Are you a relatively experienced conductor with a burning passion to make conducting your livelihood?
Our unique MA programme in Choral Conducting is directed by Professor Simon Halsey CBE and is in association with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and its internationally renowned choruses and conductors. It gives students the opportunities to observe, conduct and sing every week.
The University of Birmingham is home to one of the most vibrant and exciting Music departments in the world. We are an international leader in research and our programme embodies the latest cutting-edge developments in the practice and study of music.
The programme will allow you to have significant directed podium time with University ensembles and beyond. This includes leading weekly rehearsals with University Camerata, singing in Birmingham University Singers, singing in the CBSO Chorus, and acting as assistant conductor for up to five University choirs.
Additional podium time will be available at the discretion of the Director of Choral Activities.
You will study two core modules:
You will also choose two optional modules from a range which typically includes:
Full descriptions are available below.
Modules are assessed by a combination of written and practical assignments. You will complete the course by delivering a final recital, which will take the form of a substantial solo recital or a substantial concert of choral repertoire. The recital offers you the opportunity to unite practical and theoretical musicianship, and to demonstrate the ability to plan and independently prepare (with some supervision) a performance at an advanced level.
Your learning will be enhanced by our extensive facilities, including the Bramall Music Building.
Support with academic writing
As a postgraduate student in the College of Arts and Law, you have access to the Academic Writing Advisory Service (AWAS) which aims to help your transition from undergraduate to taught Masters level, or back into academia after time away. The service offers guidance on writing assignments and dissertations for your MA/MSc programme with individual support from an academic writing advisor via tutorials, email and the provision of online materials.
International students can access support for English Language development and skills through the Birmingham International Academy (BIA).
Your degree will provide excellent preparation for employment and this will be further enhanced by a range of employability support services offered by the University.
The University's Careers Network provides advice and information specifically for postgraduates that will help you to develop an effective career and skills development strategy, and to make the most of your time with us at the University. The College of Arts and Law also has a dedicated careers and employability team to deliver tailored programmes of careers events and local support.
You will have opportunities to: meet employers face-to-face at on-campus recruitment fairs; attend employer presentations and skills workshops; receive individual guidance on your job applications, writing your CV and improving your interview technique; and access to comprehensive listings of hundreds of graduate jobs and work experience opportunities.
You will also be able to access our full range of careers support for up to two years after graduation.
Postgraduate employability: Music
Birmingham's Music postgraduates work in a wide range of careers within and beyond the music world. A postgraduate degree in Music develops a broad base of skills including general skills such as communication, problem solving and research, and also specific skills developed by practice and performance such as self-management, team work and presentation.
Over the past four years, 91% of Music postgraduates were in work and/or further study six months after graduation. Whilst some graduates pursue music-related careers, or go on to teaching and lecturing roles, others choose to use their transferable skills to follow career paths in fields including finance and the public sector.
The Music Education MA will introduce students to research and research-informed practice at the forefront of music education. The programme will provide tools for interrogating musical and educational assumptions, values and practices. It will help students to expand their understanding of effective music teaching, evaluation and assessment across the lifespan.
Undertaking the Music Education MA programme will allow students to develop their critical thinking and ability to interrogate current educational research, literature and practice in the overarching fields of music and music education. They will also have the opportunity to pursue specialist lines of enquiry that are related to their own professional and/or academic interests, working alongside prominent academics in the field.
Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits.
The programme consists of two core modules (60 credits), and either two optional modules (60 credits) and a research dissertation (60 credits), or three optional modules (90 credits) and a report (30 credits).
The two core modules are founded on three strands in the study of music education: philosophy, psychology and sociology. These include historically-significant and cutting-edge contemporary approaches, theories and philosophies across a wide range of topics.
The Critical Studies in Music Pedagogy and Practice module examines past and present music education research and practice across a range of social and cultural contexts. Music Technology in Education provides students with opportunities to engage with published commentary and also develop practical skills. Choral Conducting, Leadership and Communication develops the skills of effective choral conducting and rehearsing in educational contexts.
Please note: at the programme leader's discretion, a student might be able to import a maximum of 60 credits.
All students undertake an independent research project, which culminates in a 20,000-word dissertation or 10,000-word report.
Teaching and learning
The main mode of delivery is through a combination of weekly lectures and seminars.
