Research course

Music Therapy

ARU (Anglia Ruskin University) · Faculty of Arts, Humanities, Education and Social Sciences

Entry requirements

MPhil: Candidates must hold a BA or equivalent in a related subject area. PhD: Candidates should normally hold an MA or equivalent in a related subject area.

Months of entry

January, April, September

Course content

Our PhD research programmes will allow you to explore your own interests in music therapy, supported by the expertise of our staff.

ARU have been awarded The Queen’s Anniversary Prize for their world-leading work in music therapy. This prize recognises the world-leading work and innovative research which has directly enhanced care for over 22,000 dementia patients. The Prizes are the highest national Honour awarded in UK higher and further education and are granted by The Queen every two years.

Our Cambridge Institute for Music Therapy Research is an international centre for research into music therapy, putting you at the heart of new music therapy research worldwide. Our large community of PhD students, and links to seven other universities across the world, will make you part of a team that leads on music therapy research.

Our research institute leads music therapy research for adults, older people, young people and children with a range of issues. We specialise in finding out what works clinically in music therapy and how it works, including which theoretical frameworks such as neurology, psychology, psychotherapy, psychoanalysis best inform the work.

Our innovative research involves outcome studies in a variety of settings, such as schools, health services, voluntary and the private sector, and we have many partnerships within these. Our research streams include music therapy and dementia, autism, end of life process, learning disability, mental health, children and families, addiction and stroke. Our Cambridge Institute for Music Therapy Research is based in a state-of-the-art music therapy centre, including a research laboratory where practical music therapy and music and brain research can be undertaken in purpose-built spaces.

Over 10 music therapy PhDs have been completed through us during the last few years, and our cohorts are growing. As a PhD student here you will be working alongside larger scale international projects on music therapy, and there is a rich programme of specialist lectures and PhD subject specific opportunities.

Our researchers are involved in public policy, and we regularly provide talks for parliament, keynotes around the world at international conferences, and research is linked to a working music therapy clinic in The Jerome Booth Music Therapy Centre. Three professors and two post-doctoral researchers are working on research into music and brain and improvisation EEG projects - music therapy for people in the local community with dementia and their carers, linked to local partners such as MHA care homes and Saffron Hall Trust. We also work closely with the Centre for Music and Science at Cambridge University.

Recent research projects
  • Care Homes and Residential Music Therapy for Dementia (CHARMD) research network : A randomised controlled trial exploring the effects of a music therapy and communication protocol on agitation for people with dementia.
  • Josef Ressel Centre - Personalised Music Therapy in Neurorehabilitation (2016-2021) – Project collaboration with Josef Ressel Research Centre (funded by the Austrian Christian Doppler Society) with Department of Health Sciences of IMC Krems. A project to identify: 1. right time periods for therapy based on chronobiological paradigms, 2. right moments in which therapy functions best for patients and 3. how empathy is mediated via endocrinological processes.
  • Improvising brains: Investigating social interaction in music (therapy) of persons with and without dementia (2016-2018): A project financed by the Music Therapy Charity UK to explore hyperscanning approaches in music therapy process research and to describe neural dynamics of dyadic interaction in music
  • Music therapy for people with strokes (2017-2018): A project funded by Addenbrookes Charitable Trust for a one-year trial of music therapy research on a ward for people with strokes at Addenbrookes Hospital.
  • Together in Sound (2017 – ongoing): A music therapy research project for people with dementia and their carers within a community setting linked to a concert hall; in partnership with Saffron Hall Trust.
  • TIME-A (2012 -2016) – a multicentre study lead by University of Bergen. The UK research branch was led by Professors Odell-Miller, Oldfield and Crawford. The Trial of Improvisational Music therapy’s Effectiveness for children with Autism (TIME-A) set out to be the first well-controlled effectiveness study and largest randomised controlled trial on non-pharmacological therapy for autism so far.

Department specialisms

music, therapy and the brain; music and consciousness states; state dependent cognition and recall; music therapy and addiction treatment, music therapy and mental health, eating disorders, children and families; cultural issues in music therapy; the use of non-western music; music and language, music therapy and dementia; music therapy and links with diagnosis in adult mental health; music therapy and personality disorders; psychoanalytically informed music therapy; arts therapies and mental health, music therapy with children with autism; music therapy with families; music therapy diagnostic assessments; orchestral instruments in music therapy improvisation, applications of attachment theory; relational models of psychoanalysis to music therapy; the contribution of group analytic theory to group music therapy practice.

Information for international students

If English is not your first language, you will need a minimum IELTS score of 6.5 or equivalent.

Fees and funding

UK students
£4,500 per year
International students
£13,900 per year

Qualification, course duration and attendance options

  • MPhil
    part time
    36 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification
    full time
    12 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification
  • PhD
    full time
    24 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification
    part time
    60 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification

Course contact details

+44 (0)1245 686868