The side of the Radcliffe Camera through a black gate
The Radcliffe Camera, seen from the Bodleian Quad
(Image Credit: Christopher Wills)

MSt in Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy

About the course

This two-year part-time course offers experienced professionals from a range of backgrounds a unique opportunity to develop in-depth specialist knowledge and skills in mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) curricula. Preference will be given to applicants with professional experience in mental or physical healthcare, education or skills training, stress reduction, or other contexts that involve working with individuals and groups in supportive ways.

The course offers an opportunity for in-depth learning and aims to foster a community of mindfulness practitioners and teachers with the expertise to deliver high-quality MBCT in a variety of settings, including healthcare, education, criminal justice, government, and others, and who will contribute to the development and dissemination of MBCT.

The course combines in-person learning in Oxford with online learning. In addition to the taught component, students will need to set aside six to seven hours per week for private study, personal practice related to MBCT, and completion of written assignments. Much of the teaching is interactive and experiential, and weaves together personal practice, skills training, theory, research and applications of MBCT.

The course addresses the theoretical foundations of MBCT, including relevant aspects of psychological science, 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 to translate knowledge and understanding into competent MBCT teaching; that is, students are expected to develop for themselves the understanding and skills they will be teaching to others. Students will design and deliver a course of MBCT to an appropriate client group in their own place of work, with supervision from course tutors.

The course covers four main topic areas:

  • theory and research, including psychological science related to health, wellbeing, and underlying psychological processes; relevant aspects of Buddhist psychology and philosophy and their contribution to MBCT, and empirical research on the effects of mindfulness practice, mechanisms of change, and application in a variety of contexts and populations;
  • developing experiential understanding of mindfulness through guided and independent personal practice and reflection on personal practice in light of theory, research, and underlying psychological processes;
  • developing teaching skills and professional competencies for delivering MBCT curricula skilfully and ethically in a range of contexts; and
  • developing communication skills for writing and speaking about mindfulness and MBCT.

Course structure

Year 1

The first year of the course is designed to develop student’s knowledge of all of the main topic areas.

  • Theory and research are covered through reading, presentation, and discussion.
  • Experiential understanding is developed through guided practice during training days, independent practice between training days and retreats.
  • Teaching skills and professional competencies are cultivated through skills training and experiential workshops.
  • Communication skills are developed through group discussion, skills practice, and marked essays.

Year 2

The second year deepens understanding of theory and research, hones teaching skills, and cultivates knowledge and skills for developing adaptations and applying MBCT in various populations and contexts.

  • Knowledge of theory, research and application are cultivated through additional reading, presentation, and discussion, particularly on topics related to adaptations and applications of the family of MBCT curricula, and through completion of a dissertation.
  • Experiential understanding of mindfulness is further cultivated as part of the workshops described above, ongoing practice and through an intensive guided retreat.
  • Teaching skills are honed through additional training days and through the completion of the teaching project: each student delivers a course of MBCT in their setting.

Teaching sessions and training retreats will be led by practitioners experienced in MBCT mostly from Oxford, with invited speakers for specialist areas.

Supervision

The allocation of graduate supervision for this course is the responsibility of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre and this role will usually be performed by the Course Director.

It is not always possible to accommodate the preferences of incoming graduate students to work with a particular member of staff. A supervisor for the teaching project may be found outside the core staff team.

Assessment

To complete the MSt in Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy, students are required to:

  • complete two 4,000-word essays, demonstrating the capacity to critically appraise theory and research relevant to MBCT (Year 1);
  • complete a 4,000-word reflective analysis of personal meditation practice as related to psychological science and Buddhist psychology (Year 2);
  • complete a 4,000-word assignment describing the development, delivery and evaluation of a programme of MBCT suitable for their client group, along with appropriate instructional materials (Year 2). Please note that the programme does not offer placements; students must provide a relevant setting in which to deliver the course project on which the project is written;
  • submit recordings of the MBCT classes they taught (Year 2); and
  • submit a dissertation of no more than 10,000 words on a topic selected by the student, in consultation with their tutors (Year 2).

Graduate destinations

Most part-time students commencing this programme are already in employment. The MSt aims to equip professionals with the expertise to deliver high quality MBCT to a variety of groups, the fluency to critically evaluate its theoretical basis and empirical evidence base, and to contribute to dissemination and innovation in the design and practice of MBCT.

Changes to this course and your supervision

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. The safety of students, staff and visitors is paramount and major changes to delivery or services may have to be made in circumstances of a pandemic (including Covid-19), epidemic or local health emergency. In addition, in certain circumstances, for example due to visa difficulties or because the health needs of students cannot be met, it may be necessary to make adjustments to course requirements for international study.

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 illness, sabbatical leave, parental leave or change in employment.

