The MSc Art Therapy promotes art-making and the art process as a primary mode of communication within the context of psychotherapeutic relationship.
The course features a number of innovative features. The MSc Art Therapy will promote an evidence-based integrative and pluralistic stance, founded on a relational and person-centred way of being, guided by trauma informed care principles and underpinned by working within ethical and professional requirements.
The MSc Art Therapy is committed to an integrative model of wellbeing that embraces the biopsychosocial-spiritual dimensions of healthcare. We also share a pluralistic commitment to respecting and promoting diversity and empowerment. The relational foundation will also be informed by diverse theories and research, including psychodynamic, attachment and developmental theories and neuroscience research. The approach will also be systemic, informed by systems and ecotherapeutic theories and research.
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About this course
In this section
The MSc Art Therapy is approved by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), the statutory regulator of the profession of Art Therapy/Art Psychotherapy and other allied health and care professions in the UK. The MSc Art Therapy is a pre-registration clinical training course run by the Belfast School of Art and validated by Ulster University. The course is recognised by the British Association of Art Therapists, the UK professional body, and also by the Irish Association of Creative Arts Therapists, the Irish professional body.
The programme encompasses workshops, lectures, seminars and site visits. Students’ Art Therapist and artist identities will be promoted, particularly in experiential groups: training groups and studio practice. The MSc Art Therapy will also encompass practicum components, with students being on approved clinical placements in diverse organisational settings. These will be supported by Practice Education within the placement and also by ongoing supervision from experienced HCPC Registered Arts Therapists/Psychotherapists, clinical seminars and personal therapy. To maximise student clinical and multi-disciplinary team experience and potential for employment, placements will be with approved agencies across statutory and voluntary settings and with clients across the lifespan.
Successful completion of an HCPC approved programme provides eligibility to apply for HCPC registration. It is a legal requirement that anyone who wishes to practise using a title protected by the Health & Care Professions Council Order 2001 (e.g. "Art Therapist" or "Art Psychotherapist") is on the HCPC register. Therefore, HCPC Registration permits practice of Art Therapy / Art Psychotherapy in the UK and use of the legally protected titles: “Art Therapist” or “Art Psychotherapist”.
MSc Art Therapy is delivered in part-time and full-time mode, with part time study over 3 years and full-time over 2 years. The course is based in Belfast School of Art, Belfast campus.
Attendance must be in compliance with the University’s attendance policies.
- September 2020
Teaching, Learning and Assessment
The content for each course is summarised on the relevant course page, along with an overview of the modules that make up the course.
Each course is approved by the University and meets the expectations of:
- the relevant generic national Qualification Descriptor
- the applicable Subject Benchmark Statement
- the requirements of any professional, regulatory, statutory and accrediting bodies.
Attendance and Independent Study
As part of your course induction, you will be provided with details of the organisation and management of the course, including attendance and assessment requirements - usually in the form of a timetable. For full-time courses, the precise timetable for each semester is not confirmed until close to the start date and may be subject to some change in the early weeks as all courses settle into their planned patterns. For part-time courses which require attendance on particular days and times, an expectation of the days and periods of attendance will be included in the letter of offer. A course handbook is also made available.
Courses comprise modules for which the notional effort involved is indicated by its credit rating. Each credit point represents 10 hours of student effort. Undergraduate courses typically contain 10- or 20-credit modules (more usually 20) and postgraduate course typically 15- or 30-credit modules.
The normal study load expectation for an undergraduate full-time course of study in the standard academic year is 120 credit points. This amounts to around 36-42 hours of expected teaching and learning per week, inclusive of attendance requirements for lectures, seminars, tutorials, practical work, fieldwork or other scheduled classes, private study, and assessment. Part-time study load is the same as full-time pro-rata, with each credit point representing 10 hours of student effort.
Postgraduate Master’s courses typically comprise 180 credits, taken in three semesters when studied full-time. A Postgraduate Certificate (PGCert) comprises 60 credits and can usually be completed on a part-time basis in one year. A 120-credit Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip) can usually be completed on a part-time basis in two years.
Class contact times vary by course and type of module. Typically, for a module predominantly delivered through lectures you can expect at least 3 contact hours per week (lectures/seminars/tutorials). Laboratory classes often require a greater intensity of attendance in blocks. Some modules may combine lecture and laboratory. The precise model will depend on the course you apply for and may be subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. Prospective students will be consulted about any significant changes.
Assessment methods vary and are defined explicitly in each module. Assessment can be a combination of examination and coursework but may also be only one of these methods. Assessment is designed to assess your achievement of the module’s stated learning outcomes. You can expect to receive timely feedback on all coursework assessment. The precise assessment will depend on the module and may be subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. You will be consulted about any significant changes.
Coursework can take many forms, for example: essay, report, seminar paper, test, presentation, dissertation, design, artefacts, portfolio, journal, group work. The precise form and combination of assessment will depend on the course you apply for and the module. Details will be made available in advance through induction, the course handbook, the module specification and the assessment timetable. The details are subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. You will be consulted about any significant changes.
