MA Music Therapy

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.

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. 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. 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.

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, social and education services. Students currently complete three placements with a total of 53 days (424 hours). . 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.

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 and individual therapy. In addition, students are provided with opportunities to consider and reflect on their practical and theoretical learning throughout the course.

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. Prof Gary Ansdell, international music therapy expert, is Adjunct Associate Professor of the MA, lending expert advice and overseeing the quality of the programme.

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. Our External Examiner is Prof Joanne Loewy.

Career opportunities for Graduate Music Therapists exist within the Republic of Ireland and overseas. Graduates who have applied for Registration with the Australian, USA and UK Music Therapy Accreditation bodies  have been successful, providing evidence that the course has equivalence with Music Therapy training in other English speaking countries. The course is registered with the European Music Therapy Confederation. Learn more about employment prospects from a graduate survey of UL Ma Music Therapy 2016 – 21 :

Programme of Study

The MA course is a 120 ECTS (European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System) credit programme of full-time study over two years. There are 3 modules per semester.

The MA Music Therapy has moved to a blended learning model of delivery making the course more accessible to students than ever before. All classes take place normally on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, up to two days in person every fortnight and two days online each week. Placements can often take place near student’s home, but this is not guaranteed.

Each semester involves a research module, a workshop skills development module, and a fieldwork practice module. Fieldwork involves 49 days of work placement, supervised by a qualified practitioner. These can be a combination of face-to-face therapy and telehealth experiences, but all students are guaranteed at least two in person placements. In addition, the two year program culminates in the preparation and presentation of a major Music Therapy Research Project.

The program builds students skills systematically through a series of carefully designed steps toward professional competence. Students initially focus on music skills on voice, piano and guitar in addition to theoretical underpinnings of professional practice and then move toward implementation of this skill and knowledge in a supported practice context. Gradually the level of support on clinical placement is reduced until students in the final placement are assessed on their readiness to practice as independent professionals.

Semester 1

MU6081 Arts and Health Practice and Enquiry

MU5211 Clinical Orientation

MD6281 Media and Music technologies for Music Therapy


MD6051 Independent Study 1

MD6061 Introduction to Somatics 1

MD6111 Colloquium 1

AW600 Academic Literacies for International Postgraduate Students 1

Semester 2

MU5072 Music Therapy Practice

MU5062 Music Therapy Fieldwork Practice 1

MD6052 Independent Study 2


MD6102 Colloquium 2

MD6092 Introduction to Somatics 2

MD2275 Interdisciplinary Practice

Semester 3

MU5043 Music Therapy Project 1

MU5033 Music Therapy Practice 2

MU5023 Music Therapy Fieldwork Practice 2

Semester 4

MU5223 Seminar in Clinical Music Therapy

MU5004 Music Therapy Fieldwork Practice 3

MU5532 Music Therapy Final Project

Clinical Placements

Clinical placements are an integral part of the MA Music Therapy. Students have the opportunity to undertake at least three placements during the programme. We provide a wide range of placements in Ireland and abroad and students can expect supervision from a highly experienced music therapist working in the field. Our placements include (but are not limited to):

Enable Ireland Adult Services Limerick; St Clare’s School, Ennis; Milford Care Centre; St Camillus’ Hospital, Limerick; Milford Nursing Home; ChildVision – the National Education Centre for Blind Children; The Meath Community Unit, Dublin; The National Rehabilitation Hospital, Dublin; Laura Lynn – Ireland’s Children’s Hospice; Newbrook Lodge, Mullingar, Co WestMeath; The Aisling Centre, Galway; Our Lady’s Hospice and Care Service, Harolds Cross; St Vincent’s Centre Cork; Crumlin Children’s Hospital.

