Taught course


Durham University · Department of Music

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Entry requirements

  • 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.
  • One sample of written work (2,000 words) on a musicological topic, broadly defined, should be sent as a PDF. 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).
  • 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 at least two contrasting works of at least ten 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), must 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 no less than 10 minutes must be submitted to demonstrate that the applicant is of the required level.

Months of entry


Course content

The 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 structure proposed here is broadly similar to courses offered by other Russell Group university music departments, including Bristol, York, and Birmingham, but has distinctive features informed by the department’s research strength in the emergent sub- discipline of Music and Science.

The MA will provide an 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 which fosters inter-disciplinarity and exchange between sub-disciplines. The research training module is taken jointly by all MA students, and all sub-discipline modules will remain 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. A compulsory core 30-credit module
B. A 60-credit pathway-specific module
C. A 60- credit major research project relating to the chosen pathway of specialisation
D. A 30 or 40 credit option chosen from Music department M-level 30 credit modules, taking two UG modules in Music (totally 40 credits), or a 30 credit masters module in another department

Core module:

The core modules M1 will provide research training and engage 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.

Fees and funding

UK students
£10,100.00 per year
International students
£21,350.00 per year


Qualification, course duration and attendance options

  • MA
    full time
    12 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification
    part time
    24 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification

Course contact details

Department of Music