The MA in Music (Popular Music Research) engages with scholarly debates and public controversies around popular music, while examining and developing both traditional and innovative ways of researching popular music.
The Masters provides a grounding in the development of popular music research as a subfield of musicology, and encourages critical thinking about:
The course addresses contemporary issues of significance to academics, musicians, industries and organisations involved with popular music.
You'll develop research skills, critical thinking and rigorous methodological expertise with a range of applications both within the academy (at doctoral level) and outside (in music related industries, marketing, arts management, museums and archives, the sciences).
Although a knowledge of and passion for popular music is vital, it is not essential that your first degree is in music or popular music.
We welcome applicants from a wide range of disciplines: the course is designed to be of benefit not only to those wishing to continue their research at doctoral level, but also those wishing to reflect on their experiences as musicians, listeners, or media and arts industry professionals.
Ben Assiter, a student on the MA in Music (Popular Music Research) was awarded the prize by the International Association for the Study of Popular Music for an essay written as part of his coursework. Read his award-winning essay here.
Find out more about the MA in Music.
You choose two modules from a selection that currently includes:
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.
This MA allows you to build an individual, 'tailor-made' programme of study, which incorporates the intellectual concerns, skills and understandings that lead to a clearly focused research dissertation.
You choose four modules, including at least one of two core modules, which provide you with specific research skills relevant to your interests.
This route is appropriate for those who have a particular interest they wish to develop not covered by one of our specialist pathways, or for those who are seeking a broadly based programme of music study at postgraduate level (taking both core modules, for example, would provide exceptional training for those going on to doctoral study).
Applicants should note that departmental timetable restrictions apply; consequently, part-time study offers the most flexible range of potential course combinations. This programme is not suitable if you're keen to take composition or performance modules – if this is what you'd like to do, please explore our MMus study options.
The programme appeals to a wide range of students developing intellectual skills in music, perhaps as preparation for further postgraduate research, prior to entering teaching, or as a basis for a employment in arts administration, journalism, or other occupations in the creative and cultural industries.
Find out more about the MA in Music.
You choose three modules from a list that currently includes:
Providing a balance of broad-based study and specialist training, this masters course is designed to meet your needs whether you wish to specialise as preparation for future research or take a more varied set of options as a stand along qualification.
Offering four distinct pathways in Composition, Ethnomusicology, Musicology, or Performance, the course allows you to take the initiative in constructing your own study programme with options in areas such as multimedia and film music, performance studies, historical musicology, and acoustic and electronic composition.
You will come away well-versed and well-practised in whatever discipline you choose, verbally and technically fluent, fully conversant with a broad range of issues of concern in current musical and musicological endeavour and able to present your ideas orally, in writing, and through performance and composition.
If taking the Composition Pathway then you will take:
If taking the Ethnolomusicology or Musicology Pathway then you will take:
If taking the Performance Pathway then you will take:
In addition to these mandatory course units there are a number of optional course units available during your degree studies. The following is a selection of optional course units that are likely to be available. Please note that although the College will keep changes to a minimum, new units may be offered or existing units may be withdrawn, for example, in response to a change in staff. Applicants will be informed if any significant changes need to be made.
You will choose four from the following, at least one of which must be related to your chosen pathway:
Elective courses are typically assessed by essay (3,000–5,000 words, or two shorter essays), composition portfolio, or performance. At least one of the electives you choose from this list must be in the same area as your Special Study (i.e. in the broad area of ethnomusicology, music history, etc.). Up to two electives may be substituted for course units taken in other departments at Royal Holloway (such as languages or history).
In addition to the Special Study and the four electives, all students take the core 'Skills in Advanced Musical Studies', which consists of five lectures in the first term (leading to a 2,500-word essay) plus a second component chosen from a wide range of different research training options (including seminars at the Institute for Musical Research or Visiting Lecturer series). This component is assessed mostly by essay but there is scope for other kinds of assignment by agreement.
Our recent graduates have gone into careers as music teachers, composers and musicians. Others have gone into PhD studies at Royal Holloway or other leading universities, and then into academic careers, with some working in the highest-rated research departments in the country.
Composers at Royal Holloway have their music played and recorded regularly by resident and visiting professional musicians, the Royal Holloway Sinfonietta and, of course, by fellow students. Our award-winning Ensemble-in-Residence CHROMA gives you unrivalled workshop and performance opportunities.
Many Royal Holloway graduates are now making careers as professional composers, including:
This is a one-year, research and compositional performance-based MSc with a focus on practices for composing music and sound for the screen.
The focus of the compositional investigations will include film/TV music as well as current computer multimedia production practices, such as for music videos, commercials, video games and web pages. You will become proficient in the technical, artistic and intellectual demands of composing music and sound for use in TV/radio/ film and other media environments, such as the internet. You will be able to experiment with new styles in media, and receive practical experience and timely feedback in collaborating with others.
