This programme is designed for students who wish to specialise in performance while studying for an academic degree. Students have the unique opportunity to develop performance in specific Asian and African music traditions to professional standard. They acquire expert knowledge about performance and the geographical or stylistic region of their performance specialism.
The performance component of the programme, in which students choose an Asian or African performance tradition, includes practice-based research. Students study the music of a particular region alongside performance theory training. Through a range of optional courses they pursue additional interests as well.
The programme is particularly suited to performing musicians who wish to deepen and broaden their theoretical perspectives and musical horizons. Many former students have found their performance careers enhanced, while others have gone on to engage with their performance from more critical, academic perspectives, including MPhil/PhD research.
Students are required to take 4 units (one unit courses being two-terms in duration, while half unit courses are taught in one term only). In addition to these formal elements, students may attend postgraduate and public seminars and may also participate in performance ensemble classes and other activities.
Course Detail: The formal elements of the MMus Performance programme are:
- Performance Theory (half unit) The compulsory core course; part-time students must normally take this in year 1.
- Performance (full unit) Performance lessons in a vocal or instrumental tradition from their selected region. Examined by a public recital in May-June (for part-time students: in May-June of year 1) and by coursework.
- Performance as Research (full unit) Further study of the same tradition as under 3 above, but with a more specific research focus. Examined by a public recital in September (for part-time students: in September of the final year) and by coursework.
Teaching & Learning
The Department of Music has been highly rated for teaching and research in all recent assessment exercises, and is regularly ranked amongst the top Music departments in the UK in Good University Guides.
Music students have access to the large Main Library of the School which holds numerous books, journals and recordings relevant to the study of ethnomusicology and world music, as well as the nearby British Library Sound Archive and other London libraries and museums.
The SOAS Library holds copies of standard reference works on music, such as the current edition of the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. The Grove dictionary and the RILM database can also be accessed on line from computer terminals in the Library or elsewhere on the SOAS network. Listening facilities are provided in the Library, and most CDs are available on short loan. Among special items in the Department’s collections are:
- field recordings, films and slides - a large working collection of musical instruments from Asia and Africa - extensive staff collections relating to specific research interests
The Convenor will communicate by email and through meetings with all students taking Performance or Performance as Research, and must be approached for official approval of your choice of performance tradition and teacher. Such approval is signalled by the Convenor’s signature on the Department’s standard “Performance study application form”, available from the Faculty office and online. No lessons should be taken until this form has been signed.
The staff member most closely related to your chosen tradition acts as a Sub-convenor and should be your first point of contact for any matters pertaining to the specific tradition you are studying. Convenor and Sub-convenor will liaise as necessary.
The Department will not support training in “Western” vocal or instrumental traditions. Subsidy towards the cost of lessons: The Department will pay for approved external tuition, up to a maximum amount agreed at the start of the session (currently £500 for Performance and £300 for Performance as Research). Please be aware that the cost of regular performance lessons might exceed these amounts; any excess must be paid by the student.
Claims for reimbursement must be submitted using the standard Music Performance Lesson Reimbursement Form available from the convenor, accompanied by a signed receipt or invoice from the teacher. Claims cannot be accepted after the examination. The student is also responsible for arranging regular lesson times, negotiating lesson fees, and obtaining access to any necessary instrument. You will receive an Information Sheet for External Teachers, describing payment procedures, the teacher’s obligations, and so forth; you should read through this together with your teacher at the earliest opportunity.
A postgraduate degree in Music Performance from SOAS gives students improved competency in performance and a better understanding of global music which will enable them to continue in the field of research or engage in related work. Equally, they develop a portfolio of widely transferable skills which employers seek in many professional and creative capacities including interpersonal skills, communication skills, focus, team work, passion and dedication. A postgraduate degree is a valuable experience that provides students with a body of work and a diverse range of skills that they can use to market themselves with when they graduate.