Postgraduate Taught

MSc Music Therapy

Welcome to the only music therapy course in Scotland. Channel your musicianship into helping people and qualify to work as a music therapist in two years!

Are you a musician and interested in working with people? Music therapy may be the career for you. Music therapists working in the UK must be registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) and graduates of this course are eligible to apply for their HCPC registration.

There are opportunities to collaborate with learners following the same course at Metropolitan College, Athens, Greece


EMTC 2022 Logo

For more information, please visit our events page - EMTC 2022

The 12th European Music Therapy Conference, June 2022

The 12th European Music Therapy Conference, hosted by the British Association for Music Therapy will be held at QMU in June 2022. For more information about the conference, please visit our EMTC 2022 Pages.

Why QMU?

  • The programme team are all active researchers and practising music therapists, as well as music therapy educators
  • The programme sits uniquely within an Arts Therapies Pathway as part of the internationally recognised Person-centred Practice Framework
  • Opportunities to collaborate with learners following the same programme in Athens, Greece

Course overview

Music therapy offers relational experiences through music. It is an established health intervention to help people whose lives have been affected by injury, illness or disability.

As well as having a high level of practical musicianship and at least one year of experience of working in a caring profession, such as psychiatry, education, social services or the voluntary sector, you will be ready to learn about a variety of approaches to music therapy. With a strong emphasis on psychodynamic theory, you will be equipped to work in a person-centred way with people with a wide range of needs.

Studies will focus on the following areas:
• therapeutic musical skills, with an emphasis on improvisation, interaction and application in a therapeutic context
• psychological, developmental, and music therapy theories
• different persons and contexts
• self-development
• observation and critical thinking skills
• professional issues, such as ethics and multi-disciplinary working
• research, assessment and service evaluation

Some lectures and workshops are shared with students from QMU’s MSc Art Psychotherapy and MSc Play Therapy.

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

Pre-programme reading

Please see the list of recommended reading for applicants - Pre Programme Reading 2022

Exit awards

MSc (240 credits)


You must complete the full MSc to be eligible to register with the HCPC and to work as a music therapist. Single module study is not available.

Teaching, learning and assessment

Teaching includes practical and academic elements with an emphasis on experiential and interpersonal learning and teaching methods, including lectures, seminars and tutorials. Practice education is supported by regular supervision at QMU. Students are not required to cover the cost for supervision at University or on placement.

Assessments are varied and include practical and written formats as well as short video, poster and case work presentations. Personal development is fundamental to therapeutic training and it is a requirement of the HCPC that students attend regular personal psychotherapy throughout the course, with a minimum of 40 hours of attendance. Personal therapy is not assessed and students are required to cover the cost. Independent study is in addition to this, as well as days specifically for practice-based learning: one day/week in year one and two days/ week in year two.

Teaching hours and attendance

Each module requires attendance of classes at QMU: typically, Year One students attend QMU on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and in Year Two, classes are on a Thursday. Practice placement days and independent study are in addition to this.

Class sizes

There are (maximum) 25 places for each cohort. 

Links with industry/ professional bodies

Students are advised to join The British Association for Music Therapy (BAMT) and graduates are eligible for registration with the Health and Care Professions Council as Registered Arts Therapists (Music).


The MSc Music Therapy Programme sits together with Art Psychotherapy, Dramatherapy and Play Therapy as an arts therapies pathway within the Person-Centred Practice Framework at QMU. The programme contains the modules listed below.

Year One

  • Practice-based Learning 1 (40 credits)
  • Developmental and Relational Perspectives (20 credits)
  • Therapeutic Practice and Resources (20 credits)
  • Theory and Practice of Person-centred Health and Wellbeing (20 credits)
  • Leading Person-centred Practice for Health and Wellbeing (20 credits)

Year Two

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

Single modules for CPD

Not available 

Practice education

Practice-based learning is ongoing throughout the programme. In Year One, practice education is usually with a music therapist, one day per week from October to March. In Year Two, you attend practice education two days per week throughout both semesters and work in a more autonomous way. You can be in various settings in Scotland, including within education, healthcare and the third sector. Practice-based learning can also be arranged further afield if students choose to commute; the course has excellent partnerships with practice education providers across the UK, Ireland and Gibraltar. Practice placements are organised by the Professional Practice Tutor at QMU.


On graduation, you are eligible for registration with the HCPC, and will be qualified to work as a music therapist throughout the health, education and community sectors. Most graduates have found employment within care homes, schools, the NHS and charities. Many others have become successful freelance practitioners. There is a strong alumni community and graduates contribute to the programme in various ways.

