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MA Music (Piano Studies pathway)

Inform your playing with contextual study on this recital-based course.

Year of entry: 2019
Show year of entry: 2020


1 year full-time,
2 years part-time

Start date

September 2019 (term dates)

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This pathway of our MA Music intends to strengthen your playing and theoretical knowledge through intensive piano-based study.

You'll cover a variety of keyboard music from the early Baroque period to the present day, developing your interpretation through workshops and masterclasses, and learning to play different kinds of repertoire with historical understanding. This includes the chance to work with historical instruments such as harpsichord, clavichord and fortepiano. 

You'll also have the opportunity to develop other skills such as ensemble performance and piano accompaniment, both as part of the course and externally. The University of York Piano Ensemble is made up of a group of pianists performing repertoire for multiple pianos. They particularly explore contemporary and experimental repertoire, as well as arrangements of older music. You'll gain experience as a pianist through chances to work as an accompanist for other students, frequent masterclasses in performance from visiting specialists, and occasional opportunities to perform in venues outside of the department. By the end of the programme, these experiences will have helped you develop into an independent, critically aware and technically proficient performer.

Outstanding facilities

You'll have access to a wide range of early keyboard instruments, as well as practice rooms, recording studios and two professional concert halls.

Departmental ensembles

From choral to orchestral, jazz and folk to improvised electronica, gospel to gamelan, almost every kind of music is performed by the Department’s many ensembles.

Course content

All pathways for the MA Music follow the same structure. Over the year, you’ll take four modules totalling 180 credits. We place an emphasis on independence and creativity - you will have the freedom to study the areas that interest you.

Over the year, you’ll take four modules: 

In addition to these modules, we strongly encourage you to participate in department ensembles and attend weekly research seminarsperformance classes and composition seminars relevant to your studies.


Projects I and II

You’ll take Project I and Project II (30 credits each) in the Autumn and Spring Terms respectively.

In these modules, you’ll attend a weekly seminar related to your pathway. You'll discuss larger issues of performing and repertoire, examining in detail the works you are studying and thinking about the implications for performance. You'll also study the history of piano repertoire, style and interpretation, pedalling techniques, fingering problems and other issues pianists may come across.

Performance seminars which concentrate on issues that affect all performers are held on a weekly basis throughout the course.

At the end of each module, you’ll produce a ‘guided submission’, which differ according to each pathway. For Piano Studies, these take the form of 25-30 minute recitals with accompanying commentaries. The assessment for these two commentaires are submitted as part the Critical Reflection module.

Throughout these modules you’ll receive advice, support and feedback from your academic supervisor. You’ll have the freedom to submit work on areas that interest you - our courses our designed to allow maximum flexibility and independence.

Project III

During the Summer Term and summer vacation, you will work on Project III (100 credits), an extended individual project. For Piano Studies, this takes the form of a 40–45 minute recital with accompanying commentary.

Critical Reflection in Musical Practice

Critical Reflection in Musical Practice (20 credits) runs throughout the year. In this module you’ll develop sophisticated ways to articulate critical and reflective outlooks on your creative work, writing short, critically reflective essays each week that relate wider issues connected with piano performance to your own practice. These essays are not assessed, but will provide valuable experience and feedback for your assessed recital commentaries.

In Summer Term, your classes will prepare you for the student-led MA conference, in which you will deliver a paper on a subject of your choice.

Please note, modules may change to reflect the latest academic thinking and expertise of our staff.

The York approach

Every course at York is built on a distinctive set of learning outcomes. These will give you a clear understanding of what you will be able to accomplish at the end of the course and help you explain what you can offer employers. Our academics identify the knowledge, skills, and experiences you'll need upon graduation and then design the course to get you there.

Students who complete this course will be able to:

  • Research independently and collaboratively with the sophistication, close attention to detail and creative flair developed through the advanced study of music at Master’s level.
  • Lead, or constructively contribute to, advanced-level musical activity, for example by performing, composing, critical listening and thinking, analyzing, editing, improvising, notating or employing studio techniques and digital literacy at a professional level.
  • Apply the musical and transferable skills gained throughout the programme with confidence and aptitude in a range of national and international professional contexts, for example performance, composition, teaching, management, academic work, and collaborative projects.
  • Communicate at an advanced level on a range of issues relating to music, the arts, society and culture, using appropriate written and oral media and music-making activities.
  • Plan and execute focused individual research projects, composition portfolios or recitals through rigorous planning and the application of appropriate principles, theoretical knowledge, methodologies, techniques and experience.
  • Apply self-evaluative skills of reflective practice to inform current work and continuing professional development – whether through written work, compositions or performance – with creativity, imagination and initiative.
Preparing a recital every three months pushes me to a higher level of playing.
Ling Wang, MA Music (Piano Studies pathway)

Fees and funding

Annual tuition fees for 2019/20

Study modeUK/EUInternational
Full-time (1 year) £7,810£17,370
Part-time (2 years)
Fees for subsequent years are subject to confirmation.
year 1 fee
year 1 fee

Students on a Tier 4 Visa are not currently permitted to study part-time at York.

