MA in Practice Based Play Therapy

Developing innovative and excellent evidence-based play therapy practice.

A recognised MA (Masters) degree awarded by Leeds Beckett University will:

  • Provide considerable satisfaction through the achievement of the award
  • Establish you as an authority on your subject
  • Give you greater professional credibility – through opportunities to publish through PTUK’s research journal and network of contacts
  • Be more attractive to employers and commissioners of play therapy services
  • Increase your chances of an increase in remuneration and promotion
  • Open up new opportunities in management, training and academic careers
  • Develop your passion for a topic

Online Course Delivery

APAC has developed an online route by which you may gain your MA in Play Therapy.

Delivering the MA online increases the course accessibility to APAC Diploma Graduates across the world and allows them to balance work and study at a pace that suits them. Further advantages of this approach include:

  • Study is more enjoyable working at home, at your own pace and when it suits you
  • Makes your money go further – no travel and accommodation costs
  • Less stress in your home life – no time away from home
  • Better quality of your work – personalised Academic Supervisor and Tutor support, based on your individual learning style
  • Time for other things – more efficient drafting of your research proposal and dissertation including access to the unique PTI/PTUK database of play therapy clinical outcomes

The course is entirely online and will included electronic transmission of assignments and feedback, personal tuition and support by your Academic Supervisor by phone, email or Skype and an online discussion forum. These replace the conventional lectures and seminars that are used on the traditional routes.

Specialist Academic Supervisors for topics such as sandplay, art, music, dance and movement, clay and working with infants, are available for your support – via the internet wherever you live.

To request an Application Form please email

Next intake commences 20th November 2021

Workshop 1 20th November 2021
Workshop 2 18th December 2021
Workshop 3 15th January 2022
Workshop 4 19th February 2022
Workshop 5 19th March 2022
Workshop 6 16th April 2022
Workshop 7 (Optional) 12th November 2022


Dates are correct at the time of publishing but maybe subject to change so please check with the office on 01825 761143 before booking


Selected from APAC’s faculty.

Application Form

Download the application form in either Microsoft Word or Adobe PDF format:




UK Courses

£3400 plus £370 University registration fee.

If you need more supervision for your dissertation, you may make private arrangements with your Tutor at an average additional cost of about £50 per hour.

If you need additional years the cost is £1400 per year.

Designed for

The course is designed for Play Therapists, or those with an equivalent qualification, wishing to receive the academic MA in Play Therapy award from the Leeds Beckett (formerly Leeds Metropolitan) University by means of a dissertation.

  • Counsellors
  • Psychotherapists
  • Clinical Psychologists
  • Primary School Teachers/Assistants
  • Nurses
  • Nursery School Teachers/Assistants
  • Social Workers
  • Play School Teachers/Assistants
  • Care Home Staff
  • Adoption/Foster Agency Workers

This course is the third part of a programme leading to an MA in Practice Based Play Therapy by dissertation. It is at stage 4 of the PTUK Four Stage Training Model


This exciting programme, a world first, has been designed to improve the learning experience of participants. It is based on our six years of delivering a Masters programme using conventional teaching methods. For example: the task of preparing a high quality, detailed research proposal and plan, which to some has appeared at first sight to be overwhelming, is now made much more straightforward by breaking it down into easier stages, each with personal tutor support. Our APAC Learning Management System (ALMS) makes it easier for you to manage your work with the help of your Academic Supervisor.

Our experience shows that getting the research proposal right is absolutely crucial.

By helping you to concentrate on the comprehensiveness and quality of the proposal’s research methods you will need less time to carry out your research and draft your dissertation.

The course will provide a springboard for students to understand and apply research methodology to a variety of play therapy related scenarios, and understand approaches to evidence-based practice. For instance, how can research be used to inform policy and practice and evaluate the effectiveness of interventions and programmes? As play therapy is an emerging profession, it is essential that practitioners enhance its establishment by developing high quality research capability to create new models of practice that serve to improve the quality of therapeutic interventions for some of the most marginalised and troubled children.

Students will explore the purposes and values of research by studying a hierarchy of positivist, qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods techniques to analyse practice experiences. The course will provide the knowledge and skills for postgraduates to: produce a research proposal for ethical approval and research governance; design and implement a research programme, choosing the most appropriate methods to produce a play and creative arts therapy related dissertation.


  • Further develop students’ conceptual, theoretical and methodological models in the design and implementation of play therapy-related research at MA level.
  • Refresh informed play therapy practice by extending the understanding of research methodology and differing approaches learned at Certificate and Diploma stages.
  • To provide methodologies for Master’s level research to answer a unique question(s) that will take the play therapy profession forward
  • To encourage students to debate the nature of play and creative arts therapies research, including therapeutic media, conditions, settings, systemic factors and related topics
  • To enhance students’ ability to appraise the literature underpinning the evidence base for children’s therapeutic interventions
  • To integrate and apply research principles to a play and creative arts therapies related topic

Course Structure & Learning Outcomes

The course consists of two modules:

Developing a Research Proposal
A 4000 word research proposal. Working within the limits of what is viable within a nine month or year long, dissertation-based research project; the proposal will address a subject of the student’s own choosing, highlighting the philosophical, conceptual and strategic processes necessary to design and implement a robust and ethical research study.

