The MA in Music (Contemporary Music Studies) examines aspects of methodology, repertoire studies and cultural theory within a wide-ranging programme of investigation into the role of contemporary music in the society for which it is created.
You'll explore the key methodologies appropriate for scholarly study of the music of the present and recent past, such as oral history and contrasting approaches to musical ‘close reading’.
Musical repertoires, and notions of repertoire, are examined, and you are encouraged to ask such questions as whether the boundaries often considered to exist between, for example, ‘contemporary concert music’ and ‘popular music’ are still meaningful for practitioners, listeners and scholars today.
Various approaches to cultural theory are viewed in the light of what they might bring to the study of contemporary music of different kinds.
The understandings developed in your coursework culminate in the methods and approaches demonstrated in your dissertation.
This gives you the opportunity to address particular challenges of studying and writing about the music of our time arising from your own musical and theoretical enthusiasms.
The programme appeals to a wide range of students concerned to develop their understanding of today's music and keen to harness this to relevant intellectual skills.
While designed as an open-ended programme of study that can subsequently be applied in many ways within, and outside, the musical profession, it will be of special value to those preparing for further postgraduate research, and those considering careers in teaching, journalism, arts administration or the culture industries.
You choose three modules from a selection that currently includes:
The programme is designed with careful consideration of the opportunities, challenges and intellectual demands presented by careers in music, such as:
Find out more about employability at Goldsmiths.
This MMus builds on our international reputation in the popular music field, as seen in the success of our BMus graduates.
The programme offers you the opportunity to reflect critically upon your own creative practice – whether that consists of performance, songwriting, arranging, production, or collaboration – and to integrate theoretical perspectives from contemporary popular music studies.
You’ll also be able to extend your own practice through options in sonic and studio art, advanced music technology, exploration in audiovisual media, and ethnomusicology.
The MMus in Popular Music is intended for music creators who integrate these elements in the compositional, recording and performance work.
You’ll acquire graduate-level training in creative practice and subject-specific skills that could set you up for a career as a composer-performer or studio practitioner/producer, as well as other employment within the popular music sector.
This programme is distinguished by:
You choose two modules from a list that currently includes:
Employability and cultural entrepreneurship is in our DNA
Graduates may progress to be composer-performers, studio practitioners/producers and music industry employees within the popular music sector. Older students who have returned to advance their knowledge and practice base will be better positioned in the job market.
We are also able to offer a series of employability/placement/internship style opportunities to include:
Find out more about employability at Goldsmiths.
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 Graduate Diploma programme combines modules from different levels of undergraduate study into a single year.
If your first degree isn’t in Music but you have a high level of expertise, or if you’re an international student who isn’t confident in the English language or UK education system, this programme allows you to expand your knowledge of music and focus on the aspects that suit your own interests. It can bridge the gap between an undergraduate and Masters degree, but the GradDip is a respected qualification in its own right.
You’ll study core modules that build your research skills and give you a good grounding in music studies. Then you’ll also choose from optional modules in areas such as performance, composition, music technology, aesthetics, psychology of music or musicology.
This is a flexible programme, so contact us to find out about the level of knowledge and qualifications you may need for different module choices.
We have a variety of excellent facilities to support your learning, including rehearsal, performance and practice spaces, a lab for studying the psychology of music and studios for sound recording, software development and computer music composition. The Special Collections housed in our beautiful Brotherton Library contain significant collections of music manuscripts, rare printed music and letters from composers and critics to help inform your work.
We also have good working relationships with a range of prestigious arts organisations: we host BBC Radio 3 concerts, Leeds Lieder and the Leeds International Pianoforte Competition, as well as enjoying a close partnership with Opera North and many others in a city with a thriving music and cultural scene.
Throughout the year you’ll take a variety of modules that both lay the foundations of musical study and allow you to specialise in the topics that interest you.
You’ll start with a core module that develops your research skills in music, preparing you for the rest of your studies, and choose from introductory modules at Level 1 that give you a background in musical interpretation and the role music continues to play in society.
From this starting point, you’ll build your knowledge with your choice of Level 3 modules – you can take specialist modules where you’ll study different aspects of music in line with the research interests of our staff. Alternatively, you could focus on performance, composition, music technology, editing and source studies or the psychology of music. If there’s a musical topic that particularly interests you, the dissertation will give you the chance to undertake independent research to explore the subject in depth.
If you still need to take further credits to complete the programme after these choices, you’ll then be able to select from Level 2 modules offered across the School of Music.
These are typical modules/components studied and may change from time to time. Read more in our Terms and conditions.
Because this programme is so flexible, you’ll come across a range of teaching and learning methods depending on the modules you choose. These could include lectures, seminars and tutorials as well as vocal or instrumental lessons with our specialist teachers. Practical sessions and workshops may also be involved.
