MA in Music (taught): Musicology

Course summary

Our new taught MA programme in Musicology is for students interested in the academic study of music.

Staff contact

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

About the Musicology pathway


The Musicology pathway combines music history with critical musicology, allowing students to deepen their knowledge of western art music in a critical and theoretically informed manner. All teaching is research-led and delivered by academic staff who are experts in their fields. 

By the end of the programme, students will have developed the research skills and critical thinking required to write an extended dissertation on a topic of their choice.

Structure and ethos

In autumn term, you will take two modules. Critical Reflection 1: Research Skills introduces some of the research and critical skills needed in order to carry out work at postgraduate level. In Case Studies in Western Art Music: 17th-19th Centuries, you will examine in detail a selection of western art music dating from the 17th to the 19th century. Each case study will deal with a particular type of music within its historical context.

In spring term, you participate in two modules. In Critical Reflection 2: Theories, you will explore various theories and methods associated with critical musicology. Case Studies in Western Art Music: 20th-21st Centuries will investigate a selection of music dating from the 20th and 21st centuries.

In summer term, your classes will prepare you for the MA conference, in which you will deliver a paper on a subject of your choice, and introduce you to further musicological topics based on staff research specialisms.

Support and facilities

In addition to the supervisory support, the University Library has a useful collection of electronic and hard copy resources relevant to critical studies in music and the arts, with an efficient interlending service that can get hold of items (for a small fee) not held onsite or in nearby research libraries.

The Document Supply Centre of the British Library is located in Boston Spa, near to York, and a bus provides transportation from the library to there once a week during term-time.

Practical performance plays an important part in all our courses, and postgraduate students are encouraged to participate as much as possible in Departmental Ensembles. You may also take part informally in undergraduate modules if you wish (with the tutor's permission). The University Library has a good collection of primary and secondary source materials in performance practice, and the Department has a fine collection of early instruments including two fortepianos, a square piano, four harpsichords, a spinet, a clavichord, a three-manual neo-classical organ, a continuo organ, a chest of viols and various Renaissance, Baroque and Classical instruments.

Employment outcomes

By the end of the programme, you will have gained a deep understanding of representative areas of western art music history. 

You will have the ability to evaluate complex ideas and to carry out independent research on musicological areas of interest. You will understand how your own work fits into the broader field of musicology, and will have the capacity to contribute to that field. 

You will have enhanced your writing and critical thinking skills, and will be able to communicate your knowledge effectively.

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.

Please note that this pathway is assessed mostly through written 

How to apply

The application process is straightforward. After application, you will be shortly be called for interview. For international students, this can be accomplished on Skype (or similar).

Prepare your materials

  • Provide an example of some relevant written work.

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: Musicology pathway.

About our taught MA in Music

Our MA in Music (taught) 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 10 - 15 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.