Normally, a module will have 4 learning outcomes, and no more than 2 items of assessment. An item of assessment can comprise more than one task. The notional workload and the equivalence across types of assessment is standardised.
Calculation of the Final Award
The class of Honours awarded in Bachelor’s degrees is usually determined by calculation of an aggregate mark based on performance across the modules at Levels 5 and 6, (which correspond to the second and third year of full-time attendance).
Level 6 modules contribute 70% of the aggregate mark and Level 5 contributes 30% to the calculation of the class of the award. Classification of integrated Master’s degrees with Honours include a Level 7 component. The calculation in this case is: 50% Level 7, 30% Level 6, 20% Level 5. At least half the Level 5 modules must be studied at the University for Level 5 to be included in the calculation of the class.
All other qualifications have an overall grade determined by results in modules from the final level of study. In Master’s degrees of more than 200 credit points the final 120 points usually determine the overall grading.
The University employs over 1,000 suitably qualified and experienced academic staff - 59% have PhDs in their subject field and many have professional body recognition.
Courses are taught by staff who are Professors (25%), Readers, Senior Lecturers (18%) or Lecturers (57%).
We require most academic staff to be qualified to teach in higher education: 82% hold either Postgraduate Certificates in Higher Education Practice or higher. Most academic staff (81%) are accredited fellows of the Higher Education Academy (HEA) - the university sector professional body for teaching and learning. Many academic and technical staff hold other professional body designations related to their subject or scholarly practice.
The profiles of many academic staff can be found on the University’s departmental websites and give a detailed insight into the range of staffing and expertise. The precise staffing for a course will depend on the department(s) involved and the availability and management of staff. This is subject to change annually and is confirmed in the timetable issued at the start of the course.
Occasionally, teaching may be supplemented by suitably qualified part-time staff (usually qualified researchers) and specialist guest lecturers. In these cases, all staff are inducted, mostly through our staff development programme ‘First Steps to Teaching’. In some cases, usually for provision in one of our out-centres, Recognised University Teachers are involved, supported by the University in suitable professional development for teaching.
Figures correct for academic year 2019-2020.
Here is a guide to the subjects studied on this course.
Courses are continually reviewed to take advantage of new teaching approaches and developments in research, industry and the professions. Please be aware that modules may change for your year of entry. The exact modules available and their order may vary depending on course updates, staff availability, timetabling and student demand. Please contact the course team for the most up to date module list.
In this section
Art Therapy: Theory and Practice
This module will examine the history nature and parameters of Art Therapy and effective practice within professional, ethical, legal boundaries and requirements. It aims to develop understanding, skills and attitudes relevant to working within an evidence-based framework, adapting practice to suit client need. Understanding will be developed about relevant theories and Art-making/experiential techniques and theoretical learning in groups will explorea art processes and theories of group work and the management of group process and diversity in groups
Art Therapy: Development of Theory and Practice
This module will examine the history, nature and parameters of Art Therapy and effective practice. It aims to develop understanding, skills and attitudes relevant to working within an evidence-based coherent integrative pluralistic framework, adapting practice to suit client needs. Building on this, the Art Therapist's practice needs to be tailored to the needs of the client and adapted in a culturally competent way. Understanding will be developed about relevant theories and techniques and the relationship between research and practice.
Art Therapy Practicum 1
This module will introduce the Practicum component of the programme. It will enable students to begin the practice of Art Therapy under clinical supervision and with the support of the placement and Practice Educator. It will introduce students to professional practice within professional, ethical, legal boundaries and requirements. This module will run alongside the academic module(s), training groups and studio group module. Students will be in personal therapy and this must run concurrently with placements.
Art Therapy: Working with Diversity
This module explores skills and attitudes relevant to working with cultural diversity and fostering Art Therapy multi-cultural competency. Understanding will be developed in distinguishing between human health and illness. We explore diverse cultural perspectives on areas such as; mental health difficulties, special and additional needs, age and generational influences, developmental and acquired Disabilities, Religion, Ethnicity (and race), Social status, Sexual orientation, Indigenous heritage, National origin, and Gender.
Art Therapy: Continuing Professional Responsibility
This module will examine reflexive practice, routine systematic evaluation of practice, evaluating practice, collaboration, clinical audit and career-long learning - all within a culture of quality assurance and clinical governance and also within professional, ethical, legal boundaries and requirements. The Art Therapist must be committed to reflexive practice, and to improve services. Understanding will be developed about relevant theories and techniques Art-making / experiential and theoretical learning in groups.
Art Therapy Practicum 2
This module will continue the Practicum component of the programme. It will enable students to develop and continue the practice of Art Therapy under clinical supervision and with the support of the placement and Practice Educator. Students will further explore professional practice within professional, ethical, legal boundaries and requirements. It aims to continue to develop understanding, skills and attitudes relevant to practice and to working within an evidence-based coherent integrative pluralistic framework, adapting practice to suit client needs. The module also aims to develop the following programme components: Supervision Groups, clinical seminars. This module will run alongside the academic module(s), training groups and studio group module. Students will be in personal therapy and this must run concurrently with placements.