However, independent study is crucial to this degree, allowing you to build important skills and pursue your own interests more closely.
You’ll also be assessed by diverse methods depending on your module choices. These may include essays, exams and presentations as well as compositions, performances, project work, critical editions and commentaries among others.
This programme allows you to study undergraduate modules to develop your formal musical education. This means that it leaves you in a good position to progress to MA or MMus study in Music – and as a graduate of the University of Leeds, you will also be eligible for a 10% discount on postgraduate fees.
We also offer additional support as you develop your career plans: the School of Music boasts a unique Alumni Mentoring Network, where students can be supported by past students as they start to plan their next steps.
We encourage you to prepare for your career from day one. That’s one of the reasons Leeds graduates are so sought after by employers.
The Careers Centre and staff in your faculty provide a range of help and advice to help you plan your career and make well-informed decisions along the way, even after you graduate. Find out more at the Careers 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.
This multidisciplinary programme gives students the unique opportunity to develop critical understandings of the music industries and popular music, as well as gaining practical experience in a music industries-related organisation.
The Music Industries programme aims to introduce and develop a critical understanding of the academic study of the Music Industries and Popular Music at postgraduate level.
The Music Industries MLitt is located within the broader academic area of Popular Music Studies - a relatively new area of academic enquiry which draws upon a range of disciplines including Sociology, Cultural Studies, Musicology and Politics. It is inherently multidisciplinary and a range of academic approaches will be adopted throughout the programme. This will provide you with the knowledge and skills necessary to critically evaluate the role of Popular Music and its attendant industries both historically and in contemporary society.
The programme includes a placement which has been designed for those seeking to work in the creative industries, and more specifically, the music industries including record companies, management companies and promoters. This programme is unique in the UK, offering the only postgraduate placement involving a tailored research project within a music industries-related organisation. You will spend part of semester two on placement within one of a number of music industries employers.
The programme opens up opportunities to enter and develop your career or business in the music industries, as well as in related creative areas such as the games industry.
Graduates have combined the degree with other studies to pursue careers in areas such as law and education.
Positions held by recent graduates include working as a Service Delivery Manager at PRS for Music, Manager at ATC Management, Lecturer in Commercial Music and several self-employed artists and music entrepreneurs.
The MA in Music (Ethnomusicology) introduces a range of methodologies in relation to the study of music in its cultural contexts.
As well as engaging with musical practices in various geographic or cultural areas, the programme acknowledges the importance of urban ethnomusicology and the usefulness of applying ethnomusicological approaches to Western art and popular music.
You have the opportunity to engage with key ethnographic methodologies, such as interviewing, videoing and video editing, and musical performance as a research technique.
The innovative structure of the programme allows you to specialise in one of these areas if you wish, leading to a final project that itself may have a significant practical component, and you have the opportunity to undertake fieldwork projects as part of your studies.
A written dissertation option is also available, allowing you to engage in depth with an issue that interests you.
The programme appeals to a wide range of students hoping to develop their intellectual skills in music, particularly those with interests in music as a cultural phenomenon.
It's exceptionally useful, for example, for students preparing for further postgraduate research, or for those considering careers in teaching, journalism, arts administration or the culture industries, or working with government agencies or charities abroad.
Find out more about the MA in Music.
You choose three modules from a list that currently includes:
Ethnomusicology Major Project
You'll develop an awareness of key ethnographic methodologies, investigation and evaluation skills, intellectual skills in music and specific research skills.
The programme will be exceptionally useful for, for example, students preparing for further postgraduate research, or for those considering careers in teaching, journalism, arts administration or the culture industries, or working with government agencies or charities abroad.
Find out more about employability at Goldsmiths.
This course offers intensive training for composers and provides excellent preparation for doctoral work or a career in the professional world. With a strong focus on practical music making and supported by an outstanding programme of workshops and performances by professional musicians, it offers an invaluable opportunity for composers to hone their skills and develop their personal voice.
What makes us distinctive?
In addition to the submission of a final Portfolio of Compositions , all instrumental and vocal composition students take the core course unit Composition Project and the further compulsory taught course unit, Compositional Etudes. Optional course units normally include Contemporary Music Studies , Advanced Orchestration , Fixed Media and Interactive Music , Aesthetics and Analysis of Organised Sound , Historical or Contemporary Performance (subject to audition). For further information about the content of individual course units, see Course Unit Details below.
SALC Placement offers students the opportunity to spend a minimum of 20 days over a period of up to 12 weeks with an arts and cultural organisation, business or service provider. Placements will be established in Semester 1 to take place early in semester 2; they will be supervised by a work-based mentor and overseen by an academic staff member. The placement may take the form of an investigation of a specific business idea, development strategy or management proposition to resolve a problem or particular issue, and will result in a placement report, proposal or essay.
