Postgraduate Taught

MSc Play Therapy

If you have experience of working with children and families, this course will help you to develop your expertise and move into a stimulating career as a play therapist. You can study part-time over three years and will benefit from placements that will enhance your learning experience and better prepare you for your future career.

Working as a play therapist is an immensely rewarding and enriching career. This MSc in Play Therapy will teach you how to work safely and therapeutically with children and families with complex needs. The course is a collaboration between With Kids (a Scottish charity) and the MSc Art Psychotherapy at QMU.

Why QMU?

  • You will earn a qualification that allows you to register as a Full Member of the British Association of Play Therapists (BAPT).
  • You will enjoy learning on a course taught by qualified and experienced BAPT-registered play therapists, who bring teaching to life with clinical experience and case material.
  • Your practice placements are an invaluable way of consolidating the theoretical knowledge you learn from weekly teaching, experiential opportunities and small group tutorials.
  • The course is designed to be flexible, allowing you to combine your studies with your current work role.

Course overview

Studies show that 20% of children have some form of emotional, behaviour or mental health problem that can prevent them fulfilling their full potential. Furthermore, children who experience mental health issues can go on to develop serious mental health issues as adults. Play therapy provides an opportunity for children experiencing emotional and behavioural issues to work through difficult experiences and feelings with a trained therapist and enabling a more positive outcome.

The key purpose of the profession of play therapy is defined by the British Association of Play Therapists (BAPT):

‘Play therapy is the dynamic process between child and play therapist in which the child explores at his or her own pace and with his or her own agenda those issues, past and current, conscious and unconscious, that are affecting the child’s life in the present. The child’s inner resources are enabled by the therapeutic alliance to bring about growth and change. Play therapy is child-centred, in which play is the primary medium and speech is the secondary medium.’

This innovative course is structured to develop your skills through a variety of modules and learning experiences. You will gain a thorough understanding of the fundamental inter-relatedness of the theory of a child’s physical, social and emotional world, and will develop the skills to work effectively and therapeutically to enhance emotional wellbeing and transform life chances. You will work directly with children and families with increasing complexity on practice placement over the three years and this will include clinical observation of a child/children from infanthood to primary.

Applicants should possess qualities that enable them to undertake study in an appropriate manner and at the appropriate academic level. Thus, the students recruited onto this course will be committed, diligent and enthusiastic and will also possess the skills, curiosity and drive to enhance their knowledge base.

Exit awards

MSc (180 credits)/ PgDip (120 credits)/Pg Cert (60) Only those exiting with an MSc Play Therapy will eligible to apply for registration with BAPT and practice as a Play Therapist.


To obtain a specific postgraduate award at QMU you must complete a number of credit-bearing modules. You can receive a PgCert after one year, a PgDip after two years and an MSc at the end of three years. You can only practise as a play therapist with an MSc.

Teaching, learning and assessment

The teaching and learning approaches used encourage you to be an independent, participative learner. These approaches will engage you in lectures, problem-based learning, workshops, small group discussion, seminars, experiential groups, observation and skills practice. The course team aims to enable students to learn from and with others through supportive peer assessment and feedback, guided by the tutor.

Assessment methods include case study analysis, collaborative presentation, developmental theory essays, observation analysis and play therapy practice placement portfolio. As a postgraduate student you will predominantly be working independently, but there is a strong structure for academic support.

Normally, there are fewer than 20 students in the class, ensuring that individuals receive excellent support and benefit from interaction with other students.

Teaching hours and attendance

The course runs over three years part-time. You will attend the learning centre at With Kids in the east end of Glasgow one day a week over the first two years. In addition, you will undertake play therapy practice placement, observations and attend clinical supervision individually or in small groups. You will be expected to attend your own personal therapy for the duration of the course, and 100% attendance is expected at all elements of the MSc Play Therapy.

Class sizes

Normally, there are up to 16 students undertaking the course each year.


