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Music (MA)

Course Description

The flexible modular structure of our taught MA programme allows students to focus on a chosen area of specialism but simultaneously facilitates exploration of a wide range of research areas relating to music. It will provide an excellent foundation for undertaking postgraduate research at doctoral level, but will also benefit the professional development of musicians intending to pursue careers in teaching, arts administration, broadcasting, and other domains.

Students on the Taught MA programme join a vibrant international postgraduate community and study with scholars, composers, and performers who have achieved international recognition in their fields. The Music Department has been ranked in the top three music departments nationally in the Research Excellence Framework 2014 and the Complete University Guide 2016.

The MA Music programme will normally facilitate study of the following areas of specialism:
-Composition (acoustic and electro-acoustic)

In addition, other options typically available have included:
-British Music
-Indian Music
-Music, Mind, and Culture
-World Music Analysis
-Audiovisual Documentation and Analysis
-Choral conducting (with special focus on Anglican church music)

Programme structure

Students will choose modules from sections A, B, C, and D below:

A. Major project, weighted at 60 credits (a dissertation, a public recital, or a portfolio of compositions/orchestrations and arrangements – depending on your chosen area of specialism)

B. A 30-credit module linked to your chosen area of specialism

C. Two compulsory core 30-credit modules embedding research training and engaging with major intellectual issues attendant on all subject areas

D. An additional 30 credits of Music undergraduate modules/selected undergraduate OR postgraduate modules offered by another department OR another related specialism-specific module from list B, subject to approval of the Board of Studies in Music.

Example: MA with specialism in Musicology

A. A 12,000-word dissertation on a musicological topic weighted at 60 credits

B. 30-credit module ‘Contemporary Musicology’

C. Compulsory core 30-credit modules, ‘Core Research Seminars’ and ‘Research Methods and Resources’

D. 30 credits of Music undergraduate modules/selected undergraduate OR postgraduate modules offered by another department OR another related specialism-specific module from list B

Core Modules

-Research Methods and Resources
-Core Research Seminars

And The following specialism-specific modules will be offered every year:
-Contemporary Musicology
-Ethnomusicology in Practice and Theory
-Compositional Techniques
-Music Performance

Optional Modules

Optional modules in previous years have included:
-British Music
-Music Analysis
-Practice and Theory of Choral Conducting
-Advanced Organ Studies
-Electronic Music
-Orchestration and Arranging
-Indian Music
-World Music Analysis
-Music, Mind, and Culture
-Audiovisual Documentation and Analysis

Learning and Teaching

The programme is delivered through a mixture of seminars, practical sessions and one to one supervision. Seminars provide opportunities for students to discuss and debate particular issues, and to present their own original work, informed by the knowledge that they have gained through independent study outside the programme’s formal contact hours. Practical sessions in areas such as studio or field recording techniques help to prepare students for their own independent work.

All students must undertake an independent project (dissertation,composition portfolio, or performance), which is developed with the help of one-to-one expert supervision. Finally, optional modules can be drawn from the undergraduate and postgraduate programmes of Music or of other departments –these free-choice modules may involve other forms of staff-student contact, depending on the subject area. The Department actively promotes interdisciplinary approaches to the study of music and students are encouraged to engage with other disciplines in the humanities and sciences.

The contact hours experienced by each individual student will vary considerably, given a high degree of flexibility in the programme. Students will typically attend between 2 and 4 hours of seminars per week in term time, as well as additional practical sessions as appropriate. Individual supervision of dissertations, performance projects and composition portfolios amounts to an average of 6 hours spread over over the second and third terms.

Outside timetabled contact hours, students are also expected to attend research seminars, both student-led and those involving staff or guest academic speakers (typically 1-2 hrs each week). They must also undertake their own independent study to prepare for their classes and assessments, to broaden their subject knowledge and to prepare their dissertations or portfolios. Students are encouraged, as an integral part of their studies, to take advantage of other opportunities including participating in performance opportunities (including staff-led ensembles) and attending research and composition seminars, some of which are organised in conjunction with university research institutes.

There is a busy programme of musical performance, both within and outside the music department, which complements students’ academic programme by providing opportunities both to listen to and to perform a wide variety of music. The many musical ensembles to which students can contribute includes both independent societies (including orchestras, choirs, opera and musical theatre as well as a Javanese gamelan) and department-run ensembles such as the New Music Ensemble and Korean percussion group.

Visit the Music (MA) page on the Durham University website for more details!

Entry Requirements

2:1 (or equivalent) from an undergraduate Music degree. Evidence of prior specialisation in principal proposed area of study (e.g. applicants wishing to specialise in performance would be expected to have undertaken a major project in performance at undergraduate level and gained a 2:1 mark or equivalent for it).

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