Postgraduate Taught

MSc Music Therapy

Welcome to the only music therapy course in Scotland. It will help you channel your musical ability into helping people and qualify you to work as a music therapist in two years.

Do you love music? Do you have a real interest in helping people with a wide range of needs? Would you like to develop these passions into a rewarding career? Then our very popular MSc in Music Therapy could be precisely the course you are looking for.


Why QMU?

  • This is the only course of its type in Scotland.
  • The course is positioned within QMU’s School of Health Sciences and so offers you opportunities for interdisciplinary learning.
  • The course offers an integrative music therapy approach.

Course overview

As a music lover you will be personally aware of the transformative power of music. Music therapy uses this power to provide valuable relational experiences to children, adolescents, adults and older people with a wide range of needs, including learning disabilities and mental health needs.

As well as the practical skills of playing an instrument or singing, music therapists must develop theoretical knowledge in several areas. On this course you will learn about psychodynamic, humanistic, developmental and music-centred approaches to music therapy. Your studies will give you understanding in the following areas:

  • therapeutic musical skills, with an emphasis on improvisation, interaction and application in a therapeutic context
  • psychological, developmental, and music therapy theories
  • knowledge of different client groups and settings
  • self-development
  • observation and critical thinking skills
  • professional issues, such as ethics and team communication
  • research, assessment and service evaluation

Some lectures in theoretical studies are shared with students from QMU’s MSc Art Psychotherapy.

Exit awards

MSc (240 credits)


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

Teaching, learning and assessment

Teaching includes practical and academic elements with an emphasis on experiential learning and teaching methods, including lectures, seminars and tutorials. Practice placement is supported by clinical supervision at QMU.

Assessments are both practical and written. Personal development is fundamental to therapeutic training and it is a course requirement (according to the Health and Care Professions Council) that students attend regular personal therapy throughout the course, with a minimum of 40 hours attendance. This personal therapy is non-assessed and students are required to cover the cost.

Teaching hours and attendance

Each module requires you to attend classes at QMU and to study independently. Attendance requirements at QMU will depend on the module. Typically, Year One students attend QMU on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and in Year Two, classes are on a Thursday. Practice placement days are in addition to this.

Class sizes

Normally, there are around fifteen students in each cohort.

Links with industry/ professional bodies

Part of our strength comes from our location. Being based in Edinburgh means that the course has been developed over time in cooperation with key national cultural agencies and other bodies with a strategic interest in the development of arts organisations and festivals. Our location in the ‘festival city’ also allows for strong practical links between the course and the many arts, festival and cultural organisations based in and around Edinburgh, across Scotland and the UK. The course is validated by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).


Year One

  • Practice Placement 1 (30 credits)
  • Interdisciplinary Studies 1 (30 credits)
  • Therapeutic Skills and Interpersonal Learning (30 credits)
  • Research Methods (30 credits)

Year Two

  • Practice Placement 2 (30 credits) 
  • Interdisciplinary Studies 2 and Interpersonal Learning (30 credits) 
  • Professional project (60 credits)

The modules listed here are correct at the time of posting (September 2018), but are subject to change. In the event that modules have to change, QMU will seek to use reasonable endeavours to ensure that there is no detrimental impact to students. Please check this site for any updates.

Single modules for CPD

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


Practice placements take place in a variety of settings. Students complete two blocks of practice placement during the programme. They are organised by QMU and are allocated by the Professional Practice Tutor who ensures that each student has two contrasting practice placement experiences.

In Year One, practice placement is with a music therapist, one day per week from October to March. In Year Two, students attend placement two days per week in both semesters and work in a more autonomous whilst receiving regular clinical supervision..Placements take place in Edinburgh and across Scotland, Ireland and England, depending on where students are based.  


On graduation you will be eligible for registration with HCPC, and will be qualified to apply for work in organisations such as the NHS, education, charitable bodies, social services, or in the private sector. Music therapists are employed throughout the health, education and community sectors. Registered music therapists are eligible for full membership of the British Association for Music Therapy. Most of our graduates have found employment within care homes, schools, the NHS, and charities. Many others have become successful freelance practitioners.

Entry requirements

UK Students should normally have:

  • any honours degree or equivalent;
  • a high standard of practical musicianship and flexibility on at least one instrument (for single-line instrumentalists or singers, proficiency on an harmonic instrument is also required) and
  • relevant experience with people in the community, education or health settings.

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 6.5.

Interview: Applications can be made between October and May. Interviews are usually held between January and June.

The personal statement should include: reasons why the applicant feels drawn to the profession of music therapy; specific musical skills; and details of relevant experience within caring professions.

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 (if voice is not main study).

The interview will assess each applicant’s personal suitability for this profession, ability to reflect, and readiness for the demands that the course entails. For overseas applicants, auditions and interviews may be conducted by video conferencing. 

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

Places for this course are filled in order of acceptance. If your application is successful, and the course is full, you will be offered a place on a waiting list.

Application deadline

1 May. This course is highly competitive with limited places. We advise applicants to apply early to be considered.

More information and contacts

Music Therapy or Admissions on tel: +44 (0)131 474 0000


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.

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 2018/19 Entry - Terms and Conditions (Postgraduate).

Course Overview

At QMU and on practice placement
Full-time: 2 years
Start Date
September 2019
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