MA Music Therapy


The MA in Music Therapy is the only degree in Ireland leading to a professional qualification in music therapy. The international growth of the professional discipline of Music Therapy is a consequence of the growing interest in, and need for, professions supplementary to medicine in health care, as well as the development of expert allied health practice in special education.

The Music Therapy MA program addresses the higher education needs of graduates of both arts and/or sciences foundation degrees. This course attracts applicants from a wide variety of musical and health science backgrounds in Ireland as well as other countries and there is a competition for the available places. Entry to the course is adjudged through a rigorous audition and in-depth interview process with a panel of experts.

Qualified music therapists use the unique characteristics of music in musical interaction to support people who have additional needs because of medical, psychological, physical or emotional problems. Music therapists work in a range of settings including nursing homes, residential care facilities, community settings, schools, and hospitals. Music therapists are responsible to develop and implement appropriate programmes after assessment of clients and groups. Outcomes of the work are evaluated and reported to colleagues within the multidisciplinary team.

Music Therapists are experts in using the gentle, non-intrusive, non-verbal qualities of music making in conjunction with their insight and training in therapeutic relationships to develop programmes that help identify and address client’s needs. Qualified Music Therapists work as members of a multidisciplinary team and are considered part of the Allied Health professional work force in hospitals, nursing homes, hostels, clinics and schools.

The course requires a high level of music skill on entry. Experience in paid or volunteer work with people who have a disability or experience some sort of social disadvantage/exclusion is required. As the programme is offered in an international academy of music and dance, students from many places and backgrounds are represented in the intake cohort including, to date, students from Canada, China, England, Germany, Greece, Northern Ireland, Norway, and the USA.

Theoretical orientation

Music therapy is an established psychological clinical intervention, which is delivered by qualified music therapists, to help people of all ages, whose lives have been affected by injury, illness or disability through supporting their psychological, emotional, cognitive, physical, communicative and social needs.  The discipline of music therapy embraces a range of approaches to practice. Reflective of the diverse range of practice on the island of Ireland, the theoretical orientation of the MA Music Therapy at IWAMD is eclectic. The student is introduced to a range of approaches within this evidence-based therapy, including humanistic, behavioural, psychodynamically informed and receptive music therapy approaches. The aim is for the student to be a well-equipped entry level eclectic music  therapist upon qualification.

Fieldwork Placements

Placements are organised by the programme in conjunction with qualified music therapists employed on the island. Opportunities currently exist for placements with experienced qualified music therapists in a variety of health services, including rehabilitation services, acute hospitals, mental health settings, palliative care, services for adults and children with intellectual difficulties and schools for children with special educational needs.   Students currently complete three placements with a total of 53 days (424 hours). Students are advised of their placement sites and times and must complete them as agreed; supervisors, dates and sites are non-negotiable. The costs of travel to and from placement and any costs such as purchasing music or having to stay overnight if the placement is not local to Limerick must be covered by the student. Some placements in the UK are also available.


Qualified Music Therapists are employed in the health service, the education department, community programmes, and/or are self-employed in Ireland and internationally. Graduates of the MA in Music Therapy at the Irish World Academy have gained full-time positions in facilities such as Cheeverstown House in Dublin, Cope Foundation in Cork, St Joseph’s Charleville, and the Milford Care Centre in Limerick. Other graduates have been employed in a wide range of services including the Mayo Mental Health Service, Bluebox Creative Learning Centre in Limerick and Enable Ireland, and a number of graduates work at various locations in the North for the Northern Ireland Music Therapy Trust.

Entrance Requirements

  • A high level of music skills in performance.
  • A degree qualification or equivalent in any of the following; music, psychology, health sciences, medicine, education or related discipline.
  • Experience of working with vulnerable populations.
  • A willingness to engage in personal development through attending psychotherapy.

An interview/audition will be offered to short-listed candidates. It is not possible to enter the course without successfully completing the audition process. Provision is made for international students. All candidates should check the FAQ link

Course Director: Dr. Hilary Moss

Hilary Moss is a musician and Music Therapist, with twenty years experience of working in the health service in Ireland and the UK. Prior to becoming Senior Lecturer in Music Therapy at the Irish World Academy, Hilary worked as Director of the National Centre for Arts and Health, Tallaght Hospital, Dublin, managing a team of arts therapists, arts practitioners and arts and health professionals across a large acute hospital, serving patients from cradle to grave and covering acute and chronic care services. She completed her PhD in 2014 on aesthetic deprivation and the role of arts for older people in hospital at the School of Medicine, Trinity College Dublin under the supervision of Prof Desmond O’Neill. She has an MBA in Heath Service Management and is an active Music Therapist with special interest in working with older people, mental  health services and singing for health. Her research interests include arts therapies, arts and health and health humanities, as well as specialising in interdisciplinary research. Her model of providing weekly art sessions for patients in the renal dialysis unit at Tallaght Hospital, facilitated by professional artist, reached the final of the Health Service Innovation Awards 2005.

Lecturer in Music Therapy: Dr. Tríona McCaffrey

Having studied music and Irish at Trinity College Dublin, Tríona completed the MA Music Therapy programme at the Irish World Academy.
She then developed a full-time music therapy post at Mayo Mental Health Services, working in the areas of recovery, community mental health and psychiatry of old age. As a mental health practitioner she gained considerable experience from working in a recovery-oriented service, which was then an emerging field in statutory mental health services. After extensive collaboration with the MA Music Therapy programme as music skills tutor, placement supervisor and guest lecturer, she joined the teaching faculty of the Irish World Academy in 2010. Her research interests focus on the role of music therapy in mental health, particularly in that of mental health recovery. In 2014 she completed her PhD on the topic of service user evaluation of music therapy in mental health. She also holds a Diploma in Psychology from the Open University.

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