Music Therapy MA

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. We advise you to send us your application by 31 March 2021 as we cannot guarantee available places after this date.

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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.

Full description


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.

Industry links

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.

Career routes

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.

Graduate highlights

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.

Rachael Finnerty, past president of the Music Therapy Association of Ontario, founder of the Ontario Music therapy Academy and recipient of the Woman of Distinction Award for Healthcare in 2015.

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 & assessment

Year one, core modules

  • Clinical Placements and Experiential Development 1
    This module, together with part 2, will give you ongoing clinical experience and experiential development in the work place, where you will learn about how to practise as a music therapist/dramatherapist without discrimination. This module will assist your development using critical reflection, experiential techniques and reflective analytic writing about your own process and case work. You will undertake two block placements and visits. Your introductory placement and the first 5-month placement will take place in one clinical area. You will co-ordinate these in conjunction with the clinical placement co-ordinator and your tutor. Your casework will be supported by a campus-based supervision group, in which you will present, reflect upon and critically analyse a case over a period of 5 months. You will demonstrate evaluative clinical knowledge and skills, and an ability to be critically aware of your own process. You will also demonstrate a reflective critical awareness of the therapeutic alliance, and of how music therapy/dramatherapy has benefited the people you have worked with. You will do this through an essay and an introductory placement report, which will be assessed together in the first semester, and also through your halfway assessment, which entails an oral examination in two parts, as well as a case study and case report.
  • Music Therapy Practical and Clinical Skills
    Clinical improvisation skills are taught in small groups, focusing first on your main instrument, followed by other areas. All students are taught improvisation skills on keyboard, a single line instrument, voice and guitar.There are also workshops on group techniques.
  • Music Therapy and Dramatherapy Multidisciplinary Theoretical Studies
    On this module, you will discover the theoretical framework for the clinical knowledge and understanding of music therapy/dramatherapy, together with your role in securing, maintaining and improving health and well-being for patients/clients. By the end of the module, you will have a better understanding of the nature and dynamics of arts therapies, including knowledge of a variety of approaches and the client groups relevant for these. You will examine mind-body models of human functioning, such as attachment theory, child development, the recovery model, and many others. Through lectures and seminars, you will develop an informed understanding of core processes in therapeutic practice (e.g. the therapeutic frame, the centrality of the therapeutic relationship, transference, and counter-transference). You will also attend seminars in which independent participation, innovative thinking and critical analysis will be the norm. You will learn about different methods of assessment, treatment and evaluation in music therapy/dramatherapy and related disciplines. You will be assessed through a patchwork text relating to music therapy/dramatherapy and child development, plus a 3,000-word essay relating to music therapy/dramatherapy and psychoanalysis. The patchwork text consists of four elements: annotated infant observation notes, a seminar presentation, a written summary of an approach to child development and its relevance to music therapy/dramatherapy and a reflection on the assessment. These will be submitted for formative feedback before being collated as a final submission.

