MSt in Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy | University of Oxford
Radcliffe Camera
The Radcliffe Camera, seen from the Bodleian Quad
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MSt in Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy

About the course

This two-year part-time course offers experienced clinicians from a range of professional backgrounds a unique opportunity to develop in-depth specialist knowledge and skills in mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT).

The course is offered by the Oxford Mindfulness Centre at the Oxford University Department of Psychiatry, in collaboration with the University of Oxford Department for Continuing Education.

The course offers an opportunity for in-depth learning and aims to foster a community of practitioners with the expertise to deliver high-quality MBCT to patients, and who will contribute to the development and dissemination of MBCT.

The course is organised in nine three-day teaching blocks (held in Oxford) and three residential training retreats. In addition to the taught component, you will need to set aside six to seven hours per week for private study, personal practice of MBCT, and completion of written assignments. The teaching is mostly highly interactive and experiential, and weaves together personal practice, theory/research and clinical applications.

The course addresses the theoretical basis of MBCT, including relevant aspects of cognitive and clinical psychology, as well as aspects of Buddhist psychology and philosophy on which MBCT draws. It also provides opportunities for students to develop the practical skills they need in order to translate knowledge and understanding into competent MBCT practice; that is, students are expected to develop for themselves the understanding and skills they will be teaching to patients.

The course covers four main topic areas:

  • theory, including relevant cognitive science (eg attention, memory, judgement, metacognition, executive function), clinical theory (eg cognitive theories of the development and maintenance of emotional disorder and the principles underlying MBCT), and relevant aspects of Buddhist psychology and philosophy and their contribution to MBCT;
  • research related to the ongoing development of MBCT, and investigating the areas of theory outlined above;
  • clinical applications in a range of problem areas, for example, depression, chronic fatigue, pain and psychosis; and
  • practice including the development of personal experience of mindfulness meditation, the capacity to relate this experience to theory and research, and the skills needed to instruct patients/clients in MBCT, drawing on relevant theory, research and clinical literature.

To complete the MSt in Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy you will need to:

  • attend a minimum of 80% of the teaching days
  • complete two 4,000-word essays, demonstrating the capacity to critically appraise theory, research and clinical literature relevant to MBCT (Year I)
  • complete a 4,000-word reflective analysis of personal meditation practice (Year I)
  • complete a 4,000-word assignment describing the development, delivery and evaluation of a programme of MBCT suitable for your client group, along with appropriate instructional materials (Year I)
  • submit recordings of MBCT classes (Year II)
  • submit a dissertation of no more than 10,000 words on a topic selected by you.

Graduate destinations

Most part-time students commencing this programme are already in full-time employment. The MSt aims to equip practitioners with the expertise to deliver high quality MBCT to patients.

Related courses

Changes to the course

The University will seek to deliver this course in accordance with the description set out in this course page. However, there may be situations in which it is desirable or necessary for the University to make changes in course provision, either before or after registration. For further information, please see our page on changes to courses.

Entry requirements for entry in 2016-17

Within equal opportunities principles and legislation, applications will be assessed in the light of an applicant’s ability to meet the following entry requirements:

1. Academic ability

Proven and potential academic excellence

Applicants are normally expected to be predicted or have achieved a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours (or equivalent international qualifications), as a minimum, in any relevant subject.

For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA normally sought is 3.6 out of 4.0.

If you hold non-UK qualifications and wish to check how your qualifications match these requirements, you can contact the National Recognition Information Centre for the United Kingdom (UK NARIC).

No Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or GMAT scores are sought.

Applicants will normally be expected to have a professional qualification in mental healthcare, behavioural medicine, or another appropriate field (eg social work, counselling, psychotherapy, occupational therapy or physiotherapy).

Other appropriate indicators will include:

References/letters of recommendation 

Your references will support your academic ability and suitability for the programme. You should ask your referees to provide any other information they consider to be relevant to your application. If they have knowledge of your recent study, it would be helpful if they could indicate the standard attained.

