A Guide to Studying Play Therapy


Here are the most commonly asked questions about the MSc Play Therapy at University of South Wales. If you have any other questions, please feel free to contact us.

Tell us about the MSc Play Therapy

The MSc Play Therapy is a three year therapeutic training programme that is accredited by the British Association of Play Therapists (BAPT). On successful completion of this course, graduates are entitled to join BAPT as full members and are qualified to work as Play Therapists. The course covers theory, practice and personal development and supports the development of confident, competent and knowledgeable play therapy practitioners who are ready to engage in real world challenges and provide therapeutic support for children and their families.

What experience do I need to apply for the MSc Play Therapy?

The MSc Play Therapy is a Level 7 postgraduate course that has strict entry requirements set by BAPT, including having a relevant degree and evidence of relevant experience of working with children. This course cannot accept recent graduates as BAPT specify that the majority of experience of working with children must be postgraduate experience.

BAPT stipulate that all students need to demonstrate that they have relevant prior experience of working with children. Students with a relevant degree (including, for example: Psychology, Education, Early Years, Childhood Studies) must demonstrate five years' worth of relevant experience, the majority of which is postgraduate experience.

Students with a professional vocational qualification (including, for example: degrees in Paediatric Nursing, Teaching with QTS, Social Worker, Educational Psychologist, Occupational Therapy, Speech and Language Therapy) are required to demonstrate two years' postgraduate experience.

Experience should ideally include work with different client groups (e.g. children with social or emotional difficulties, children who have developmental delay, children with different educational needs, children who are fostered or adopted, family support etc…). Voluntary work and part-time work is considered but must equate to full time equivalent experience.

What career opportunities are there for play therapists after graduation?

Previous students have gained employment in LA service provision, education and charity settings as well as independent practice. 

What qualifications do I need to apply?

A degree in a relevant professional qualification, including, for example Paediatric Nursing, Social Work, Teaching with QTS, Social Worker, Educational Psychologist, Occupational Therapy, Speech and Language Therapy plus a minimum of two years’ post-graduation work experience. 

A degree in a relevant subject area including, but not limited to: Psychology, Education, Early Years, Childhood Studies, Social Care, plus at least 5 years’ experience working face to face with children, young people and their families, the majority of which should be taken after graduation. 

Can I study Play Therapy full time or part time?

The MSc Play Therapy is currently only offered part-time over three years.

Although students only attend campus one day a week this is a clinical and professional training that requires students to undertake a range of activities during the week including clinical placement, clinical supervision, personal therapy, child observations and independent study. We therefore recommend that applicants plan for 3 days’ commitment to the course, with at least 2 days during the week, one day for university attendance and one day for clinical placement/clinical supervision.

Is the MSc Play Therapy accredited?
Yes, the MSc Play Therapy is accredited by the British Association of Play Therapists (BAPT). Students are required to become student members of BAPT for the duration of the course and on successful completion of the MSc Play Therapy they are eligible to apply to BAPT for full membership.

What is the deadline to apply for this course?
For UK students here is no official deadline to apply. We will continue to receive and consider applications while places remain available prior to course induction in September. If you are an international student, you must apply by the 1st August before the September in which you wish to study.

How many places are available?
Class sizes tend to be 15-20 students.

When are the interviews?
We hold interview and selection days from the spring through to the end of the summer. Successful applicants are notified of the dates when invitations are sent.

What does the interview entail?
There will be three elements to the interview: An individual presentation followed by individual questions from the panel and a group interview. Applicants will have the opportunity to ask questions on the day. 

What is the structure of the MSc Play Therapy?
Students integrate theory and practice through lectures, experiential workshops and skills practice. Assessment is both formative and summative via group work, academic writing, placement practice, experiential skills practice and clinical group.

What will my timetable be like?* 

(There are 2 breaks a day: midmorning; lunch break)

Year One

Thursday attendance at USW, Newport City Campus 9am-4.30pm

Students study 60 credits in Year One 

Child Development and Play (20 credits)

Play Therapy Theory and Skills (20 credits)

Preparing for Evidence Based Clinical Practice (20 Credits)

Year Two

Thursday attendance at USW, Newport City Campus 9am-4.30pm

Students study 60 credits in Year Two:

Evidence Based Play Therapy Practice (40 credits) – Clinical practice/Theory & Skills

Working with Children and their Families (20 credits).

Year Three

Friday attendance at USW, Newport City Campus 9.30 am - 4.30pm

Students study 60 credits in Year Three:

Advanced Play Therapy Theory and Skills (40 credits)

Evaluating Advanced Play Therapy Practice (20 credits)

* please note, timetables may change for the next academic year. 

What else do we have to do?

Child Observation and Clinical Placement

In addition to attending university, first year students are required to complete 30 hours of child observations weekly from October to April. Further details about this will be given at interview.
Students are also required to complete 100 clinical hours of play therapy including intake and reviews over the three years. Students are responsible for setting up their own placements. The University has existing links with organisations that offer placements or, alternatively, new placements can be set up in a student’s locality. Students are fully supported in identifying suitable placement opportunities and throughout setting up and maintaining their clinical practice. BAPT recommend at least two different placements. 

Do I need to find my own placements?
The onus is on students to secure their own placements and faculty staff will assist with this. Clinical placements take place in a variety of different organisations including schools, charity organisations, NHS, and therapeutic practices. We encourage students to secure placements in their own geographic area. It is possible to undertake one of the two placements in a student's work setting but this first needs discussion with a course tutor to check that there will be no conflict of interest.

When do placements start?

The placement hours are split between the three years as follows;

30 hours in Year 1 from January to May (Two cases of 15 sessions)

46 hours in Year 2 from September to May (One case of 30 sessions. One case of 16 sessions)

24 hours in Year 3 from September to May (One case) 

How many times a week do I have to have clinical supervision?
BAPT specify a 2:1 ratio of clinical supervision i.e. 2 hrs of clinical placement: 1hr of clinical supervision, which must be adhered to for the duration of the training.

Students have to pay the cost of clinical supervision in addition to course fees. Typical clinical supervision costs £35-45 per hour. Some clinical supervisors may offer a student discount.

How many times a week should I attend my own personal therapy?
Students are required to undertake 60 hours of personal therapy spread evenly during their training: 20 hours in Year One, 20 hours in Year Two and 20 hours in Year Three.

Students must cover the cost of personal therapy themselves in addition to course fees. Fees typically vary from £35-£45 per hour. The therapist must be either BACP or UKCP registered.

Please note: Therapy hours completed prior to starting training cannot be included. The course team reserve the right to request that you change your therapist for one in keeping with the aims and objectives of learning and professional qualification.

Is there anything I need to read before the Play Therapy course starts?
Applicants may benefit from reading texts by Virginia Axline, Garry Landreth and Janet West. Awareness of Attachment and Regulation Theories and Humanistic Philosophy would also be helpful.

What to do now: Come to our next Open Evening to find out more