a personally rewarding career on the only art psychotherapy training programme in Scotland. You can study full or part-time, and as a graduate you will be able to register with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) to work as an art psychotherapist.

The life-changing potential of psychotherapy, the power of artistic expression and your desire for a more meaningful career all meet on this unique course. If you have at least one year’s experience of working with people within a mental or physical health service, education, social services or the voluntary sector, this course will help you build on your experience and develop new skills as an art psychotherapist. The MSc Art Psychotherapy is based in our School of Health Sciences and offers a stimulating learning environment with a practical focus.

Why QMU?

  • We have excellent partnerships with third sector organisations. You’ll benefit from excellent placement opportunities working with a variety of clients, in schools, the NHS, community settings and other organisations.
  • The course is proud to have an international perspective. It carries 240 credits/120 European Credits that are transferable across Europe.
  • Students on this course usually come from across the globe, which makes for a very rich and interesting learning experience.
  • Our campus has extensive landscaped grounds and we are developing an environmental element to our teaching, encouraging our students to connect with, and be inspired by, the natural world around us.

Course overview

The creation of art in the presence of a trained art psychotherapist can have a profoundly positive effect on people with emotional, behavioural, mental health or physical problems. Art therapy is not a recreational activity (although the sessions can be enjoyable) but a form of psychotherapy that helps people address confusing and distressing issues.

Art psychotherapists work with people to access their own image-making abilities. You could work with people of any age, from very small children to young people, adults and older adults, helping them to use art media to express themselves and communicate. You may work with groups or individuals, depending on clients’ needs.

You and the person you are working with will jointly explore the meaning of the process and image/art object in the light of personal experiences and/or interpersonal relationships that may sometimes be distressing or troubling. The aim is to facilitate the intra-personal and interpersonal communication of experiences that the client may initially have difficulty in discussing verbally. The art psychotherapist’s task is to support processes of emotional integration by providing a safe, reliable and containing therapeutic environment within which the client can create and use art making to develop insight and promote change.

This course, the only MSc in Art Therapy in the UK, will introduce you to the profession, theory and practice of art psychotherapy. Regular practice placements working with clients will build on your theoretical learning and allow you to apply your developing skills.

Your learning will be enriched by the interdisciplinary structure of the course as you study alongside your peers from various other pathways within the person-centred framework.

All students are required to be in personal psychodynamic therapy throughout the duration of the course.

Students will attend supervision on site at the practice placement setting and at QMU throughout the training.

This course is part of the Person-Centred Practice Framework.


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

Exit awards

MSc (240 credits/120 ECTS)/ PgDip (120 credits/60 ECTS)/ PgCert (60 credits/30 ECTS)

Teaching, learning and assessment

You will attend classes, work in groups and carry out independent learning. Assessment methods include reports, essays and presentations. You will undertake a practice placement (see below).

Teaching hours and attendance

For full-time students, classes in Year One usually take place from 9am- 6.15pm on Mondays and Tuesdays. In Year Two classes take place from 9am-6.15pm on Thursdays only.

For part-time students, classes in Year One take place on Tuesdays, 9am- 6.15pm. In Year Two, classes take place on Mondays 9am-6.15pm. In Year Three and/or Four, classes will take place on a Thursday only, 9am-6.15pm.

You will also be required to carry out independent learning. Full-time students attend practice placement two days per week and part-time students attend one day per week over two semesters. Part-time students wishing to complete their Clinical Project in Year Four will attend personal academic tutorials by appointment. All students will be required to carry out independent learning. The Art Studio will be open for practice during evenings and weekends by appointment.

Class sizes

There are usually around 30 students on this course each year. Some classes are larger as some teaching is shared with MSc Music Therapy. Much of the teaching, however, is in small groups of five or six.

Links with industry/ professional bodies

Our graduates are eligible for registration with the Health and Care Professions Council as Registered Arts Therapists and are eligible for full membership of British Association of Art Therapists. The course meets the requirements of the Health and Care Professions Council Standards of Proficiency for Art Therapists.


