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The MA in Music (Popular Music Research) engages with scholarly debates and public controversies around popular music, while examining and developing both traditional and innovative ways of researching popular music.

The Masters provides a grounding in the development of popular music research as a subfield of musicology, and encourages critical thinking about:

  • musical texts, artefacts and ecologies
  • audiences, reception and questions of interpretation
  • creativity, industries and production
  • repertoires broad in historical range and geographical scope

The course addresses contemporary issues of significance to academics, musicians, industries and organisations involved with popular music.

You'll develop research skills, critical thinking and rigorous methodological expertise with a range of applications both within the academy (at doctoral level) and outside (in music related industries, marketing, arts management, museums and archives, the sciences).

Although a knowledge of and passion for popular music is vital, it is not essential that your first degree is in music or popular music.

We welcome applicants from a wide range of disciplines: the course is designed to be of benefit not only to those wishing to continue their research at doctoral level, but also those wishing to reflect on their experiences as musicians, listeners, or media and arts industry professionals.

What you'll study

You take the following core modules:

  • Critical Musicology and Popular Music
  • Popular Music and its Critics

Option modules

You choose two modules from a selection that currently includes:

  • Advanced Music Studies
  • Contemporary Ethnomusicology
  • Contemporary Music: Practices and Debates
  • Ethnographic Film and Music Research
  • Music Management
  • New Directions in Popular Music Research
  • Performance as Research (Ethnomusicology)
  • Research through Musical Performance
  • Sound Agendas
  • Philosophies of Music


The dissertation acts as focus of the knowledge and skills acquired during the programme, and gives you the opportunity to undertake genuinely original work, employing relevant research methods and building upon the advanced and systematic understandings developed in other elements of the programme. 

Download the programme specification, for the 2019-20 intake. If you would like an earlier version of the programme specification, please contact the Quality Office.

Please note that due to staff research commitments not all of these modules may be available every year.

Visit the Music (Popular Music Research) - MA page on the Goldsmiths, University of London website for more details!





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Recipient: Goldsmiths, University of London

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