MA in Music (taught): Music Psychology‌

Course summary

The MA in Music (taught): Music Psychology pathway is designed to develop research skills and knowledge in the field of Music Psychology. It is targeted at students coming from Music, Psychology, or any other related areas like Education, Engineering or Computer Science. It will cover theoretical and empirical approaches to music performance, perception, and cognition. It is run in close collaboration with the York Music Psychology Group.    

Staff contact

If you have any further questions about the course, or would like to discuss your application, please contact the pathway leader:

Our taught MA in Music gives you time, facilities and authoritative guidance from academics and professional musicians to concentrate on your own musical interests.

Postgraduate Diploma and Postgraduate Certificate

Each pathway is also available as a Postgraduate Diploma (120 credits) and Postgraduate Certificate (60 credits).

Typically there are around six students working with a particular supervisor on a pathway, and during the year you will concentrate on your own particular projects. There are no major pieces of work thrust upon you that do not respect the independent nature of your pursuits. Instead, you produce Guided Projects for the first two terms and an Independent Project during the summer term and summer vacation.

About the Music Psychology pathway

Music Psychology aims to explain and understand musical behavior and experience, including the processes through which music is created, perceived, responded to, and incorporated into everyday life. Accordingly, in this pathway, students will learn about the basic mechanisms underlying these human capacities. It will cover the functionality of the auditory system and from there, elaborate on the perception and cognition of musical elements, such as melody, timing (rhythm, meter, tempo), harmony, timbre, and higher level structures like compositional form and expressiveness. Accordingly, the pathway will also look at basic principles underlying listener experience (aesthetics, emotion, and preferences). Furthermore, it aims to provide an understanding of the mechanisms that underlie musical performance, including skills and learning. While the focus of this pathway lies at conducting pure and basic research, it will also consider application areas outside academia (media, technology, creative industries, education and therapy). The research conducted in this pathway will draw on methods from the social and behavioral sciences.

Course content

MA in Music: Music Psychology course structure

Throughout the year, you will be taught research skills in a specially designed module covering the planning, conducting, analyzing, and presentation of research in Music Psychology (Module 4). Here, we will focus on quantitative and qualitative research methods from the social and behavioral sciences. Furthermore, there will be two taught modules focusing on research topics in music performance, perception, and cognition (Modules 1 and 2). There will be also a weekly research colloquium where we will discuss recent studies from the field of Music Psychology. Here, also other members of the York Music Psychology Group can present and discuss (their) research.


While Module 4 will be assessed through presentations at the end of the terms, there will be three larger partially research projects that will result in written essays (these will be supported by individual tutorials):

  • Submission 1: Literature review on music psychological research question (essay of about 7,000 words)
  • Submission 2: Replication of a music psychological study as a group project (research report/essay of about 7,000 words); Students each will receive the same mark for the project and an individual mark for their contribution to the project. Their contribution will be assessed by observations of the group at work and trough a brief individual critical reflection by each group member on the project and what they learned from it (approx. 500 words).
  • Submission 3: Independent empirical research project (research report/dissertation of about 10,000 Words)


By the end of the programme, you will have gained a deep understanding of theories from Music Psychology and related disciplines. You will have the ability to evaluate complex ideas and to carry out independent empirical research. You will have enhanced your writing, project management, and data analysis skills, and will be able to communicate your knowledge effectively. This qualifies you for many different professional careers: 

  • in academia (through pursuing a PhD afterwards), 
  • in music and arts organisations, 
  • in the music and media industry, 
  • in music consultancy and music and advertising, or 
  • as a psychologically-informed music practitioner or educator. 

Through additional qualification, you could also work in music therapy and clinical settings.

Entry requirements

A Bachelor's degree with a 2:1 (hons) in music or above, or equivalent professional experience. A full list of international entry requirements can be found here.

International students

You will need English Language to IELTS 6.0.

How to apply

The application process is straightforward. Please submit a short personal statement with your application (max. 1000 Words) describing your motivation for applying to this pathway. After application, you might be called for interview. For international students, this could be accomplished on Skype (or similar). Please note: a first degree in Music is not essential.

Make your application

  • Apply for the MA in Music online using the University's application forms.
  • Indicate clearly in the written title of your application that you wish to be considered for the MA in Music: Music Psychology pathway.