Entry requirements

The MSc Music Therapy at QMU is academically, musically and personally demanding. Therefore, it is necessary that you are able to demonstrate your readiness for the course as well as meet the entry requirements.

Applicants usually have an honours degree. However, a comparable professional qualification, or extensive experience in a related field will be considered.

This is alongside evidence of a high standard of practical musicianship, a fundamental ability to listen openly and fluency in a diverse range of musics. You should be able to demonstrate a high degree of skill and flexibility on at least one instrument. You do not need to be able to read Western musical notation. We are committed to enabling and widening access for musicians from diverse backgrounds.

You will also have a minimum of one year’s experience of relevant work experience with persons in the community, education or health settings. Some experience of personal music therapy or psychodynamic psychotherapy, or experiential workshops in creative therapies is desirable.

International: You will be required to provide evidence of English language competence at no less than IELTS 7.0, and with no individual component score less than 6.5.

Interview: Interviews are usually held between January and June. Your personal statement should include the reasons you feel drawn to the profession of music therapy at this stage in your life and why the particular approach taught at Queen Margaret University appeals to you. Please include an outline of any texts you have read in preparation for this programme. We would also like to hear about your own relationship with music and how this has shaped your decision to apply. In addition, please detail any relevant experience within caring professions, which does not need to be music related, and highlight particular qualities you feel you would bring to the programme. 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. The interview will assess each applicant’s personal suitability for the profession, ability to reflect and readiness for the demands that the course entails. For applicants who are unable to travel to QMU, or when social restrictions apply, auditions and interviews are held online.

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.

Application process

You are asked to include several documents with your application and must include a personal statement following these guidelines.

Your personal statement should include the reasons you feel drawn to the profession of music therapy at this stage in your life and why the particular approach taught at Queen Margaret University appeals to you.  Please include an outline of any texts you have read in preparation for this programme. We would also like to hear about your own relationship with music and how this has shaped your decision to train as a music therapist.  In addition, please detail any relevant experience within caring professions and highlight particular qualities you feel you would bring to the training.

Applications are reviewed by members of the programme team and you will either be sent feedback at that stage or offered an interview and audition.

About the audition and interview

The audition usually includes a group improvisation with other applicants and an individual audition. The audition is your chance to demonstrate your breadth of musicianship: 

  • Please prepare a short piece on two different instruments (or two contrasting pieces if you are playing one instrument)
  • If you don’t use your voice in these pieces, you are also required to sing a short song
  • Please be ready to improvise as directed on the day

The interview aims to assess your personal suitability for the profession, your ability to reflect and readiness for the demands that the course entails. Members of the programme team will be interested in talking to you about your personal statement.  

When the interview and audition is conducted online, you will be asked to prepare for the audition and interview in the same way, but there is no group component.

Applicants are advised of the outcome of their interview via the Admissions team within a few days.

More information and contacts

For more information, contact the Music Therapy team, QMU Admissions or the Programme Leader Dr Philippa Derrington 


Does QMU have Open Days?

QMU holds one postgraduate open evening in the autumn, which offers potential applicants an opportunity to meet with lecturers and current students from the Music Therapy programme and discuss any queries with them. Virtual open days with subject specific talks take place regularly throughout the year. Please check the University website for details or follow @QMUMusicTherapy for notifications via Twitter.

How do I apply?

Applications are made online. Please click the ‘Apply to this course’ button on the top right of this page.

When should I apply?

Applications can be made from October of each year for the following September. Applicants are advised to apply as soon as possible and before the 1st May, although late applicants will be considered. Places fill up on a first come first served basis. If your application is successful, and the course is full, you will be offered a place on a waiting list.

When are interviews?

If your application is successful, you will be invited to interview at the University. They normally take place between January and June. For more information, contact: 

What is the mode of attendance?

There are two fifteen-week semesters in each year: September – December; January – May.

In Level 1 (1st year) students attend two days at University (Tuesday and Wednesday) and one day (any other day, Mon-Fri) each week on practice placement.

In Level 2 (2nd year) students attend one day at University (Thursday) and two days each week on practice placement (any other days, Mon-Fri).

Can I work at the same time?

Although attendance at University and practice placement is part-time (3 days/ week in each year) the programme is full-time so you are required to make up the hours for independent study (equivalent to 2 days/ week).

Can I do the programme by distance-learning?

