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MA Community Music

Become a leader in collaborative and inclusive music making

Year of entry: 2020/21


1 year full-time,
2 years part-time,
3 years part-time

Start date

September 2020 (term dates)

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Community music is a growing career option, as more and more musicians opt to work outside formal settings like the concert hall and many orchestras and arts organisations seek to extend their audience base into the community.

Community music covers work in schools, prisons or hospitals, the development of music in under-resourced areas and with disadvantaged people and the development of creative partnerships between people of different skills and cultures. The vast majority of music programmes focus on musicology and instrumental/vocal excellence - this course will challenge you to build on these skills and think critically about the practical applications of music beyond the concert hall.

You'll leave with the well-honed skills needed to facilitate access to music for a diverse range of people. The course also covers project management and arts administration, management and consultancy, and combines scholarship with professional and charitable outcomes, experience that will be invaluable in any career you may wish to pursue.

The best course that I've ever had was the MA Community Music - it has prepared me very well for my current arts administration career. It allowed me to explore music in many different ways such as education, special needs, music for the elderly and also gave me a great opportunity to carry out a placement.
Kitty, MA Community Music

Leading the way

York has long been a leader in the study of community music and this course was the first of its kind, meaning you'll have access to years of specialist experience.

Practical placement

You'll put your learning into practice with an assessed placement which will inform your dissertation project.

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

The MA Community Music is based on a series of six short course modules (20 credits each), taught in five day blocks twice per term, as well as seminars and a placement and related dissertation.

You'll cover a range of topics relating to professional issues in community music and complete a ten day placement in the community. 

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. 


Short course modules cover music in education and therapy, groupwork and project management, world music and arts administration, as well as the fundamentals of community arts practice.

You'll also attend weekly seminars in the first two terms, focussing on issues of professional development. You'll cover subject-specific skills such as fundraising, writing business plans, legal matters such as health and safety and safeguarding and work skills such as managing a portfolio career in the arts. These seminars are not assessed, but provide vital preparation for your placement and dissertation.

Autumn Term

Spring Term

Summer Term

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


You'll begin work on the Independent Study Module (60 credits) in the Spring Term, to ensure you have sufficient time to plan your fieldwork. You'll have the freedom to take on a project relevant to your own interests.

In the Summer Term, you'll complete a ten day placement in the community. You'll then use this experience to inform your dissertation, critically exploring the working contexts and issues raised in the placement workplace. 

Recent placements have included:

  • HM Prison New Hall
  • Bradford Festival
  • Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra Education
  • Music and the Deaf
  • Park Grove Primary School
  • Yorkshire Regiment Band
  • Castaway Accessible Music Theatre
  • York District Hospital
  • Musical Connections residential care homes project

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:

  • Apply musical activity to a variety of formal and informal settings, including education, health, social care, the criminal justice system, youth work and play by effectively utilising knowledge of, and skills in organising, community based projects
  • Facilitate different client and user groups to identify their recreational and educational interests in music, thereby helping them to realise their creative potential and enhance their wellbeing by employing effective interpersonal and communication skills
  • Devise and manage practical outreach projects, implementing delivery strategies, identifying key issues and evaluating their effectiveness, outcomes and impacts
  • Employ musical skills with versatility by drawing confidently on a knowledge of different creative disciplines including composition, instrumental and vocal performance, world music, theatre and digital technology
  • Write with authority and flexibility to deliver texts in a range of styles and conventions including essays, evaluations and reports, project and lesson plans, business plans and funding applications, policy statements and risk assessments to demonstrate systematic depth and understanding of scholarly and vocational specialisms
  • Apply relevant and current theories, policies and methodologies to their ongoing personal growth and development as practitioners and researchers through an ability to adopt a critical approach to their work
  • Confidently identify opportunities for further research in future postgraduate study or within a workplace environment by utilising the research, presentation skills and fieldwork expertise developed during the programme and in the production of a dissertation
  • Employ a range of job search and networking skills to enable pursuit of a portfolio career in their chosen specialism

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.
Part-time (3 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

The MA is based on short course modules, a seminar series and a placement and related dissertation.

The short course modules are delivered as five-day blocks of teaching, two per term. You'll also attend weekly seminars on ‘Issues of Professional Development’ during the first two terms. These seminars carry credits but are not assessed - they are intended to enhance your knowledge in preparation for the placement and dissertation.

The placement comprises ten days contact with an outside agency by arrangement.


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.

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 be assessed through a combination of essays and a choice of practical work such as workshops, lesson plans, performances, compositions or business plans. You'll also produce a 10,000-12,000 word dissertation in relation to your practical placement.

I now discover York music graduates wherever I go - it's a great network to be part of. It's also a place where the unexpected becomes normality, and that means that I barely bat an eyelid when an interesting request appears on my desk!
Rachel, MA Community Music

Careers and skills

Graduates of this course are highly placed in many of the UK arts institutions, with many employed at UK and overseas institutions. Others have taken advantage of the diverse portfolio of arts management and administration gained from this course, or gone on to qualify further as music therapists. You'll also be perfectly equipped to continue your studies to PhD level.

Career opportunities

  • Lecturer in Community Arts
    • York St John University
  • Lecturer in Education
    • University of Rethymnon, Crete
  • Community Outreach Officer
    • University of Cambridge
  • Research Associate
    • National Foundation for Education Research
  • Participation Producer
    • Southbank Centre, London
  • Education Manager
    • London Mozart Players
  • Music Officer
    • Hong Kong Government Activities and Promotion Team
  • Director
    • Sound Out Cork
  • Music Tutor
    • HM Young Offenders' Institution, Wetherby
  • Arts Development Officer
    • City of Durham Council

Transferable skills

  • Time management
  • Leadership
  • Teamwork
  • Critical reflection
  • Presentation
  • Sophisticated writing skills
  • IT and technical skills
  • Communication

Entry requirements

Qualification Typical offer
Undergraduate degree 2:1 or equivalent in Music or a related discipline
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.

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