Taught course


Durham University · Department of Music

Entry requirements

  • 2:1 (or equivalent) in an undergraduate Music degree.
  • one sample of written work (2,000 words) on a musicological topic, broadly defined sent as a Word document or as PDF. This can be an extract from longer pieces of coursework, but should be edited appropriately.

Applicants wishing to take the composition modules Compositional Techniques (MUSI40430) and Composition Portfolio (MUSI42560) should be aware of the requirement to satisfy the following prerequisite:

  • Applicants must hold a good Music degree (2:1 equivalent or above) with a Level 3 composition portfolio on transcript. Alternatively they must show comparable experience, through a portfolio of works that demonstrates clear skills and competence.

Applicants wishing to take the module Performance Project (MUSI42660) must satisfy the following prerequisite:

  • An ABRSM Diploma in Music Performance (or equivalent) is required to be admitted to this module. Where no such document can be provided, a video recording of no less than 10 minutes has to be submitted that proves the candidate is of the required Diploma level.

Months of entry


Course content

The flexible modular structure of our taught MA programme allows you 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 was ranked #1 in The Sunday Times University League Table 2016, and was in the top three music departments in the Research Excellence Framework 2014 and the Complete University Guide 2017.

The MA Music programme supports study of the following areas of specialism:

  • Musicology
  • Ethnomusicology
  • Composition (acoustic and electronic)
  • Performance

In addition, other options typically available have included:

  • British Music
  • Indian Music
  • Music, Mind, and Culture
  • World Music Analysis
  • Audiovisual Documentation and Analysis

Course structure

You 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


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
  • Electronic Music
  • Orchestration and Arranging
  • Indian Music
  • World Music Analysis
  • Music, Mind, and Culture
  • Audiovisual Documentation and Analysis.

Information for international students

Please check the English language requirements for your subject and level of study.

Fees and funding

UK students
Full time: £7,245
International students
Full time: £17,345

Please see the funding page for more details.

Qualification and course duration


full time
12 months
part time
24 months

Course contact details

Department of Music
(0)191 334 2973