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W3K707 Music MA Postgraduate Taught  2018


UCAS code W3K707
Degree MA
Mode of study Part Time + Full Time
Duration 1 year (full-time) or 2 years (part-time)
Start Date 02-10-2018
Location Durham City
Department(s) Website
Telephone +44 (0)191 334 2973

Course Summary


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. 

To view our short film on this programme click here 

Course Detail

To find out more about the modules available to students studying at Durham University please click here.

Please note: Current modules are indicative. Information for future academic years may change, for example, due to developments in the relevant academic field, or in light of student feedback.

Course Learning and Teaching

The programme is delivered through a mixture of seminars, practical sessions and one-to-one supervision. Seminars provide opportunities for you to discuss and debate particular issues, and to present your own original work, informed by the knowledge that you 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 you for your 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 you 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. You 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 the second and third terms.

Outside timetabled contact hours, you are also expected to attend research seminars, both student-led and those involving staff or guest academic speakers (typically 1-2 hrs each week). You must also undertake your own independent study to prepare for your classes and assessments, to broaden your subject knowledge and to prepare your dissertations or portfolios. You are encouraged, as an integral part of your 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 your academic programme by providing opportunities both to listen to and to perform a wide variety of music. The many musical ensembles to which you 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.

Admissions Process

Subject requirements, level and grade

  • 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.

 English Language Requirements

IELTS 7.0 (with no element below 6.5) or equivalent scores in an alternative accepted English language test. Details of alternative accepted tests and the requirements for your subject and level of study can be found here. In some cases, English language proficiency can also be evidenced in other ways. You can find further information regarding this, here.

How to Apply

Full details of how to apply for a postgraduate programme at Durham University can be found here

English Language requirements

Please check requirements for your subject and level of study.

How to apply

Fees and Funding

Full Time Fees

EU Student £7,245.00 per year
Home Student £7,245.00 per year
Island Student £7,245.00 per year
International non-EU Student £17,325.00 per year

Part Time Fees

EU Student £4,000.00 per year
Home Student £4,000.00 per year
Island Student £4,000.00 per year
International non-EU Student £9,600.00 per year

Note: Fees are subject to review and change in-line with inflation.

Please also check costs for colleges and accommodation.

Scholarships and funding

Career Opportunities

Department of Music

Studying for an MA or PhD at Durham University provides students with a unique set of skills, based on a disciplined approach to research. This fosters critical thinking, problem solving, verbal and written communication skills and the ability to complete large-scale individual projects with efficiency and coherence. Postgraduate music students continuously develop their critical thinking and presentation skills, during weekly research seminars and reading groups. Intensive individual supervision is complemented by a rich and self-tailored postgraduate training program that provides a wide range of skills that prepare postgraduate students for a future academic career as well as other areas of employment. The skills gained through courses of our Taught MA, for example, can be applied to a broad range of jobs within the media, education, public sector, NGOs and other fields.

The department vividly demonstrates the beauty of combining the old and the new: within the beautiful old buildings, students have access to state-of-the-art equipment and innovative scholarship. Durham’s music department is relatively small in size, but its influence is far-reaching. The specialisations of Durham music students are varied and translate into many different innovative, practical, music-related activities throughout the UK. My MA in Ethnomusicology motivated me to form an African singing and Drumming society called “Ngoma Vuma Uropa” and my MA dissertation inspired me to compose and record a song for the 2010 World Cup called “Vuma Phumelela”, which was played by English bands on the terraces. Currently I am writing a song titled “Afrika Hoye” that is related to my PhD research on Peace and Reconciliation in Rwanda.

Employment development opportunities

The Careers, Employability and Enterprise Centre works closely with the School of Music. Careers Centre staff deliver presentations and workshops to each year group on topics relevant to that stage of their academic career. Many master's students attend our annual 'Making the Most of your Masters' conference where they develop an awareness of the crucial employability skills in employer lead sessions. PhD students also have access to a specialist Careers Consultant who can help them with any career related issues.

Career opportunities

Durham University Music MA graduates enter a wide range of career areas including teaching, law, arts administration, business and finance. Recent destinations include:

- Teacher of Music (Ampleforth College)
- Arts Administration Assistant (Cadogen Hall)
- Self-employed Professional Conductor
- Self-employed Performer and Music Teacher

Further study is a particularly popular option for our MA graduates. Some progress into primary or secondary PGCEs and enter the teaching profession whereas others apply their research skills to pursue doctorates at Durham and other leading institutions. Some follow new career paths and complete professional training in, for example, law. This is often sponsored by future employers.

The opportunities open to those completing a PhD are wide and varied. Some remain within the Higher Education sector, either pursuing an academic career or in university administration, while others will use their specialist knowledge or generic skills gained from the PhD to have successful careers in other fields. Specific recent destinations include:

- Director of Music (Hurworth House School)
- Teaching Fellow in Composition (Durham University)
- Self-employed Author

Open days and visits

Pre-application open day

Overseas Visit Schedule

Postgraduate Visits


Department Information

Department of Music


The Music Department’s vibrant postgraduate research environment attracts high-calibre applicants from all over the world. The quality and variety of the research undertaken by our students testifies to its intellectual vitality, as does the range of seminars and performance activities that the department supports.

The highly diverse composition of our postgraduate student body reflects the ethos of our research staff, all of whom are international in outlook and participate in international conferences and scholarly networks, being recognised leaders in their fields. The Department’s research staff offer a broad spectrum of supervisory expertise in musicology, music analysis, ethnomusicology, music psychology, performance, and acoustic and electroacoustic composition. We offer our students high levels of individual attention and personal support, and provide a student experience of exceptional high-quality.

In addition to fostering their intellectual growth as scholars and researchers, we assist their professional development by preparing them for the world of employment, providing opportunities for them to work as teaching and research assistants, to disseminate their research, and to participate in dedicated training courses. We offer both taught and research postgraduate programmes, and will be happy to offer advice on choosing the course that is best suited to your needs. Many of our postgraduate students choose to study full-time, but we also welcome part-time students. Whatever stage of your career you may be at, we endeavour to provide the necessary support to help you realise your professional aspirations.


Ranked joint 1st in the UK for Internationally Excellent and WorldLeading research impact and 4th for research intensity in REF 2014.