There are ten-week lecture courses for the two core modules, and also for Critical Studies in Music Pedagogy and Practice (optional module), with sessions held in the evenings at the UCL Institute of Education. However, the Choral Conducting Leadership and Communication optional module takes place over five full days at the UCL Institute, as well as through additional student-led sessions. Students are also required to engage actively with UCL's online learning environments across the programme. The Music Technology in Education optional module is delivered online. All students are entitled to face-to-face tutorials with their allocated tutors.
Assessment is predominantly through a written assignment for each taught module.
Further information on modules and degree structure is available on the department website: Music Education MA
Graduates of this programme are currently working as:
Recent career destinations for this degree
Careers data is taken from the ‘Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education’ survey undertaken by HESA looking at the destinations of UK and EU students in the 2013–2015 graduating cohorts six months after graduation.
The Music Education MA at UCL is the only postgraduate programme of its type in the UK, and one of the largest recruiting in the world, that is dedicated to music education.
The programme is taught by leading academics with current and extensive expertise in externally-funded research. Research and publications from our lecturers have significant impact on educational policy and practice both in the UK and internationally. This informs learning and teaching on the programme whilst fostering the development of a research-based culture. Many of our students pursue further study at doctoral and post-doctoral level.
Our programme meets the needs of a wide range of professionals from across the international communities of music and music education. Our alumni have been and continue to be leading figures in education worldwide.
The Research Excellence Framework, or REF, is the system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions. The 2014 REF was carried out by the UK's higher education funding bodies, and the results used to allocate research funding from 2015/16.
The following REF score was awarded to the department: Culture, Communication & Media
78% rated 4* (‘world-leading’) or 3* (‘internationally excellent’)
Learn more about the scope of UCL's research, and browse case studies, on our Research Impact website.
The flexible modular structure of our taught MA programme allows you to focus on a chosen area of specialism but simultaneously facilitates exploration of a wide range of research areas relating to music. It will provide an excellent foundation for undertaking postgraduate research at doctoral level, but will also benefit the professional development of musicians intending to pursue careers in teaching, arts administration, broadcasting, and other domains.
Students on the taught MA programme join a vibrant international postgraduate community and study with scholars, composers, and performers who have achieved international recognition in their fields. The Music Department was ranked #1 in The Sunday Times University League Table 2016, and was in the top three music departments in the Research Excellence Framework 2014 and the Complete University Guide 2017.
The MA Music programme supports study of the following areas of specialism:
In addition, other options typically available have included:
You will choose modules from sections A, B, C, and D below:
A. Major project, weighted at 60 credits (a dissertation, a public recital, or a portfolio of compositions/orchestrations and arrangements – depending on your chosen area of specialism)
B. A 30-credit module linked to your chosen area of specialism
C. Two compulsory core 30-credit modules embedding research training and engaging with major intellectual issues attendant on all subject areas
D. An additional 30 credits of Music undergraduate modules/selected undergraduate OR postgraduate modules offered by another department OR another related specialism-specific module from list B, subject to approval of the Board of Studies in Music.
Example: MA with specialism in Musicology
A. A 12,000-word dissertation on a musicological topic weighted at 60 credits
B. 30-credit module ‘Contemporary Musicology’
C. Compulsory core 30-credit modules, ‘Core Research Seminars’ and ‘Research Methods and Resources’
D. 30 credits of Music undergraduate modules/selected undergraduate OR postgraduate modules offered by another department OR another related specialism-specific module from list B
the following specialism-specific modules will be offered every year:
Optional modules in previous years have included:
The programme is delivered through a mixture of seminars, practical sessions and one-to-one supervision. Seminars provide opportunities for you to discuss and debate particular issues, and to present your own original work, informed by the knowledge that you have gained through independent study outside the programme’s formal contact hours. Practical sessions in areas such as studio or field recording techniques help to prepare you for your own independent work. All students must undertake an independent project (dissertation, composition portfolio, or performance), which is developed with the help of one-to-one expert supervision. Finally, optional modules can be drawn from the undergraduate and postgraduate programmes of Music or of other departments –these free-choice modules may involve other forms of staff-student contact, depending on the subject area. The Department actively promotes interdisciplinary approaches to the study of music and you are encouraged to engage with other disciplines in the humanities and sciences.
The contact hours experienced by each individual student will vary considerably, given a high degree of flexibility in the programme. You will typically attend between 2 and 4 hours of seminars per week in term time, as well as additional practical sessions as appropriate. Individual supervision of dissertations, performance projects and composition portfolios amounts to an average of 6 hours spread over the second and third terms.
