MSc in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

Course details

The MSc in CBT offers clinicians who have successfully completed the Postgraduate Diploma in CBT an opportunity to carry out high quality research and contribute to the evidence base for CBT. This two-year, research based award provides the foundation for carrying out research and publishing an academic paper. On successful completion, the MSc will subsume the Postgraduate Diploma in CBT where already received.

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Programme details

Students are admitted to the MSc in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy via one of two strands: 

All MSc students are experienced CBT practitioners with a wealth of knowledge, so a great richness of the course is that you will learn not only from us, but also from each other and from personal study. The course is thus a cooperative enterprise: we provide a forum for development, and your task is to take full advantage of it, while contributing actively to your own and to others’ learning.

Research strand

The strand guides students through the process of developing and implementing an independent research project in their own clinical setting. This strand is designed to help you achieve certain aims. If you are admitted to this strand, by the end of the course you should be able to:

  • Display knowledge and understanding of general research principles and methodology, and demonstrate how these may be used within their own clinical work, and in the design and completion of an independent research project
  • Interpret and evaluate theoretical literature relevant to the provision of cognitive therapy or cognitive therapy services
  • Use established bodies of knowledge as a basis for developing their own ideas for research
  • Understand the value of an evidence-based approach to psychological treatment, including the distinctive contributions of efficacy and effectiveness research trials to clinical practice, and the use of clinical audit and other service evaluation approaches
  • Show evidence of the capacity to apply knowledge of research principles and practice in designing and carrying out an independent research project, using appropriate methodology and analysing and discussing results
  • Use and interpret a variety of appropriate psychometric instruments to assess patient pathology and evaluate progress and outcome in treatment
  • Write clear and literate assignments (research project proposal and final dissertation) that comply with established conventions of presentation and referencing


The teaching element of this strand of the course is provided through tutorials. These are spread out over two years with an initial three-day meeting followed by one- or two-day tutorials several times during the year. Supervision is additionally provided on a one-to-one basis throughout the course. 

The Oxford-based training days will be will be supplemented by personal study, supervision and research and you will be asked to review and prepare materials between teaching blocks.


To complete the Research strand of the MSc in CBT, you will need to submit a dissertation, which comprises:

  • a research paper, which is prepared to a standard that is acceptable for submission to a peer reviewed journal (maximum of 14,000-14,500 words); and 
  • a reflective critique of the research experience (500-1000 words). This is an opportunity for you to look back over your experience of carrying out a piece of research and taking it to the point of submission.

Clinical strand

This strand allows students to benefit from the range of specialist teaching available in the new course structure and to obtain a high-level of proficiency in implementing evidence-based treatment across a wide range of clinical presentations, and in disseminating these treatments as trainers and supervisors to other practitioners.

Specialist pathways:

1. Children and Adolescents

Course lead: Dr Joanna Adams

Designed to equip clinicians for work with children, adolescents and their families, this pathway offers specialist supervision and teaching that covers general principles of adapting CBT for children, young people and families, including developmental, systemic and ethical/professional issues. The course will take a transdiagnostic focus, with some teaching on relevant topics shared with students on the Complex Presentations pathway,

Students are expected to carry out CBT with at least three suitable patients during the course and receive two hours of small group supervision on a bi-weekly basis.

The course begins with a two-day induction block and then attendance is required for two days bi-weekly, for training workshops.

Due to the overlap in some areas of study, it is not possible to combine study on the Complex Presentations pathway and the Children and Adolescents pathway within a single award.

2. CBT for comorbid, chronic and systemic difficulties (formerly Complex Presentations) 

Course lead: Dr Anne Garland

This course trains therapists to apply evidence-based treatment to presentations falling outside standard CBT protocols – given that comorbidity and complexity are often the rule, and not the exception, in clinical populations. The course comprises 16 days of teaching over five months including supervision on a bi-weekly basis.

Due to the overlap in some areas of study, it is not possible to combine study on the Complex   Presentations pathway and the Children and Adolescents pathway within a single award.

3. Psychological Trauma and Personality Development

Course lead: Dr Helen Kennerley

The course covers the impact of psychological trauma and neglect on brain function, memory, sense of self, personality and psycho-social development. The course explores personality development and the sequelae of a broad range of adverse experiences in childhood and adulthood, going beyond PTSD. It also reviews techniques and adaptations for working effectively with the consequences of psychological trauma and with personality issues. The course comprises 16 days teaching in four blocks over an academic year, with small group supervision throughout the course.

4. Psychosis and Bipolar

Course lead: Dr Louise Isham

This specialism seeks to enable students to develop a sound understanding of cognitive behavioural models of psychosis and the related evidence base; competence in engaging, assessing and developing collaborative formulations with individuals with psychotic and bipolar presentations; and competence to deliver high quality, individualised, evidence-based interventions in accordance with NICE guidance and the competence framework for work with people with psychosis and bipolar disorder (Roth & Pilling 2013).

The course comprises teaching over three terms. Term one starts with the ‘September School’ with 5 days of teaching across the month. There is also a two day block in January. Students are required to keep Thursdays during term time free for the course. Teaching will take place for a full day every other Thursday and supervision and private study time will usually take place on alternate Thursdays throughout the course.

5. Supervision and Training 

Course lead: Dr Helen Kennerley

The course aims to develop both supervisory and training skills by combining didactic presentation with live teaching and supervision practice. It reflects the increased expectation that clinicians are offered sound supervision and training in CBT in order to achieve adequate standards of CBT. The course comprises 18 workshops (presented in five teaching blocks from October to March).


For the Clinical strand, summative assessment requirements vary according to the specialism that you have chosen. Please visit the course page on the University's Graduate Admissions website for further details.

Application details


Please visit the MSc in CBT page on the University of Oxford Graduate Admissions website for details of course fees and costs for this programme.

Who should apply

The MSc in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy builds on credits obtained in the Postgraduate Diploma in CBT. Applicants to this award must therefore have already completed, or currently be completing the Postgraduate Diploma in CBT.

How to apply

Returning students should apply via the Graduate Admissions webpage for this course. Current Diploma students should contact the course team for information on how to apply.

All applications must have been fully completed before the application deadline in order to be considered.

When to apply

We strongly recommend that you apply by the January or March deadlines. After the March deadline, the course will only stay open for that year's entry if places are still available. 

Remember that it can take a number of weeks to obtain all of the documents you need and to prepare a competitive application. You should also allow your referees plenty of time to submit your references. We therefore recommend you apply as soon as possible.

Oxford college affiliation

As a matriculated postgraduate degree student, you will become a member of one of the University’s famous interdisciplinary colleges, enabling you to encounter new perspectives in your field or learn more about many other different subjects from fellow college members.

The collegiate system makes studying at Oxford a truly special experience. Oxford colleges are small, intimate communities, where you could find yourself absorbed in fascinating conversations with students and academics from a variety of disciplines at college seminars, dinners, and informal occasions. 

To find out more about Oxford University colleges, please consult the University's Graduate Admissions website.