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MA Music Performance: Historical Performance Practices

Use historical research to inspire your own creativity

Year of entry: 2024 (September)


1 year full-time,
2 years part-time

Start date

September 2024 (semester dates)

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MA in Music Performance: Historical Performance Practices is a unique course for independent-thinking, creative performers of modern or period instruments and voice.

This course will develop your artistic voice by combining your creative practice with an in-depth understanding of the historical contexts of music-making in the Baroque, Classical or Romantic periods.

You will be supported by committed and passionate staff with an active international presence as performers, researchers and educators as you take a “deep dive” into the historically informed performance of your chosen repertoire(s). Regular workshops and performance opportunities will help you to develop your own individual approach to style, interpretation and presentation. You will be able to immerse yourself in York’s vibrant and diverse early music scene and benefit from our partnership with the National Centre for Early Music , who will host your final recital.

York has been a pioneering centre of the Early Music movement since the 1970s. As a York graduate, you will join a network of alumni working in the world’s leading ensembles, festivals and arts organisations. Previous graduates of our MA programme have gone on to further performance study and research degrees as well as professional careers as performers, curators, educators, and researchers.

The MA in Historical Performance Practices is led by Dr Emily Worthington, who performs internationally as a clarinettist and researches widely on Classical and Romantic performance practices and cultures. York’s specialist teaching staff include Lucy Russell (historical violin), Rachel Gray (historical cello), Edwina Smith (historical flute), Carmen Troncoso (recorder), Jacob Heringman (lute), Susannah Pell (viols), Catherine Pierron (harpsichord), and Andrew Snedden (historical pianos). Recent visiting artist residencies have included the Consone Quartet and I Fagiolini. Specialist accompanists are available to work with you throughout the course.

Musical ensembles

We have a huge range of year-round ensembles, including Baroque Ensemble and multiple orchestras, with frequent opportunities for performance.

Course content

All the MA Music Performance programmes follow the same structure. We place an emphasis on independence and creativity - you will have the freedom to study the areas that interest you as a performer and researcher.

Over the course, you will study a series of core and option modules, including up to three assessed recitals. You’ll receive 30 hours of one-to-one tuition with your instrumental or vocal teacher over the year. You are also strongly encouraged to participate in the department’s ensembles and research community. You will choose from a range of options, including a collaborative performance project. You can also select from our menu of advanced undergraduate modules which look intensively into specific topics and repertoires.

During the course, you will:

  • learn to identify and critically evaluate primary sources and current scholarship to understand the performance cultures and practices associated with your chosen repertoire
  • develop creative artistic responses that situate past musical practices and cultures within the 21st century cultural context
  • tackle philosophical questions such as how much we can ever know about the sound of music in the past, and the practical and ethical issues around emulating past cultures and values
  • use historically informed performance as a research method and explore the wider landscape of practice-based and artistic research
  • gain confidence in presenting your work to both general and specialist audiences, in performance, writing and other media where appropriate.


Core modules

Option modules

You'll also take a range of option modules. Examples from previous years have included:

The options available to you will be confirmed later in the year. For further information, get in touch.

*If you're taking the part-time route, you will be required to take Recital II rather than an option module as in the full-time programme. This will help you maintain your performance skills across the 2-year programme.

Final Recital

Your course will conclude with a public recital, for which you will design and prepare a substantial programme of solo and/or ensemble music. Where possible and appropriate, your recital will take place at the National Centre for Early Music. You will be supported by tutorials and instrumental or vocal lessons.

Our modules may change to reflect the latest academic thinking and expertise of our staff, and in line with Department/School academic planning.

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 Masters level
  • Lead, or constructively contribute to, advanced-level musical activity by performing and communicating about performance at a professional level, supported by advanced skills of critical listening and thinking, curating, directing, analysing, editing, and improvising as appropriate
  • Plan and execute critically informed performances through rigorous planning and the application of appropriate principles and methods, theoretical knowledge, methodologies, practical techniques and experience, and artistic imagination
  • Communicate at an advanced level on a range of issues relating to the history and present of musical repertoire and its performance, its relation to wider culture, and its technical and artistic execution, using appropriate written and oral media and music-making activities
  • 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, teaching, project management, academic work, and collaboration
  • Apply self-evaluative skills of reflective practice to inform current work and continuing professional development in performance with creativity, imagination and initiative.
Improving my playing, developing my confidence, leading to professional concerts and inspiring my doctoral research, this course was certainly one of my favourite and most pivotal years in higher education. I cannot recommend it enough!
MA Music Performance: Historical Performance Practices student

Fees and funding

Annual tuition fees for 2024/25

Study modeUK (home)International and EU
Full-time (1 year) £10,590£23,900
Part-time (2 years)
This is the year 1 fee. Fees for future years are subject to confirmation.

