Postgraduate Taught

MSc Music Therapy

Welcome to Queen Margaret University’s music therapy programme. We are the only music therapy programme in Scotland.  We are also the only music therapy programme to work within the internationally recognised Person-centred Practice Framework (McCormack and McCance, 2010).

Why QMU?

  • The programme staff team are all active researchers and practising music therapists, as well as music therapy educators.
  • This course was awarded Programme of the Year 2019 by learners at QMU.
  • The course is within QMU’s School of Health Sciences offering many opportunities for interdisciplinary learning, and situated within the Person-centred Practice Framework.

Course overview

Music therapy offers relational experiences through music. As well as having a high level of practical musicianship and at least one year of experience of working in a caring profession, learners will be ready to explore a variety of music therapy approaches. The programme is grounded in music-focused and psychodynamically-informed practice, and you will develop person-centered ways of working in health and social care contexts.

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.

Studies will focus on the following areas:

  • flexible musicianship, with an emphasis on improvisation and interaction
  • psychodynamic, developmental, and music therapy theories
  • persons living with different health needs and in a broad range of contexts
  • self-development
  • observation and critical thinking skills
  • professional issues, such as ethics and multi-disciplinary working
  • research, assessment and service evaluation

As the programme is part of the Person-Centred Practice Framework, there are opportunities for cross-disciplinary collaboration with learners from other programmes within the School of Health Sciences. This includes learners from the Arts Therapies, Nursing, Paramedic Science, and Occupational Therapy.

Exit awards

MSc (240 credits)


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

Teaching, learning and assessment

Teaching includes practical and academic elements with an emphasis on experiential and interpersonal learning. As well as lectures, seminars, tutorials and workshops, your practice education is supported by regular weekly supervision at QMU and learners do not incur additional cost for supervision.

Assessments are varied and include practical and written formats, as well as video, poster and case work presentations.

Personal development is fundamental to therapeutic training and it is a requirement of the HCPC that learners attend regular personal psychotherapy throughout the course, with a minimum of 40 hours of attendance. Personal therapy is non-assessed, and learners are required to cover this cost.

Teaching hours and attendance

Each module requires attendance of classes and independent study. Typically, Year One learners attend QMU on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and in Year Two, classes are on a Thursday. Days for practice-based learning and independent study are in addition to this.

Class sizes

There are (maximum) 25 places for each cohort.. 

Links with industry/ professional bodies

Learners 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 as an Arts Therapies pathway within the Person-centred Practice Framework in the School of Health Sciences. In this context the programme contains the modules listed below.

Year One

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

Year Two

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

The modules listed are correct at time of posting (Jan 2021) 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.

Single modules for CPD

It is not possible to study single modules from this course.

Practice education

Practice-based learning (PBL) is ongoing throughout the programme and is organised by the Professional Practice Tutor at QMU. In Year One, practice education is usually with a music therapist, one day per week from October to March. In Year Two, leaners attend practice education two days per week throughout both semesters and work in a more autonomous way. They 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 learners choose to commute and attend PBL closer to their home; the programme has excellent partnerships with practice education providers across the UK, Ireland and Gibraltar. Learners do not need to organise their own placements or supervision but are required to meet the costs of any travel.


On graduation, leaners are eligible for registration with the HCPC, and will be qualified to work as a music therapist. QMU music therapy graduates are working in all corners of the world, throughout the health, education and community sectors. Many become successful freelance practitioners or work in care homes, schools, for the NHS or charities.

Entry requirements

Learners should normally have an honours degree or equivalent (2:2 or above). This can be in any subject and it is not a requirement that you come with a music or psychology degree.

Key skills for entry to the programme are your ability to relate with others, a creative stance and an awareness of your own relationship with music. There is specific focus on expressive musicianship throughout the programme combined with musical flexibility and improvisatory skill.  So, whether you are a singer, instrumentalist or beatmaker, your technical musical skills will be assessed on an individual basis and considered in relation to your personal characteristics. Specific exam grades are not required.

Added to this, one year (or equivalent) of relevant experience working with persons in the community, education or health settings is required. This does not need to be music related and should be in addition to any experience gained during an undergraduate degree. 

For international applicants, with English as your second language, you will be required to provide evidence of your English language, with an overall IELTS score of 7.0 or more, and with no individual component scoring less than 6.5. This is not necessary if you have an honours degree that was studied in English.

Application deadline

The application deadline is 6 June 2021 for the September 2021 intake. This course is highly competitive, and places are filled on a first come first served basis. We always run a waiting list but advise applicants to apply as early as possible.

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.

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.

More information and contacts

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


Reading about Music Therapy is essential preparation. A pre-programme reading list is available on request from the Programme Leader:

Other resources are provided by the British Association for Music Therapy.

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

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

On site at QMU, online and with practice-based learning
Full-time: 2 years
Start Date
September 2021
Study Abroad
School of Health Sciences
Fees & Funding

Related Professional Bodies


Engage with the Team

A Student Story (see bottom of page for more)

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