Some examples of placements on offer and profiles of Music Therapists working with us as placement supervisors follow:

ChildVision: the National Education Centre for Blind Children

ChildVision is the only place in Ireland totally dedicated to the education and therapy needs of children and young people with visual impairment and multiple disabilities. The campus consists of two preschools and a Montessori; the Rosmini secondary unit for students with VI and ASD, a vocational training centre for young adults with VI and St. Joseph’s Primary School for Children with Visual Impairment. ChildVision has a specialized therapeutic team including a nursing, physiotherapy, two speech therapists and two occupational therapists who oversee the equine therapy programme. The music therapy service was established in 2010 and provides therapy across the campus, two days a week. The therapist, Bill Ahessy provides individual and group sessions as well as well as some joint work with the SLT and other departments. Bill has been practicing as a music therapist since 2008. He trained at the University of Technology in Sydney and completed a Masters through research at the University of Cadiz in Spain. Bill has training in Neurologic Music Therapy and is influenced by Nordoff Robbins and Community Music Therapy. He has a child-centred and integrated approach underpinned by humanistic, developmental and cognitive theory. Students on placement at the centre will be based in St. Joseph’s Primary School working with children from 5-12 years old. They will also have the opportunity to work with some of the preschool age children.

Meath Community Unit, Dublin 8

The Meath Community Unit is a HSE run residential unit and day care centre for older people with a range of conditions including: Dementia, mental health difficulties, Parkinson’s disease, stroke and physical disabilities. The music therapy service was created here in 2009 following a research study funded by the Meath Foundation. A randomised control trial examined the effect of a music therapy choir on the mood, quality of life and cognitive function of older people. The results of this study were significant and it was presented at the 10th European Music Therapy Congress and published in Music and Medicine. The music therapist, Bill Ahessy works as part of the multidisciplinary team which includes: GPs, nursing, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, social work, dietician and SLT. Bill trained at the University of Technology in Sydney and later completed a Masters through research at the University of Cadiz in Spain. A Diploma in Person-Centred Dementia care (University of Surrey) and training in Dementia Care Mapping and have been instrumental in the development of his practice and understanding of the lived experience of people with dementia. The music therapist uses a person-centred and integrated approach in his work with individual and groups. Susan Hurley, a graduate of the MA in Music Therapy at UL works in the unit one day a week conducting individual work with clients and co-facilitating the music therapy choir. Students will have the opportunity to work with older adults in individual and group sessions as well exposure to the use of choir work in music therapy.

Music Therapy Service at the National Rehabilitation Hospital

The music therapy service provides specialist music therapy assessment and treatment to patients at the National Rehabilitation Hospital in the Brain Injury and the Prolonged Disorder of Consciousness Programmes and to children and adolescents within the Paediatric programme. The NRH Music Therapy Service and the Music Therapy Department at UL are research partners, having successfully collaborated on PhD research carried out by Dr Shane Cassidy and supervised by Professor Hilary Moss (PhD Supervisor) and Ms Rebecca O’Connor (Clinical Supervisor).

There are three music therapists working within the service; Rebecca O’Connor, Senior Music Therapist; Dee Grey, Music Therapy Researcher; and Dr Shane Cassidy, Senior Neurologic Music Therapist.

In the music therapy service at the N.R.H. the majority of music therapy sessions are jointly run with therapy professionals from the interdisciplinary teams. The music therapist aims to enhance the work of the inter-disciplinary team using music based methods as a catalyst to stimulate change.  Research demonstrates the benefits and importance of music therapy as part of interdisciplinary rehabilitation treatment programmes. Kennelly (2001) states:  ‘meeting the needs of patients in rehabilitation requires an interdisciplinary approach whereby a variety of health care professionals work together in planning and coordinating each patient’s programme.  The music therapist is a recognised allied health professional who plays an integral role in this team approach’.