Professional references are accepted if these are relevant to the course.

Written work produced by the student

Written work is not required. 

Statement of purpose/personal statement

The statement of purpose should be 500 words long and should be written in English. 

This will be assessed for your motivation for applying to this particular programme of study and how you plan to make use of the material learnt in the programme. 

Performance at interview(s)

Interviews are normally held as part of the admissions process.

In-person interviews will be arranged for all who appear to fulfil the basic requirements for entry to the course. Performance at interview will play a significant role in assessment against the selection criteria. Interviews are held following the application deadline and will be conducted by a minimum of two interviewers.

Assessors screening applications and interviewers are looking for the following qualities:

  • substantial experience of working with clients, for example using evidence-based psychological treatment such as cognitive behavioural therapy
  • commitment to acquiring knowledge and skills related to the practice of MBCT
  • ability to take advantage of academic teaching, as evidenced by prior learning history
  • openness to new ideas and the ability to absorb, communicate and use new information and concepts
  • ability to meet the time and study commitments of the course
  • ability to present a coherent argument in written English
  • psychological suitability to benefit from and contribute to the course.


Publications are not required. 

Other qualifications, evidence of excellence and relevant experience

You should have a minimum of three years' post-qualification experience, and knowledge and experience of cognitive behavioural therapy or an equivalent evidence-based psychological therapy.

You will also be expected to have knowledge of mindfulness-based approaches, including attendance at at least one 8-week MBSR/MBCT/Breathworks course, as a participant, that is run by an approved provider, for example, one who meets the UK Good Practice Guidelines for Teachers.

You are expected to have personal experience of insight meditation practice.

You will be expected to have some experience of working with groups, clinically or as a teacher.

You will need to have access to suitable patient/client groups for supervised practice during the course.

2. English language requirement

Applicants whose first language is not English are usually required to provide evidence of proficiency in English at the higher level required by the University.

3. Availability of supervision, teaching, facilities and places

The following factors will govern whether candidates can be offered places:

  • The ability of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre and the Department for Continuing Education to provide the appropriate supervision, research opportunities, teaching and facilities for your chosen area of work. 
  • Minimum and maximum limits to the numbers of students who may be admitted to Oxford's research and taught programmes.

The provision of supervision, where required, is subject to the following points:

  • The allocation of graduate supervision is the responsibility of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre and the Department for Continuing Education and it is not always possible to accommodate the preferences of incoming graduate students to work with a particular member of staff. 
  • Under exceptional circumstances a supervisor may be found outside the Oxford Mindfulness Centre and the Department for Continuing Education.

Where possible your academic supervisor will not change for the duration of your course, however it may be necessary to assign a new academic supervisor during the course of study or before registration for reasons which might include sabbatical leave, maternity leave or change in employment.

4. Disability, health conditions and specific learning difficulties

Students are selected for admission without regard to gender, marital or civil partnership status, disability, race, nationality, ethnic origin, religion or belief, sexual orientation, age or social background.

Decisions on admission are based solely on the individual academic merits of each candidate and the application of the entry requirements appropriate to the course.

Further information on how these matters are supported during the admissions process is available in our guidance for applicants with disabilities.

5. Assessors

All recommendations to admit a student involve the judgment of at least two members of academic staff with relevant experience and expertise, and additionally must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies or Admissions Committee (or equivalent departmental persons or bodies).

Admissions panels or committees will always include at least one member of academic staff who has undertaken appropriate training.

6. Other information

Whether you have yet secured funding is not taken into consideration in the decision to make an initial offer of a place, but please note that the initial offer of a place will not be confirmed until you have completed a Financial Declaration.

Successful applicants are expected to have access to suitable client groups for supervised practice.

The department is committed to supporting you to pursue your academic goals. 