Art Therapy: Praxis and Research
This module will examine Art Therapy research - within a culture of research governance, clinical governance and quality assurance and also within professional, ethical, legal boundaries and requirements. It aims to further develop understanding, skills and attitudes relevant to research and to working within an evidence-based coherent integrative pluralistic framework, adapting practice to suit client needs.
Art Therapy Practicum 3
This module will continue and conclude the Practicum component of the programme. It will enable students to gain further experience of the practice of Art Therapy under clinical supervision and with the support of the placement and Practice Educator. It aims to increase understanding, skills and attitudes relevant to practice and to working within an evidence-based coherent integrative pluralistic framework, adapting practice to suit client needs. This module will run alongside the academic module(s), training groups and studio group module.
We recognise a range of qualifications for admission to our courses. In addition to the specific entry conditions for this course you must also meet the University’s General Entrance Requirements.
In this section
Application process phase 1: application:
Required entry criteria leading to possible selection for interview:
- (a) an honours degree (2:1 or above) or equivalent qualification, normally in visual arts / Fine Art, (or psychology, psychotherapy or allied therapeutic area; or a relevant professional qualification e.g. nursing, social work, medical, teaching etc.); or demonstrate their ability to undertake the course through APEL.
- (b) demonstration of commitment to own ongoing art practice and to emotional and psychological exploration of self and gaining personal insight & self-awareness from own art process. If invited for interview, a brief portfolio demonstrating this will be required.
- (c) at least 1000 hours minimum work experience in a clinical / psychological helping capacity in a professionally relevant caring context (e.g. mental health, health/social care, residential social work, special education, counselling setting), or its equivalent. Paid or voluntary work is acceptable.
- (d) applicants must also be able to satisfy the panel at interview that they and their work is of a standard that will allow them to deal with the intellectual, material and emotional rigours of the course. This involves demonstrating capacities consistent with training to become a therapist, including: self-awareness, psychological mindedness, emotional resilience, robustness, and the capacity to be self-reflective and to form and maintain appropriate empathic relationships with clients. This is assessed in a combination of ways: health related questions, searching questions at interview.
- (e) all applicants must have a good command of English. (see English language requirement section)
- Desired criteria may also be taken into account if applications exceed places.
All successful applicants will need to complete an enhanced Access NI security check or equivalent.
Applicants will be required to submit references from two Referees relating to their: 1) academic work & 2) professional work.
English Language Requirements
English language requirements for international applicants
The minimum requirement for this course is Academic IELTS 7.0 with no band score less than 6.5.
Ulster recognises a number of other English language tests and comparable IELTS equivalent scores.
Careers & opportunities
In this section
Graduates of the MSc Art Therapy will be able to apply to the HCPC to Register as “Art Therapist” or “Art Psychotherapist”.
Graduates of previous art therapy training in Northern Ireland have typically found sessional, part-time and/or full-time work related to art therapy/art psychotherapy working with adults, young people and children in a number of mental health settings, the third sector and education.
Work placement / study abroad
Clinical placements abroad may be possible if approved by the University and a relevant clinical organisation.
Approved by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) for the purpose of providing eligibility to apply for registration with the HCPC as an arts therapist.
Fees and funding
In this section
Additional mandatory costs
Students must be prepared to enter mandatory individual personal therapy for a minimum of 75 hours throughout the training and this must be concurrent with being in placements and with a University approved therapist. This is paid for by the student, in addition to the course fees. The costs of this vary significantly and may range between £25 to £80 per session. This provides a personal experience of learning about therapy and also supports the emotional demands of the training. Whilst the content of this therapy work is confidential within normal parameters, personal therapists are required to submit a report regularly confirming the hours completed and noting any serious concerns about the student practising.
Whilst students are covered by University insurance, students are strongly encouraged to take out their own additional professional indemnity cover and this may be required by some placements.
The additional cost of travel to and from placements and the University should be taken into account.
Studio fee for specialist art equipment may be required and is normally up to £100 and contributes to additional materials used by students.
Weekend intensives (normally 2 per year) and field trips may incur additional costs.
Students purchase materials for their own coursework.
Tuition fees and costs associated with accommodation, travel (including car parking charges), and normal living are a part of university life.
Where a course has additional mandatory expenses we make every effort to highlight them. These may include residential visits, field trips, materials (e.g. art, design, engineering) inoculations, security checks, computer equipment, uniforms, professional memberships etc.
We aim to provide students with the learning materials needed to support their studies. Our libraries are a valuable resource with an extensive collection of books and journals as well as first-class facilities and IT equipment. Computer suites and free wifi is also available on each of the campuses.
There will be some additional costs to being a student which cannot be itemised and these will be different for each student. You may choose to purchase your own textbooks and course materials or prefer your own computer and software. Printing and binding may also be required. There are additional fees for graduation ceremonies, examination resits and library fines. Additional costs vary from course to course.
Students choosing a period of paid work placement or study abroad as part of their course should be aware that there may be additional travel and living costs as well as tuition fees.
Please contact the course team for more information.
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