Art Psychotherapy is a catalyst for the arts being of service to people and communities in need. Applications open 1 Jan 23 and close on 1 March 23.
The MSc Art Psychotherapy course is a two-year part time training programme approved by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), the regulating body for the health and care professions in the UK.
The course combines experiential learning, clinical placements, seminars, and studio practices. Art Psychotherapy trainees also attend clinical supervision to support their learning and professional development within a variety of practicum settings.
Art psychotherapists work with children, young people, adults, and older people in a range of health, education, social care, advocacy, and community services.
As a career Art Psychotherapy offers an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others. It combines therapeutic expertise, evidence based research, social engagement and creative ingenuity. The course integrates HCPC professional clinical training requirements along with practice-based learning in conjunction with cultural partners, advocacy organisations, and social enterprise initiatives.
The training in art psychotherapy is life changing for both the student and the service user. Art in the service of wellness creates opportunities for making both with art media and the materials of our lives.
MSc Art Psychotherapy, Frequently Asked Questions
Where is the course located? The course is located in city centre Belfast at the Belfast School of Art, Ulster University (Birley Building, York Street). The Belfast School of Art is situated in the Cathedral Quarter, the arts and culture district of Belfast, which is home to galleries and performance venues.
How many days a week do I attend classes on campus? One day a week on either a Wednesday or a Friday between 9:30 am and 5:00 pm. In 2023 students will attend on a Friday, and this day will remain the same in the second year of their studies. Please note students attend classes in the autumn, spring and summer semesters.
How many days a week do I attend practicums? Students attend practicums for the equivalent of two days a week. This could be two weekdays, or one weekday and two evenings, or one weekday and a Saturday according to the student's schedule and the availability of practicums which operate outside of office hours.
Why is it essential to have 1000 hours of working with people experience before applying to the course? It is important to develop a portfolio of volunteer and work experiences supporting people in a helping capacity in order to confirm your commitment to train in a health and caring profession. References from a volunteer coordinator or employer will be requested to endorse your capacity to train as an art psychotherapist.
Do I need an art degree to apply for the course? Applicants have a broad range of educational and professional experiences. Applicants may be graduates with an arts degree, but equally they can be teachers, nurses, social workers, counsellors, and allied health professionals. Applicants may also be psychology or humanities graduates. In all cases applicants should have an artistic practice and submit images of artworks with their application that demonstrate proficiency with a range of art media.
Is there an academic component to the course? Yes, students submit academic coursework that is logically structured, critically engaging, and demonstrates an understanding of complex ideas and clinical approaches. Academic coursework is written using the APA 7 referencing style.
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The MSc Art Psychotherapy 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 Psychotherapy 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 seminars, tutorials, peer learning groups, reflective practice and art making. The MSc Art Psychotherapy course also includes practicum components, with students undertaking approved placements in diverse organisational settings. These will be supported by training and mentoring within the placement and also by ongoing supervision from experienced HCPC registered arts therapists and art psychotherapists.
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 Psychotherapy is delivered in part-time mode 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.
Teaching, Learning and Assessment
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 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, 20, or 40 credit modules (more usually 20) and postgraduate courses 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. Teaching and learning activities will be in-person and/or online depending on the nature of the course. 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 assessments. This feedback may be issued individually and/or issued to the group and you will be encouraged to act on this feedback for your own development.
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, the assessment timetable and the assessment brief. 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. The module pass mark for undergraduate courses is 40%. The module pass mark for postgraduate courses is 50%.
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.
Figures correct for academic year 2022-2023.
The University employs over 1,000 suitably qualified and experienced academic staff - 60% have PhDs in their subject field and many have professional body recognition.
Courses are taught by staff who are Professors (19%), Readers, Senior Lecturers (22%) 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 and learning support staff (85%) are recognised as fellows of the Higher Education Academy (HEA) by Advance HE - 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 2022-2023.
Belfast Campus Location
The Belfast campus is situated in the artistic and cultural centre of the city, the Cathedral Quarter.
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.
Art Psychotherapy: Foundations of Theory and Practice
This module will examine the history nature and parameters of art psychotherapy 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 explore art processes and theories of group work and the management of group process and diversity in groups.
Art Psychotherapy: Clinical Proficiencies and Theories of Mind
This module will examine the history, nature and parameters of art psychotherapy 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 psychotherapist'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 Psychotherapy: Practicum 1
This module will introduce the Practicum component of the programme. It will enable students to begin the practice of art psychotherapy 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 Psychotherapy: Diversity and Praxis
This module explores skills and attitudes relevant to working with cultural diversity and fostering art psychotherapy 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 Psychotherapy: Practicum 2 (Part 1)
This module will continue the Practicum component of the programme. It will enable students to develop and continue the practice of art psychotherapy 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. Students will be in personal therapy and this must run concurrently with placements.
