MA Music Therapy

Aims and Objectives


The MA in Music Therapy provides the community with qualified, competent and socially conscious music therapy professionals who have undertaken a comprehensive and thorough examination of the relationship between human experience, behaviour and music; with consideration of this relationship in a music therapy context. This is facilitated through a highly intensive programme of study.


  • To provide students with a postgraduate qualification in Music Therapy
  • To provide students with the education and training necessary for competence and recognition as a Music Therapy practitioner in the international community
  • To provide students with the opportunity to understand, integrate and apply information relating to the practice of Music Therapy in order to develop competence to work with a range of client needs
  • To provide students with a solid theoretical basis for practice and research in Music Therapy
  • To provide experiential training in Music Therapy
  • To integrate Music Therapy study into the broader study of music psychology and related disciplines
  • To consider music within a context of social responsibility

Educational Principles underpinning the MA program:

Music Therapy is the planned and considered use of music and musical elements to address psychological and physical well-being. The field of Music Therapy is interdisciplinary in nature and emphasises the relationship between therapist and client to effect clinical change. Specifically, it is an approach that considers how a therapeutic relationship created in and with music can function socially, cognitively, psychologically, physically, and spiritually to address needs of clients in various cultural, educational and health contexts.

To become a music therapist, students must have opportunities to understand, integrate and apply information in seminar settings with peers as well as in clinical or educational contexts with a wide client base. Practitioners must be flexible, insightful and sensitive to others without being overwhelmed by the needs of clients. To this end, part of the educational process in this course involves personal development through group work therapy in semester 3 and individual therapy in semester 4. In addition, students are provided with opportunities to consider their experiences in class and on clinical placement through submitting reflective journals in semester 1 and semester 3.

The music therapy MA program of study at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance provides a balance between the areas of clinical practice, empirical research and scientific theory. The clinical practice requirements include supervised field experience with children and adults in a range of local health care settings. Empirical research components emphasise the systematic evaluation of musical and non-musical behaviour. Scientific theory emphasises the organisational relationships among the various facets of clinical practice and empirical research, pursuant to theories of music psychology and human development. The educational approach taken is firmly rooted in action learning within a student centred approach; thus the importance of moving freely between theoretical knowledge, music-making, and concrete problem-solving is recognised and valued.

The course has developed educational partnerships with health care professionals and services nationally and there is a regular programme of specialist guest lectures from international speakers. The programme hosts seminars for the professional music therapy and wider health care community on a regular basis and offers advice regarding music therapy appointments and music therapy initiatives within Ireland. These partnerships support the broad learning objectives of the programme and encourage students to consider different approaches to music therapy practice in Ireland, Europe and beyond.

The course is based on educational principles that provide an outstanding academic, clinical and professional foundation for the development of music therapy in the Republic of Ireland. Aspects of the course provide continuing education opportunities for music therapy and other health care professionals in Ireland, continental Europe and other countries as well as for non-music therapy professionals who are seeking education in music research for personal development.

Quality control within the course:

All courses at the University of Limerick are required to implement regulated quality control procedures. The MA in music therapy is assessed via a system of second marking in a high proportion of the total student work submitted for assessment within the degree. In addition, an external examiner, internationally recognised as an expert and leader in the field, attends final viva examinations each year of the program and advises the grade of award of the degree. For the period 2016 – 2019 we are delighted to welcome Dr. Barbara Wheeler as our External Examiner.

Graduates who have applied for Registration with the Australian Music Therapy Association have been successful, as have graduates who have applied for Registration with the Health Professionals Council in the UK. This provides evidence for the view that the course has equivalence with Music Therapy training in other English speaking countries.

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