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MA Music (Music Psychology pathway)

Understand how music is created, perceived and responded to within the human mind and brain.

Year of entry: 2020/21


1 year full-time,
2 years part-time

Start date

September 2020 (term dates)

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Music psychology explores the deep and complex relationship between music, the human mind and the brain. Understanding more about how they interact may help reveal why music is so meaningful to us. 

In this pathway of our MA Music, you'll learn about the basic mechanisms of the auditory system and delve into the perception and cognition of musical elements, such as melody, timing, harmony and timbre. You'll look at the mechanisms underpinning music performance. Finally, you'll discover higher level structures such as compositional form and expressiveness, alongside the basic principles underlying how we experience and appreciate music as listeners.

The course is run in close collaboration with the York Music Psychology Group

We encourage you to get involved in the lively community of our department, from participating in department ensembles to attending our weekly research and composition seminars and performance classes.

Music Psychology is such an exciting field - its applications range from health care to advertising. I spent the majority of my year researching empathy and how it regulates emotional responses to music. By the end I was equipped to conduct research independently and with skills that will continue to be useful far beyond the end of the MA.
Katherine, MA Music (Music Psychology pathway)

Work with the experts

You'll automatically be a member of the York Music Psychology Group, who meet once a week to discuss projects, papers and theories.

Outstanding facilities

You'll have access to a wide range of specialist equipment such as listening laboratories, state-of-the-art psychophysiological measurement devices and our unique audience response system.

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. However their taught content is completely adopted to the respective field. 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.

Supervisions and tutorials

Throughout your degree you’ll receive advice, support and feedback from your academic supervisor. There there are regular class-room tutorials on writing, conducting, and analysing research enabling you to excel in your particular academic instrests. You’ll have the freedom to submit work on areas that interest you - our courses are designed to allow maximum flexibility and independence.


Projects I and II

You’ll take the modules Project I and Project II (30 credits each) in Terms 1 and 2/3 respectively.

Project I will focus on music performance research, while Project II looks at perception and cognition research.

At the end of each module, you’ll produce a ‘guided submission’:

  • Project I: Literature review on music psychological research question (essay of about 7,000 words) 
  • Project II: 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).

As part of these modules, you’ll attend a weekly research colloquium within the York Music Psychology Group. 

Critical Reflection in Musical Practice

Critical Reflection in Musical Practice (20 credits) runs throughout the year. You'll hone your research skills in a specially designed module covering the planning, conducting, analysing, and presentation of research in Music Psychology. This module will be assessed through two in-class presentations (Terms 1 and 2) and a paper at a conference organised by MA students (Term 3).

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


The course culminates in Project III (100 credits), an extended individual project.

The extended project is considerably more complex than your first two submissions - you'll conduct an independent empirical research project and submit a related research report of 10,000 words.

You'll receive advice and support from your supervisor during Term 3 to help you develop your work. There are also regular tutorials and additional sessions on methodology and statistics as required.

Recent projects have included:

  • An Investigation Into the Effect of Induced Empathy on Subjective Response to Music
  • Practice makes perfect: The impact of preparation techniques on music performance anxiety among student musicians
  • Rhythmic complexity in contemporary music and embodied timekeeping gestures
  • Listening to Quran Recitations: ‘Does It Affect Psychophysiological Measures of Emotion?"
  • A lifetime of memories: the effect of ageing on emotion and vividness ratings of autobiographical memories and self-selected music

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

Fees and funding

Annual tuition fees for 2020/21

Study modeUK/EUInternational
Full-time (1 year) £8,040£18,240
Part-time (2 years)
This is the year 1 fee. Fees for future years are subject to confirmation.

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

For courses which are longer than one year, the tuition fees quoted are for the first year of study. Fees for subsequent years are subject to increase (no more than 2% each year).

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

The Department of Music offer a number of postgraduate scholarships, awards and bursaries. See funding options on our 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.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): changes to courses

We're making changes to comply with rules on social distancing. We aim to deliver as much face-to-face teaching as we can, supported by high quality online alternatives where we must.

Find details of the measures we're planning to protect our community.

Course changes for new students

Teaching format

Your teaching will largely take the form of weekly pathway seminars, regular one-to-one tutorials, research seminars and a weekly research colloquium.

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.


The Music Psychology pathway has exclusive access to the YMPG listening laboratory that allows to conduct various psychophysiological response experiments.

Our department has a variety of seminar rooms for class teaching. These rooms have an array of specialized teaching equipment including pianos, interactive whiteboards and audio equipment.

John Paynter Music Library
The John Paynter Music Library is an elegant facility, located within the University's JB Morrell Library, and houses the main music collections. It is also equipped with digital pianos and media replay equipment. The physical collection as well as an extensive range of electronic resources are searchable through the YorSearch.

Sound Resources

The University Library houses and extensive collection of CDs and DVDs, which are available for listening and research. There are also archival recordings available for student use in the University of York Sound Archives.

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.

Teaching location

The Department of Music is located in Vanbrugh College on Campus West. The majority of departments, colleges and facilities are based nearby.

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'll write a literature review, conduct a replication study, submit your MA thesis, and complete three presentations throughout the year.

Careers and skills

This course will give you a thorough grounding in many aspects of Music Psychology and prepare you for a wide range of careers.

With additional qualifications, you could also work in music therapy and clinical settings.

Career opportunities

Recent graduates have gone on to careers in areas such as:

  • academia
  • music and arts organisations
  • the music and media industry
  • market research
  • music consultancy
  • music and advertising
  • psychologically-informed music practitioner or educator
  • project management

Transferable skills

By the end of the course, you'll develop the following transferable skills:

  • evaluation of complex ideas
  • ability to carry out independent empirical research
  • written skills
  • project management
  • data analysis
  • communication skills

Entry requirements

Qualification Typical offer
Undergraduate degree 2:1 or equivalent in Music or another relevant discipline. We will also consider your application if you have a 2:2 honours degree and relevant professional experience.
Other international qualifications Equivalent qualifications from your country

English language

If English isn't your first language you may need to provide evidence of your English language ability. We accept the following qualifications:

Qualification Minimum requirement
IELTS 6.0, minimum 5.5 in each component
PTE Academic 55, minimum 51 in each component
C1 Advanced and C2 Proficiency 169, minimum 162 in each component
TOEFL 79, minimum 17 in Listening, 18 in Reading, 20 in Speaking and 17 in Writing
Trinity ISE III Pass in all components
Duolingo Minimum overall score of 100

For more information see our postgraduate English language requirements.

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.

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

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Next steps

Contact us

Get in touch if you have any questions

Dr Hauke Egermann

Learn more

Department of Music

Related courses

  • PGDip Music (Music Psychology pathway)
  • PGCert Music (Music Psychology pathway)

View our other MA Music pathways:

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