Some aspects of the programme can be studied online and there is much self-directed study. However, attendance at University is compulsory due to the necessity of interpersonal and experiential components.

Is there a part-time route to MSc Music Therapy?

There is no part time route at the moment. It is offered as a full-time 2 year, fast-track pre-registration (HCPC) programme.

Who organises practice placements?

Practice Placements are arranged and allocated by the Professional Practice Tutor at QMU. Students are not expected to find their own placements. Before Level 1 and Level 2, students are invited to complete a form to indicate choice, previous experience and address during Semesters. Wherever possible, practice placements are arranged in, or near to, the city where the student lives but this is also balanced by each student’s learning needs and preferences, which are all taken into consideration.

Are all the practice placements in Scotland?

We have approved placement sites in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Stirling, Aberdeen and many other areas in Scotland, but also in England, Northern Ireland and Ireland. Students are placed in a site that we consider will offer the best learning experience. Our good links with managers at various practice placement settings around the UK and Ireland mean that we can aim to offer all students a placement that makes sense geographically.

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, 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 Music Therapy students changes from year to year.

Who supervises practice placement?

In Level 1, all students are supervised by a music therapist who works on-site. In Level 2, students have the opportunity to work more autonomously and often in a setting where there has previously been no Music Therapy. They are supervised by another professional who works in the setting.

All students receive weekly clinical supervision at University in small groups and attendance to these is a co-requisite of practice placement.

When should I start personal psychotherapy?

Students are required to attend personal psychodynamic psychotherapy for the duration of the MSc Music Therapy programme (as all HCPC registered programmes in the UK) and to show evidence of at least 40 hours throughout the 2 year programme. Responsibility for finding a therapist rests with the student and ideally should be in place for the start of the programme.

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, and registered with UKCP or BACP. Further details are given when students matriculate.

What are the programme fees? 

See the Fees and Funding button on the programme website for fees and updated information on possible student funding.

Are there any other costs?

Fees for personal psychotherapy range on average from £40-60 per session. It is important to bear this additional expense in mind and budget for it.

All music therapists, including trainees, must have personal indemnity insurance.

Travel costs to placement are not covered.

Are there grants, trusts or scholarships for the programme?

There are no grants available but international students can apply for a QMU scholarship. 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, or received part funding from their employers.

Do full fees need to be paid at the outset of the academic year?

No, there are other options. See the QMU website for further details.  

What sort of tutorial support is available to students? 

Each student on the programme has a Personal Academic Tutor (PAT). The role of the Personal Academic Tutor is to help students integrate the different parts of the progamme, review their work and be aware of any circumstances affecting the student’s learning on the programme. Students meet with their Personal Academic Tutor at least once each semester.

Is there support within University for students with disabilities?

A member of the programme team is an academic disability student coordinator and will 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.

Is there help with writing?

The team within the Effective Learning Services at QMU offer workshops for all students and on every aspect of academic study, including essay preparation. Tutorials are also offered for students whose first language is not English. 

What support is offered to international students before the programme begins?

We recommend pre-sessional programmes to all applicants whose first language is not English. These are FREE and there are 2 options: a 12 week programme from mid-June, and a 4 week programme from mid-August.

How many students are in each cohort?

There are up to 25 students in each cohort however workshops, supervision and tutorials are in small groups.

Do most students find employment after they graduate?

Our graduates have a high level of employment with some students creating a post from their practice placement in Level 2.

Employment opportunities vary, with some regions of the UK offering more employment possibilities for qualified music therapists than others.

Students are offered classes with the Careers Adviser for the School of Health Sciences, to help explore careers options and think about how to approach employment upon graduation, including mock interviews. Students are encouraged to make the most of their local networks, which in turn promote employment.

What are the research interests of the staff?

Please see the staff member's details on the website.

How do I find out more about Music Therapy?

Join British Association for Music Therapy. Go to or follow @musictherapyuk on Twitter

Come along to an event hosted by the Scottish Music Therapy Trust. See

Sign up to receive emails: or follow @scottishmttrust on Twitter

View more student films

View course presentation 2022

Please Note: 

The delivery of this course is subject to the terms and conditions set out in our 2022/23 Entry - Terms and Conditions (Postgraduate).

Teaching staff is subject to change.

Course Overview

On site at QMU, online and with practice-based learning settings
2 years full-time
Start Date
September 2022
Study Abroad
School of Health Sciences
Fees & Funding

Engage with the Team

A Student Story

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