Year two, core modules

  • Clinical Placements and Experiential Development 2
    On this module, you will engage in more advanced clinical work, learning how to practise as a music therapist or dramatherapist without discrimination. You will gain the skills to practise as a fully-registered music therapist or dramatherapists, and be eligible for registration with the HCPC. You will work independently, with supervision from tutors and placement supervisors, showing an advanced level in your understanding of casework, and demonstrating an advanced level of evaluative clinical knowledge and skills, as well as being critically aware of your own process. This will include a full understanding of the assessment and referral processes relating to casework, and the ability to work in a multi-disciplinary team in community-based and other settings without discrimination with an awareness of health and social needs. You will undertake either an intensive treatment in two different clinical areas (3 months each), or 6 months in the same setting, co-ordinated in conjunction with your tutor. You will work independently and be supervised individually, reflecting on the choices you make and your interpretation of patient-led needs, and how you are meeting them effectively in the casework. You will be expected to follow through the Care Programme approach, with appropriate awareness and critical understanding of user-involvement and its impact upon the casework. You will also explore ethical considerations and issues of cultural diversity and practice, using evaluation methods as preparation for undertaking your own research. Your assessment will be a collaborative creative/performance project and final oral assessment, in which you will give a case presentation and discuss with the assessors. On the basis of these, together with material from your clinical placement reports, your readiness to practise will be assessed.
  • MA Therapies Major Project
    This module will support you in the preparation and submission of a MA Therapies Major Project. You will receive a basic introduction to research methodology, in order to carry out a project which will involve some clinical or theoretical evaluation/research. You can either choose a project that is more research or more clinically focussed, reflecting the NHS Agenda for Change Career structure, which recognises the music therapist or dramatherapist as a specialist clinician and researcher or manager. You will have access to Faculty Research Methodology days (two annually) and some specialist taught research methods lectures by Doctoral and Postdoctoral Therapists. You will also have access to a wide variety of research resources both nationally and internationally and will benefit from close links with the International PhD programme at Aalborg University Denmark / Ecarte links in Europe, The Cambridge Body Psychotherapy Centre and The London Centre for Psychodrama, as well as from departmental staff who are specialists in clinical and theoretical aspects of psychological therapies. You will be encouraged to use databases and a variety of conference video/web links. You will be assessed through a 15,000-word written dissertation. Your project will be a clinically focussed evaluation with primary questions and subquestions and will include a well-developed theoretical context, relevant analysis and reflective conclusions.


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.

Where you'll study

Your department and faculty

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.

Where can I study?

Lord Ashcroft Building on our Cambridge campus

Our campus is close to the centre of Cambridge, often described as the perfect student city.

Explore our Cambridge campus

Specialist facilities

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.

Fees & funding

Course fees

UK students starting 2021/22 (per year)


International students starting 2021/22 (per year)


Approximate additional costs over two years

Personal therapy sessions: 
Budget £1,500-£3,000

External supervision during placements: 
Budget £700-£1,500

Travelling to placements: 
Budget £500-£2,500

How do I pay my fees?

UK students

You can pay your fees upfront, in full or in instalments – though you won't need to pay until you've accepted an offer to study with us.

How to pay your fees directly

International students

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

Funding for postgraduate students

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 and bursaries, which provide extra financial support while you're at university.

International students

As well as a number of scholarships, we offer an early payment discount. Explore your options:

Entry requirements

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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.


Two satisfactory references are required. These should be:

  • Relevant clinical experience – paid employment or voluntary


  • Academic if recent graduate


  • Other professional
Video conference interview

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.

International applicant music portfolios

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.

Important additional notes

Whether you're studying entirely online or through a blend of on-campus and online learning from September 2020, you'll need a computer and reliable internet access to successfully engage with your course. A small number of our courses require additional technical specifications or specialist materials. Before starting the course, we recommend that you check our technical requirements for online learning. Our website also has general information for new students about starting university in 2020-21.

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 for further information.

Due to national restrictions all universities in England, including ARU, are only able to provide face to face teaching on campus for a limited number of courses.

Teaching options

In response to the COVID-19 global pandemic all our students can choose to either study face to face on campus or online only, and students are able to change their mode of delivery at given dates throughout the trimester.

For on-campus teaching, we offer at least four hours face-to-face teaching related contact time per week for our undergraduate full-time courses, supported by online learning using our established online learning systems. The number of contact hours vary course by course, and you can contact us for further information. The provision offered is subject to change due to the possibility of further Government restrictions, however we remain committed to delivering face-to-face teaching and ensuring a COVID-19 secure environment.

In the event that there are further changes to the current restrictions that are in place due to the pandemic, we may need to move some courses online only at short notice to remain in line with Government guidelines and ensure the continued safety of our students and staff.

View the impact of the current restrictions.

International students

We welcome applications from international and EU students, and accept a range of international qualifications.

Whether you're studying entirely online or through a blend of face-to-face and online learning from 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.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, you'll need to make sure you meet our English language requirements for postgraduate courses.

Check the standard entry requirements for IELTS requirements for this course.

Improving your English language skills

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.

We also provide our own English Language Proficiency Test (ELPT) in the UK and overseas. To find out if we are planning to hold an ELPT in your country, contact our country managers.

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Get more information

UK & EU applicants

01245 68 68 68

Enquire online

International applicants

+44 1245 68 68 68

Enquire online