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Taught MA programme

April 2015: Update on introduction of new Taught MA in Music programme

The Music Department is seeking approval from the Faculty of Arts and Humanities for a new Taught MA in Music to be introduced in October 2015 which will replace the taught Masters courses that we currently offer (see below). The programme is now undergoing the final stage of the Faculty's validation process, which will be concluded by late April 2015.This section of the website will be regularly updated as further information becomes available.

The new MA has been designed to allow students to pursue a variety of specialisms depending on their area of particular interest. Four pathways will be offered every year in Musicology, Ethnomusicology, Composition, and Performance. The following additional specialisms will be offered as staff resources permit in any given year:

  • British Music
  • Music Analysis
  • Choral Conducting (with special focus on Anglican Church music)
  • Advanced Organ Studies
  • Electronic Music
  • Orchestration and Arranging
  • Indian Music
  • World Music Analysis
  • Music, Mind, and Culture
  • Audiovisual Documentation and Analysis

Students will choose modules from sections A, B, C, and D below:

A. A 60-credit major project (dissertation/portfolio of compositions/recital)
B. A 30-credit specialism-specific module
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 British Music

A. 60-credit dissertation on British music
B. 30-credit specialism-specific module on British music
C. Two compulsory core 30-credit modules
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

Informal enquiries concerning the new MA programme should be directed to our departmental administrator Mrs Karen Nichol (karen.nichol [at]

Taught MA programmes currently offered

Our taught Masters programmes offer a combination of assessed taught courses and supervision for a thesis or composition portfolio. We offer taught MA pathways in musicology, ethnomusicology and composition. A brief description of each pathway is provided below. More detailed information can be found in the Postgraduate Taught Programmes Handbook.

MA (Musicology)

The Taught MA in Musicology aims to develop students' understanding of key intellectual issues in the domain of contemporary musicology and music analysis in taught modules, and to foster their development as researchers by allowing them to scope to explore a topic in depth in a substantial dissertation. The department's staff members teaching on this programme include Professor Jeremy Dibble, Professor Tuomas Eerola, Professor Julian Horton, Dr Hector Sequera, Professor Bennett Zon, and Dr Patrick Zuk.

The Musicology programme will equip you with foundational skills necessary to undertake more advanced study at doctoral level, which can also be applied in a broad range of other contexts such as arts adminstration, education, and business.

MA (Ethnomusicology)

Durham University's Taught MA in Ethnomusicology combines a comprehensive grounding in ethnomusicological research methods with an opportunity to develop an original ethnographic project from an initial idea to a complete 20,000 word dissertation. Research methods taught include fieldwork, transcription and audiovisual documentation and analysis, in which Durham has a unique strength. Candidates are also introduced to a range of current research issues across both musicology and ethnomusicology, and have the opportunity to take an elective element which can include either two undergraduate courses or one master's level module from music or another are in the university (e.g. anthropology). Research interests of staff include South Asian classical, folk and popular traditions, Korean music, Islamic ritual music and music of the mediterranean; rhythm and metre; music, ritual and religion; the history of ethnomusicology and comparative musicology; popular music, world music and musical hybridity; and musical semiotics. The Department's specialists in ethnomusicology include: Professor Martin Clayton, Dr Laura Leante, Dr Simon Mills, and Dr Simone Tarsitani.

MA (Composition)

The Taught MA in Composition is supervised by internationally renowned composers based in the Department of Music: Dr Nick Collins, Prof PD Manning, Professor Richard Rijnvos, and Dr Trevor Wishart.

This one-year (two years part-time) programme focuses on composition of contemporary music, advanced compositional skills and techniques (such as rhythmic, harmonic and formal issues, instrumentation, notation, etc.), aesthetics, analysis, socio-cultural relevance and other pertinent topics. A selection of learning contexts will be explored, such as composition for film, music theatre, music for dance, composition using electroacoustic techniques and more. Students will be guided individually through various means of producing compositional studies, which will develop and exploit specific skills. The students can tailor aspects of the modules to their own compositional strengths, interests and learning needs.The course also offers an opportunity for independent compositional research (portfolio), both as a major component of the chosen field at MA level and as possible preparation for further research at doctoral level. Students are enabled to develop a critical understanding of, and reflective approach to, the field of contemporary music, as the basis for the critical evaluation of their own compositional research.


Postgraduate Funding Opportunities


Postgraduate funding opportunities - find out more about scholarships available for postgraduate study.