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Course content

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 CompositionEthnomusicologyMusicology, 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.

  • Join one of the largest postgraduate Music communities in the UK (with more than 50 research students and 20 MA students each year)
  • We are ranked third in the UK for research quality (REF 2014) and the only music department in the country to hold a prestigious Regius Professorship.
  • You will have access to well-equipped studios and recording facilities, including a Disklavier, as well as incredible performance spaces including the Windsor Auditorium, Boilerhouse Theatre, Victorian Picture Gallery and College Chapel.
  • Be a part of our creative campus. Choose from a wide range of performance opportunities including a wide range of orchestras and choirs, including the Royal Holloway Symphony Orchestra and Chapel Choir of Royal Holloway, as well as ensembles, music groups and student led music societies.

Course structure

Core modules

  • Skills in Advanced Musical Studies

If taking the Composition Pathway then you will take:

  • Special Study - Composition

If taking the Ethnolomusicology or Musicology Pathway then you will take:

  • Special Study - Dissertation

If taking the Performance Pathway then you will take:

  • Special Study - Performance

Optional modules

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Please note that although the College will keep changes to a minimum, new units may be offered or existing units may be withdrawn, for example, in response to a change in staff.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:

  • Historical Musicology 1
  • Historical Musicology 2
  • Topics in Multimedia and Film Music
  • Topics in World Music
  • Techniques in Ethnomusicology
  • Documenting Performance
  • Music of the Americas - Politics, Indigeneity and Performance
  • Issues in Popular Music
  • Studies in Musical Sources, 850 to 1450
  • Techniques in Theory and Analysis
  • Short Recital
  • Techniques of Performance Studies
  • Aesthetics of Music
  • Fusion, Electronics, and Sonic Art
  • Media and Commercial Composition
  • Practical Composition Projects
  • Composing for Ensemble

Teaching & assessment

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.

Your future career

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:

  • Tansy Davies
  • Richard Baker
  • KT Tunstall
  • Joby Talbot
  • Michael Zev Gordon
  • Deirdre Gribbin
  • Jonathan Cole
  • Paul Newland

Visit the Advanced Musical Studies - MMus page on the Royal Holloway, University of London website for more details!

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