Find a Degree Postgraduate Taught Programmes Studies in Mindfulness

Programme Details

PROGRAMME LENGTH -
MSc 180 credits part-time
PgDip 120 credits part-time
PgCert 60 credits part-time

Aims

Mindfulness is an innate capacity of the mind to be aware of the present moment in a non-judgemental way. It promotes a way of being that helps us to take better care of ourselves and lead healthier lives. It also enables us to access inner resources for coping effectively with stress, difficulty and illness. This training in mindfulness is entirely secular and is available as a blended learning opportunity, combining e-learning and face to face teaching. Participants study part-time at a distance while staying in post in their own professional setting. An important part of the programme is that participants develop a daily mindfulness practice.

The programme seeks to meet the needs of experienced practitioners from a variety of settings who aim to enhance their practice and extend their professionalism.

It must be stressed that the Studies in Mindfulness programme is not only academic. Mindfulness cannot be taught as something academic; it is a dynamic experiential and very personal internal process. For this reason the programme team includes a number of experienced practitioners who are practising mindfulness. One of the central aims of the programme is that people can operationalise their meditation knowledge. Therefore the programme is not a course about mindfulness but into mindfulness, with subsequent analysis of the experiences it offers in personal and professional contexts.

The programme aims to offer therefore an integrated method which takes students experientially and academically through graduated stages of learning and personal development. The programme offers a blend of experiential modules combined with information- based input (drawn from a wide range of sources) which has the effect of enabling students to embark upon mindfulness training, discover what happens through direct experience , and then be able to understand and integrate their experience with the aid of relevant taught material and the help of tutors.

The course material has many unique features such as recognising the unsettled mind; learning to settle it with acceptance and without suppression; understanding the importance of attitude; undercurrent and observer; backtracking, and many others. The programme draws upon a large body of knowledge and research relevant to teaching mindfulness, compassion, and insight and wisdom.

  • advanced knowledge and understanding of mindfulness related to professional practice so that mindfulness-based approaches are available within relevant professions as a means of enhancing and extending practice;
  • opportunities to develop research-led approaches to the application of principles of mindfulness and related techniques in a variety of professional settings;
  • opportunities to create insights into mindfulness and aspects of professional practice that draw equally on the wisdom and methods of mindfulness and the discipline of evidence-based practice.

The Studies in Mindfulness programme is available as a blended learning opportunity, combining e-learning and face to face teaching. Participants study part-time at a distance while staying in post in their own professional setting. Reliable internet access is essential.  Furthermore, in each of the first three Mindfulness-based courses students are expected to attend 2 weekends at Samye Ling and a week long retreat on the Holy Island is part of the experience in each of the first 2 years of the programme.

The programme intends to impart understanding and specific skills with respect to mindfulness and compassion, while providing opportunities to explore how related ideas and techniques, reflexivity and research can enhance and extend practice in a number of professional settings.

The programme provides 3 exit points for students who may wish to complete a Postgraduate Certificate (year 1), Diploma (year 2) or Masters Degree (year 3)

Contact Information

Graeme Nixon
School of Education

mindfulness@abdn.ac.uk

Syllabus

The programme is comprised of:

Year 1

  • Course 1: Mindfulness(30 credits SCQF* Level 11)
     

    ED505A Mindfulness is the first course in the MSc in Studies in Mindfulness. The course introduces the three elements of the Programme: mindfulness practice, the study of mindfulness (and associated concepts) and the relevance of mindfulness to a self-selected professional, work or voluntary context. An introduction to developing a sustained, formal mindfulness practice, based upon a unique approach, is encompassed within the course. The study of mindfulness begins with an exploration of definitions and perspectives on mindfulness within different traditions, literature and research. Mindfulness is explored in relation to mind, body and feelings/sensations. Support in academic writing is given and social science research is introduced.

     

    Within the course there are two residential weekends of teaching, study and practice.  These augment and support both study and mindfulness practice.  Study is facilitated and supported by a) online materials located on the University’s online learning community (‘My Aberdeen’), b) engaging in online tasks, and c) dialogue through discussion boards and by email.  Daily practice is supported through the provision of guided meditations and telephone tutoring. 

     

    The course is assessed through the submission and assessment of a written assignment (4000-6000 words). This assignment covers academic writing on selected aspects of mindfulness, the relevance of mindfulness to a professional/work/voluntary context, and reflective writing about the experience of practicing mindfulness. 