For further information please see our page on changes to courses and the provisions of the student contract regarding changes to courses.

Other courses you may wish to consider

If you're thinking about applying for this course, you may also wish to consider the courses listed below. These courses may have been suggested due to their similarity with this course, or because they are offered by the same department or faculty.

All graduate courses offered by the Department of Psychiatry

Entry requirements

Proven and potential academic excellence

Degree-level qualifications

As a minimum, applicants should hold or be predicted to achieve the equivalent of the following UK qualifications:

  • a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours in a relevant subject.

Preference will be given to applicants with professional experience in mental or physical healthcare, education or skills training, stress reduction, wellness, or other contexts that involve working with individuals and groups in supportive ways. 

Your background should have equipped you to:

  1. read theoretical and scientific literature relevant to MBCT
  2. work with individuals and groups in ways which require relational skills.

If your degree is not from the UK or another country specified above, visit our International Qualifications page for guidance on the qualifications and grades that would usually be considered to meet the University’s minimum entry requirements.

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

GRE General Test scores

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

Other qualifications, evidence of excellence and relevant experience

You will also be expected to have knowledge of mindfulness-based approaches, and to have attended at least one face-to-face or online eight-week MBCT-L (Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Life) course run by an experienced provider. The Oxford Mindfulness Centre offers many courses.

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

You will be expected to have some experience of working with or facilitating groups.

Publications are welcome but not required.

Successful applicants are expected to have access to suitable patient/client groups with whom to teach MBCT under supervision.

Extenuating circumstances

If your ability to meet the entry requirements has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic (eg you were awarded an unclassified/ungraded degree) or any other exceptional personal circumstance (eg other illness or bereavement), please refer to the guidance on extenuating circumstances in the Application Guide for information about how to declare this so that your application can be considered appropriately.

English language requirement

This course requires proficiency in English at the University's higher level. If your first language is not English, you may need to provide evidence that you meet this requirement. The minimum scores required to meet the University's higher level are detailed in the table below.

Minimum scores required to meet the University's higher level requirement
TestMinimum overall scoreMinimum score per component
IELTS Academic (Institution code: 0713) 7.57.0

TOEFL iBT, including the 'Home Edition'

(Institution code: 0490)

110Listening: 22
Reading: 24
Speaking: 25
Writing: 24
C1 Advanced*191185
C2 Proficiency191185

*Previously known as the Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English or Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE)
Previously known as the Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English or Cambridge English: Proficiency (CPE)

Your test must have been taken no more than two years before the start date of your course. Our Application Guide provides further information about the English language test requirement.

Supporting documents 

You will be required to supply supporting documents with your application, including references and an official transcript. See 'How to apply' for instructions on the documents you will need and how these will be assessed.

Performance at interview

Interviews are normally held as part of the admissions process and are expected to take place in March.

Applicants will be shortlisted in accordance with their ability to meet the criteria for admissions.

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 professional experience in mental of physical healthcare, education or skills training, stress reduction, wellness, or other contexts that involve working with individuals and groups in supportive ways
  • evidence of a personal meditation practice of at least one year
  • commitment to acquiring the knowledge and skills related to the practice and teaching 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 and personal suitability to benefit from and contribute to the course, as well as the delivery of MBCT
  • knowledge and understanding of cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) is desirable.

Supervision

Any offer of a place is dependent on the University’s ability to provide the appropriate supervision for your chosen area of work. Please refer to the ‘About’ section of this page for more information about the provision of supervision for this course.

How your application is assessed

Your application will be assessed purely on academic merit and potential, according to the published entry requirements for the course. The After you apply section of this website provides further information about the academic assessment of your application, including the potential outcomes. Please note that any offer of a place may be subject to academic conditions, such as achieving a specific final grade in your current degree course. These conditions may vary depending upon your individual academic circumstances.

Students are considered for shortlisting and 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. Whether you have secured funding will not be taken into consideration when your application is assessed.

Admissions panels and assessors

All recommendations to admit a student involve the judgement of at least two members of the academic staff with relevant experience and expertise, and must also be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies or Admissions Committee (or equivalent within the department).

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

After an offer is made

If you receive an offer of a place at Oxford, your offer letter will give full details of your offer and any academic conditions, such as achieving a specific final grade in your current degree course.  In addition to any academic conditions which are set, you will be required to meet the following requirements:

Financial Declaration

If you are offered a place, you will be required to complete a Financial Declaration in order to meet your financial condition of admission.

Disclosure of criminal convictions

In accordance with the University’s obligations towards students and staff, we will ask you to declare any relevant, unspent criminal convictions before you can take up a place at Oxford.

Resources

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. 

