Studying music psychology

This page contains links to help anybody interested in studying music psychology. Since my experience is confined to the UK I will initially comment on UK courses mostly, but as I learn more about worldwide courses (I’m going to ask around!) I will add the details here. I got a lot of info from SEMPREs website too. I have written blogs that answer frequent questions about studying music psychology:

1) How to prepare for a music psychology course,   

2) Possible career paths in music psychology

3) What is it like to be a music psychology lecturer?


There is not much music psychology at UNDERGRADUATE degree level, as it is still a specialist discipline. Some exceptions include:

1) Goldsmiths, University of London runs an optional module in the third year of its psychology program called ‘Psychological Approaches to Music’, which is an excellent course which is run by the world expert Professor Pam Heaton.

2) Keele University has a number of options as part of its psychology degree including ‘Research in Music Psychology’, ‘Special Topics in Music Psychology’, ‘Music Technology’ and ‘Research in Music Psychology for MSc’. These courses are run by Dr Alex Lamont.

3) Musicology in Graz is a Bachelors and a Masters program that is offered jointly by the University of Graz (Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz) and the University of Music and Dramatic Arts in Graz.. As well as the study of music this course offers modules in music psychology and acoustics, but be aware that the majority of this course is taught in German.

4) Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh has a psychology of music module in fourth year as part of their undergraduate (Applied) Psychology degree. It’s focused on the social and applied aspects of music psychology.

5) The University of Leeds: Level 2 BA Music students have the option of a 20 credit module entitled “Psychology of Listening and Performance”. Level 3 BA Music students have the option of the 40 credit module “Music Psychology”, and are also able to conduct a psychological study in the area of music for their 40 credit dissertation if they wish. (Thanks to Charlie Heslon for this info)

6) Bath Spa University:  Bath Spa University offers a combined degree and has an option module in the third year of the music degree run by Prof Roger Heaton (20 credit) and a portion of the Music Analysis module (optional in second year, also 20 credits) is devoted to a range of music psychology topics (Thanks to Michael Longden for this info)

7) Manchester Metropolitan: Runs a combined undergraduate degree.

8) St AndrewsPsychology of Music module (PS4083, Dr I Jentzsch)
This advanced level module aims to introduce students to psychological processes underlying music perception, cognition and performance. The relationship between musical phenomena and mental functions will be illustrated. The module will cover different aspects of music perception including psychoacoustics and sound perception, music cognition including music memory emotion and expectancies, skilled performance as well as abnormalities in music perception and performance. The module will be taught in the form of seminars including student presentations. Emphasis will be placed on the development of critical thinking and the ability to relate conceptual debates in psychology to issues in the real world.
Prerequisites Available only to students in the second year of the Honours programme

9) The University of Uppsala in Sweden offers music psychology courses at undergraduate level in their excellent research group. It is possible to study music psychology (Musikpsykologi) at their psychology department, but precisely which courses are offered varies from year to year, depending on the resources. The default language is Swedish. For further information, please contact Patrik Juslin on patrik.juslin = at =


At MASTERS level your choice of dedicated courses increases considerably. There is enough choice now that you can afford to specialise depending on your interest, be it more in the study of music, cognition, acoustics or neuroscience, although most courses offer a mixture of all topics.

1) The Department of Music in the University of Sheffield (UK) offers a site-based MA in the Psychology of Music (I did this course myself and it is brilliant!), two distance-taught programmes (MA Psychology for Musicians, and MA Music Psychology in Education), and a doctoral programme. Modules include ‘Music in Everyday Life’, ‘Psychology of Performance’ and ‘Research Methods in the Psychology of Music’. Contact Stephanie Pitts for details.

2) Goldsmiths run an MSc programme that focuses on both the biological and cognitive aspects of musical behaviour. The MSc is run by Dr Lauren Stewart and Dr Daniel Mullensiefen. The program is highly interdisciplinary and draws on expertise from leading figures in the field, in areas ranging from music cognition, cognitive neuroscience, and computational modelling.

3) The Schools of Human and Life Sciences (HALS) and Education at Roehampton University (UK) offer integrated MSc/MA and MA programmes in Applied Music Psychology and Applied Music Education, and MPhil/PhD degrees. The Masters courses cover a wide number of perspectives in music psychology, including developmental, social and cognitive.

4) The University of Edinburgh recently launched a masters in ‘Music in the Community’ which is run by Dr Katie Overy. This programme provides a context and support for advanced development in personal creativity and community music skills. It brings together practical work in the community with new and relevant research in the biological, psychological and social sciences.

5) The University of Leeds now offers a Taught Postgraduate music psychology programme: MMus Applied Psychology of Music (Thanks to Charlie Heslop for this info)

6) The University of Florida runs a masters of music in Music Education and has made the following info graphic to attract your attention.  More information can be obtained by visiting the course website.

7) The Royal College of Music runs a masters in Performance Science  for people who are motivated to gain a scientific understanding of how music is performed, taught, created, and perceived, including performers and educators aiming to progress their current careers through continued professional development. For further details, please see the programme website or contact Professor Aaron Williamon, Head of the Centre for Performance Science at

8) The Department of Music at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland,
is happy to announce the next application round for our Music Psychology Training, which consists of two International Master’s Degree Programmes.Next Application Round begins December 2, 2013. DEADLINE for applications is February 14, 2014 (for studies to begin in September 2014). For further information, please visit:


Postgraduate Modules/Doctoral Programs – the following courses are not dedicated to studying music psychology specifically but contain excellent specific modules that you can opt for as part of your wider study. Alternatively they offer doctoral programs thanks to the presence of leading music psychology academics on staff.