     
  • Course 2: Compassion (30 credits at SCQF Level 11)
     

    The second course in the MSc in Studies in Mindfulness, ED505B Compassion, builds upon the practice and study undertaken and developed in ED505A Mindfulness.   The key study theme is the role and importance of compassion within mindfulness, including self compassion and compassion for others. ED505B Compassion is unique not only in prioritising the study of compassion but also in developing compassion within mindfulness practice.  The importance of compassion to sustained psychological and physical well-being and as a key feature of mindfulness practice is explored, as are perspectives within different traditions and philosophies. Specific topics include evolutionary psychology, our compassionate nature, ‘the undercurrent and the observer’, the ‘egocentric preference system’, the issue of preference and acceptance, the role and impact of emotional states (positive and negative) and, drawing upon Buddhism, the 'Four Limitless Contemplations (or Immeasurables)’.

     

    Mindfulness practice is developed with specific compassion practices. 

     

    Within the course there are two residential weekends of teaching, study and practice.  These augment and support both study and mindfulness practice.  Study is facilitated and supported by a) online materials located on the University’s online learning community (‘My Aberdeen’), b) engaging in online tasks, and c) dialogue through discussion boards and by email. Daily practice is supported through the provision of guided meditations and telephone tutoring. 

     

    The course is assessed through the submission and assessment of a written assignment (4000-6000 words). This assignment covers, a) academic writing on compassion and its relevance to mindfulness b) benefits and barriers to compassionate action within a selected professional /work/voluntary context, and c) reflective writing about the continued practice of mindfulness, including compassion practices. Telephone tutoring and support for practice is available during this course. 

     

    ED505B Compassion is followed by a week long study retreat on Holy Isle in Scotland, off the Isle of Arran. The week includes talks, workshops and seminars. These consolidate key themes explored throughout the year and also explore new topics from ‘year 2’ courses. Practice is also emphasised and the week is very much a practice retreat, including periods of silence. Holy Isle provides a perfect environment. 

 Year 2

  • Course 3: Insight and Wisdom (30 credits at SCQF Level 11)
     

    ED505C Insight and Wisdom is the third course of the MS in Studies in Mindfulness. Study begins with defining both insight and wisdom within cultural contexts and in relation to both mindfulness practice and psychology. The emphasis within the course is upon creating the conditions for insight to arise and for wisdom to follow. This is characterised as a shift from 'doing to being’. Course themes include the difference between coarse and subtle thoughts, the subconscious arising of impulses, and our habitual tendency to respond and/or suppress. 'Layers of the Mind’ are explored.  

     

    Practice is developed through Insight meditation and training. Within the course there are two residential weekends of teaching, study and practice.  These augment and support both study and mindfulness practice.  Study is facilitated and supported by a) online materials located on the University’s online learning community (‘My Aberdeen’), b) engaging in online tasks, and c) conversing with staff and fellow students through discussion boards and by email.  Daily practice is supported through the provision of guided meditations and telephone tutoring. 

     

    The course is assessed through the submission and assessment of a written assignment (4000-6000 words). This assignment covers, academic writing on insight and wisdom. Students also choose to focus upon the development of teaching skills or the relevance of selected themes from the course to a chosen professional/work/voluntary context. 

     

  • Course 4: Professional Enquiry (30 credits at SCQF Level 11)
     

    EDC505J Professional Enquiry (Mindfulness), the fourth course of the MSc in Studies in Mindfulness, is an exploration of social science research in relation to mindfulness and professional/work/voluntary contexts. Research theory is explored as are all the stages in the social science research process. The course is a supportive, formative learning experience in preparation for a larger project. Participants conduct a very small scale research activity (not a project) thereby learning from the experience of each of the stages in social science empirical research.

     

    Mindfulness practice is continued. 

     

    The main teaching occurs through a series of live video seminars and one ‘person-to-person' teaching weekend.   Learning is supported by online materials located on the University’s online learning community (‘My Aberdeen’), engaging in online tasks, and conversing with staff and fellow students through discussion boards and by email.  Recorded ‘talk throughs’ of the seminars are available, especially for those who are unable to participate in the live event.  The course is assessed through the submission and assessment of a written assignment (4000-6000 words). This assignment covers a short literature review, reporting upon the small scale research activity, and reflection upon the research experience. 

