MA Music Therapy
Page last updated 26 January 2021
With a strong emphasis on experiential learning, improvisation, song writing and listening, this flexible and highly regarded course is aimed at giving you the knowledge and practical skills to enter an existing practice or start your own.
This unique three-year part-time Master's course can lead to registration as a music therapist with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). It also provides a popular route for international students looking to develop their qualifications.
It is open to capable musicians - from recent graduates to experienced professionals, or to music therapists with a postgraduate diploma looking to add to their skills and knowledge who can access a progression route. Even if you don't have a first degree in music, we still encourage you to apply provided you can demonstrate a capacity to write and think at Master's level. All candidates will need an intuitive and communicative musical presence on at least one instrument or voice, plus the ability to provide harmonic support using, for example, piano, keyboard or guitar.
Widely applicable and sought-after skills
There is an underlying humanistic and music-centred philosophy to the course, with a strong emphasis on experiential learning. We take a 'lifespan' approach, focusing on children and adolescents in the first year, and adults in the second year. In the third year, we focus on more complex areas of work, with both children and adults, such as work in palliative care or the prison and probation services.
The course equips you with the clinical, theoretical and practical skills required to enter the music therapy profession. Successful graduates will be able to work in the NHS, education, social services, for the voluntary sector, charities, within prisons, or set up their own practice.
The part-time, flexible nature of the course means you can fit Master's level studies around paid employment, and build or enhance your career in the process.
Course tutors, and teaching and research staff from across the department have excellent links with healthcare, community and education providers, and we regularly welcome visiting lecturers from these areas.
Watch: The learning and teaching experience
Personal development runs throughout the course, and you must be prepared to undertake what may sometimes be challenging and rigorous explorations of your professional and personal issues and influences - excellent preparation for a music therapist. During the course, we ask you to be in confidential personal therapy with a suitably qualified therapist, for example, a creative arts therapist, a counsellor or psychotherapist. The number of hours is not specified, but the Health Professions Council requires you to have had substantive and sustained experience of personal therapy during the three years of the course (40 to 60 hours is recommended). Please note, this cost is not included in the programme fee.
There is also a counselling component within the professional practice modules. You will experience a music therapy training group facilitated by external music therapists. You will need to set aside regular time, beyond personal therapy and attending taught sessions, for reflection and study.
All course modules are compulsory:
- Music Therapy Professional Practice with Children and Young People - This incorporates a placement within a child setting, and seminars to develop related musical and clinical skills.
- Music Therapy Theory and Child Development - Taught seminars and online lectures cover theory, research and case material relating to child work in music therapy.
- Music Therapy Professional Practice and Skills with Adults - This incorporates a placement within an adult setting, and seminars extending related musical and clinical skills.
- Music Therapy Theory and Practice in Adult Settings - Face-to-face seminars and online lectures covering theory, research and case material relating to child work in music therapy.
- Qualitative and Quantitative Methods - This inter-professional module comprises face-to-face seminars and online lectures on qualitative and quantitative research methods.
- Music Therapy Advanced Professional Practice - You'll secure a placement, and under expert supervision, extend your entrepreneurial, musical and clinical skills.
- Dissertation in Psychology - Design and implement a research project in music therapy.
The University continually enhances our offer by responding to feedback from our students and other stakeholders, ensuring the curriculum is kept up to date and our graduates are equipped with the knowledge and skills they need for the real world. This may result in changes to the course. If changes to your course are approved we will inform you.
Learning and Teaching
Teaching is based on lectures and seminars, small group practical sessions and individual tutorials. There is a strong experiential basis to the course, which is led by a team of experienced music therapists and complemented by visiting specialists from a range of related professions.
The course is highly flexible and attracts a diverse demographic, with musicians from many backgrounds - this allows for valuable peer-learning opportunities.
For more details see our glossary of teaching and learning terms.
Three years, part-time:
We run an induction programme during mid-September, before the start of Year 1.
