Postgraduate (24 months full-time)
Course duration: 24 months full-time.
Teaching times: two days a week plus two days on a clinical placement (Year 1). One day a week on campus plus a placement of least one day a week (Year 2).
There are only 15 places available on this training course. These will be filled in order of acceptance, after which, if your application is successful, you will be offered a place on a waiting list.
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Qualify to work as a music therapist in the UK and overseas on this Health and Care Professions Council-accredited course, and become eligible for registration with the HCPC in the UK. Study music therapy in the Cambridge Institute for Music Therapy Research, a centre of world-leading research. Discover the most recent effective music therapy approaches and try them out in your own clinical practice on at least two clinical placements.
Studying music therapy will show you how you can use your music to support the health and well-being of patients and clients. You will discover the principles of music therapy in the UK and internationally, and through lectures, practical workshops, case discussions and theoretical studies, we’ll introduce you to the most recent, effective music therapy approaches.
You can then try out these approaches in your own clinical practice on clinical placements, in locations such as schools, hospitals, hospices and other community settings, under the supervision of qualified music therapists, giving you invaluable experience of working in a multidisciplinary team, as well as providing important preparation for your future career.
In the UK there are two central elements of music therapy: the use of improvised and pre-composed music; and the significance given to the relationship between client and therapist. These principles will underpin your training, which is framed by psychodynamic, developmental and neuroscience approaches. Our experiential teaching includes: development of your improvisation skills; focused work on your first instrument; keyboard, single line instrument and voice; music therapy theory and links to practice.
Throughout the course, you will reflect on and develop your clinical practice through group discussions, tutorials and supervisions. You will also work alongside students from our MA Dramatherapy course on more generic subjects, such as psychiatry and psychology.
Founded in 1994, our MA Music Therapy course will give you a strong foundation in the principles and practice of music therapy, underpinned by the latest research and evidence base.
Uniquely located within the Cambridge Institute for Music Therapy Research (CIMTR), the course will give you the opportunity to learn from world-leading researchers in the field working in the centre. A rich offering of regular specialist lectures and workshops given by visiting International researchers, and our thriving PhD and post-doctoral research community, will broaden your training experience and give you insights into the international field of music therapy.
Our training is framed by psychodynamic, developmental and neuroscience approaches to music therapy, but you will also learn about other approaches and models. While providing you with a thorough grounding in these, we will help you integrate what you have learned with your existing strengths and skills to develop into a unique music therapist with your own effective approaches to clinical practice.
We welcome applications from practising musicians with appropriate experience from around the world, from a broad range of musical traditions and from diverse backgrounds. The influence of culture on music therapy practice is highlighted within our training and, for International students, we will also support you in the process of returning to your home country to implement what you have learned.
The MA Music Therapy course runs alongside our MA Dramatherapy course, with several shared modules and teaching sessions. You will have the benefit of learning with and from dramatherapy trainees and experienced staff, enriching your training experience.
Housed in a purpose-designed music therapy centre that also incorporates a clinic, you will be taught in lecture and therapy rooms equipped with an excellent range of musical instruments and recording equipment. You will also have access to the extensive facilities offered by Cambridge School of Creative Industries, including a recital hall, a suite of computer music studios and music practice rooms.
You will be taught through a combination of lectures, practical workshops, case discussions, theoretical studies and clinical placements. Experiential learning is core to our training - you will further explore many theoretical ideas through musical improvisation and role-play. We will encourage your continuous self-reflection to support your development as a therapist, and you will take part in small group teaching for clinical improvisation and placement supervision, allowing close attention to be paid to your emerging skills.
Peer learning is also an important element of the training experience and you will work closely together with other students, giving feedback to each other. For some elements, you will be taught alongside the MA Dramatherapy students, and in year 2 you will work together with them on an improvisation-skills project, sharing techniques from both disciplines.
Your studies will be supported by our team of qualified music therapists, who have a strong reputation for world-leading research (Research Excellence Framework 2014). These include Professor Helen Odell-Miller, who co-founded the course, founded music therapy in the adult NHS mental health service in Cambridge and was awarded an OBE for her services to music therapy in the January 2015 honours list; Jörg Fachner, (Professor of Music, Mind and the Brain), Amelia Oldfield, (Emeritus Professor, awarded the first ever Clinical Impact Award by the World Federation of Music Therapists, and author of numerous books and videos, most recently co-author, Collaborations Within and Between Dramatherapy and Music Therapy); Claire Molyneux (author, Tales from the Music Therapy Room) and Helen Loth (Course Leader and researcher of music therapy and culture).
Course Leader: Dr Helen Loth.
When you graduate, you will be eligible to register with the Health and Care Professions Council in the UK, and ready to work as a professional music therapist. This registration is being valued increasingly in other countries.
You will undertake at least two clinical placements during the course, giving you a chance to try out different approaches to your clinical practice. These placements take place in schools, hospitals, hospices, specialist treatment services and community settings, under the supervision of qualified music therapists. This will give you invaluable experience of working in a multidisciplinary team, as well as providing important preparation for your future career.
We have strong relationships with a large range of placement settings, from which we select the specific placements which meet your learning needs and location. Some examples of placement settings we work with include East London Foundation (Mental Health) NHS Trust; Arthur Rank Hospice, Cambridge; MHA Care Homes for people living with dementia; Cambridge and Peterborough Foundation Trust; many mainstream and special schools; Evelyn Community Head Injury Service (ECHIS) Cambridge; The Royal Hospital for Neurodisability, London; Chiltern Music Therapy; Addenbrookes Hospital Child Development Centre and Paediatric wards; East Anglian Children's Hospices (EACH); Rampton Special Hospital; Great Ormond Street Hospital, London; and many others. Gaining a range of different experiences will prepare you for your future career, and several of our graduates gain employment within these placement settings after qualifying.
