Music Therapy



Course overview

This course provides you with a professional training in music therapy, which qualifies you to work as a music therapist in the UK. Successful candidates will be eligible for registration with the Health and Care Professions Council. With an emphasis on clinical placements, and an introduction to a range of music therapy approaches, it offers suitably experienced musicians a Masters level professional training, which reflects the general clinical definition of music therapy within the UK.

Candidates for this course will have a high level of flexible musicianship, experience of children or adults who have additional needs and will have a suitable level of maturity and ability to think reflectively about themselves and their motivation to train as a therapist. Some knowledge of the field of music therapy is required.

You will be expected to involve yourself in a range of learning activities, including self-reflection in small and large groups, lectures, musical workshops, case discussion and theoretical analysis. A significant component of experiential learning is undertaken through regular tutorials and clinical supervision groups. Clinical placements are a major component of the course and are key to the overall training experience.

You will benefit from learning about the most recent, effective music therapy approaches with adults and children. Two aspects of music therapy are central to the music therapy approach in the UK: the use of improvised and pre-composed music, and the importance attached to the relationship between the patient and therapist. These characteristics, which result in the need for rigorous clinical, musical and psychological training on the course, underpin the training.

Jamal Jasani Glynn, Trinidad

MA Music Therapy graduate

I have been a steelpan player for over 29 years, member of some of the most famous steelbands in Trinidad and England and a professional musician at the Trinidad and Tobago National Steel Symphony Orchestra.

At the university there is a lot of support from lecturers, other students and facilities. For example, being dyslexic I had the opportunity to have professionals read over my work. This was very useful. Particularly useful was the mentoring system. This provided the opportunity to speak to professional music therapist and student music therapists in training who were a year above me.

I enjoyed having the opportunity to be part of the vast community at the university and going to rehearsals and playing for fellow students in their undergraduate music programme.

Music therapy research at Anglia Ruskin has recently been rated as 'world-leading' in the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) 2008, and courses within the Department of Music and Performing Arts have been recognised as 'excellent' for their learning and teaching. A Professor of Music, Mind and the Brain was appointed in 2013 to further develop the Department's research activities.

Additional course information

Music therapy involves a relationship between patient and therapist, with music forming the basis for communication within this relationship. Teaching includes:
  • improvisation skills development in small groups
  • focussed work on student's main instrument
  • keyboard, single line instrument and voice
  • music therapy theory
  • expertise in all clinical disciplines
  • links between theory and practice
  • lectures from leading clinical specialists
  • block clinical placements in at least two fields, including schools, hospitals, hospices and community settings
  • university-based small supervision groups
  • clinical supervision by qualified music therapist at clinical placements
  • experience within multidisciplinary teams
  • weekly experiential music therapy group where students reflect upon their clinical experiences and upon the process of becoming a music therapist
  • supervision and teaching by leading researchers and professionals in the field, to prepare for the Major Project/Dissertation in the second year. The Dissertation may be a research study, or more clinically orientated, depending on your choice.

Module guide

  • 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 Multi-Disciplinary Theoretical Studies

    Foundations of clinical knowledge and theoretical understanding of music therapy and other related disciplines are taught by leaders in the field. Theory and practice are linked through workshops and presentations by the core team and other experts.

  • Clinical Placements and Experiential Development

    You will undertake block placements in at least two clinical fields, including schools, hospitals, hospices and community settings. University-based small supervision groups in year one prepare and support you in your casework. Supervision from qualified music therapists on placements will also be provided. You will work with children and adults with a range of needs, including mental health, cognitive, social and medical, and will gain experience of the multidisciplinary team. The weekly experiential music therapy group enables you to reflect on your clinical experiences and on the process of becoming a music therapist.You will also engage in weekly personal therapy.

  • Music Therapy/Dramatherapy Clinical / Theoretical Major Project

    This module will support you in the preparation and submission of a Masters Dissertation or Major Project. The Dissertation may be research, or more clinically orientated, depending on your choice.

Please note that some module titles include 'Dramatherapy' in them because they cover content from both courses but the core components are taught separately for each profession where specific techniques and approaches are involved. Sometimes teaching is combined, for example for generic subjects such as psychoanalytic studies, psychiatry and psychology.

In addition to teaching time on-campus, all courses require intensive self-guided learning, research and private study and there may also be optional training, seminars, visits, lectures or master classes to attend.