The programme also provides an opportunity for students to enhance business and management skills in the media industry as they pertain to music and sound.
The Edinburgh Film Music Orchestra, an ensemble run by students and staff of the programme, currently performs film music and often features performances of compositions by MSc Composition for Screen students.
This programme is structured around four compulsory courses and two option courses. You will also complete a final project by creating a music composition for a screen-media environment, along with an accompanying written essay component.
Goals and outcomes of the programme include:
The rise of the internet and other multimedia platforms for film has significantly improved career prospects for composers. Your degree will not only set you apart from the competition, it will also provide you with a network of peers and industry professionals who can assist you in getting your work to the screen.
Become the musician you want to be with a flexible taught-Masters degree at Hull.
The MMus programme is sector-leading in allowing specialisation and mixing of interests in a wide variety of areas including performance, composition (acoustic, electroacoustic, sonic arts), conducting, music technology (recording, production, pedagogy), film music, aesthetics, philosophy, semiotics, historical and critical musicology, jazz studies, popular music studies, music psychology, theory and analysis.
This course is aimed at those who have a particular interest in pursuing their study of music to a higher level and equips students with a wide range of transferable skills. Obtaining the MMus opens up career possibilities in music and in many other fields where skills in critical enquiry and a demonstration of advanced aptitude are essential.
This programme provides you with a host of opportunities, such as internships, through our professional partnerships and a range of international visiting speakers including composers, performers, and academics to expose you to key individuals in the field.
You’ll develop skills in your chosen specialism within one or more of the four broad areas of study - musicology, composition, performance and music technology - as well as acquiring a wide range of other transferable skills in critical reasoning and intellectual enquiry.
Music Studies 1 and 2
The central aim of these modules is to explore options within a range of musical manifestations and to demonstrate an understanding through reflective and critically engaged work.
Technical Skills 1 and 2
These modules focus on the technical and structural aspects of music, and equip you with the technical skills required to complement your specialist musical study.
Contexts of Music
Designed to introduce you to both the range of critical and theoretical approaches to music and how these have been framed in academic terms.
You’ll look at the techniques for undertaking postgraduate music research, including the use of IT, principles of descriptive bibliography, the acquisition of bibliographical control, and the methods of source-critical research.
The Special Study is the culmination of the MMus programme in music, giving you the opportunity to engage in an extended project within your specialist area.
* All modules are subject to availability.
The aim of studies on the MMus is to link your abilities directly to industry-led areas of music and employment. As such, preparation for employment is both vocationally-orientated as well as intellectually broadening.
You’ll be able to get involved with a range of music opportunities such as participating in ensembles, running collaborative projects, organising your own projects and preparing performances. These opportunities will develop transferable skills beneficial in a wide range of careers as well as music.
You’ll have the opportunity to get involved with career-based schemes, such as the School’s Students for Hire scheme, giving you the chance to fulfil external engagements. The School has developed a range of internships in partnership with professional organisations, including Hull Truck Theatre and Opera North.
The School runs engagement activities where you’ll get the chance to work with members of the public in different organisational contexts, including local schools, the Ferens Art Gallery, Hull Truck Theatre, Hull City Council Libraries, the Stroke Association (for music therapy), and community groups.
Be part of a lively popular-music research community that embraces everything from metal music to film scores and work alongside performers, composers and studio producers.
You will join peers with backgrounds in cultural studies, sociology, music and the creative arts to explore today's local live music scene and its connection to the wider industry. From researching gigs and events to composing scores for film and television, you will discover how a variety of communities fuse together to create this vibrant and expanding scene.
Whether developing your songwriting and music editing techniques in our studios or organising events and liaising with artists at Leeds Festival, you will gain the hands-on experience employers are looking for while gathering evidence to carry through into your major research project.
With its combination of research and practice, your course will provide the perfect springboard to discover the interconnectivity of popular music and culture and engage with the vibrant and varied music scene in Leeds.
As well as having access to modern, professional music studios, you will benefit from being taught by a highly-skilled and experienced teaching team, including Professor Karl Spracklen who is Secretary of the International Society for Metal Music Studies and the Editor of Metal Music Studies.
You will also have the chance to network with industry professionals during our guest lecture series. Previous speakers have included Leeds Festival boss Melvin Benn and chart-toppers Rudimental. We also have fantastic links with local and national music, arts and festival organisations, which help ensure you get the most from your course.
Artist in Residence Programme
The Artist in Residence programme gives our students an opportunity to work with professional artists and gives them a taste of what is it like to work on a professional music project. So far we have welcomed artists Chris T-T, Ian Prowse, I Monster, Tom Williams and Utah Saints.
With more festivals and independent production companies than ever before, understanding the links between popular music, culture and the rapidly changing music industry is increasingly important, whether you are a researcher or practitioner. You could use the course to further your research interests by studying for a PhD or take up employment opportunities in sound engineering, performance, teaching, songwriting, production, music for film and television, music journalism, marketing and PR or events organisation.