Outside timetabled contact hours, you are also expected to attend research seminars, both student-led and those involving staff or guest academic speakers (typically 1-2 hrs each week). You must also undertake your own independent study to prepare for your classes and assessments, to broaden your subject knowledge and to prepare your dissertations or portfolios. You are encouraged, as an integral part of your studies, to take advantage of other opportunities including participating in performance opportunities (including staff-led ensembles) and attending research and composition seminars, some of which are organised in conjunction with University research institutes.
There is a busy programme of musical performance, both within and outside the Music department, which complements your academic programme by providing opportunities both to listen to and to perform a wide variety of music. The many musical ensembles to which you can contribute includes both independent societies (including orchestras, choirs, opera and musical theatre as well as a Javanese gamelan) and department-run ensembles such as the New Music Ensemble and Korean percussion group.
Our two-year, full time Masters programme in Repetiteurship commences in September. It is a bespoke programme led by the College's Head of Keyboard in partnership with the Opera and Vocal Performance Department, and in close association with Welsh National Opera (WNO). Our aim is to offer the finest training available anywhere in the world in this challenging and competitive field.
Students benefit from expert tuition in College and from the Music Staff at WNO, with opportunities to work alongside professional repetiteurs in rehearsal.
The course follows a structured approach, with one-to-one tuition and classes ensuring that all of the essential repetiteur skills are finely cultivated. At the same time, our students receive vocational training as music staff in the opera rehearsal studio, providing a thorough grounding in core repertoire.
Student repetiteurs play for several College opera productions each year, participate in language classes and develop skills in coaching, choral preparation, continuo and conducting. Recent opera productions at the college have included Falstaff, Le nozze di Figaro, Albert Herring, The Cunning Little Vixen, and Street Scene.
This course is for performers interested in live or recorded performance within classical or jazz styles. Throughout you’ll receive one-to-one instrumental or vocal tuition from our team of experienced tutors as part of a series of performance modules. The course culminates with a final project, where you’ll prepare a performance, normally a high-profile public recital. Alongside your solo work you’ll develop your research, collaborative, ensemble and publicity skills.
This course gives you, as a instrumental/vocal performer, the skills and opportunities to develop your individual and ensemble skills to a high level. You’ll undertake four modules over two trimesters and a double module in your third trimester.
You may explore areas of your own interest, which may relate to staff specialisms, such as opera (Garth Bardsley), early music and music of the Georgian period (Dr Matthew Spring), and romantic and early twentieth-century music (Dr Charles Wiffen), piano skills and improvisation (Thomas Whorley).
In Performance 1, you’ll develop your performance skills and technique, and extend your repertoire. Alongside this the Research Methodologies and Context module gives you a thorough grounding in research methodology. Your development as a performer is supported by regular one-to-one lessons with a specialist teacher.
The Performance 2 module develops performance skills and repertoire while furthering your understanding of performance history and practice. You’ll also explore strategies for marketing yourself. You’ll have a choice of modules at this stage and the opportunity to work with peers and across subject boundaries.
You’ll have a choice of modules at this stage: Collaborative and Interdisciplinary Practice, Intercultural Musicology and Opera Studies.
The third trimester involves a Major Project for which you'll prepare a programme for a substantial public performance. The content and structure of this project is to be negotiated with course tutors.
For more information on modules, please go to: https://www.bathspa.ac.uk/courses/pg-music-performance/
Modules are normally taught through one-to-one lessons, seminars and practical workshops. These are supported by individual tutorials and online activity within the Virtual Learning Environment.
The Major Project involves student-directed work, with supporting tutorials and instrumental/vocal lessons. We encourage you to make full use of library and IT resources, and time will be scheduled in studios and workstations labs for independent study, as appropriate.
You’ll complete individual assignments for each module. Performance based modules (Performance 1, Opera Studies and Major Project) are assessed through performance on your instrument or voice, reflective commentaries on your process, or a lecture recital in the case of Performance 2. Intercultural Musicology and Research Methodologies and Context modules will be be assessed on written submissions.
For more information on assessment, please view the course handbook via the website: https://www.bathspa.ac.uk/courses/pg-music-performance/
Previous graduate destinations include:
• Doctoral studies at Durham University
• Freelance repetiteur and keyboard/continuo specialist
• Choir Director and Piano/Vocal Tutor
• Marines Conductor
• Opera Studies at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama
• Freelance classical and early music singer
Our graduates work in a wide range of performance-related areas such as:
• Orchestral performance
• Choral direction
• Chamber music
• Session work
• Music promotion
• Record labels
• Broadcast media
• Instrumental teaching
• Group teaching
• Community music projects
• University lecturing