Assessment takes place against clear criteria and learning outcomes. Assessed activities range from formal essay-writing to experiential learning, group learning and clinical improvisation and fieldwork, including clinical placements. You will also be assessed through self-analysis and reflection in discussions with your personal tutor.

There will be an assessment at the half-way point, in which an examiner will consider your progress and process towards becoming a music therapist. The final oral assessment will involve presenting in-depth casework to two examiners and will assess your overall clinical skills and readiness to practice.

Maybelle Wei, New Zealand

MA Music Therapy graduate

The course content is brilliant, covering both practical and theoretical aspects of study to prepare students for the role of a music therapist. The tutors are well-published and highly respected in the field of music therapy and health sciences. Together they bring an incredible wealth of experiences from their various settings of work, and students are provided with a nurturing and supportive network from the teaching staff as lecturers, tutors, and supervisors.

This course has brought music therapy to life for me. I leave Anglia Ruskin greatly inspired and grateful for the opportunity to have been a part of this excellent programme.

MA Music Therapy students Rebecca Queen, Laura Gullan and Emma Phillips

MA Music Therapy students Rebecca Queen, Laura Gullan and Emma Phillips


The training is based in a fully equipped Music Therapy Centre, which opened in September 2013. This has three main functions; teaching, research and clinical practice. Students may observe clinical work or undertake their own cases in the centre. A large range of musical instruments specifically chosen for clinical work, and high quality recording and videoing equipment in the therapy rooms are all available.

Within the main University campus is the Anglia Ruskin Music Centre, which includes lecture and practice rooms, a recital hall and our Mumford Theatre, a full-size receiving house for professional touring companies. There are also five state-of-the-art computer music studios for the creation, recording and manipulation of acoustic and electronically produced sound. The studios house a range of technological equipment, including a wide selection of specialist computer hardware and software. All computers have full internet and intranet access, and are supported by extensive online facilities and resources.

You will also have access to five grand pianos, including a new Steinway Model D, two harpsichords, a range of orchestral instruments including alto flutes, two cors anglais, an oboe d'amore, Eb, alto and bass clarinets, a contrabassoon, bass saxophone and a selection of baroque and Renaissance instruments including a consort of crumhorns, cornetts and natural trumpets and a consort of recorders. Our department also has a range of traditional instruments from India (including two sitars), China (including a Chinese zither), Africa (including a set of Ghanaian drums), and a Balinese Gamelan.

Yukina Osawa, Japan

MA Music Therapy graduate

Studying Music Therapy at Anglia Ruskin University has broadened my knowledge and musical skills, and opened me up to new experiences. In my opinion, the course here is the most well-rounded in the whole of the UK. Not only was it thoroughly academic and practical, but also helped me to grow significantly as a person.

These learning processes have prepared me for becoming a music therapist at the end of my studies. In the future, I would like to combine the psychoanalytical and flexible perspectives in the developing and challenging field of music therapy in Japan.

Our campus libraries offer a wide range of publications and a variety of study facilities, including open-access computers, areas for quiet or group study and bookable rooms. We also have an extensive Digital Library providing on and off-site access to e-books, e-journals and databases.

We endeavour to make our libraries as accessible as possible for all our students. During Semester time, they open 24 hours a day from Monday to Thursday, until midnight on Friday and Saturday and for 12 hours on Sunday.

IT resources

Our open access computer facilities provide free access to the internet, email, messaging services and the full Microsoft Office suite. A high speed wireless service is also available in all key areas on campus. If you are away from campus or a distant learner, our student desktop and its many applications can be accessed remotely using the internet. Your personal student email account provides free document storage, calendar facilities and social networking opportunities.

Throughout your studies you will have access to our Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), providing course notes, reading materials and multi-media content to support your learning, while our e-vision system gives you instant access to your academic record and your timetable.

Course convenor

Helen Loth

Links with industry and professional recognition

Investing in our course will enable you to gain a qualification that is approved by the Health and Care Professions Council. This is a legal requirement for music therapists in the UK.

Our course is also recognised by the British Association for Music Therapy. Staff team members hold offices in this association and in other national allied health-professional bodies. There are strong links with other practitioners, such as psychiatrists and psychotherapists, and staff are employed in local NHS, educational and charitable facilities as well as by Anglia Ruskin University, making for a strong professional profile. We have also established professional collaborations with institutions across the world, providing a rich interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary milieu.

