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.

Research Strand Course Aims

This course is designed to help you achieve certain aims. 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.

By the end of the MSc course you will be expected 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 the MSc programme comprises eleven seminars/tutorials. These are spread out over two years with an initial three-day meeting followed by two-day meetings on a regular basis.

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.


The dissertation is in two parts:

  1. 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).
  2. 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 Course Aims

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.

Programme details

Having successfully completed a Postgraduate Diploma in CBT, students may apply to progress to the MSc in CBT by continuing their studies with one of the specialist pathways:

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, as well as training on working with common disorders with young people and families. Some teaching sessions on relevant topics such as developmental trauma are 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 four-day induction block and then bi-weekly training workshops on Thursdays and Fridays.

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.

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.

Psychosis and Bipolar

Course lead: Dr Louise Isham

This new addition to the OCTC programme reflects the growing evidence base for CBT as an effective intervention for people with psychotic and bipolar disorders. Cognitive models of psychosis and bipolar will be covered as well as the latest evidence-based techniques for working with these client groups. The course comprises 18 days of teaching across the year, with an initial four-day induction block in October followed by fortnightly one-day sessions during term time (including teaching and one 2 hour group supervision session).

Supervision and Training (not available in 2022/23)

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)


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.

Apply for this course

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.

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.