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Stage 3 – MA Course Practice Based Play Therapy

APAC Academy of Play and Child Psychotherapy

What is Research?

Research is developing innovative practice-based evidence, to advance the play therapy profession.  Research explores new ideas and approaches, applications and combinations.  Research is a collaborative process, each piece building on what has gone before, and setting the scene for the next idea.

Research is not that far removed from the clinical practice that you already do, where we foster a spirit of openness to enquiry.  Our sessions with clients involve: the piecing together of information and understanding, the testing of hypotheses as they emerge from what has been going on, the use of reflection and dialogue.  We hold in mind ‘official’ theories, and add our own individual experience from practice, supervision, reading and reflection.  As well as being accustomed to enquiry and theory-making from the therapy room, the academic syllabus for the Certificate and the Diploma have prepared you for this next stage, as the three tiers make up the MA Course Practice Based Play Therapy and have been designed to lead on to each other.

The MA Course Practice Based Play Therapy is an exciting opportunity to design and deliver an original piece of work that will contribute to what we know about children’s mental health from a play therapy perspective.  Research is a collaborative effort, with each finding coming from those before it and leading to the next discovery.

MA in Practice Based Play Therapy Entry Requirements

  • Students progressing onto the MA in Practice Based Play Therapy course must have completed both the Postgraduate Certificate in Therapeutic Play Skills and Postgraduate Diploma in Play Therapy. Students must have received a Merit or Distinction on both Certificate and Diploma courses (marks above 60).
  • A current membership with Play Therapy UK / Play Therapy International will be required upon enrolment on the course as a Certified Play Therapist.
  • All Postgraduate Diploma in Play Therapy fees have been paid in full.
  • Course Requirements can be found here: MA Course Practice Based Play Therapy – APAC 

Competence in English Language (All courses)

Teaching and assessment (unless stated otherwise) will be carried out in English. Therefore, applicants must be competent in spoken and written English language. If students are not native speakers, they are required to have IELTS 6.0, with no modules below 5.5, or equivalent.

Computer literacy (All courses except some CPD courses)

All students are expected to have:

  • Basic computer literacy skills;
  • Access to a laptop or PC with internet connection; and
  • The ability to use emails.

International Students

Our UK courses (Postgraduate Certificate in Therapeutic Play Skills and Postgraduate Diploma in Play Therapy) are not open to international students who are not resident in the UK/Europe. For non-UK nationals, evidence of a British Residence Permit (BRP) or the relevant visa is required. Visitors to the UK will not be accepted onto the course.

International students can apply for our Summer Schools in France and Ireland.

The MA is

The final section of the MA Course Practice Based Play Therapy, following the Certificate and Diploma awards. It is live and online, and so accessible to APAC Diploma Graduates around the globe. The Course Director actively seeks out innovative online learning tools that will help students meet the learning objectives, and stimulate their thinking.  Cohort numbers continue to increase. The course is taught via 1.5 hour-long online tutorial workshops, once a month for 6 months with the expert guidance of an Academic Supervisor.

 All students have access to our private online forum, SLACK, for help and tips along the way, forming study groups with peers and creating a research community around the world. This is a unique course where you get to create and carry-out an original piece of research, gain academic ground, and then share that advance across the profession.

This will establish you as an authority on your specialised subject, benefiting your own practice and providing openings for new employment, renumeration and commissioning opportunities. This will provide you with greater professional credibility through opportunities to publish in PTI’s International academic research journal, Play for Life magazine and other academic or non-academic avenues. Many of our graduates have published their research, or written training for other play and creative therapists.

Course Aims, Structure & Learning Outcomes:

1.) Developing a 4,000-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

2.) Producing a 13,000-word dissertation, 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
  • 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.

MA Course Practice Based Play Therapy – Details:

Workshop Tutorial Workshop Tutorial Contents Outline


Pre-Course Preparing for your MA, guidance and suggestions sent out at enrolment.
 1  An Introduction

Overview of the programme – the whole team around the students.

Course requirements, timings and modules.

Choosing a research topic, formulating a Research Question.







Both in Tutorial 2 and as a stand-alone filmed resource.


Literature Reviews & Ethics

The purpose of a Literature Review.

Effective and efficient searching, reading and note-taking.

Managing references and citations.

A strategy for writing a literature review.


Ethical application process and skills.



Research Methods Pt. 1

Ethics round-up.

Research Philosophy and debate.

Methods to fit research questions.

 4 Research Methods Pt. 2


Systematically presenting Quantitative Data.

Interviews, Focus Groups.

Making logical sense of Qualitative Data.


Case Study.

Narrative Inquiry.

Triangulation, using methods together.


Tailored detail on relevant research methods according to needs of students.



 Analysis Techniques

What is a number?

Analysing Quantitative Data.

Descriptive statistics, statistical analysis, presenting results.

Analysing Qualitative Data.

Thematic analysis, grounded theory, presenting results.


Tailored detail on relevant analysis techniques according to needs of students.



 Writing Up

Writing for an academic audience.

Presentation requirements & submission.

Working with large documents.

Writing an abstract.

Supporting yourself during the writing up process.

 7  Publication & Dissemination

Exploring avenues for the sharing and publishing student’s unique research.

Why publish?

Where to publish?

Writing for different audiences.  Finding openings to share your work.

 On-going support


 Throughout the 18-month course, ongoing support from APAC and LBU staff is provided. 


Course Dates

Block Number

Block Date













Submit Application

To submit an application, please click here


Sophia O’Neill, APAC MA Course Director, PTUK Research Writer, Play Therapist MA.

Fees - UK

The Masters Course Fees are £3,400.00 plus the university registration fee of £370.00. The fees are currently inclusive of 18 hours of Academic Supervision; should you require more when writing your dissertation, you may make private arrangements with your Academic Supervisor at an average additional cost of approximately £50.00 per hour.

If you require additional years to complete the Course, this would be charged at £1,400.00 per year.

Enhanced DBS/ Access NI/ Garda Vetting/ Scottish PVG Check under the role of Trainee Play Therapist or Play Therapist – please email for information on the associated fees.

Course Outline

Each taught online Tutorial Workshop introduces concepts, and signpost students to further reading and resources that is relevant to their own work.  Additional reading materials and filmed sessions are available on APAC ALMS pages, with the LBU library offering further study skills and academic development opportunities and support.


The MA course is 18 months long; giving 9 months for the production of a Research Proposal and a further 9 months for data collections and the write up of the dissertation.  The first 6 months have one online Workshop each (one per month), on Saturdays, for 1.5hours.  These Workshops are compulsory to attend, as part of the course.  The exact timing of the Workshop depends on the mixture of time-zones each cohort of students are spread across.  Most usually they run at 12noon UK time.  By the start of the 3rd Workshop, all students will have been allocated their own specialist Academic Supervisor.  The Dissertation must also be completed within 10 years of starting your PG Certificate course.