Play Therapy

Postgraduate School of Psychology

This two year full-time programme integrates theoretical learning, clinical skills and in-depth personal development to prepare graduates for clinical practice, predominantly with children, as a professional play therapist within the public and private sectors.

Play Therapy

2 years (full-time)
3 years (part-time)

Number of Credits


Start date

September 2024

Degree Type



These modules are those we currently offer and may be subject to change.


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Based on a humanistic person-centred model of therapy, this course emphasises the use of play within a therapeutic relationship between the therapist and client to facilitate therapeutic change.

The course encompasses theoretical, practical and experiential learning. With our holistic approach to teaching, you will be provided with thorough and systematic knowledge, experience, skills and the confidence to work as a professionally qualified play therapist.

At the end of the course, you will be able to demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of therapeutic techniques and approaches that are required for professional registration purposes.

This course leads to a qualification that entitles you to registration as a Full Member of the British Association of Play Therapists (BAPT) - subject to reaccreditation - whose register is accredited by the Professional Standards Authority (PSA).

You will be taught by experienced practitioners who are practising play therapists and will bring the teaching on the course to life by drawing upon their own clinical experiences and case materials.

Prior to completing your application, please read the frequently asked questions about our MA Play Therapy course.

We also offer weekend introductory courses, 5 day Summer Schools, and 20 week part time evening Foundation Courses which provide a useful background in related professions. For more information, see ourPsychology Short Courses. 

How you'll learn

All modules are designed to prepare you for child-centred therapeutic practice that is theoretically sound and emotionally aware, complying with the core competencies of a play therapist as specified by the British Association of Play Therapists.

This intense, rigorous and comprehensive programme is made up of ten modules that encompass the theoretical, practical and experiential learning experience required to become a professional play therapist.

All students are required to be in personal therapy for the duration of the course.

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In your first year, the modules will include experiential learning to prepare you for your first work placement, as theoretical understanding will give you a strong grounding for your clinical practice. Your professional development is inter-related with the development of theoretical knowledge, skills and personal awareness.

In the second year, you will build upon your play therapy skills and knowledge from your first year modules. You will have the opportunity to develop and explore your understanding of the theory and practice of play therapy in relation to working with different client groups and more complex needs.

You will also synthesise your theoretical knowledge and clinical experience to pursue your research interest in the Research Portfolio module. A clinical issue, your own clinical work or a professional issue may provide the inspiration for this research project. Recent research areas have included: child-centred play therapy and the use of therapeutic boundaries, play therapy and unresolved bereavement issues, play therapy in schools, and play therapy and different cultural beliefs.


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You will complete two specified periods of supervised clinical placements alongside your studies. The clinical placements are a central component to the training in this programme, where you will synthesise, integrate and apply all aspects of your learning into practise.

Career options

Graduates work as a registered play therapist for both the private and public sectors. 

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Our careers team is available to support you from the start of your studies until after you graduate. We will help you build your CV, prepare for interviews, and meet and learn from successful graduates working at the top of their careers.

Application Info

How to apply

Postgraduate programmes

If you need any help or advice with your application, or just want to ask us a question before you apply, please do not hesitate to contact us.

International students
Please note that most international applicants have to pay a deposit before securing their place.

  • See our Finance pages for more details

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Tuition fees and funding

September 2024 entry tuition fees

Full-time (2 years)
UK EU and International
Total fees for the course
Total fees for the course


Part-time (3 years)
UK EU and International
Total fees for the course
Total fees for the course

Specific Entry Requirements

All eligible applicants to the programme will be interviewed by the Programme Convener and/or the Programme staff. Selection will be based on the following admissions criteria:

  • Applicants will normally be required to hold an honours degree at undergraduate level (usually 2.1 or higher); in most cases this will be in a modality-relevant degree such as in psychology, early childhood studies, education or health & social care.
  • Applicants with a relevant degree will be expected to have the equivalent of at least two years of full-time experience of working with children and young people, especially between the ages of 5-11, in a professional capacity. N.B. In most cases work experience must be gained as a graduate, i.e., work experience gained whilst studying will not be considered. The exception to this is if the applicant has worked in a full-time capacity for a number of years (e.g., 5 years+) in a role with children prior to gaining an undergraduate degree; only in this circumstance will prior work experience be considered.
  • Applicants who do not hold a degree in a modality-relevant area will be expected to have considerable (5+ years) full-time experience of working in a professional capacity with children and young people. This might include working with children with behavioural or developmental challenges, learning difficulties, child mental health, etc. This work can either be done on a voluntary or employed basis.
  • Applicants need to evidence that they can meet the academic demands of a Master’s degree and will be required to prepare and submit a written personal statement to support their application; in some circumstances an applicant may be asked to submit an essay prior to/after interview.
  • It is recognised that this is a postgraduate training where applicants are qualified, experienced and valued practitioners in their fields; applicants are encouraged to bring prior learning and experience to the training, thus enhancing the breadth and depth of the programme learning.
  • An understanding of the nature of play therapy as a distinctive discipline (in particular as practised in the UK) and a capacity for playfulness and creativity.
  • Applicants should demonstrate a maturity of personality and self-awareness compatible with training as a therapist. Applicants need an appropriate degree of psychological mindedness including the capacity to form and maintain appropriate empathic relationships with clients. They should also demonstrate emotional literacy, robustness and an ability to be self-reflective. This will be ascertained by a combination of health screening, experiential activities and in-depth discussions at interview.
  • An International English Language Testing System (IELTS) score of at least 7 with no element below 6.5 for applicants for whom English is not their first language.
  • Applicants will be required to supply the names of two referees. If possible one of these should be able to comment on the applicant's academic suitability and the other on the applicant's clinical/personal suitability for the programme.
  • In addition to these requirements, all students must be prepared to enter mandatory on-going personal therapy for the duration of the programme. Students should attend no fewer than 30 regular sessions within any calendar year. Payment for therapy is separate to course fees.
  • All successful applicants will need to complete an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check; payment for this is separate to the course fees.
  • Equality and diversity information is logged within the application form and compiled data is sent to HESA for consideration. Student services confidentially contact successful applicants who have a stated disability on their application form, to explore what provisions can be made to support their learning.
  • We also offer 20 week evening foundation courses which provide a broad outline and introduction in the arts and play therapies.

Need help before you apply?

Course Facilities

Image -  Play therapy teaching space  
  Active participation in workshops and process groups will be a key part of your learning.    

Play therapy teaching space 

Active participation in workshops and process groups will be a key part of your learning.  

Image -  Manresa Hall in Whitelands College    
  On top of a 24 hour computer room, the College also has two dedicated quiet study areas.

Manresa Hall in Whitelands College 

On top of a 24 hour computer room, the College also has two dedicated quiet study areas.


Our Research

For an overview of the research carried out by psychology academics within the School of Psychology, please visit the departmental research pages.

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