Funding

The University expects to be able to offer around 1,000 full or partial graduate scholarships across the collegiate University in 2022-23. You will be automatically considered for the majority of Oxford scholarships, if you fulfil the eligibility criteria and submit your graduate application by the relevant December or January deadline. Most scholarships are awarded on the basis of academic merit and/or potential. 

For further details about searching for funding as a graduate student visit our dedicated Funding pages, which contain information about how to apply for Oxford scholarships requiring an additional application, details of external funding, loan schemes and other funding sources. Please ensure that you visit individual college websites for details of college-specific funding opportunities using the links provided on our college pages.

Further information about funding opportunities for this course can be found on the department's website.

Costs

Annual fees for entry in 2022-23

Fee status

Annual Course fees

Home£12,715
Overseas£15,165

Further details about fee status eligibility can be found on the fee status webpage.

Course 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 course fees). For courses lasting longer than one year, please be aware that fees will usually increase annually. For details, please see our guidance on changes to fees and charges.

Course fees cover your teaching as well as other academic services and facilities provided to support your studies. Unless specified in the additional information section below, course fees do not cover your accommodation, residential costs or other living costs. They also don’t cover any additional costs and charges that are outlined in the additional information below.

For more information about course fees and fee liability, please see the Fees section of this website. EU applicants should refer to our detailed fee status information and the Oxford and the EU webpage for details of the implications of the UK’s exit from the EU.

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. Further, as part of your course requirements, you may need to choose a dissertation, a project or a thesis topic. Depending on your choice of topic and the research required to complete it, you may incur additional expenses, such as travel expenses, research expenses, and field trips. You will need to meet these additional costs, although you may be able to apply for small grants from your department and/or college to help you cover some of these expenses.

Living costs

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

For the 2022-23 academic year, the range of likely living costs for full-time study is between c. £1,215 and £1,755 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. When planning your finances for any future years of study in Oxford beyond 2022-23, you should allow for an estimated increase in living expenses of 3% each year.

If you are studying part-time your living costs may vary depending on your personal circumstances but you must still ensure that you will have sufficient funding to meet these costs for the duration of your course.

College preference

All graduate students at Oxford belong to a department or faculty and a college or hall (except those taking non-matriculated courses). If you apply for a place on this course you will have the option to express a preference for one of the colleges listed below, or you can ask us to find a college for you. The Colleges section of this website provides information about the college system at Oxford, as well as factors you may wish to consider when deciding whether to express a college preference. Please note that ‘college’ and ‘colleges’ refers to all 45 of the University’s colleges, including those designated as Permanent Private Halls (PPHs). 

For some courses, the department or faculty may have provided some additional advice below to help you to decide. Whatever you decide, it won’t affect how the academic department assesses your application and whether they decide to make you an offer. If your department makes you an offer of a place, you’re guaranteed a place at one of our colleges. 

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

How to apply

You do not need to make contact with academic members of staff before you apply.

The set of documents you should send with your application to this course comprises the following:

Official transcript(s)

Your transcripts should give detailed information of the individual grades received in your university-level qualifications to date. You should only upload official documents issued by your institution and any transcript not in English should be accompanied by a certified translation.

More information about the transcript requirement is available in the Application Guide.

CV/résumé

A CV/résumé is compulsory for all applications. Most applicants choose to submit a document of one to two pages highlighting their academic achievements and any relevant professional experience.

Statement of purpose:
A maximum of 500 words

Your statement of purpose should be written in English and explain your motivation for applying for the course at Oxford, your relevant experience and education, and the specific areas that interest you and/or you intend to specialise in. You are also required to include a summary of some of the most important discoveries you have made through your own personal meditation practice, including challenges.

If possible, please ensure that the word count is clearly displayed on the document.

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.

Written work
A maximum of 500 words

Please include a written critical discussion of approximately 500 words in which you discuss the following: ‘Are there any limits to the usefulness of MBCT in the area of mental health?’.

If possible, please ensure that the word count is clearly displayed on the document.

References/letters of recommendation:
Three overall, academic and/or professional

Whilst you must register three referees, the department may start the assessment of your application if two of the three references are submitted by the course deadline and your application is otherwise complete. Please note that you may still be required to ensure your third referee supplies a reference for consideration.

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

Your references will support your academic ability and suitability for the course. 

Start or continue an application

Step 1: Read our guide to getting started, which explains how to prepare for and start an application.

Step 2: Check that you meet the Entry requirements and read the How to apply information on this page.

Step 3: Check the deadlines on this page and the deadline information in our Application Guide. Plan your time to submit your application well in advance - we recommend two or three weeks earlier.

Step 4: Check if you're eligible for an application fee waiver. Application fee waivers are available for:

Step 5: Start your application using the relevant link below. As you complete the form, consult our Application Guide for advice at each stage. You'll find the answers to most common queries in our FAQs.

Application GuideApply

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