Art Psychotherapy: 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 psychotherapist 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 Psychotherapy: Portfolios of Professional Practice
This module will examine art psychotherapy 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 Psychotherapy: 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 psychotherapy 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.
Art Psychotherapy: Practicum 2 (Part 2)
This module will continue the practicum component of the programme. It will enable students to develop and continue the practice of art psychotherapy 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 and clinical seminars. This module will run alongside the academic module(s), training groups and studio practice. Students will be in personal therapy and this must run concurrently with placements.
(a) A 2:2 degree or above in either visual arts, psychology, psychotherapy, social work, nursing, teaching, social care, or an allied profession.
(b) A commitment to reflective arts practices facilitating personal insight and an artistic repertoire of self enquiry. If invited for interview, a portfolio of six artworks demonstrating proficiency in a range of arts media will be requested.
(c) A 1000 hours of work experience in a helping capacity in either mental health, arts and health, social care, social work, special education, or a counselling setting. Paid or voluntary work is acceptable.
(d) Applicants are requested to demonstrate self-awareness, psychological mindedness, emotional resilience, robustness, and the capacity to be empathetic.
(e) All applicants are asked to demonstrate a level of English necessary for the completion of academic assignments. An example of academic writing can support your application and also be submitted prior to interview.
All successful applicants are required to complete an enhanced Access NI security check.
Applicants will be required to submit references from two referees relating to their academic and professional performance.
Applications for this course will open on 1 January 2023 and close on 1 March 2023.
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.
"Art Psychotherapy graduates typically combine sessional, part time and full time employment. They work with people of all ages living with a wide range of emotional or physical conditions in the context of mental health, education, arts and health, community, and voluntary settings. Art Psychotherapists need to be flexible and resourceful. Within the current context in health and social care, entrepreneurial skills are also needed, and most art psychotherapists start their career on a self-employed basis and establish art therapy provision in a wide variety of settings. Many Art Psychotherapists work in partnership with allied professionals to develop innovative approaches to practice" (British Association of Art Therapists).
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
The price of your overall programme will be determined by the number of credit points that you initiate in the relevant academic year.
For modules commenced in the academic year 2023/24, the following fees apply:
NB: A standard full-time PGCert is equivalent to 60 credit points per year. A standard full-time PGDip is equivalent to 120 credit points per year.
Additional mandatory costs
Students must be prepared to enter personal therapy, with a university approved therapist for a minimum of 75 hours throughout their training. This is paid for by the student, in addition to their course fees. Personal therapy provides an experience of learning about the therapeutic relationship and supports the emotional demands of training. Personal therapists are required to submit reports confirming hours completed and noting any concerns about a student practicing as an art psychotherapist. 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.
Students purchase materials for their own coursework.
It is important to remember that costs associated with accommodation, travel (including car parking charges) and normal living will need to be covered in addition to tuition fees.
Where a course has additional mandatory expenses (in addition to tuition fees) we make every effort to highlight them above. 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 Wi-Fi are also available on each of the campuses.
There are additional fees for graduation ceremonies, examination resits and library fines.
Students choosing a period of paid work placement or study abroad as a part of their course should be aware that there may be additional travel and living costs, as well as tuition fees.
Although reasonable steps are taken to provide the programmes and services described, the University cannot guarantee the provision of any course or facility and the University may make variations to the contents or methods of delivery of courses, discontinue, merge or combine courses and introduce new courses if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Such circumstances include (but are not limited to) industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key staff, changes in legislation or government policy including changes, if any, resulting from the UK departing the European Union, withdrawal or reduction of funding or other circumstances beyond the University’s reasonable control.
If the University discontinues any courses, it will use its best endeavours to provide a suitable alternative course. In addition, courses may change during the course of study and in such circumstances the University will normally undertake a consultation process prior to any such changes being introduced and seek to ensure that no student is unreasonably prejudiced as a consequence of any such change.
The University does not accept responsibility (other than through the negligence of the University, its staff or agents), for the consequences of any modification or cancellation of any course, or part of a course, offered by the University but will take into consideration the effects on individual students and seek to minimise the impact of such effects where reasonably practicable.
The University cannot accept any liability for disruption to its provision of educational or other services caused by circumstances beyond its control, but the University will take all reasonable steps to minimise the resultant disruption to such services.