Katy Bell

MA Music Therapy graduate

Katy Bell

The course has met and exceeded many of my expectations. I benefited from plenty of hands-on experience throughout, both in the form of placements and through a wide range of workshops run by peer groups, experienced therapists and local agencies, as well as national and international professionals involved in the work of the Department.

Work placements

This course offers intensive clinical placements similar to that of a working music therapist. You will have the opportunity to work with two cases over a long period of time, gain experiential learning and experience of other arts therapies. We have strong international and research links.

Associated careers

Music therapists are employed within a variety of contexts, such as the NHS, the education sector and community projects, whilst there are also opportunities to work privately or on a freelance basis. A qualified music therapist is able to work with a broad range of clients, including adults and children with learning difficulties, mental health problems, and other special needs. Increasingly they are employed within hospices and related outreach settings, and within medical environments. The NHS Agenda for Change has led to improved career paths at levels similar to, or higher than, those of other allied health professions.
Main requirements:
  • Usually a good/ 2:1 honours degree or equivalent in Music or equivalent (another degree but with a high standard of musicianship)
  • A high standard of flexible musicianship demonstrated by a minimum grade 8 or equivalent in one instrument, and preferably one other instrument. Some keyboard or other accompanying instrument skills are also required. You will need to have relevant clinical experience with adults and children who have additional needs, and demonstrate the relevant motivation, maturity and ability to reflect on self in relation to others
  • If English is not your first language you will be expected to demonstrate a certificated level of proficiency of at least IELTS 7.0 ( Academic level) or equivalent English Language qualification, as recognised by Anglia Ruskin University
  • An Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) Disclosure will also be required
  • A satisfactory Occupational Health clearance will also be required
  • To receive an offer of a place on this course you must be successful at interview
  • Two satisfactory references are required
As this is professional therapy training, all short-listed applicants are expected to attend for the interview procedure which includes an experiential music therapy group with other candidates in addition to an individual interview and audition with music therapy lecturers. These are considered vital to the assessment of your suitability and readiness for training, as well as allowing you to experience something of the teaching methods of the course and consider whether it is appropriate.

For the interview and audition you should prepare a brief piece of your choice on each of your instruments. If you only play one instrument please prepare two brief contrasting pieces on that instrument. If piano is not one of your main studies, you will also 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 will be asked to sing a short song of your choice. An accompanist will be provided if required.

Video conference interview
In very exceptional cases, for applicants who live in countries a long distance away and have specific reasons why they cannot attend an interview, we may consider a video conference interview. This will only be offered if you give clear reasons why it is impossible to attend the interview/audition. You should note that video conference interviews can only be offered if you have professional video conferencing equipment at your disposal. It is not possible to have a Skype interview.

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.

Entry requirements listed are for September 2015 entry. Entry requirements for other intakes may differ.

International and EU applicants

We welcome applications from International and EU students. Please select one of the links below for English language and country-specific entry requirement information.
If you do not meet the above requirements, then there is an alternative. Consider entry to the course via an integrated foundation year at Cambridge Ruskin International College, an associate college of Anglia Ruskin, which is located on our Cambridge campus.

International applicants who are not studying ABRSM qualifications are encouraged to host a portfolio online and provide us with the URL or submit the URL in PDF format by email in order for us to be able to assess your level of musicianship. This will assist us in deciding whether you are suitable to be invited to interview/audition. CD or hardcopy formats submitted by post to our International Admissions Office are also acceptable but please note that these will not be returned.

Portfolios should contain ten to 15 minutes of a varied music on your first and second study instruments that best represents your musicianship.

How to apply



24 months

Teaching times*

Year 1:
Two days a week plus two days a week on a clinical placement.

Year 2:
One day a week on campus plus a placement of least one day a week.

Available starts


Fees & funding

Open Day

25 April, Chelmsford and Cambridge
Postgraduate Open Day

Advice & support



Arts, Law & Social Sciences


Music and Performing Arts

Contact us

UK and EU applicants:International applicants:


* Teaching days are subject to change each academic year. Timings are also dependent on any optional modules you chose and are for guidance, so we advise all applicants to wait until they are in receipt of their timetable before making arrangements around course times.

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