     

    ED505J Professional Enquiry (Mindfulness) is followed by a week long study retreat on Holy Isle in Scotland, off the Isle of Arran. The week includes talks, workshops and seminars. These consolidate key themes explored throughout the year and also focus upon the development of teaching skills. There is also opportunity to share and develop ideas for a research project in the forthcoming final phase of the programme. The retreat aspect is emphasised throughout the week, with an emphasis upon insight dialogue and practice,  including periods of silence. Holy Isle provides the perfect environment.  

     

Year 3

  • MSc Degree (180 credits in total)
     

    Work-Based Project or Dissertation (60 SM credit points) 

    During this course, the final course in the MSc in Studies in Mindfulness, you will complete an independent research project which can be described as either a Dissertation or a Work-Based Project: 

     

    Dissertation – this is a sustained and independent research project which may take any form (subject to the agreement of your supervisor). It may be largely library or theory based, involve a practical or developmental element, or be an evaluative or exploratory study. 

     

    Work-based Project (WBP) – this is a sustained and independent research and development project which explores mindfulness in a professional/work/voluntary practice.   As part of a work based project you are expected to reflect critically on your professional practice to identify an appropriate area for study and plan and execute a significant project of enquiry or development relevant to your professional setting. 

    The nature of the project you wish to undertake will be discussed with your project supervisor as you undertake planning over the first few months of study. 

    The WBP or Dissertation normally takes between 12 and 24 months to complete, depending on the time available and the opportunities to gather data or implement developments. Students spend about 600 hours on their project; over an 18 month period this is approximately 1 day per week. 

    Upon successful completion of all of these courses, participants are awarded the degree of MSc in Studies in Mindfulness.

*SCQF refers to the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework and Level 11 within this framework describes study at postgraduate taught masters level.

The Mindfulness, Compassion and Insight/Wisdom modules will each be taught over two weekend workshops at Samye Ling Tibetan Centre with a seven day retreat on Holy Isle at the end of Years One and Two. Each weekend workshop will begin at 7pm on the Friday and finish at 5pm on the Sunday (or final day). They will involve lectures and progressive mindfulness instructions with group practice sessions and feedback. In between weekend workshops there will be work assignments, involving personal practice, reading and listening to audio teachings on the university online forum.  There will also be regular online and telephone supervision between tutors and students clarifying any issues that may have arisen.

The weekend workshops at Samye Ling will immerse students in the practice of mindfulness, while the retreats at the end of each year will focus on imparting teaching skills and giving students experience of teaching mindfulness. There will be practice sessions in which people lead practices, inquire into the experience of those they have led and then receive feedback.  The professional enquiry module will be taught through a combination of e-learning and direct student/teacher contact. In the case of the dissertation, students will submit an outline proposal setting out the area they intend to research, or the work based project they wish to undertake, and they will then be assigned two tutors, one focusing on process and the other on content.

Assessment

The programme is available in e-learning mode via WEB CT (the university’s online learning environment). Participants are encouraged to be active and reflective learners and great emphasis is placed on professional action in the workplace setting.

Formative assessment is a feature of all courses. Formative and summative assessments are designed to arise naturally in the workplace and from course work. Most assessment tasks focus on workplace applications and/or critical reflection on mindfulness and its application. Each course is assessed by a set assignment.

An undergraduate degree (Hons 2.2 or better) is a normal requirement, but applications will be considered from individuals with other professional qualifications and relevant experience. It is also required that applicants provide evidence of having regular access to a practice context that allows for the application and evaluation of mindfulness techniques in a professional setting.

The English Language Requirement for all College of Arts and Social Sciences Masters programmes is an IELTS of 6.5 with 6.0 in the writing and reading (or equivalent TOEFL iBT or PTE).  For more information see www.abdn.ac.uk/international/english-requirements 

Fees

For further information on tuition fees please visit www.abdn.ac.uk/registry/tuitionfees

Funding

Prospective students should visit the University's Postgraduate Funding Database

Contact

Related Information

General Information

Student Recruitment & Admissions Service
University of Aberdeen
The Hub
King's College
ABERDEEN AB24 3TU

Tel: +44 (0)1224 272090 / +44 (0)1224 272091
Fax: +44 (0)1224 272576
Email: sras@abdn.ac.uk