NB Application to this course is now closed. Application for entry in September 2025 will open at the start of October 2024.

Postgraduate Taught

Music Therapy - MSc

Are you a musician with experience of working with people in a caring profession, such as health, education, social services or the voluntary sector? If so, why not consider a new career in music therapy: an established health intervention to help people whose lives are affected by injury, illness or disability.

This long established MSc in Music Therapy at QMU is the only music therapy course in Scotland. It offers stimulating and varied learning experiences, including practice placements in various settings that are vital to your learning.

The course is the first step to a new, exciting and rewarding career. It will qualify you to register with the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC) and work as a music therapist in only two years.

Why QMU?

  • Stimulating learning environment: The course is based in our School of Health Sciences and offers a stimulating learning environment with a practical focus. Your learning will be enriched by the interdisciplinary structure of the course as you study alongside your peers from various other pathways within QMU’s Person-Centred Practice Framework, including the MSc Art Psychotherapy and MSc Dramatherapy.
  • Practice-based experience: You’ll benefit from opportunities to work in a variety of settings.
  • Professional accreditation/registration: Students are advised to join The British Association for Music Therapy (BAMT) and graduates are eligible for registration with the Health & Care Professions Council as Registered Arts Therapists (Music).
  • Staff expertise and experience: The team are music therapists and researchers, as well as music therapy educators.

Music Therapy (MSc): More information and what you will achieve

On this course you will 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

Before embarking on the course, we would recommend some texts to read, as follows:

Music Therapy
Rachel Darnley-Smith and Helen M. Patey (Sage, 2003)

Music Therapy: An Art Beyond Words
Leslie Bunt and Brynjulf Stige (Routledge, 2014)

Relational Music Therapy: An Intersubjective
Gro Trondalen (Barcelona Publishers, 2016)

An Introduction to Person-Centred Practice: Person-Centred Practice in Nursing and Health
care; Theory and Practice
Eds. Brendan McCormack and Tanya McCance (Wiley Blackwell, 2017)

These texts offer an introduction to critical theory and intersectionality:

Disability and Other Human Questions
Dan Goodley (Society Now, 2021)

Learning from my Daughter
Eva Kittay (Oxford University Press, 2019)

The Race Conversation
Eugene Ellis (Confer, 2021)

Intersectionality in the Arts Therapies
Eds. Jessica Collier and Corrina Eastwood (Jessica
Kingsley Publishers, 2022)

The following titles introduce psychodynamic
theory and thinking:

Communicative Musicality: Exploring the Basis of
Human Companionship
Stephen Malloch and Colwyn Trevarthen, Editors
(Oxford University Press, 2009)

Forms of Vitality: Exploring Dynamic Experience
in Psychology, the Arts, Psychotherapy and
Daniel Stern (Oxford University Press, 2010)

Practitioner Research in Counselling and
Psychotherapy: The Power of Examples
Eds. Liz Bondi and Judith Fewell (MacMillan
Education, 2016)

Mentalizing in Arts Therapies
Marianne Verfaille (Routledge 2018)

This text is useful for those new to or returning
to academic study:

How to Fix your Academic Writing Trouble
Inger Mewburn, Katherine Firth and Shaun
Lehmann (Open International Publishing, 2019)

This free Open University course introduces
master's level academic study:


These online journals are open access and offer a varied source of up-to-date research, practice and thinking in music therapy and broader interdisciplinary contexts:

Approaches: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Music

Australian Music Therapy Journal

Dialogues in Music Therapy Education

Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy

How will I be taught?

Structure and exit awards

You must complete the full MSc (240 credits) to be eligible to register with the Health & Care Professions Council and to work as a music therapist. You can exit at different points but 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.

Practice-based Learning (Placements)

Practice-based learning is ongoing throughout the course. In Year One, your placement  is usually with a music therapist, one day per week from October through to March. In Year Two, you attend practice-based learning two days per week throughout both semesters and work in a more autonomous way.

The range of practice-based learning is 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.

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. Students do not need to find their own placements: practice placements are organised by the Professional Practice Tutor at QMU.

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. 

Teaching staff

You can read more about the teaching staff on this course at the bottom of this page. Please note that teaching staff is subject to change.


The MSc Music Therapy course sits together with MSc Art Psychotherapy, MSc Dramatherapy and MSc Play Therapy as an arts therapies pathway within the Person-Centred Practice Framework at QMU. The courses 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)

NB The modules and placements listed are correct at time of posting (October 2023). In the event that modules change, QMU will seek to use reasonable endeavours to ensure that there is no detrimental impact on students. Please check our website for updates.

Career opportunities

Music therapists work 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 course in various ways.

Music Therapy (MSc): Entry requirements and application information

Entry requirements

We welcome enquiries and applications from people interested in how music, persons and health interact.

Applicants usually hold an honours degree or a comparable professional qualification. Valuing music in your own life and showing an interest in what music can offer in relationship with others, is important.

We are interested in flexible musicianship and a fundamental ability to listen openly to your own and others’ music. You do not need to be able to read Western musical notation, hold musical grades, or play specific instruments. We are committed to enabling and widening access for musicians from all backgrounds.

Having at least one year’s experience of relevant work experience with persons in the community, education or health settings is also important. Lived experience is a huge asset; please get in touch with the team if we can do anything to support you in applying.

The course is intentionally demanding and will stretch you in personal, musical, and theoretical ways. We imagine you will be able to reflect constructively, have strong self-awareness, an interest in music and people, and a curiosity about yourself.

