MSt in Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy

Course details


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 health care, education or skills training, stress reduction, wellness, 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, workplaces, criminal justice, government, the arts, and others, and who will contribute to the development and dissemination of MBCT.

The course is offered in collaboration between the University of Oxford Department for Continuing Education and the University of Oxford Department of Psychiatry. Successful completion of the course leads to an award of a Master of Studies by the University of Oxford.

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The course in detail

Course structure

The course combines in-person learning in Oxford with online learning. In person elements occur in blocks of 3-7 consecutive days. Online learning is provided by live day-long training sessions at various intervals. 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.

Course content

The course addresses the theoretical foundations of MBCT, including relevant aspects of psychological theory and 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 applications 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
  • Developing communication skills for writing and speaking about mindfulness and MBCT

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 developed 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 mindfulness-based approaches, mostly from Oxford, with invited speakers for specialist areas

On successful completion of the taught components of the course and associated assignments, the award of the Master's degree is made by the University of Oxford, under the aegis of its Continuing Education Board.

Assessment methods

Assessment has been designed as much to provide opportunities to consolidate and extend learning as to evaluate knowledge and skill. Assignments are evaluated by internal assessors and examiners.


In Year I, appreciation of theory and research are assessed through one 4,000 word essay.  A second 4,000 word essay is part of Year II.

Reflective Analysis

Also in Year I, the development of students' mindfulness meditation practice and their reflective capacity are assessed through a written reflective analysis, relating personal experience to theory and research.


In Year II, students are required to complete a 10,000 word dissertation on a topic chosen by themselves and approved by the Course Director and Course Committee. The dissertation should demonstrate an in-depth knowledge of theory and research in an area they find of particular interest, and relating these to the practice to MBCT. Course tutors will provide supervision and guidance in dissertation development, both one-to-one and in small group seminars.

MBCT Project

Also in Year II, the capacity to apply experiential, theoretical and research knowledge, and teaching skills is assessed through a written project of 4,000 words, describing the design, delivery and evaluation of an 8-week course of MBCT in an appropriate setting, and in a problem area with which they are familiar. This includes producing appropriate written handouts. Adherence to the MBCT protocol and competence in delivering MBCT to participants are assessed by evaluating recordings of the course taught.

IT requirements

This course uses the Department’s online assignment submission system. In order to prepare and submit your course assignments you will need access to the Internet and a computer meeting our recommended minimum computer specification. Students of this course may use the student computing facilities provided in Departmental buildings.

Entry requirements

Please see the Graduate Admissions website for details.


Please visit the Graduate Admissions website for details of course fees and costs.

Apply for this course

Applications for this course should be made online via the University of Oxford Graduate Admissions website. Please see the Application Guide for more information.

Help us to help you. Apply early - if you submit your application early, the Graduate Admissions team will be able to let you know if any items are missing. Applications must have been fully completed by the relevant application deadline in order to be considered, so please ensure that you have gathered your supporting materials in advance and have given your referees plenty of time to prepare their references before the deadline.