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Music  MA


City University’s MA in Music introduces students to a range of current issues and debates in music studies and provides opportunities to explore the complex interrelationships between music and other subjects and between theory and creative practice. The course aims to develop both critical and creative approaches to musical practice and study as well as providing exceptional training in fundamental research skills which may also be useful in later doctoral study.

We have a vibrant postgraduate community and there are plenty of opportunities for students to become involved in our many departmental ensembles, including the orchestra, choir and contemporary music ensemble. We host a regular departmental concert series and a summer music festival in May and June each year. In addition, there are regular workshops, visiting speakers and postgraduate research seminars, and we also host occasional conferences.

The Music Department offers exceptional support for students and outstanding teaching, as reflected in the most recent national Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey. We also have excellent employment statistics.

Teaching delivery is through a combination of lectures, group seminars and individual tutorials.

The MA in Music is one of three MA pathways offered by the Department of Music.

Course Fees:

  • Full-time EU: £7,500
  • Part-time EU: £4,000
  • Full-time Non EU: £13,500
  • Part-time Non EU: £6,750

Start Date:

September 2016

How to Apply

Entry Requirements

We prefer you to have an undergraduate degree in music. However, if you have an advanced level in composition you may also be considered for that pathway. We accept qualifications other than music degrees for entry onto the Ethnomusicology MA pathway.

English Requirements

If your first language is not English, the following qualification is also required:

  • IELTS: an overall score of 6.5 (with a minimum of 6.0 in each sub-test).

Please note that due to changes in the UKVI's list of SELTs we are no longer able to accept TOEFL as evidence of English language for students who require a CAS as of April 2014.

Visa Requirements

If you are not from the European Economic Area / Switzerland and you are coming to study in the UK you may need to apply for a visa or entry clearance to come to the UK to study.  

The way that you apply may vary depending on the length of your course; there are different rules for:

  • Students on courses of more than 6 months
  • Students on courses of less than 6 months
  • Students on a pre-sessional English Language course

Please note: If you require a Tier 4 student visa to study in the UK, you cannot undertake any City University London courses on a part-time basis.

For more information see our main Visa page.

When and Where

Start Date:
September 2016
One year full-time or two years part-time.

Course Content

Course Structure

You take two core modules (total 60 credits), two or three elective modules (total 30 or 60 credits), and also produce a 12 - 15,000 word dissertation (total 60 or 90 credits).

Examples of previous dissertation projects include:

  • Hybridity, Afro-Modernism and Double Consciousness in the Music of Kanye West'
  • ‘Computer Music and Post-Digital Aesthetics’
  • 'The Rise of Cross-Dressing and Male Impersonation in the Music Halls of Victorian London'
  • 'Searching for Satori: Psychedelia in the Music of Bauhaus'

Core modules

Critical Readings in Musicology

In this module we introduce you to significant issues in modern musical thought and scholarship. You will engage directly with key texts covering topics in musicological methodology, aesthetics, historiography and criticism through seminar discussion groups. Having been encouraged to develop as critical readers and thinkers, you should subsequently possess the methodological and bibliographic tools to evaluate sources of musical knowledge.

Researching music in contemporary culture

This module will give you both a practical and theoretical introduction to research methods underpinning the study of music in contemporary culture. You will cover issues including: the role of information technology, and particularly the internet, in modern musical research; interview techniques and technologies for both ethnographic and oral history purposes; textual representation in relation to ethnography, life writing and musical sound; the study of music in performance; research ethics.

Dissertation (60 or 90 credits)

Students write a 12-15,000 word dissertation, bringing together knowledge and research skills developed in the taught module elements of the programme and applying them to a specific topic reflecting individual research interests. The dissertation can also serve as preparation for a MPhil or PhD thesis.

Elective modules

Digital cultures

Digital media are fundamentally re-scripting the relationship between cultural institutions and their users. Notions of producer and consumer, authorship and authenticity are being re-evaluated and explored in ways that are creative, experimental and infinite. This not only opens up new avenues of opportunity for audience development, but simultaneously calls into question the many practices of cultural consumption. This module explores the claims being made for so-called 'new' media in culture. Are they representative of a shift toward more democratic and participatory engagement? What happens to the when and where of this engagement? How is policy changing in order to reflect this paradigm shift? What are the implications for cultural managers?

Audiences and marketing

This module introduces you to the knowledge and skills needed to consider the function of marketing in a creative and cultural organisation from a strategic perspective. In this module we explore the factors that influence arts/cultural consumption in its diverse forms and examine appropriate ways in which cultural and creative organisations market themselves effectively and productively.

Professional placement

The Professional Placement module gives students the opportunity to work in the cultural sector in order to practice skills acquired earlier in the programme. With guidance from the module leader, each student draws up their objectives for the placement and identifies potential placement hosts. This helps the student find an appropriate host organisation which fulfils their aims. Students carry out a programme of work supervised by a host at the organisation. The placement lasts for 6 weeks, between April and June. The majority of work placements are based in London and embrace all cultural forms. This module gives you the opportunity to work alongside professionals in the cultural sector in order to practice competences acquired earlier in the programme. The module comprises of two parts: part one is the preparation for the placement; part two is the placement itself.

