MA in Music (by Research): Contemporary Studies

Research area: Contemporary Studies

Further information on submitting a proposal for the MA by Research in Contemporary Studies is available from Dr Catherine Laws: catherine.laws@york.ac.uk

The MA by Research in Contemporary Studies offers students the chance to delve deeper into creative processes in contemporary music and sound art, and to consider related cultural and critical issues. Applicants present a proposal, setting out the area they wish to investigate and the form(s) their research will take. This can be primarily practical, rooted in performance, composition, and/or improvisation, or more theoretical and musicological. Importantly, the Contemporary Studies strand includes the option to combine practical and theoretical perspectives on the chosen topic: students can submit a portfolio of work that includes creative research alongside theoretical investigation.

Applicants will already have some experience of the modes of research they wish to employ, whether practical, theoretical, or a combination of the two. They will also have some understanding of the range and variety of current musical practices (in composition, performance or improvisation, but perhaps also in other forms: installation, sound art, music theatre, radio and web-based work, and so on), and some ability to contextualize this in relation to recent musicology or other theoretical perspectives.

Supervisory meetings support the development of the student’s work, providing constructive feedback. Tutorial support is also used to develop the student’s ability to frame and situate their work in the context of recent developments: we examine different models of contemporary musical practice and related critical perspectives (including relevant approaches in other art forms).

About the MA in Music (by research)

Overview

Next steps

The MA in Music by Research offers postgraduate opportunities to individuals who prefer to study independently rather than through classroom teaching, working under the close supervision of an expert in their field. This is a research degree, not a taught course programme, and applicants will need to have a clearly-focussed research proposal in their given area in order to be considered for admission to the research MA. Supervision and tutorial meetings are held on either a weekly or fortnightly basis throughout the academic year and by arrangement over the summer vacation. There is also an opportunity for all MA by Research students to interact with one another: the MA Research Forum. Meeting on Wednesday mornings, this is a discussion group that engages with common themes, such as issues of writing about music, while offering the opportunity for individual students to present aspects of their research topics to the larger group.  Students are also encouraged to attend the weekly Research Seminar series (on Wednesday afternoons) where invited speakers, staff members and PhD students give presentations about their latest work, and there are opportunities to meet other postgraduate researchers.

Degree structure

The MA in Music by Research lasts one year for full-time study or two years for part-time study. Candidates may elect to apply to the MPhil/PhD programme subject to satisfactory completion of the MA by Research, though progression is not automatic. The submission of a final dissertation or portfolio of work is the product of a series of carefully-structured elements produced throughout the duration of the programme in conjunction with supervisory guidance.

Submission options

The following submission alternatives are available for MA by Research candidates. All are subject to supervisory agreement:

  • Submission by dissertation: A dissertation of between 30,000 and 40,000 words investigating the candidate's registered topic, accompanied by a comprehensive resource list of relevant materials (including scores, analyses, published texts such as articles, books and concert ephemera, internet and audio-visual resources, etc.). It is expected that candidates in musicology, ethnomusicology or analysis will normally follow this route, but it is not exclusively limited to these subjects.
  • Submission by portfolio of compositions: A portfolio of between 3 and 5 compositions for any instrument, voice, ensemble, audio media or multi-media, as agreed with the candidate's supervisor and presented to a professional standard. Each composition will be supported by appropriate commentary of around 2,500 words, discussing the work, the process of composition and related details that situate the composition in a research context; a resource list of relevant materials (including scores, analyses, published texts such as articles, books and concert ephemera, internet and audio-visual resources, etc.) will also be included. If the candidate has conducted substantial research that is not evident in the portfolio, the documentation may be longer.
  • Submission by portfolio of performance projects: A portfolio normally containing up to 3 discrete performance projects, fully documented through video/audio recordings. Each project will be supported by appropriate commentary of around 2,500 words, discussing the performance and its preparation and situating the project in a research context; a resource list of relevant materials (including scores, analyses, published texts such as articles, books and concert ephemera, internet and audio-visual resources, etc.) will also be included. If the candidate has conducted substantial research that is not evident in the portfolio, the documentation may be longer.

Application process

Please include as part of your application a research proposal detailing your proposed topic and how you plan to investigate it. This should include a paragraph explaining the relevance of your research or professional experience to date and another explaining why you think your work has the potential to make a new contribution to your field of interest. In addition, please include a selective resource list (maximum length: one page) of significant items (e.g. scores, analyses, published texts such as articles, books and concert ephemera, internet and audio-visual resources, etc.) that you have consulted in exploring your topic and preparing your proposal.

The Department will assist you in matching your research interests to our supervisory expertise. Please note that acceptance into the MA by Research programme requires approval by your potential supervisor.