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Course content

Music is a vital form of cultural expression that shapes and is shaped by society around it. This programme allows you to study the critical theories and perspectives that have influenced the way we study music – how it is composed and performed as well as the role it plays in different communities.

Core modules will allow you to explore issues in musicology such as race, class, gender, sexuality, popular music and mass culture, as well as how music has been received and interpreted and how musical ‘canons’ are formed. You’ll also develop your understanding of research methods in musicology, and have the chance to gain knowledge of aesthetic theory or editing and archival studies, allowing you to balance critical and applied forms of musicology.

In addition, you’ll choose from optional modules from across the School of Music allowing you to focus on topics that interest you, from performance or electronic and computer music to composition and psychology of music.

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.

Course content

You’ll study core modules that develop your understanding of both critical and applied forms of musicology. One of these will allow you to explore issues and topics that have emerged in the past few decades – questions of race, gender, politics, deconstruction and more. You’ll also choose one or two from a cluster of optional modules, giving you an insight into editing and archival studies or introducing you to aesthetic theory.

In addition, you’ll have the chance to pursue another area of musical interest when you select from a range of optional modules. Whether you’re interested in computer music or psychology of music, or you want to continue to improve your performance or composition skills, you can pick one module allowing you to gain specialist knowledge in a field outside of musicology.

Throughout the year you’ll study a core module that develops your knowledge of research methods in music and musicology, laying the foundations for the rest of your studies. You’ll also be able to put the research skills you gain into practice if you choose to do a dissertation by the end of the programme – an independently researched project on a topic of your choice. Alternatively, you can complete a major editorial project, producing an extended edition of professional standard based on original musical sources.

If you choose to study part-time, you’ll study over a longer period and take fewer modules in each year.

Course structure

These are typical modules/components studied and may change from time to time. Read more in our Terms and conditions.

Compulsory modules

  • Professional Studies 30 credits
  • Issues in Critical Musicology 30 credits

Optional modules

  • Individual Project 30 credits
  • Short Dissertation 30 credits
  • Dissertation 60 credits
  • Composition Studies 30 credits
  • Instrumental or Vocal Recital 30 credits
  • Concerto/Song-Cycle/Extended Work 30 credits
  • Applied Performance Studies 30 credits
  • Editing and Archival Studies 30 credits
  • Short Editorial Project 30 credits
  • Editorial Project 60 credits
  • Aesthetic Theory 30 credits
  • Electronic & Computer Music Practice 30 credits
  • Electronic & Computer Music Contexts 30 credits
  • Case Studies in the Applied Psychology of Music 30 credits

For more information on typical modules, read Critical and Applied Musicology MA Full Time in the course catalogue

For more information on typical modules, read Critical and Applied Musicology MA Part Time in the course catalogue

Learning and teaching

We use a range of teaching and learning methods including seminars and tutorials, as well as vocal/instrumental lessons with our expert tutors. We’re also making more and more use of online learning. However, private study is also integral to this programme, allowing you to pursue your interests more closely and develop research and critical skills.


To help you build diverse skills, we also assess you using different methods depending on the modules you choose. These could include presentations, essays, literature reviews, recitals and performances or project work; however, optional modules may also use alternative methods such as recitals and composition portfolios.

Career opportunities

This programme will give you in-depth subject knowledge, as well as specialist knowledge and skills in a different aspect of music studies to broaden your understanding. It will also allow you to gain key research, critical and communication skills that are in demand in a wide range of industries and sectors.

Graduates from the programme move on to a variety of careers. Recent graduates have entered areas such as arts management, librarianship, recruitment, and freelance teaching and performance. Many graduates go on to further study at PhD level in the UK and USA.

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.

Careers support

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.

Visit the Critical and Applied Musicology MA page on the University of Leeds website for more details!




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