Disability/Health conditions

If you have a disability, long-term physical or mental health condition, or learning disability, it should not stand in the way of your studying at QMU. However, if you are not sure whether your disability might be a barrier to your studies please contact the disability service who will be able to have a conversation with you about supports available to you.

The application process

You are asked to include several documents with your application. You will be invited to complete a personal statement which should include reasons you feel drawn to music therapy at this time in your life and why the particular approach taught at QMU appeals to you.

Please make reference to any resources about music therapy you have encountered. We would also like to hear about your own relationship with music and how this has shaped your decision to apply. Please tell us about your experience within caring professions (which does not need to be music related) and highlight what you feel you would bring to the course.

For international applicants who do not have a degree in English, you will be required to provide evidence of English language competency with an average score of IELTS 7.0, with individual components not scoring less than 6.5.

Applications are reviewed by members of the course team. If you meet the entry requirements, will be invited to a creative conversation. If you are not invited to a creative conversation, you will be sent feedback so that you can improve your application for another time.

What is a creative conversation?

The programme team are keen to enable a dialogic process that enables a shared decision about studying music therapy at QMU.

Your creative conversation with one of the programme team is exactly that: a conversation with space for you to share what music means to you. You might, for example, play or sing an original composition/song, a piece that is meaningful to you, or an improvisation on a theme.

Through our conversation, we want to make sure together it’s the right course at the right time for you.

The creative conversation happens online via Microsoft Teams, so that it is the same experience for everyone regardless of where you are based at the time. The timings for our conversations will be considered in relation to your local time but if the timing doesn’t suit, please get in touch with the team.

Come to campus days

As our creative conversations are online, we offer ‘come to campus’ days at different times in the year so that you can have a look around the University, meet with the programme team and have lunch with current students. When you receive an invitation to a creative conversation you will be given details of these days, however coming along to one is not compulsory or a requirement for entry.

‘Come to campus’ days happen in addition to QMU’s online/campus open days.

 Other requirements

  • A satisfactory criminal records check from the Protection of Vulnerable Groups (PVG) Scheme, an occupational health check and personal indemnity insurance are required.

Other costs

  • The cost of the occupational health check, PVG check and the cost of professional indemnity insurance is the responsibility of the student. For more information on this, visit the PG 2024 fees page on our website.
  • The additional costs associated with placement travel and accommodation are the responsibility of the student. We aim to match students to placements that make geographical sense to keep costs to a minimum for you, as travel to placement is also an additional cost. 

Applying for this course

Application to this course is now closed. Application for entry in September 2025 will open at the start of October 2024.

Application deadline

Application to this course is now closed. Application for entry in September 2025 will open at the start of October 2024.

For a course start date in September 2025, the deadline is anticipated for June 2025.

We advise everyone to apply early to be considered because the course fills up on a first come first served basis. When we run a waiting list it is often dynamic and changes quickly.

Terms and Conditions

The delivery of this course is subject to the terms and conditions set out in our 2024/25 Entry - Terms and Conditions (Postgraduate).


More information and contacts


Does QMU have Open Days?

Yes. These are on campus and online and provide an opportunity to speak to lecturers and meet with current students from the MSc Music Therapy. Please check the Postgraduate Open Days page on the QMU website for forthcoming dates 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: admissions@qmu.ac.uk 

What is the mode of attendance?

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

In Year One students attend two days at University (Tuesday and Wednesday) and one other weekday each week for practice placement.

In Year Two students attend one day at University (Thursday) and two other days each week on practice placement.

Can I work at the same time?

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

Can I do the course by distance-learning?

Some aspects of the course 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) course.

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 Year One and Two, 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 Year One, all students are usually supervised by a music therapist who works on-site. In Year Two, 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 regular 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 course (as all HCPC registered courses in the UK) and to show evidence of at least 40 hours throughout the 2-year course. Responsibility for finding a therapist rests with the student and ideally should be in place for the start of the course.

In general students are advised to work with a therapist whose orientation is compatible with the psychodynamic orientation of the course, with a minimum of 5 years’ experience, and registered with UKCP or BACP. Further details are provided in the Programme Handbook which is sent to students before the course start.

What are the course fees? 

See the Fees and Funding button on the course 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.

The HCPC requires that all music therapists, including trainees, must have personal indemnity insurance.

If you have been resident in Scotland for at least 3 years, your travel and accommodation costs for placement are covered. Otherwise applicants are advised to plan to cover such costs.

Your name badge for practice placements is a one-off payment of £7.

All students have occupational health checks before beginning the first practice placement but this cost is covered by QMU. 

Are there grants, trusts or scholarships for the course ?

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 course has a Personal Academic Tutor (PAT). The role of the Personal Academic Tutor is to help students integrate the different parts of the course, review their work and be aware of any circumstances affecting the student’s learning on the course. 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 course 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.

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. 

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 Year Two. 

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 bamt.org or follow @musictherapyuk on Twitter

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

Sign up to receive emails: smtt@hotmail.org.uk or follow @scottishmttrust on Twitter

View more student films

Interview with Ann Lee

Become your best you: study at QMU

Start Your Application

Course Overview

On campus at QMU and on practice placement
2 years full time
Start Date
September 2024
School of Health Sciences
Fees & Funding
SCQF Level

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

Join us at one of our Postgraduate Open Events

Find out about online and in-person opportunities to meet with us to find out more about our postgraduate courses and study at QMU. 

Postgraduate Open Events - More Info and Bookings