The service provides music therapy intervention in the form of:

  • Individual therapy sessions, i.e. therapy sessions provided by the music therapist to address specific rehabilitation goals
  • Interdisciplinary assessment and interventions, these involve working alongside other members of the Paediatric or Brain Injury Programme team, e.g. occupational therapy, psychologist, speech and language therapist, physiotherapist etc. Sessions take the form of joint collaborative sessions where the music therapist works with other professionals on addressing specific shared rehabilitation goals.
  • Music therapy sessions with family members
  • Collaborative music therapy group sessions for clients and family members, specifically within the paediatric programme where siblings are invited to attend where appropriate.  Groups are co- run with all members of the inter disciplinary team.
  • MATADOC assessment for PDOC adult and paediatric patients
  • Interdisciplinary treatment sessions with family members within the music therapy research project for PDOC adult and paediatric patients
  • Assessment sessions with neuropsychology where the O’Connor O’Doherty Assessment Tool is applied

Research is also a valuable component of the music therapy service.  A three year Music Therapy research project funded by the NRH Foundation Trust commenced in September 2013 with the PDOC adult and paediatric patients.

The title of the Research project is:

Research project to assess the Music Therapy Assessment Tool for Awareness in Disorders of Consciousness (MATADOC), identifying its benefits in assessing patients’ levels of response, contributing to diagnosis and treatment planning as well as monitoring change in PDOC patients.

Music therapy students from UL have been placed at the NRH music therapy service as part of their training since 2009.

Lauralynn Irelands Children’s Hospice is a national service that offers a range of holistic supports for children with life limiting conditions and their family members.

The music therapist offers individual and group music therapy sessions to children and young adults attending Lauralynn house either for assessment/ respite/crisis/outpatient or end of life services on a referral basis. Children are prioritised based on their level of need. The music therapist works with individual families to address specific goals, such as enhancing interaction/engagement, emotional support, promoting relaxation, enhancing communication, bereavement support, memory making and legacy work – with the overall aim of maximising quality of life for each child and their family

The therapist works collaboratively with the interdisciplinary team including occupational therapy, physiotherapy, psychology, play therapist, chaplain, social worker and volunteer-co coordinator. The music therapist and occupational therapist run an outreach service supporting families in the community.

The music therapist also supports the siblings of children who attend the service who may need a space to express themselves and process their feelings through the accessible and non-threatening medium of music. Other roles include organising musical events at the hospice, training for staff and volunteers, planning and running music activities during camps for families. The music therapist also runs a staff choir that perform at hospice events including memorial services and can assist families with planning music for funeral/services.

Haven House Hospice for Children in the UK offers observation placements for music therapy students. Music Therapy Maeve Rigney offers students a wonderful experience observing her work in a highly specialised environment.



Entrance Requirements:

Applicants will have a degree qualification or equivalent in any of the following; music, psychology, health sciences, medicine, education or related discipline.

Applicants from diverse backgrounds who do not have a relevant degree qualification but who have relevant life experience and excellent music skills are also encouraged to apply. 

Applicants with musical and volunteer or work experience in community music making within health care, educational or other support services to people with disabilities are especially welcome.

Applicants will be reviewed for entry to the course on the basis of academic background (or equivalent), therapeutic experience and/or potential and music skills in the areas of playing, singing, writing/arranging and improvising. Applicants must be able to sing and play guitar and piano competently .

Applicants will show a willingness to engage in personal development throughout the programme (see FAQ section).

Applications are accepted throughout the academic year, normally from mid- October of the year prior to attendance. Places are filled as people apply, therefore you are encouraged to apply early.  Shortlisting normally takes place in December, February and April with auditions/interviews normally held in January, March, May. We continue to accept applications until the programme starts in September but the course is often full by June of the year prior to commencement.

**Please note that applications will close for 2023/24 on the 1st June 2023. Applications will not normally be accepted after this date**


IMPORTANT – What to upload as supporting information  with your Application:

  • Qualification transcripts and/or certificates (including certified English translations if applicable)
  • English language qualification(s) (if English is not your first language)
  • A copy of your birth certificate/passport
  • 2 letters of references
  • A Supporting Statement (maximum 1 x A4 page) outlining (1) why you wish to undertake the MA in Music Therapy (2) Relevant work or voluntary experience you believe is relevant to your application (3) Musical experience and (4) any other information you feel supports your application.
  • A short recording (max 5 minutes) of yourself with 2 musical excerpts (1) playing their primary instrument; then (2) singing accompanied by either piano  or guitar.  Ideally, we ask that recordings be uploaded to Youtube with relevant links included on a separate word document to be uploaded with all other application documents.