  • Developmental, Clinical and Play Therapy Theory with Observational Studies 1 (30 credits)
    This module includes 20 weekly direct observation of infant and carer and associated seminars.
    The module focuses on child and adolescent development using direct observation as well as exploration and critical evaluation of child and adolescent developmental theories.
  • Clinical Skills, Process and Practice 1 (10 credits)
    This module will include working on placement with two children for 18 sessions in total as part of play therapy practice experience.
    This module will prepare the student for Practice Placement through an introduction to key elements of clinical Play Therapy practice including: relevant legislation, ethics and codes of professional practice and professional competencies essential to safe practice. The module will help the student develop play therapy skills and understanding of the therapeutic process.
  • Developmental, Clinical and Play Therapy Theory (30 credits)
    This module will include direct observation of a pre-school and primary school child and associated seminars.
    The module will explore the impact of adverse experiences, examine cultural diversity, and consider environment and societal issues in relation to the development of the child, within a context of critically analysing developmental theories and current research.
    The clinical practice of Play Therapy as an intervention for of children, young people and their families is explored and critically evaluated.
  • Clinical Skills, Process and Practice 2 (10 credits)
    This module will include working on placement with two children for 35 sessions in total as part of play therapy practice experience. The children for this placement will be in the criteria stipulated for advancement of practice skills and associated knowledge.

This module will enable students to work autonomously in the assessment, delivery and evaluation of Play Therapy with children experiencing moderate to significant difficulties.
The practice will provides students with the experience of working with families, schools and other systems which impact on the life of the child.

  • Research Methods (30 credits)
    The MSc Research Methods module will provide the student with an understanding of research principles, a range of quantitative and qualitative research methodologies and appropriate analysis for these. This will enable the student to develop the research skills and knowledge necessary to undertake an independent research project.
  • MSc Project (Play Therapy) (60 credits)
    This module will enable learners to critically appraisal a piece of their own Play Therapy clinical work; through use of supervision, integration of theory and practice; personal performance and reflection in keeping with good reflexive and ethical practice. This module will engage learners in a critical and reflective literature review of an area of Play Therapy practice which illustrates academic rigour and professional understanding. Two options will be offered to students of A) Clinical Project or B) A Literature Review.
  • Clinical Skills, Process and Practice 3 (10 credits)
    This module will include working on placement with two children for 35 sessions in total or one for 30 sessions as part of play therapy practice experience. The children for this placement will be in the criteria stipulated for advanced practice skills and associated knowledge.

The module will enable students to work autonomously in the assessment, delivery and evaluation of Play Therapy with children experiencing significant emotional and behavioural difficulties developing advanced play therapy skills.
Opportunity will be provided for the student to work with complex families, schools and other systems which impact on the life of the child.

This course is due for revalidation in May 2021. The modules listed are correct at time of posting (12 March 2021) but are subject to change following revalidation. In the event that modules are changed, QMU will seek to use reasonable endeavours to ensure that there is no detrimental impact on students. Please check the course entry on our website for updates.

Links with industry/ professional bodies

This course is accredited by the British Association of Play Therapists.


You will complete three practice placements. Placements can take place in your workplace, local schools, nurseries or other agencies that offer services to children. You can set up your own placements, arrange them with support from With Kids, or With Kids can allocate a placement for you.


The course will open up many routes for your future career. Play therapists practice in many environments, including the NHS, social services, primary, secondary, further and special education, charities, and private practice. Play therapists work with children and young people who present with a range of emotional difficulties. Statistics published in 2015 showed that the overall majority of play therapists in the UK work in health and the voluntary sector. A significant number of them work in schools and nurseries. For further information, visit:

Entry requirements

To apply, you should be a professional with relevant qualifications and/or degree in a related discipline together with a minimum of two years of post-qualifying experience in, for example, social work, teaching, educational psychology, clinical psychology or nursing. Alternatively you should have at least five years’ experience working face to face with children, young people and their families/ carers.

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 6.0.

Interview: Individual and group interviews form part of the selection process.

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


Application deadline

31 March 2021. Applications should be made to With Kids. Visit: 

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 With Kids (Glasgow), at QMU and on placement
Part-time: 3 years
Start Date
September 2021
Study Abroad
School of Health Sciences
Fees & Funding