By the end of the module students will be able to:

  • Identify an area of play and creative arts therapies research (education, health and social care practice) that needs systematic investigation and present a clear rationale for the proposed research
  • Critically analyse the ethical dimensions of research, highlighting methods of engaging participants in ways that respect their rights and needs
  • Defend the aim of the proposed study and the research question(s) and selection of a research paradigm and research approach
  • Anticipate the type(s) of data that are likely to result from the proposed study and critically evaluate their relevance to the aim of the study and the research question/s

Producing a Research Dissertation
A dissertation/project report of 13,000 words which is organised into discrete chapters to meet the learning outcomes.

By the end of the module students will be able to:

  • Organise documentation to convey clearly and accurately the processes undertaken and what has been achieved
  • Critically evaluate relevant literature utilising an appropriate theoretical framework and prior empirical studies
  • Select and justify an appropriate research design, sample population and data collection instruments and adopt a critical, ethically sensitive stance towards the conduct of the research study
  • Summarise, analyse and interpret data using suitable statistical or other tools where appropriate
  • Synthesise findings in relation to theoretical perspectives, prior empirical studies and professional practice issues


The Dissertation takes the form of a final professional paper of approximately 13,000 words. A wide range of topics is encouraged that will take the play therapy profession forward. In the case of clinical topics, students are required to develop a clinical philosophy based upon an integrative holistic approach. This is to be related to an understanding and implementation of evidenced therapeutic models. Students are required to apply this clinical philosophy to a specific aspect of working therapeutically with children. Other topics that are a part of the play therapy systemic environment should be considered including clinical supervision, therapist attributes, cultural considerations, training methods, social and economic factors affecting demand and joined up working.

Original research may be either qualitative, quantitative or mixed methods in nature. Students have 18 months to complete their dissertation.

In addition students will be expected to present and submit dissertations in accordance with accepted conventions of academic writing and in accordance with the requirements set out in the University’s published Dissertation Guidelines.

The Dissertation must be of publishable quality in terms of written accuracy.

Learning and Teaching Strategies

This online course will be offered through a series of online sessions which will deliver the core material. Each session will have enough material requiring at least 5 hours of study, and there will be optional informal assignments after each one which aim to further develop students understanding of concepts, and the application of these to their own work. Such tasks will allow practical exploration of analysis and interpretation of quantitative, qualitative and mixed methods approaches to research. Students will also have ready access to an online tutor for regular discussions and supervision.

Students will be required to read around the topic after each session. Suggested texts will be given against the session content. Optional assessments will be used to check knowledge as a part of progressive monitoring.

Online learning is a well-established technique and allows students the opportunity to work at their own pace but have regular contact with each other and their tutor. Work may be posted on a regular basis and tasks allocated. When undertaking learning onlnie students’ will access and share information digitally, and engage in discussions through online chat session using Skype or similar. There will also be an online discussion forum where students can form a community and interact with their peers and discuss matters relating to the MA. The Course Director actively seeks out innovative online learning tools (on a continuous basis) that will help students meet the learning objectives, and stimulate their thinking.

The online delivery method differs from a classroom environment and as such new tools and technologies will be used to enhance the learning experience in a way which benefits students. Students will work asynchronously on assignments and their own project proposals and dissertations but will come together synchronously during the online workshops. The support of a virtual course team and class mates is an important aspect of this MA, and students are encouraged to interact.

Students will work individually on their assignments and project proposals and dissertations but will come together as a group during the online workshops. The initial part of the course focuses on introducing students to research design and tasks necessary for completing an MA project.


The Dissertation may be written at your own pace, and should take 18 months but remember that it must also be completed within 10 years of starting your PG Certificate course.

The first six months of the course will consist of monthly online workshops. Your Academic Supervisor will be allocated by the third of these sessions.

Outline Syllabus

The initial part of the course focuses on introducing students to research design and completing an MA project. The six taught online workshops introduce concepts and signpost students to further reading and resources that is relevant to their own work.

Sessions 1-7 lead up to the completion of the proposal. Beyond these sessions students are supported by their Academic Supervisors and the Course Director, who will organise an interim workshop for Q&A regarding the dissertation, general guidance on writing up and discussion around the opportunity to publish MA theses.

Session Session Outline
Pre course Preparing for your MA, some guidance and suggestions

– Sent out when students are enrolled on the course

1 An Introduction

Overview of the programme – concepts of research

Course requirements

Choosing a research topic

The importance of questions

2 Literature Reviews

Searching for information

Internet search methods

Effective and efficient reading

Storing citations

Writing a literature review

3 Research Methods Pt. 1

Epistemology and Research Design

Overview of Qualitative, Quantitative and Mixed Methods

Defining Research questions

4 Research Methods Pt. 2

Ethical considerations

Practicalities of collecting data


Tailored detail on relevant research methods according to needs of students e.g. survey design, working with quantitative data, psychometric instruments, interview techniques, observations etc

5 Analysis Techniques

Tailored, based on needs of the students

Analysing Quantitative Data

Types of data

Descriptive statistics, statistical analysis, presenting results

Analysing Qualitative Data

Thematic analysis, grounded theory, presenting results

6 Writing Up

Writing for an academic audience

Presentation requirements

Working with large documents

Writing an abstract

Supporting yourself during the writing up process

7 Reflection/feedback on proposals
8 – 12 Individual tutorial support and academic supervision, catch-up workshop


MA in Practice Based Play Therapy awarded by the Leeds Beckett (formerly Leeds Metropolitan) University.

The successful completion of the dissertation carries 60 ‘M’ points. Students successfully completing all three parts of the programme (Post Graduate Certificate in Therapeutic Play, Post Graduate Diploma in Play Therapy and the MA by dissertation) will be awarded a total of 180 ‘M’ points.


Since this course uses blended learning methods the venue is your home or office!