This programme aims to:
Our close links with in-house and Manchester-based ensembles allow us to guarantee that every student taking the MusM Composition programme will have their music performed and/or workshopped by professional ensembles, including the Quatuor Danel, Psappha, Trio Atem and the Manchester Camerata.
In addition, MusM students frequently have their work performed by the University of Manchester's new music ensemble.
The MusM degree consists of 180 credits in total, made up of four 30-credit taught course units and a 60-credit portfolio. Full-time students take two course units per semester; part-time students take one. Most course units are delivered via regular seminars and/or tutorials, supported where appropriate by practical workshops. The composition portfolio is supported by one-to-one supervision and is submitted at the beginning of September. (Part-time students may submit in either September or December following their second year of study.)
Each student meets regularly with their supervisor (for full-time students usually on a weekly basis during term-time, less frequently during vacations), allowing for in-depth exploration of ideas and intensive support for the various course units offered. Other members of the academic staff are also available for individual consultation during designated office hours.
Alongside their taught units, students have access to a range of non-assessed seminars, workshops and training sessions offered by the Graduate School of the School of Arts, Languages and Cultures. All postgraduate students are expected to undertake their own programme of self-directed learning and skills acquisition. This may also involve wider reading, language work, computer training and attendance at research seminars in other parts of the university.
There are no formal examinations. Taught course units - all of which must be satisfactorily completed - are assessed by submission of compositions, coursework essays or other tasks, normally submitted at the end of each semester (January and May). The Composition Portfolio is created over the entire duration of study and is submitted at the end of the academic year (after the summer vacation). All work is double-marked internally and moderated by the External Examiner.
University of Aberdeen has been a creative hub of musicians since the Middle Ages. Music at Aberdeen was introduced by Bishop Elphinstone who founded the university in 1495. Since this time the University has provided the world with a wealth of global performers and composers of note, some of whom are in the current classical and other music charts and sought after globally with a packed diary. If you want to develop your musical interests at Master's level as a new graduate or returner, or if you want to improve and challenge your musical skills as part of your professional development the Mmus Music is an ideal programme of study for you. You are taught by known world renowned performers and composers within the music world including Professor Paul Mealor, and you are encouraged to start performing immediately to then start to specialise and find out what you most enjoy. If you are a highly creative individual with lots of talent this programme will ensure you progress and deepen your creative specialism.
Find out more about music at Aberdeen:
You can study orchestration and composing for choirs, and renaissance music, words and music, contemporary opera. These areas may help you advance your musical career within teaching, performing, advising and working for specific musical productions as a freelancer. Classical areas are also very useful for more contemporary approaches to musical creativity. You may decide to write music for choirs and help them perform your works or you may decide to work internationally within opera companies. With Words and Music you can study any composers and genres to then go on to work in the West End, a specific niche area of music or as an individual performer.
You develop your skills in composition, musicology and performance with further specialising to allow you to continue to develop research in the department. Career progression includes global musical outlets across the musical creative industries such as freelance performance work, composition, collaborations and more.
Find out more detail by visiting the programme web page
Find out about fees
*Please be advised that some programmes have different tuition fees from those listed above and that some programmes also have additional costs.
Find out more about:
The Reid School of Music offers an exciting research environment that combines the theory, history, composition and practice of music with the scientific study of sound. We engage with a broad range of genres and traditions, including classical and popular music, Western and non-Western music, professional and amateur music making and music for screen. Our research is highly interdisciplinary, with centres and groups spanning other Colleges and Departments within the University of Edinburgh, from Physics and Neuroscience to Informatics, the Humanities, Divinity and the Social Sciences.
We have a large community of postgraduate students undertaking independent research in music.
If you are interested in undertaking a small independent research project in music, the 12-month MSc by Research is ideal. This programme is offered in any area served by the expertise of our music staff. In consultation with your supervisor you will develop an individual programme of coursework and research training over two semesters. You will submit a dissertation, or portfolio of projects equivalent to 30,000 words.
Candidates for larger-scale, doctoral research are normally admitted as probationary students for the first year of study, and on satisfactory completion of this first year are approved for registration for either MPhil (normally two years full-time, dissertation of 60,000 words) or PhD (maximum four years full-time, dissertation of 80,000–100,000 words).
All our research degrees may be studied part-time (for example, MSc by Research may be studied part-time over two years).
Staff have a wide range of research interests, engaging in research clustered around four main themes:
Some of our current hubs of research activity include:
Please consult our staff profile pages to see our interests and availability; you may propose projects in any area for consideration.
All of our research students benefit from ECA’s interdisciplinary approach and all are assigned two research supervisors. Your second supervisor may be from another discipline within ECA, or from somewhere else within the College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences or elsewhere within the University, according to the expertise required. On occasion more than two supervisors will be assigned, particularly where the degree brings together multiple disciplines.