Please note that you must upload these documents as supporting information in order to have your application considered.

Applicants from outside Ireland will be expected to audition via online interview. Accompanists are not provided for the audition. Should an accompanist be required then it is up the candidate to arrange and fund this themselves.


Postgraduate Admissions Office
Graduate School
Foundation Building
University of Limerick

Tel: +353 61 234377
Fax: +353 61 233287


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Click here for a list of scholarships available to prospective Irish World Academy of Music and Dance students.


Click here to read the graduate profiles of Barbora KlimovaDiarmuid Boyle Fabian Joyce and Lisa Kelly who share their experiences of completing the MA Music Therapy. 

Sarah Keating

Sarah Keating graduated from the MA Music Therapy course in 2018. She is now the founder of Keating Music Therapy, where she works as a Music Therapist, a Neurologic Music Therapist, and a Clinical Supervisor. Sarah works within a wide variety of settings including intellectual and/or physical disabilities, neurological conditions, mental health (including older adult services), children living with developmental delay, trauma, and neurorehabilitation. Sarah is a professional member of the Irish Association of Creative Arts Therapists and currently provides face to face and online music therapy and supervision services in the Clare, Tipperary, and Limerick regions.

Maeve Rigney:

Maeve Rigney graduated from the MA in Music Therapy course in 2008. She initially worked in the Northern Ireland before moving to London in 2010. Since then, Maeve has worked with the paediatric population in various clinical and educational settings. Maeve is currently the Senior Music Therapist and Therapies Manager at Haven House Children’s Hospice in North East London. Working within a holistic model of care, Maeve supports children, young people and their families who are affected by life limiting and life threatening conditions. Maeve is registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) and a member of the British Association of Music Therapists (BAMT). Maeve has completed further training in humanistic and psychodynamic counselling at Goldsmiths University and has presented papers and posters at both music therapy and paediatric palliative care conferences.

Grainne O’Hagan:

Grainne O’Hagan graduated from the MA Music Therapy in 2012. She established Soundhaven Music Therapy in the Monaghan/Cavan area and currently provides Music Therapy in Special Needs Schools, ASD groups, Nursing Homes and with private clients. She works closely with families in the community, the HSE and Tusla. She recently joined the extended MA Music Therapy team as a placement supervisor.

Clara Monahan:

Clara Monahan graduated from the MA Music Therapy course in 2008. She worked full time for two years with the Northern Ireland Music Therapy Trust (now ‘Everyday Harmony’). During her time there she worked with children and young adults with a range of disabilities in education and health settings. Following this Clara recorded and released her debut album of original material called, ‘A Portfolio’ and toured with her band nationwide. She set up a private practice in the Dublin region in 2011 and has been providing music therapy services across a range of settings both in disability and older adult services. Clara has released a collaborative album with songwriter/musician Don Baker called ‘Baker Rose’ and continues to tour Ireland and Europe.Currently Clara is working with St. Michael’s House, St. John of God’s and in Tallaght Hospital in Older Adult acute services along with some private work with children with ASD.

Linda Coyle:

Linda Coyle graduated from the MA in Music Therapy course in 2006. Drawing on her background as a speech and language therapist, she has built a private practice based in West Cork. A particular specialism is voice, in which she offers a range of services, from voice care for professional voice users, voice therapy to address voice problems, and vocal psychotherapy which uses the voice and sound to address mental health needs. She also provides medico legal assessments in the areas of music therapy and speech and language therapy. Further information is available from

Lorraine Ní Bhriain:

Lorraine Ní Bhriain graduated from the MA in Music Therapy course in 2009. She works in Northern Ireland as part of a creative art therapy team in an organisation that provides counseling and creative arts therapy to children, young people and adults who are at risk of suicide, self harm, eating disorders, bereaved by suicide, who have suffered abuse and those who have trauma related difficulties. Lorraine also works with adults with acquired brain injury in a day centre in Belfast which provides services and support to survivors of brain injury in order to rebuild their lives. Along with this work, she provides group music therapy sessions in residential homes to older adults, many of whom have Dementia. Lorraine is a registered music therapist with the Health Professions Council in the UK and a member of the British Association of Music Therapists (BAMT).