1) The Department of Music in the University of Leeds (United Kingdom) offers a doctoral programme in music psychology. The language of study is English. There are courses in ‘Music Perception’, ‘Music Performance’, ‘Ensemble Coordination’ and ‘Electroacoustic Music’ .

2) The Centre for Performance Science (CPS) at the Royal College of Music (UK) offers an MMus in Advanced Performance and a doctoral programme in Performance Science. The language of study is English. This course comes very much from a musicians perspective and covers areas such as ‘Music psychology and physiology’, ‘Musicians’ health and wellbeing’, and ‘Acoustics and psychoacoustics’

3) The Department of Psychology in Keele University (United Kingdom) offers an MSc in applied psychological research methods which features modules in music psychology, and PhDs in music psychology. The language of study is English. Courses include ‘Development of Musical Skills and Understanding, ‘Social Psychology of Music’ and ‘Music Teaching and learning’.

4) Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester has MPhil and PhD programs in music that contain modules in Music Psychology – including both quantitative and qualitative research in the fields of expert music performance and training; music education and pedagogy; music and health.

5) The Faculty of Music in the University of Cambridge (United Kingdom) offers an MPhil in Musicology and a Doctoral program that contains options for modules in ‘Music Perception’ and ‘Music and Cognitive Development’.

To be continued…

115 thoughts on “Studying music psychology

  1. Hi Vicky!

    Wonderful website and useful information
    I’m employed in Vic (Barcelona) as a music teacher and in the Conservatory. I’m became fond of psychology of music since two years ago and I’m improving my English as the same time while I read Sloboda, Hargreaves, Storr, Sacks, Cook and so on.
    I have checked the studies at Sheffield, but I don’t know which one would be more appropiate for me. Of course my aim is to study online.
    My interests are:
    – To understand how music is processed by the brain
    – Why playing an instrument is one of the most complex activities
    – How does the brain works with music and emotional life
    – How can we help instrument teachers to use other skills or techiques learned from the psychology of music pont of view.

    Thank you!
    Best wishes!


  2. Thank you very much for your response! I´d like to ask you some more questions about the MA course Psychology of music in Sheffield… I´m currently corresponding with Ms. York from the Sheffield university and I found out that with my qualifications I would be able to apply that course. But I´d like to know more from some personal experience – you wrote that the course was brilliant – what did you like about it? I´m really thinking about going to Sheffield – although I know it´s probably too late to apply now, that doesn´t matter… (I still study a conservatory.)

  3. Hey there! I’ve been following your weblog for some time now and finally got the bravery to go ahead and give you a shout out from Lubbock Texas! Just wanted to mention keep up the good work!

  4. What a wonderful resource your blog is – thank you. I just want to add that the Open University is also a very good option for doing a PhD in music psychology. I’ve just completed my PhD there (part-time) and my work constitutes a social psychology of creative process in undergraduate collaborative music composition. Supervisors were Professor Dot Miell (now University of Edinburgh), Professor Karen Littleton and Dr Rosie Flewitt (now RIE). My work was influenced by their expertise in music and creativity, discourse, and multimodal research respectively.

  5. Many thanks for this useful information Elizabeth, and many congratulations on getting your PhD! It sounds like a really interesting topic. Vicky

  6. Thanks for the shout out and the kind words about the blog. A big hi to Texas from London in return!! Vicky

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  8. Dear Vicky

    Very much enjoyed listening to you speak on Start the Week this morning. I run group piano sessions in Cardiff and teach more than 100 children (in groups of up to 6) to play the piano. Most of the children are around 4 or 5 when they start. Piano is not often taught in a group setting which has never made sense to me as how can you really develop a child’s general musical ability if they are learning in a ‘vacuum’? I try to make the lessons as holistic as possible with lots of music games and singing. Initially I adapted existing teaching material to use in a group setting, but gradually I’m developing my own teaching materials. If you know of any music psychology students that might be interested in seeing what I do possibly even with a view to collaborating in more effective ways of teaching and engaging children in learning to play the piano and general musicianship skills – please send them my way.

    Best wishes and good luck with all that you do.

    Tim Riley

  9. Hi!
    I heard your recent appearance on Start the Week. I thought I’d contribute some info on music psychology courses in Sweden. I am a Swedish psychology major and took a undergraduate course in music psychology at the University of Uppsala. It is led by professor Patrik Juslin, who has collaborated with Sloboda who, to my understanding, is a modern pioneer of the field. I hope this information is of use to you! (since you write that you are in the process of compiling information on music psychology courses)

  10. Thank you very much Samuel, I will add some links to Uppsala on my blog right away. I wish you all the best with your studies, Vicky

  11. Dear Vicky, thanks very much for sharing your information. I have a 12- year old daughter who is interested in music psychotherapy. She likes both music and psychology. Do you have any recommendation for books or other programs that she can explore more about it? Many thanks. Stanley

  12. Hi Stanley. There are plenty of interesting and free YouTube talks about music psychology if you search especially for ‘music and mind’. I can recommend speakers like Ani Patel, Jessica Grahn and Oliver Sacks. You could read a free chapter of my new book ‘You Are The Music’ here, which is all about music psychology and babies ( Otherwise there are not many books for young children yet. Vicky

  13. Hi Ms.Victoria,

    I woke up this morning with my mind trouble, but i found (I don’t know how anymore) your website. I am so happy right now, thank you so much. Can you contact me i’d like to talk to you more.



    p.s: Sorry for the mistakes, I am French!

  14. Hi Vicky
    My daughter (18) is interested in studying music psychology with a view to working in music therapy. We live in Ireland. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

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