Our standard admissions requirements are a 2:1 or higher (or equivalent) in an undergraduate Music degree. We are open to considering candidates from other backgrounds, however, and would encourage you to get in touch with us to discuss how you can provide evidence of your suitability for this course in your application.
For applications to all pathways, you will need to submit:
One sample of written work (2,000 words) on a musicological topic, broadly defined. This can be an extract from longer pieces of coursework, but should be edited appropriately. Where possible, the topic and approach of your submitted work should match your chosen pathway (for example, an ethnomusicological essay for the Ethnomusicology pathway, a performance essay for the Performance pathway). If you do not have a sample of work related to your pathway, please use the personal statement to explain and give evidence of your interest in the field).
A personal statement explaining your interest in the MA programme, your choice of pathway, what skills, knowledge and experience you can bring to the programme, what skills, knowledge and experience you hope to acquire, and an indication of your planned area of research (no more than 500 words).
Applicants wishing to take the composition pathway with the modules Compositional Techniques (MUSI40430) and Composition Portfolio (MUSI42560) should be aware of the requirement to satisfy the following prerequisite:
- We require evidence of standard at least equivalent to a strong 2:1 degree final-year composition portfolio. A portfolio of two or three contrasting works of ten to 15 minutes total duration must be submitted to demonstrate that the applicant is of the required level.
Applicants wishing to take the performance pathway, with the module Performance Project (MUSI42660) should be aware of the requirement to satisfy the following prerequisite:
- We require evidence of standard at least equivalent to a strong 2:1 degree final-year performance recital. A video recording of between 10 and 12 minutes must be submitted to demonstrate that the applicant is of the required level.
Months of entry
The taught MA in Music is structured to allow you to intensively pursue a specific sub-discipline in Music, accommodating your particular research interests.
Up to five specialisms will be offered each year:
- Musicology (P1)
- Ethnomusicology (P2)
- Composition (P3)
- Performance (P4)
- Music and Science (P5)
The MA will provide intellectually rigorous preparation for the study of music at an advanced level as an independent researcher in accordance with standard professional expectations attendant on the practice of research as articulated by the AHRC and other research councils. It not only affords opportunities for students to explore a chosen area of specialisation in-depth but provides a research culture that fosters inter-disciplinarity and exchange between sub-disciplines.
The research training module is taken jointly by all MA students, and all sub-discipline modules are available for auditing by any MA student. The degree also facilitates the study of musical repertories from highly diverse international cultural contexts, thereby fostering intercultural dialogue. The design of each specialism will be similar: students must choose modules from lists A, B, C, and D below:
- A compulsory core 30-credit module
- A 60-credit pathway-specific module
- A 60-credit major project relating to the chosen pathway of specialisation
- A 30 or 40-credit option, either an optional Music department 30-credit masters module, a 30-credit masters module in another department, two Music department undergraduate modules (totalling 40 credits), or one Music Department undergraduate 20-credit module and one 20-credit language module through the Centre for Foreign Language Study.
A: Core module: Research Methods and Resources (M1)
The core module provides research training and engages with major intellectual issues pertaining to the study of music across all pathways, providing a unified central focus for the degree, in addition to fostering intra-disciplinary connections between the various sub-domains of music studies, as well as interdisciplinary links with other areas of intellectual enquiry in the arts, humanities, and sciences.
This module will set out the intellectual framework for the MA and will impart a foundational understanding of the nature of research in pertinent fields of music studies (both musicological and practice-based), as defined by the AHRC and other UK research councils. It will equip you with the range of knowledge, understanding, and skills necessary to engage in research-informed learning and to conduct independent research at Masters level and beyond, and to function effectively in a professional context.
It will also deal with practical matters such as presentational skills, close reading, and critical thinking, carrying out a literature search and review, research ethics, writing research proposals, and career development. It will provide a solid foundation on which students can proceed with confidence to design, plan, and execute independent research projects. The module will be delivered as weekly seminars. In the first term, the focus will be on a range of theoretical and practical issues pertaining to the conduct of research. The second and third terms will support the development of an independent research project: students will give oral presentations on aspects of their research-in-progress, and receive feedback in the form of student-led group discussions and comment from members of the teaching term. The summative assignments will consist of an extended research proposal, and a conference-style oral presentation.
B. Pathway-specific modules
You will be required to take a pathway-specific module according to your proposed area of specialisation, which deepens your understanding and knowledge of that area, and supports your research on a major project undertaken in the same field.
The following pathway-specific modules will be offered every year (the pathway to which they are linked is shown in brackets): M3 Contemporary Musicology (P1) M4 Ethnomusicology in Practice and Theory (P2) M5 Compositional Techniques (P3) M6 Music Performance (P4) M7 Advanced Topics in Music and Science (P5)
C. Major projects
In accordance with university regulations, all students will be required to undertake a major project constituting independent research on a topic relating to their chosen pathway of specialisation.
(i) Project category 1: Dissertations (M17)
This module must be taken by students specialising in the following areas: Musicology (P1), Ethnomusicology (P2), Music and Science (P5)
(ii) Project category 2: Portfolio of compositions (M18)
This module must be taken by students specialising in Composition (P3)
(iii) Project category 3: Performance project (M19)
This module must be taken by students specialising in Music Performance (P4)
D. Optional modules
A 30 or 40 credit option chosen from:
(i) one Music Department masters-level 30-credit module (These change from year to year, but typically include ‘Audiovisual Analysis’, ‘Advanced Musical Analysis’, and ‘Special Topic’, which allows you to do a mini research project of your own choice).
(ii) two Music Department undergraduate 20-credit modules (totalling 40 credits), or one Music Department undergraduate 20-credit module and one 20-credit language module through the Centre for Foreign Language Study.
(iii) one 30-credit masters-level module in another department or one 30-credit language module through the Centre for Foreign Language Study.
Information for international students
If you are an international student who does not meet the requirements for direct entry to this degree, you may be eligible to take a pre-Masters pathway programme at the Durham University International Study Centre.
Fees and funding
For further information see the course listing.
Qualification, course duration and attendance options
- full time12 months
- Campus-based learningis available for this qualification
- part time24 months
- Campus-based learningis available for this qualification
Course contact details
- Department of Music