Level 1 Full-time: Year One

  • Theory and Practice of Person-Centred Health and Wellbeing (20 credits)
  • Leading Person-Centred Practice for Health and Wellbeing (20 credits)
  • Practice-based Learning 1 (40 credits)
  • Developmental and Relational Perspectives (20 credits)
  • Art Psychotherapy Theory and Practice (20 credits)

Level 2 Full-time: Year Two

  • Practice-based Learning 2 (40 credits)
  • Arts Therapies in Context (20 credits)
  • Dissertation (60 credits)

Level 1 Part-time: Years One and Two

  • Art Psychotherapy Practice Based Learning 1 (Part 1) (40 credits)
  • Developmental and Relational Perspectives (20 credits)
  • Theory and Practice of Person-centred Health and Wellbeing (20 credits)
  • Art Psychotherapy Theory and Practice (20 credits)
  • Art Psychotherapy Practice Based Learning 1 (Part 2) (40 credits)
  • Leading Person-centred Practice for Health and Wellbeing (20 credits)
  • Art Psychotherapy Practice Based Learning 2 Part 1 (40 credits)

Level 2 Part-time: Years Three and Four

  • Art Psychotherapy Practice Based Learning 2 (part 2) (40 credits)
  • Arts Therapies in Context (20 credits)
  • Dissertation (60 credits).

The modules listed are correct at time of posting (Nov 2020) but are subject to change. In the event that modules change, QMU will seek to use reasonable endeavours to ensure that there is no detrimental impact on students.


Placements are vital to your learning process. You will undertake a supervised practice placement spread over two semesters. For full-time students it is two days per week and for part-time students it is one day per week. Your placements could be in various settings throughout Scotland, including education, voluntary and healthcare environments. Placements are allocated by QMU.


You will graduate with the knowledge and practical confidence to start work as an art therapist thanks to the course’s strong research component. Training as an art psychotherapist has the potential to be a dynamic and exciting career. Art psychotherapists work with a wide range of clients and communities, individually or with groups, within the public and private sectors. You could work in the UK or travel and use your skills to make a difference much further afield.

Application deadline

1 May 2021 for September 2021 intake. This course is highly competitive with limited places. We advise applicants to apply early to be considered. 

Please note that applications are now closed for 2021/22 Entry. As this course does not have a January 2022 intake the next start date will be in 2022/23. Applications will open in November 2021.

Entry requirements

UK honours degree or equivalent in the area of the visual arts supported by a portfolio of art work in a variety of media over a period of time. Degrees in subjects such as psychology, social work, nursing and education will be considered if supported by a substantial portfolio of art work. It is recommended to include sketchbooks, slides, photographs and other media. Online portfolios are acceptable.

Normally a minimum of one year’s full-time experience (or part-time equivalent) of work in a caring capacity or equivalent. Relevant care work includes: nursing assistant, project worker, arts instructor, care work in a community setting, art teaching, or facilitating art workshops. Some experience of personal art psychotherapy or psychodynamic psychotherapy, or experiential workshops in creative therapies is desirable.

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 with no individual component score less than 6.5.

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

Interview: UK applicants are expected to attend an interview at QMU and will be required to submit their art portfolio electronically. Interviews will take place normally between December and May. Interviews for international students will be conducted over Skype.

More information and contacts

For more information, please contact Programme Leader, or QMU's Admissions team.

Single modules for CPD

It is not possible to study single modules.



Answers to questions frequently asked about the MSc Art Psychotherapy Course

What are the entry requirements for the MSc Art Psychotherapy course?

  • An honours degree or a professional qualification /vocational qualification in a relevant subject e.g. psychology, art, sociology, teaching.
  • A minimum of 1000 hours of employment or voluntary experience.
  • A portfolio of 12 examples of personal artwork

Experience of either personal therapy or experiential Art Psychotherapy workshops and participation in an introduction to Art Therapy course is a benefit.

What constitutes relevant work experience?

Relevant work includes work in a care (nursing assistant, project worker, arts instructor etc.) or experience of work in community settings, teaching, facilitating art workshops etc.

Are applicants with degrees other than Fine Art considered?

A large number of students embarking upon the MSc Art Psychotherapy have a degree in visual art or a related field, which involves arts practice. Queen Margaret University does accept students with degrees or professional qualifications in other subjects relevant to Art Psychotherapy, e.g. Psychology, Art History, Nursing, Occupational Therapy, Social Work, Sociology, Medicine, etc.

What should a portfolio include?

A portfolio should demonstrate a serious involvement with art media and your personal process of work with imagery.

Are there other steps I can take to prepare to apply for the MSc Art Psychotherapy?

Reading about Art Psychotherapy is essential and a pre-course reading list is provided at the end of this document. Introductory Art Therapy courses and workshops are also a helpful way of learning about the subject. See websites; British Association of Art Therapists, Health & Care Professions Council.

Does QM have Open Days?