Fees information

UK/EU or international fees? The level of fee that you will be asked to pay depends on whether you're classed as a UK/EU or international student.

Funding information

Discover your funding options to help with tuition fees and living costs.

If you've successfully completed an undergraduate degree at York you could be eligible for a 10% Masters fee discount.

Home/EU students

International students

A full list of department scholarships, awards, and bursaries can be found on the department website.

Living costs

You can use our living costs guide to help plan your budget. It covers additional costs that are not included in your tuition fee such as expenses for accommodation and study materials.

Teaching and assessment

You’ll work with world‐leading academics who’ll challenge you to think independently and excel in all that you do. Our approach to teaching will provide you with the knowledge, opportunities, and support you need to grow and succeed in a global workplace.

Teaching format

​Your teaching will largely take the form of weekly pathway seminars and regular one-to-one tutorials, as well as your individual piano lessons.

You will have regular meetings with your supervisor, who will advise you and help develop your ideas as you progress through your studies.

We encourage you to get involved with our lively departmental community, from our ensembles to our weekly seminars, performance classes and research seminars.

You'll be expected to put in several hours of practice every day. There are practice rooms with good Schimmel upright pianos, available 24 hours a day and bookable in advance. In preparation for your recitals, you'll also get time to practise on the Steinway D in the Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall.


The department has a fine collection of early keyboards including two fortepianos, a square piano, four harpsichords, a clavichord, a three-manual neo-classical organ, a continuo organ, a Steinway D, two Steinway Bs, and a Fazioli.

We have a range of outstanding facilities, including the Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall and dozens of teaching rooms and practice facilities. All spaces are designed to be flexible and are used for projects, seminars, ensemble rehearsals and recordings. Discover our facilities.

Teaching location

The Department of Music is located in the Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall, on the west part of our campus. 

Almost all of your teaching will take place within the department.

About our campus

Our beautiful green campus offers a student-friendly setting in which to live and study, within easy reach of the action in the city centre. It's easy to get around campus - everything is within walking or pedalling distance, or you can always use the fast and frequent bus service.

Assessment and feedback

You will be assessed through a total of two 25-30 minute recitals and one 40-45 minute recital, all with accompanying commentaries. You will also relieve a mark for your presentation at the MA Conference in the Summer Term.

Careers and skills

By the end of the course, you'll have a firm understanding of the core issues of technique and interpretation surrounding each period of standard keyboard repertoire, and you will be able to use this understanding to prepare thoughtful and sophisticated performances. You'll also be able to reflect critically on your performance decisions, and communicate your ideas about performance in writing and speech, skills that are highly valued in any sector. MA Music graduates go on to a diverse range of careers as performers and teachers, as well as administrative work and further study at both universities and conservatoires. 

Career opportunities

  • Arts administration
  • Teaching at all levels
  • Freelance solo performer
  • PhD study

Transferable skills

  • Time management
  • Teamwork
  • Creative problem solving
  • Critical analysis
  • Research skills
  • Communication
  • Self-evaluation

Entry requirements

Qualification Typical offer

A Bachelor's degree with a 2:1 (hons) or above in music or another relevant discipline. We will also consider your application if you have a 2:2 honours degree and relevant professional experience.

Performance ability will need to be demonstrated through submission of a recording.

English language

If English isn't your first language you may need to provide evidence of your English language ability. 

  • IELTS: 6.0, with no less than 5.5 in each component
  • PTE Academic: 55, with no less than 51 in each component
  • CAE and CPE (taken from January 2015): 169, with no less than 162 in each component
  • TOEFL: 79, with a minimum of 17 in Listening, 18 in Reading, 20 in Speaking and 17 in Writing
  • Trinity ISE: level 3 with Pass in all components

If you've not met our English language requirements

You may be eligible for one of our pre-sessional English language courses. These courses will provide you with the level of English needed to meet the conditions of your offer.

The length of course you need to take depends on your current IELTS scores and how much you need to improve to reach our English language requirements.

After you've accepted your offer to study at York, we'll confirm which pre-sessional course you should apply to via You@York.


You can apply and send all your documentation electronically through our online system. You don’t need to complete your application all at once: you can start it, save it and finish it later.

You should include a recording of yourself performing three contrasting pieces of up to 20 minutes total duration.

Please indicate clearly in the written title of your application which MA Music pathway you wish to apply for.

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Department of Music

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