Tommy Hayes:

Tommy Hayes graduated from the MA in Music Therapy in 2002. He initially worked in adolescent care and he is now in private practice working with adolescents, children and adults with Autism, cerebral palsy, and in the mental health services. Prior to becoming a music therapist he was a professional percussionist for 28 years mostly performing traditional Irish music.

Tracey Jones:

Tracey Jones graduated from the MA in Music Therapy in 2000. The best thing about the course was the opportunity to experience a variety of music therapy placements including, older adults, intellectual disability, hospital setting, psychiatric services & adults with drug addiction. She has worked full time since graduating as a music therapist in Cheeverstown House, Dublin, which is a service for adults and children with intellectual disability. Tracey works with individuals across the life span: early services, school age, and adults presenting with a variety of difficulties.

Michael Jenkins:

Michael Jenkins graduated from the MA in Music Therapy in 2014. After qualifying, he began working in Northern Ireland in residential care for older adults with dementia and in the community. In 2015, Michael moved to London to begin working as a music therapist at the Royal Hospital for Neuro-Disability where he gained extensive experience in interdisciplinary assessment and treatment of adults with complex neuro-disability and chronic neurological illnesses. Michael has presented nationally on music therapy techniques in the rehabilitation of disorders of consciousness and on music therapy in the support and management of Huntington’s disease. Michael is currently Senior Music Therapist at the Raphael Medical Centre in Kent for adults with complex neuro-disability. He is a member of the British Association of Music therapy (BAMT) and is registered by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).



Music Therapy Research In Ireland

Research is the backbone of any profession. It tests hypotheses, challenges pre-existing perceptions, highlights the service user’s voices and identifies and supports best practice, affording music therapists a deeper understanding of those with whom they work. Music therapists and researchers in Ireland have published widely, contributing to knowledge and evidence-based practice. This collation of the published research celebrates the richness and value of music therapy in Ireland.

Music Therapy Evidence Base Research in Ireland

Frequently Asked Questions

Thank you for your interest in the MA in Music Therapy. Please find below answers to frequently asked questions that have arisen over the years since the course commenced.

What is the closing date for applications?

I have a very busy life, is there a way to do the course part-time?

I do not have a primary degree in music or psychology, can I still apply?

I have not received formal qualifications in music, can I still apply?

How many days a week am I expected to be in class and placement?

I do not have the funds to do the course, is there a scholarship for which I can apply?

I would like to specialise in work with a particular population (such as hospice patients or children with autism) during the course, how do I organise that?

I would like to live at home while I am doing the course and not move to Limerick. Is it possible to guarantee that I have my placements in this location?

What type of things can I do to do well at the audition/interview/assessment?

Do I really have to bring a song accompanied on both piano and guitar? I only play piano/guitar.

I live overseas, how can I audition for the course?

What are the personal development requirements of the programme?

I definitely know I want to be a music therapist but I don’t really know what it is or how music therapists work

Does this qualification allow me to work in other countries?

Can you tell me the timetable for the course so I can organise my part-time work commitments for next year?

I have further questions, what should I do?


Applicants wishing to discuss detailed elements of the programme should contact Dr Tríona McCaffrey, Lecturer, Music Therapy Email: in the first instance. 

You may also contact Professor Hilary Moss
Course Director, MA Music Therapy Email:

For further details, information and brochures about the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance:

Irish World Academy of Music and Dance,
University of Limerick,
Phone: + 353 61 202590

For queries to the University of Limerick Postgraduate Admissions Office:

Postgraduate Admissions Office
Graduate School
Foundation Building
University of Limerick

Tel: +353 61 234377
Fax: +353 61 233287