Years 1 and 2
If you are studying on the part-time MA you'll need to set aside a minimum of 2.5 days a week to complete the course. In the first two years you'll spend one day a week at UWE Bristol, with a further day on placement between November and May. Placements are arranged, wherever possible, close to your home. At least half a day of personal study a week is required. UWE Bristol days are currently Tuesdays for year 1, and Mondays for years 2 and 3.
During the final year, you attend the campus less regularly roughly every three weeks.Throughout the year, we provide remote supervision of your research to allow weekly clinical supervision of advanced practice.
We assess your work and progress through written essays, practice portfolios and viva presentations each year, and also one research exam, a microanalysis, a music practical and a research portfolio.
You will need to submit all written work electronically and have access to the internet. You will also need your own recording equipment for use on placement.
For more details see our full glossary of assessment terms.
This course is approved by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), while the British Association for Music Therapy (BAMT) provides a useful professional link. The BAMT is the professional body for music therapists and a source of information, support and involvement for the general public.
The course runs largely from and at the Glenside Campus, where there is a self-contained space for music-making and other facilities for small group teaching and supervision, plus excellent library facilities including the music therapy collection. The Glenside library is one of the best healthcare libraries in England, with a huge selection of books, journals, and audio-visual materials including access to specialist health and social case software packages.
At the main Frenchay campus nearby, you have 24-hour access to computing facilities. We are developing our facilities available via UWE online and other distance learning approaches, particularly for the programme's third year.
Find out more about the facilities and resources UWE Bristol has to offer.
- MA Music Therapeutic Studies - is available to students who wish to study music therapy as a full-time route. It does not lead to HCPC accreditation and therefore is likely to be of interest only for people who are not planning to work in the UK.
- MA Therapeutic Studies - this progression route can be accessed by practising music therapists who qualified with a postgraduate diploma, but who already have HCPC registration.
For more information about these pathways please contact the Programme Leader.
Careers / Further study
Completing the MA Music Therapy means you will be eligible to apply for registration with the HCPC, in order to start practising as a fully qualified music therapist.
Opportunities for Master's-qualified music therapists are diverse. Previous students have gone on to practice as HCPC-registered music therapists sometimes alongside other musical work such as performing and teaching and also apply their knowledge and expertise to positions in healthcare and education. Our links with music therapy experts and practitioners give excellent insights into future careers, and part of the course is geared towards helping you find placements, attract employers or set up your own practice.
Our award-winning careers service helps you develop your employment potential through career coaching, a vacancy service for internships, placements, jobs, global opportunities, volunteering and community activity plus support for entrepreneurial activity, and access to employer events.
It is recommended that applicants have:
- a good undergraduate degree along with professional musical skills
- a high level of practical musicianship (which could include non-western traditions) and a particular interest in improvisation
- for single line instrumentalists or singers, sufficient skills to be able to provide harmonic support on guitar or piano
- experience of working in relevant areas such as Health or Education (including voluntary work)
- personal skills suited to working as a therapist
- wide reading on the subject of music therapy
- the ability and strong commitment to follow a personally demanding part-time course
If successful at application stage you will be invited to attend a short interview of 20 minutes with two members of the team (please note these are taking place remotely at present).
At this interview we will ask standard questions and there will be space for you to ask us questions. We will also ask you to submit recordings of musical tasks and we provide a detailed brief of how to do this. You will receive detailed feedback by email on your musical submission and short interview whether you pass this stage or not we hope this feedback will be supportive and helpful.
If you are successful in this first round you will be invited to a second longer online interview to assess your suitability to undertake a therapeutic training. Although this is a rigorous selection process, our aim is that all who participate in it will benefit.
Disclosure of Criminal Background
The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 does not apply and all convictions, including those which are spent, must be disclosed. Applicants who are offered a place must undergo a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check and will be required to complete a Disclosure Application Form. All information will be treated in confidence and only taken into account when absolutely necessary.
How to apply
If you have a specific query please contact the Programme Leader.
For further information
- Email: Admissions@uwe.ac.uk
- Telephone: +44 (0)117 32 83333