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Course content

This flexible pathway provides a solid masters-level foundation in ethnomusicology. With a strong focus on theory, methodology and current debates in the discipline, together with appropriate research techniques and presentational styles, it offers excellent preparation for doctoral study and also for applied work. The programme of study consists of four taught course units (each 30 credits) plus a dissertation (60 credits). The combination of core and optional course units allows each student to plot a path that best matches his or her special interests and aspirations. Together, the taught units encompass a wide range of topics and approaches - from gender and ethnicity, music and conflict, music revivals and performance culture, to postcolonial theory and the politics of ethnography. Seminars allow for close collaboration between lecturers and students, with ample opportunity for students to present their own work and receive individual feedback. Discussion and debate forms an important part of most course units.

All students on the MusM Music programme take Advanced Music Studies: Skills and Methodologies as their core unit. Students on the Ethnomusicology pathway also take Studying World Music Cultures: Themes and Debates and, usually, Ethno/Musicology in Action: Fieldwork and Ethnography . Other optional course units normally include  Case Studies in Musicology: Texts and Histories ; and Historical or Contemporary Performance (subject to audition). A maximum of 30 credits may be chosen from another MA programme in the arts or social sciences (subject to availability and approval by the course tutor): possible options include Gender, Sexuality and the Body ; Filming History: Making Documentary Films for Research; and Documentary and Sensory Media . Students may also undertake a Work Placement with a local arts organisation or institution (by prior arrangement and subject to availability).

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.

For further information about the content of individual course units, see Course Unit Details below.


This programme aims to:

  • —Build on undergraduate studies of music and society and the cultural study of music, introducing students to a wide range of advanced methodologies, theories, discourses and practices.
  • —Enable students to refine and develop their individual skills, talents and interests.
  • —Prepare students for a career, either inside or outside music, where critical judgement and developed powers of communication are needed.
  • —Foster the skills in critical thinking, argumentation, and effective written and oral communication necessary for further postgraduate study.
  • —Enable students to gain an expert and detailed knowledge of a specialist topic, and to formulate ideas that can later be pursued within further research programmes.

Teaching and learning

Most taught course units are delivered via weekly seminars and/or tutorials. Full-time students take two 30-credit course units per semester; part-time students take one. The dissertation 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.)

Seminars feature a range of presentation formats and activities, including presentations by course tutors, student presentations, discussion and debate based on prepared reading or coursework tasks, and workshop-style activities. Members of the academic staff are also available for individual consultations 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.

Coursework and assessment

There are no formal examinations. Taught course units are assessed by coursework essays or other tasks, normally submitted at the end of each semester (January and May). The precise nature of the assessment varies according to what is appropriate to the course unit in question. In most cases, a choice of questions or topics is offered. All taught units must be satisfactorily completed. The dissertation (12,000-15,000 words) is based on independent research into a topic agreed in consultation with the supervisor. A Research Outline needs to be presented and approved (usually in February) before students proceed with their dissertation. All coursework is double-marked internally and moderated by the External Examiner. Recitals are heard by at least two internal examiners.

Career opportunities

Graduates of this programme have pursued successful careers in musical and non-musical fields. Some continue to further study via a PhD before securing an academic position. Some go on to teach in schools or further education, both in the UK and overseas. Other areas of work for which advanced musical training has been directly relevant include arts management and the culture industries, music publishing, music journalism, librarianship, music therapy and performance. Careers outside of music have included accountancy, law, social work and human resources.

Visit the Music (Ethnomusicology) (MusM) page on the University of Manchester website for more details!




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