QMU holds university postgraduate open evenings, usually one in the autumn and one in the spring. This offers potential applicants an opportunity to meet with representatives of the Art Psychotherapy programme and discuss any queries with them. The university also offers virtual meetings on those days. Please check the university website for details of the postgraduate open evenings.

How is the course structured?

Full Time

Year One 9-6.15pm on Mondays and Tuesdays, 2 days per week on placement plus 2 online modules

Year Two 9-6.15pm on Thursdays only and 2 days per week on placement

Part Time

Year One 9am-6.15pm on Tuesday, 1 day per week on placement and an online module

Year Two 9am-6.15pm on Monday, 1 day per week on placement and an online module

Year three 9am-6.15pm on Thursday and 1 day per week on placement

Year 4 Part-time students wishing to complete their Clinical Project in Year Four will attend personal academic tutorials by appointment.

PLEASE NOTE: part-time students will need to attend an intense introduction to placement at the start of year 1. They will need to be available 4 days a week, Monday-Thursday for the first 6 weeks of study.

You will also be required to carry out independent learning. The Art Studio will be open for practice during evenings and weekends, and outside of normal teaching hours.

How is the practice placement allocated?

Practice Placements are arranged and allocated by the Practice Placement Coordinator and Administrator in the School Office. Students have two practice placements during the training course. The Practice Placement Coordinator will match the student's learning needs with a suitable practice placement. Efforts are made to arrange practice placements in or near the city where the student resides though some travel may be necessary.

What kinds of practice placements are offered?

The range of practice placements are extensive including placements within hospitals, schools, voluntary sector organisations, child and family centres, counselling services, prisons, drug and alcohol services, hospices, community based health centres, community based mental health teams, day centres for the elderly and for adults with physical and/or learning disabilities. The range of practice placements for Art Psychotherapy students changes from year to year.

What else do I need to know about placements?

Students are required to complete 2 years of practice placement. Participation in a weekly Supervision Seminar in university is a co-requisite of the practice placement. Students will be required to complete a Police Check/ Disclosure Scotland for their placement. International students are required to bring Police checks with them for the start of the semester at the latest. Admissions may ask for this information to arrive 3 months prior to the start of the course so that a final offer of a place can be granted.

Why are students required to attend personal psychotherapy for the duration of the MSc Art Psychotherapy?

Students are required to attend personal psychodynamic psychotherapy for the duration of the MSc Art Psychotherapy course. All of the registered Art Psychotherapy courses in the UK have this personal psychotherapy requirement. Responsibility for finding a therapist rests with the student. In general students are advised to work with a therapist whose orientation is compatible with the psychodynamic orientation of the programme, with a minimum of 5 years experience BAAT, UKCP or BACP or HCPC State Registered.

Fees for personal therapy range on average from £35-50 per session. It is important to bear this additional expense in mind and budget for it.

Personal psychodynamic psychotherapy is seen to be supportive of the student whilst on the course and also enables a student to have personal experience of a therapeutic relationship. As personal therapy is a programme requirement, the student's therapist will be requested to submit a letter to the student’s personal academic tutor at the end of each semester informing her of the number of sessions the student has attended. Otherwise the student's personal therapy is distinct from the course and is confidential between student and therapist. Personal psychotherapy is predominately carried out while seeing clients during semesters, while additional sessions may be carried out over the summer.

What are the course fees?

A full outline of the MSc Art Psychotherapy course fees and updated information on possible student funding can be found on the MSc Art Psychotherapy course pages. There are no grants and most students take out a student loan. Some applicants have received part funding from their employers

Are there grants, trusts or scholarships for the course?

No grants are available. Some students have sought funding from other sources by consulting information on Education Awards in their local library. Other students have obtained a Career Development Loan from their bank.

May fees be paid over the course of a year or need full fees be paid at the outset of the academic year?

A full outline of the MSc Art Psychotherapy course fees and information on payment structure can be found on the MSc Art Psychotherapy course pages.

What sort of tutorial support is available to students?

Each student on the course has a personal academic tutor (PAT) whose role is to help the student to integrate the different parts of the course and to be aware of any circumstances affecting the student’s learning on the course. Tutors will meet with their tutees at least once per semester to review the student's work. In addition, students will receive weekly supervision as part of their placement.

Is there support within college with students with special educational needs?

A member of the course team is an academic disability student coordinator and is able to meet with students to discuss requirements and offer advice in liaison with the academic disability services. For example, students with dyslexia may be advised how to be assessed, where to find technological support, and what sorts of extra support is available. In addition, there are workshops within the university on essay preparation and some tutorials are offered for students whose first language is not English. QMU subscribes to an equal opportunities policy. There is an access hardship fund within the college to which students experiencing financial difficulties may apply. Information is available from

Are there studio facilities in the college for students wishing to continue with their own artwork?