Our links with other health professions and practitioners, the British Association for Music Therapy, our International Research Consortium and visiting specialist lecturers will help you make important contacts in the profession. Through these relationships you can gain professional advice, in addition to employment and research opportunities.
Qualifying as a music therapist will allow you to work in many different areas, including the NHS, hospices, social services, education and the voluntary sector. The NHS Agenda for Change has led to satisfying career paths for music therapists at levels similar to, or higher than, those of other allied health professions.
You can also choose to work privately or on a freelance basis, with a client base including adults and children with learning difficulties, mental health and other special needs, or with specific communities such as refugees or the homeless.
Successfully completing this course will allow you to register with the Health and Care Professions Council – a legal requirement for practising music therapists in the UK.
Jamal Glynn, Outreach worker with Ministry of Health in Trinidad and Tobago and the first MA Music Therapist in the world using the steelpan.
Rosie Axon, founder of Chiltern Music Therapy, an award-winning not-for-profit organisation that provides music therapy and community music to people of all ages across the UK. Together with co-director and fellow ARU alumnus Rebecca Atkinson, they now employ over 50 practitioners.
Spela Knoll set up the first Music Therapy study course in Slovenia and is founder of the Institute Knoll for music therapy and supervision.
Modules are subject to change and availability.
You will be assessed through a range of methods, including case presentations, demonstrating improvisation skills, written work including essays and a major project, and clinical portfolios.
Using our creative expertise and industry connections in Cambridge and beyond, we create experiences that entertain, educate, inspire and improve lives.
At Cambridge School of Creative Industries, we believe in the importance of experimentation and risk-taking to create experiences that entertain, educate, inspire and improve lives.
Whether writing bestselling fiction, creating challenging documentaries or sharing a piano with people on the autism spectrum, the expertise of our staff goes far beyond teaching. Their research produces significant funding success, leading to important publications and international conferences.
You'll work in our purpose-built therapy centre, which includes state-of-the-art therapy rooms and a large hall. The centre is used for all of our teaching and for our professional therapy consultations, and offers a large range of musical instruments specifically chosen for clinical work, as well as high-quality recording and videoing equipment in the therapy rooms.
You’ll also have access to the extensive range of facilities offered by Cambridge School of Creative Industries, including a recital hall, a suite of computer music studios and music practice rooms, a fully-equipped drama studio and two large drama rehearsal spaces.
You can see regular performances by professional musicians at our on-campus Mumford Theatre, including our free lunchtime concert series.
Our music therapy staff members are internationally renowned researchers and consultants and our research is recognised as world-leading. We hold regular international conferences and support a vigorous community of PhD and postdoctoral research students.
Personal therapy sessions:
External supervision during placements:
Travelling to placements:
If you're a UK or EU student, you won't need to pay fees until you've accepted an offer to study with us – though you must pay your fees upfront, in full or in instalments.How to pay your fees directly
You can pay your fees upfront, in full or in two instalments. We will also ask you for a deposit of £4,000 or a sponsorship letter. Details will be in your offer letter.Paying your fees
It’s important to decide how to fund your course before applying. Use our finance guide for postgraduate students to learn more about postgraduate loans and other funding options.
We offer a fantastic range of ARU scholarships, which provide extra financial support while you're at university. Find out more about eligibility and how to apply.
As this is a professional therapy training, we'll ask you to attend an interview if you're shortlisted. The day will include experiential music therapy group work with other candidates, as well as an individual interview and discussion with lecturers. These will allow us to consider your suitability and readiness for training, and also give you the chance to experience some of the teaching methods we use, so you can decide whether they're appropriate for your needs.
For the interview and audition, you’ll need to prepare a brief piece of your choice on each of your instruments. If you only play one instrument, you should prepare two short contrasting pieces on that instrument. If piano is not one of your main studies, you’ll be asked to demonstrate your keyboard skills. Please be ready to improvise as directed on the day. If voice is not one of your main studies, you’ll be asked to sing a short song of your choice. We’ll provide an accompanist if you need one.
In exceptional cases if you live overseas, we may consider interviewing you over video conference. You’ll only be offered this if you give clear reasons why it’s impossible for you to attend the interview/audition, and you have access to professional video conferencing equipment.
If you are an international applicant, you will need to supply a music portfolio video containing ten to 15 minutes of varied music. This should be on your first and second study instruments, and should include contrasting pieces which you feel best demonstrate your instrumental playing. The choice of pieces is therefore up to you. You may also include any other instruments you play if you feel this would be helpful but some keyboard playing must be included. The purpose of this portfolio is for you to demonstrate your instrumental playing standard and to convey something of your overall musicianship. If possible, please post this portfolio online and let us know the URL, or email it to us as a PDF. We will also accept DVDs sent by post to our International Admissions Office, but please note that these will not be returned to you.
Whether you're studying entirely online or through a blend of face-to-face and online learning in September 2020, you'll need a computer and reliable internet access to successfully engage with your course. Before starting the course, we recommend that you check our technical requirements for online learning.
Our published entry requirements are a guide only and our decision will be based on your overall suitability for the course as well as whether you meet the minimum entry requirements. Other equivalent qualifications may be accepted for entry to this course, please email firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
We welcome applications from international and EU students, and accept a range of international qualifications.
If English is not your first language, you'll need to make sure you meet our English language requirements for postgraduate courses.
If you don't meet our English language requirements, we offer a range of courses which could help you achieve the level required for entry.
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