The Rewley House Continuing Education Library, one of the Bodleian Libraries, is situated in Rewley House. The department aims to support the wide variety of subjects covered by departmental courses at many academic levels. The department also has a collection of around 73,000 books together with periodicals. PCs in the library give access to the internet and the full range of electronic resources subscribed to by the University of Oxford. Wifi is also available. The Jessop Reading Room adjoining the library is available for study. You will have access to the Central Bodleian and other Bodleian Libraries.

The Graduate School provides a stimulating and enriching learning and research environment for the department's graduate students, fostering intellectual and social interaction between graduates of different disciplines and professions from the UK and around the globe. The Graduate School will help you make the most of the wealth of resources and opportunities available, paying particular regard to the support and guidance needed if you are following a part-time graduate programme. The department’s graduate community comprises over 600 members following taught programmes and more than 70 undertaking doctoral research.

The department provides various IT facilities, including the Student Computing Facility which provides individual PCs for your use. Many of the department's courses are delivered through blended learning or have a website to support face-to-face study. In most cases, online support is delivered through a virtual learning environment. 

Depending on the programme you are taking with the department, you may require accommodation at some point in your student career. Rewley House is ideally located in central Oxford; the city's historic sites, colleges, museums, shops and restaurants are only a few minutes’ walk away. The department has 35 en-suite study bedrooms, all with high quality amenities, including internet access.

The Rewley House dining room has seating for up to 132 people. A full meal service is available daily. The department operates a Common Room with bar for students. 


There are over 1,000 full graduate scholarships available for courses starting in 2016-17. Full scholarships will cover your course and college fees and provide a grant for living costs. Information about the full range of funding available can be found in the Fees and funding section.

For over 70% of Oxford scholarships, nothing more than the standard course application is usually required. If you fulfil the eligibility criteria and apply by the relevant January deadline, you will be automatically considered. Use the Fees, funding and scholarship search to find out whether you are eligible for scholarships which require an additional application. If you are, the tool will include links to full details of how to apply.

Divisional funding opportunities

The department’s Graduate School provides a stimulating and enriching learning and research environment for all the department's graduate students, fostering intellectual and social interaction between graduates of different disciplines and professions from the UK and around the globe. A range of scholarships are available to students on the many part-time master’s, postgraduate certificate and postgraduate diploma courses, and doctoral programmes offered by the department, including a number specific to certain courses. In addition, the department has bursary funds available to assist students on low incomes.

Departmental funding opportunities

Additional funding opportunities may also be offered by your department. Department scholarships are included in the funding search tool, with links to further information. More details on funding opportunities may also be available on the department’s website.


Annual fees for entry in 2016-17

Fee status

Tuition fee

College fee

Total annual fees

(including Islands)

The fees shown above are the annual tuition and college fees for this course for entry in the stated academic year; for courses lasting longer than one year, please be aware that fees will usually increase annually. For details, please see our guidance on likely increases to fees and charges.

Tuition and college fees are payable each year for the duration of your fee liability (your fee liability is the length of time for which you are required to pay tuition and college fees).

For more information about tuition fees, college fees and fee liability, please see the Fees section of this website. EU applicants should refer to our dedicated webpage for details on the impact of the result of the UK referendum on its membership of the European Union.

Additional information

This course has residential sessions in Oxford. You will need to meet your travel and accommodation costs in attending these sessions. There are also three retreats; two in Somerset and one in Devon. Accommodation and food are provided for these retreats, but you will need to cover your travel costs.

Living costs

In addition to your tuition and college fees, you will need to ensure that you have adequate funds to support your living costs for the duration of your course.

For the 2016-17 academic year, the range of likely living costs is between £970 and £1433 for each month spent in Oxford. Full information, including a breakdown of likely living costs in Oxford for items such as food, accommodation and study costs, is available on our Living costs page.

The following colleges accept students on the MSt in Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy:

The set of materials you should send with an application to this course comprises:

  • a statement of purpose, of 500 words in length
  • a CV/résumé detailing professional qualifications and experience relevant to the course
  • three academic and/or professional references
  • official transcripts detailing your university-level qualifications and marks to date.