There is a workshop component to the course. There is studio space although this is timetabled for teaching. However, students are encouraged to pursue their own artwork and to find out about the media specific workshop facilities open to them in Edinburgh (e.g. sculpture, photography and printmaking). Students are also strongly encouraged to visit the many excellent museums and galleries in Edinburgh.

Do most students find employment after they graduate?

Employment opportunities vary, with some regions of the UK offering more employment possibilities for qualified Art Psychotherapists than others. Some Art Psychotherapists will find employment in settings where their Art Psychotherapy knowledge combines with the requirements of the job. An example would be e.g. a job as a project worker or an art worker with special needs, on a Community Mental Health Team, School and Hospice etc. Art Psychotherapists find full, part-time and sessional work within statutory and voluntary sectors. Practice Placement experience whilst a student contributes to an understanding of employment possibilities and enables students to consider realistically how to approach employment upon graduation.

The British Association of Art Therapists (BAAT), the professional organisation which newly qualified Art Therapists may join, publishes, a journal (international journal of Art Psychotherapy), a Newsletter, and circulates online information about Art Therapy posts in the UK. In addition, BAAT Regional Groups enable Art Therapists to keep in touch with one another and focus upon local and professional issues and developments. Within BAAT there are a number of special interest groups, such as Art Therapy and Education, Art Therapy and Autistic Spectrum Disorders, Art Therapy and Palliative Care, Art Therapy and Learning Disability, Art Therapy in Forensic Settings and Art Therapy Race and Culture, creating networks which in turn promote employment.

What support is offered to International students?

We recommend pre-sessional courses to all applicants whose first language is not English.

Studies Department at QMU offers a range of preparatory English courses for students whose first language is not English. Interested students are advised to contact Recruitment & International Liaison Office: telephone:+ 44 ( 0) 131 474 0000 email: For information about student accommodation contact the Accommodation Office on Tel: +44 (0) 131 474 0000. We recommend pre-sessional courses to all applicants whose first language is not English.

How many students are accepted on the course each year?

Between 25 and 30 full-time places and 12 part-time places are offered each year or the equivalent in terms of full and part-time places.

When should I apply?

Applicants are advised to apply between October and May 1st. The application deadline is May 1st. This is a competitive course and early applications are recommended, though late applicants will be

considered. The majority of interviews take place in the second semester between January and May. For more information, contact: QMU Admissions Office on Tel: +44 (0)131 474 0000. Please enclose your reference together with your application form.

What are the research interests of the staff? Please see individual staff member's details on the QMU Occupational and Art Therapies subject area website

Could I have a reading list?

Case, C. (2005) Imagining Animals: Art, Psychotherapy and Primitive States of Mind, Routledge.

Dubowski, J. and Evans, K. (2001) Art Therapy with Children on the Autistic Spectrum: Beyond Words, Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Edwards, D. (2013) Art Therapy, Sage publications.

Gilroy, A. (2011) Art Therapy Research in Practice, Peter Lang Publishers.

Gilroy, A. (2006) Art Therapy, Research and Evidence-based Practice, Sage publications.

Hogan, S. (2001) Gender Issues in Art Therapy, Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Huss, E. (2015) A Theory-based Approach to Art Therapy: Implications for teaching, research and practice (Explorations in Mental Health), Routledge.

Killick, K. (Ed.) (2017) Art Therapy for Psychosis: Theory and Practice (The International Society for Psychological and Social Approaches to Psychosis Book Series), Routledge.

Leibmann, M. and Weston,S. (2015) Art Therapy with Physical Conditions, Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Schaverien, J. (2009) The Revealing Image: Analytical Art Psychotherapy in Theory and Practice, Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Wood, C. (Ed.) (2011) Navigating Art Therapy, A Therapist's Companion, Routledge.


Online Journal: Art Therapy Online-ATOL


Please Note:

The delivery of this course is subject to the terms and conditions set out in our 2021/22 Entry - Terms and Conditions (Postgraduate).

Course Overview

At QMU and on practice placement
Full-time: 2 years OR Part-time: 3-4 years
Start Date
September 2021
Study Abroad
School of Health Sciences
Fees & Funding

Related Professional Bodies

Error loading Partial View script (file: ~/Views/MacroPartials/RC_Event.cshtml)