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). Preference will be given to applicants with clinical experience.
The course is offered by the Oxford Mindfulness Centre at the Department of Psychiatry, in collaboration with the 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 in clinical and other appropriate healthcare and educational settings, and who will contribute to the development and dissemination of MBCT.
The course is organised in nine three- or four-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 related to 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 teaching; that is, students are expected to develop for themselves the understanding and skills they will be teaching to patients.
Students should also be prepared to 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, 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, pain and psychosis; and
- practice including the development of personal experience of mindfulness meditation through exploring the MBCT course experientially as a participant and building on this, 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:
- complete two 4,000-word essays, demonstrating the capacity to critically appraise theory, research and clinical literature relevant to MBCT (Year 1)
- complete a 4,000-word reflective analysis of personal meditation practice as related to cognitive 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 your 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 MBCT classes (Year 2)
- submit a dissertation of no more than 10,000 words on a topic selected by you (Year 2).
The first year of the course is designed to develop student’s knowledge of theory and research, and to use this as a foundation for the development of their own mindfulness meditation practice. Teaching in MBCT will commence towards the end of the first year. During each block, we will cover:
- developing a personal mindfulness meditation practice via direct experience of the 8-week MBCT programme. This includes opportunities for reflection, and a requirement for regular meditation practice between teaching blocks;
- the Buddhist roots of MBCT;
- mindfulness meditation in practice;
- cognitive and clinical science
- beginning to teach MBCT.
Residential training retreats
The 4-day retreat in January focuses on the practice of mindfulness meditation and considers its relevance to MBCT. The 7-day training retreat offers an intensive opportunity to deepen personal practice and to practise teaching elements of MBCT with immediate feedback from other participants and from instructors.
The second year covers the theory and practice of applying MBCT with different client groups, and equips students with the knowledge and skills they need to become competent MBCT instructors. The themes are:
- becoming an MBCT instructor
- clinical applications: theory and practice
- Buddhist foundations for application of mindfulness
Residential training retreat
This 7-day retreat focuses on intensive practice of mindfulness meditation.
Teaching sessions and training retreats will be led by practitioners experienced in mindfulness-based approaches, mostly from Oxford.
The allocation of graduate tutoring for this course is the responsibility of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre and 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.
Most part-time students commencing this programme are already in employment. The MSt aims to equip practitioners with the expertise to deliver high quality MBCT to patients and other groups, the fluency to critically gauge its theoretical basis and empirical evidence base, and to disseminate and develop 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. 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 sabbatical leave, parental leave or change in employment.
For further information, please see our page on 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 in this area offered by the Department of Continuing Education
Entry requirements for entry in 2020-21
Proven and potential academic excellence
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 any relevant subject.
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, physiotherapy or education).
Your background should have equipped you to:
- read theoretical and scientific literature relevant to MBCT
- work with individuals 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 eight-week MBCT course run by an experienced provider; for example, in the UK, a provider that is listed on the UK Network register. Where attending an MBCT class is absolutely not possible, attendance at a face-to-face MBSR course is the next best option. If this is not possible -- for example, if you live in a location where a face-to-face MBCT or MBSR course is not available -- an online programme that can provide this training, along with access to weekly inquiry with a teacher (such as the Mindful Mood Balance Pro web-based training) may also be considered.
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.
Publications are welcome but not required.
Successful applicants are expected to have access to suitable patient/client groups for supervised practice.
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.
Detailed requirements - higher level
The minimum scores required to meet the University's higher level are:
|IELTS Academic||7.5||Minimum 7.0 per component|
Minimum component scores:
|Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English (CAE) or C1 Advanced||191||Minimum 185 per component|
|Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE) or C2 Proficiency||191||Minimum 185 per component|
Your test must have been taken no more than two years before the start date of your course. For more information about the English language test requirement, visit the Application Guide.
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.
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 experience of working with clients, for example using evidence-based psychological treatment such as cognitive behavioural therapy
- 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.
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. 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. 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, you will be required to meet the following requirements:
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.
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 across the University, and these cover your course and college fees and provide a grant for living costs. If you apply by the relevant January deadline and fulfil the eligibility criteria you will be automatically considered. Over two thirds of Oxford scholarships require nothing more than the standard course application. Use the Fees, funding and scholarship search to find out which scholarships you are eligible for and if they require an additional application, full details of which are provided.
Annual fees for entry in 2020-21
Annual Course fees
|Home/EU (including Islands)||£11,755|
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 likely increases 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 dedicated webpage for details of the implications of the UK’s plans to leave the European Union.
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.
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 2020-21 academic year, the range of likely living costs for full-time study is between c. £1,135 and £1,650 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 2020-21, 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.
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:
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.
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:
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.
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.
Please include a written critical discussion of approximately 500 words in which you discuss the following: ‘Are there any limits to the usefulness of mindfulness in the area of mental health?’.
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 plan your time to submit your application well in advance.
Step 4: Our Application Guide will help you complete the form. It contains links to FAQs and further help.
Step 5: Submit your application as soon as possible (you can read more information about our deadlines).