Students on a Student 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.

  • UK (home) fees may increase in subsequent years (up to a maximum of 2%).
  • International fees may increase in subsequent years in line with the prevailing Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation rate (up to a maximum of 10%).

Fees information

UK (home) or international fees? The level of fee that you will be asked to pay depends on whether you're classed as a UK (home) or international student. Check your fee status.

Find out more information about tuition fees and how to pay them.

Funding information

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

We'll confirm more funding opportunities for students joining us in 2024/25 throughout the year.

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

Funding opportunities

Subject-specific funding

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.

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.

A historic city

Lively, full of culture and beautiful, York has been voted one of the best places to live and visit in the UK.

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 seminars and performance classes, and regular one-to-one tutorials. You’ll have the opportunity to perform your repertoire to staff and students for coaching, comment and discussion. You will have regular meetings with your supervisor, who will advise you and help develop your ideas as you progress through your studies. Your instrumental or vocal teacher will guide your technical and artistic development through one-to-one lessons.

Ensemble Performance

The University Baroque Ensemble specialises in 17th and 18th century music and features each year in the internationally renowned York Early Music Festival. Students who wish to form their own small ensembles can request coaching from staff. You will have the opportunity to further develop your skills by participating in other department ensembles such as Symphony Orchestra, University Choir, The 24, and Viol Consort. University ensembles regularly perform in venues including York Minster and the National Centre for Early Music as well as the department’s main concert series.


The School has a fine collection of early keyboard instruments, including:

  • Three harpsichords: an Italian single manual, a Flemish single manual, and a Flemish double manual
  • Two clavichords by Morley and by Broadwood
  • Continuo organ (three manuals) by Coffin
  • Fortepiano after Walter (Vienna 1795)
  • Square piano by Broadwood (c.1830)
  • Grand piano by Erard London (c.1856)

We also have a large collection of Renaissance, Baroque and Classical period instruments and bows available to students.

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. We also have a close partnership with the National Centre for Early Music, who offer a range of professional and artistic development opportunities for young artists and will host your final recital.

Teaching location

Music classes in the School of Arts and Creative Technologies are located in the Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall on Campus West.

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

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 design and present up to two recitals of up to 30’, and a final recital of 45-50 minutes. The length of the final recital may be reduced and presented in combination with a piece of written work. Programmes can include solo and ensemble repertoire, and will be assessed on criteria including technical command, interpretative and historical insight, and creativity.

Research Skills and Artistic Practice

You will demonstrate your skills and ideas through assessments including a portfolio of exercises, a research presentation, and a lecture-recital or written case-study, on topics of your choosing.

Careers and skills

'Music Performance: Historical Performance Practices graduates have gone onto a variety of careers in music performance as well as creative and administrative roles in the wider arts sector. Graduates have also gone on to work in education, both freelance and employed by an institution. Further study destinations include both conservatoires and other universities.

Career opportunities

  • Professional Musician (solo, chamber, choral or orchestral)
  • Artistic direction and curation
  • Freelance research and editing
  • Specialist music teaching and workshop leading
  • Arts management and administration
  • Arts fundraising and development

Transferable skills

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

Entry requirements

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

Additional requirements

Your application should include:

A video recording (or a link to an online video recording) of about 10-15 minutes of yourself performing varied repertoire that includes a piece of Baroque or Classical music. A 1-page statement describing why you want to study historical performance practices and what your specific area of interest is.

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:

Minimum requirement
IELTS (Academic and Indicator) 6.0, minimum 5.5 in each component
Cambridge CEFR B2 First: 169, with no less than 162 in each component
Oxford ELLT 6, minimum of 5 in each component
Duolingo 105, minimum 95 in all other components
LanguageCert SELT B2 with 33/50 in each component
LanguageCert Academic 65 with a minimum of 60 in each component
KITE 426-458, with 396-425 in all other components
Skills for English B2: Pass with Merit overall, with Pass in each component
PTE Academic 55, minimum 51 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

For more information see our postgraduate English language requirements.

If you haven't 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 English language test 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.

Your application should include:

  • A video recording (or a link to an online video recording) of about 10-15 minutes of yourself performing varied repertoire that includes a piece of Baroque or Classical music.
  • A 1-page statement describing why you want to study historical performance practices and what your specific area of interest is

After application, you may be called for an interview or audition. For students outside the UK, this can be through Zoom or similar.

You are encouraged to contact Dr Emily Worthington at the beginning of your application process.

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