Postgraduate Taught

Play Therapy - MSc

If you have experience of working with children and families, this MSc in Play Therapy course will help you to develop your expertise and move into a stimulating career as a play therapist.

Working as a play therapist is an immensely rewarding and enriching career. This course 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.

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.

Why QMU?

  • Professional accreditation and registration: This course is accredited by the British Association of Play Therapists and on graduation you can register as a Full Member of the British Association of Play Therapists (BAPT).
  • Staff expertise: 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.
  • Placements: Your practice placements are an invaluable way of consolidating the theoretical knowledge you learn from weekly teaching, experiential opportunities and small group tutorials.
  • Employability: The opportunities for employment as a play therapist continue to develop rapidly and graduates find themselves working in a variety of settings.
  • Flexible delivery: The course is designed to be flexible, allowing you to combine your studies with your current work role.

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

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.

How will I be taught?

Structure and exit awards

It is possible to exit with a PgCert (60 credits) after one year, a PgDip (120 credits) after two years and an MSc (180 credits) at the end of three years. You are only eligible to apply for registration with the British Association of Play Therapists (BAPT) and practice 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.


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.

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 20 students undertaking the course each year.

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.


  • Practice, Theory & Placement 1 (40 credits)
  • Practice, Theory & Placement 2 (20 credits)
  • Practice, Theory & Placement 3 (20 credits)
  • Child Development & Observations 1 (20 credits)
  • Child Development & Observations 2 (20 credits)
  • Play Therapy Research, Theory & Practice (20 credits)
  • Theory & Practice of Person-Centred (20 credits)
  • Health & Wellbeing (20 credits)
  • Leading/Person-Centred Practice for Health & Wellbeing(20 credits)
  • Dissertation (60 credits)

NB The modules listed are correct at time of posting  (November 2023) 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.

Career opportunities

The opportunities for employment as a play therapist continue to develop rapidly. Some play therapists work within a range of statutory, government funded or voluntary and independent organisations – for example, within fostering and adoption services, schools and children’s centres, in hospitals, hospices or community contexts as well as child and adolescent mental health services, social work and other social services teams. A number are employed directly by children’s charities and private children’s residential homes. Many play therapists also work independently in private practice or are commissioned by agencies to provide services for specific groups of children. A small number of play therapists in the UK work as academics, teachers and clinical supervisors.

For further information, visit The British Association of Play Therapists website.

Play Therapy (MSc): Entry requirements and application information

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.

This course is only open to applicants who do not require a Student Visa.

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

Other requirements

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


For fees information please contact With Kids

Other information

  • The cost of the PVG check and the cost of professional indemnity insurance is the responsibility of the student. For more information on this, visit the PG 2025 fees page on our website.
  • The additional costs associated with placement travel and accommodation are the responsibility of the student. 

Applying for this course

Applications should be made to With Kids

Application deadline


Terms and Conditions

The delivery of this course is subject to the terms and conditions set out in our 2023/24 Entry - Terms and Conditions (Postgraduate).

More information and With Kids contacts

Become your best you: study at QMU

Course Overview

At mix of attendance at With Kids (Glasgow), at QMU and on placement
3 years part time
Start Date
September 2024
School of Health Sciences
Fees & Funding
SCQF Level

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