Music special project (30 credits)

This module allows students to apply knowledge and skills gained in the taught elements of the programme to a topic of specific individual interest. That topic may be complementary to the major dissertation/project or it may be entirely unrelated to it. It allows you to tailor the research element of the programme to your intellectual agenda or interests, while also providing the opportunity to complete a significant piece of independent research prior to the submission of the major project/dissertation. The Special Project can be in the form of a critical discussion of a problem in musicology, analysis, or an appropriate repertoire, or a critical edition of a musical document. With the agreement of your supervisor it may be supplemented by a musical performance or other practical element (such as a short film), however the grade will be awarded on the basis of the submitted written work, although this may include a critical reflection on the contents of other material or performances.

Interdisciplinary and Collaborative Process (30 credits)

In this module you will examine interdisciplinary practices in their cultural context, with a particular focus on work and ideas which problematise traditional understandings and classifications of genre and idiom. The module will begin with some historical underpinning for theories of interdisciplinarity as well as selected case studies exploring aspects of creative collaboration in particular artists' works (e.g. Stravinsky/Diaghilev, Herrmann/Hitchcock), but it will to explore modes of communication, social dynamics in ensembles, theories of collaborative process, theories of multimedia, visual and auditory perception and how those correspondences have been explored in artistic work, art-science collaborations, 'hybrid' contemporary performance works, and new interdisciplinary opportunities provided by digital technologies and social media.

Plus a range of elective options in the departments of Sociology and International Politics.

Teaching and Assessment

Academic staff


We teach you through a combination of lectures, interactive sessions, practical workshops and one-to-one tutorials. You also receive further support from a personal tutor. You are encouraged to undertake extensive reading in order to understand the topics covered in lectures and classes and to broaden and deepen your knowledge of the subject.


We assess you in the core and electives modules through either:

  • a 5000-word essay
  • a project portfolio
  • an extended creative task and accompanying commentary

The end-of-year project comprises one of the following, depending on your pathway:

  • a dissertation (12,000 - 15,000)
  • a major project comprising a film or performance element and dissertation (around 7,500 words)
  • a portfolio of compositions: three substantial compositions, or equivalent plus a critical self-evaluative commentary (around 3,000 words), and other forms of documentation as appropriate
  • a creative research project (e.g. extended composition, improvisation-based project, sound recording project, film scoring) and a closely related research essay of around 7,500 words accompanied by other forms of documentation as appropriate.


  • Full-time EU: £7,500
  • Part-time EU: £4,000
  • Full-time Non EU: £13,500
  • Part-time Non EU: £6,750


For up-to-date information about tuition fees, living costs and financial support, visit Postgraduate Fees and Finance.

Please visit our Postgraduate Funding and Financial support pages

Future Finance Loans

Future Finance offers students loans of between £2,500 and £40,000 to help cover tuition fees and living expenses. All students and courses are considered. All loans are subject to credit checks and approval for further details please visit the City Finance website.


Robert Anderson Scholarship

We are offering one full fee-waiver scholarship for entry to any of our MA pathways in September 2016.

The Robert Anderson Scholarship provides a full-fee waiver at UK/EU rates. International students are also eligible to apply and if successful will have the equivalent UK/EU fee amount deducted from the international fee.

Please note: the deadline for applications is Friday 6th May 2016.

In addition to your main application, scholarship applications must include:

  • a CV indicating your studies and achievements to date
  • a statement indicating why you feel you are particularly deserving of such an award and outlining the contribution you will make to the Music Department

Applications should be made on the Robert Anderson Scholarship application form.

Please note: You can only apply for a Scholarship at the same time as submitting your application to an music masters pathway.

Career Prospects

Alumni have gone on to teach, compose and perform music in a wide variety of settings, and are also employed in music publishing, broadcasting, music management, arts administration, music retailing and further study at MPhil or PhD level.

Many of our MA students who have graduated have gone on to a number of high profile roles. Examples include:

  • Justine Fancy, PR Manager at MAMA & Company, live music company
  • Rachel Swindells, Gamelan & Community Projects Officer, Halle Orchestra
  • Meliz Serman, Head of Music, Davenport Foundation School
  • Javier Alvarez, International Award-Winning Composer

Application Deadline

We will continue to consider applications until the courses are full.

MA Music

Please submit the following, either electronically or in hard copy.

  • Online application form, or download a PDF version of the application form.
  • Two academic references
  • A transcript of your undergraduate degree
  • An essay (2,000-3,000 words) on a musical topic. The essay should demonstrate critical skills and writing ability, and conform to standard academic guidelines for formatting and referencing. Most applicants submit an essay completed as part of their undergraduate studies.
  • Postgraduate reference form

NB: Applications will not be considered until all supporting materials have been received.

Online application

Apply online for September 2016 entry

Return address

Please send application documents to: Michelle Masters, Department of Music, City University London, Northampton Square, London EC1V 0HB