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MA Music (Performance Practice pathway)

Find creative ways to tackle the challenges arising from performance in your specialist area.

Year of entry: 2022 (September)
Show year of entry: 2023


1 year full-time,
2 years part-time

Start date

September 2022 (term dates)

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This pathway gives string and woodwind players the opportunity for in-depth research into historically-informed performance.

You'll work with academics and teachers with extensive knowledge in a wide range of repertoire, allowing you to explore your chosen area of study in depth. Regular workshops and performance opportunities will provide valuable feedback and allow you to expand your repertoire and improve your performance skills and understanding of musical style.

Previous students have gone on to professional performing careers or to further study on performance courses. This pathway is also an excellent preparation for students wanting to progress to research degrees in performance.

Outstanding facilities

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

School ensembles

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

University of the Year shortlisted

We're proud to announce that we've been shortlisted for two prestigious University of the Year awards.

  • Times Higher Education Awards 2021
  • The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2022

Find out more about our nominations

Course content

All pathways for the MA Music follow the same structure. 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 study a series of core modules. In addition to these modules, we strongly encourage you to participate in ensembles such as Chamber Choir, University Choir, The 24 and Baroque Ensemble, and to attend weekly research seminarsperformance classes and other seminars relevant to your studies. 

You’ll receive 30 hours of private instrumental or vocal tuition over the year.


Projects I and II

As part of the modules Project I and Project II, you’ll attend a weekly seminar related to your pathway. If you want to specialise in the performance practice, style, and repertoire of 1550 – 1840, you will attend a pathway seminar that deals specifically with these themes. If your interests lie after 1840, we can create a bespoke pathway to suit your needs. Whatever your specialist interests, however, you are welcome and encouraged to attend all relevant classes, including any suitable undergraduate modules.

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

At the end of the first two modules you’ll produce a guided submission; these take the form of 25-30 minute recitals with accompanying commentaries. The assessments for these two commentaries 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

Project III is an extended individual project. For Performance Practice, this will take the form of a 40-45 minute recital along with a 1,000-1,500 word commentary.

Recent recital programmes have included:

  • Bach oboe and violin concerti
  • Handel trio sonatas
  • Gamba solos and duets by Marais and cello solos by Handel, Telemann, Fiocco
  • Organ solos by Bach, Couperin, Clérambault
  • Purcell theatre songs

Critical Reflection in Musical Practice

Critical Reflection in Musical Practice runs throughout the year. In this module you’ll develop sophisticated ways to articulate critical and reflective outlooks on your creative work, culminating in a presentation to fellow pathway students.

Our modules may change to reflect the latest academic thinking and expertise of our staff.
Our course structures are changing in September 2023. Find out more about how this course may be affected.

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, for example by performing, composing, critical listening and thinking, analysing, 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
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 Practice pathway) student

Fees and funding

Annual tuition fees for 2022/23

Study modeUK (home)International and EU
Full-time (1 year) £9,290£19,950
Part-time (2 years)
This is the year 1 fee. Fees for future years are subject to confirmation.

Students on a Student Visa (formerly 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.

  • 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 2022/23 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


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. Performance seminars from internal and external speakers will also run throughout the week, which you will be expected to attend. These will concentrate on issues that affect all performers, such as ornamentation, rhythmic alteration, editions, recordings, baroque dance, rhetoric, communication. You'll have the opportunity to perform recital repertoire to members of the group 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.

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


We have a fine collection of early instruments including a copy of a 1795 Viennese fortepiano, a Broadwood square piano (c.1830), three harpsichords, a clavichord, a three-manual neo-classical organ, a continuo organ, a chest of viols and various Renaissance, Baroque and Classical instruments.

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 School of Arts and Creative Technologies is 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 be assessed through a total of three recitals: two of 25-30 minutes and one of 40-45 minutes. Each recital must also be accompanied by a commentary of 1,000-1,500 words.

In some circumstances, the length of the recital may be reduced and supplemented by an essay.

Careers and skills

Performance Practice graduates have gone onto a variety of performance-based careers and further study. Graduates have also gone on to teaching posts, both freelance and employed by an institution. Further study destinations include both conservatoires and other universities.

Career opportunities

  • Arts administrator
  • Music teacher
  • Freelance solo performer
  • Member of an orchestra
  • Member of a choir
  • Private music tutor

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

You will need to submit a sample of your creative work with your application. Please see our guidance on submitting creative work.

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 6.0, minimum 5.5 in each component
C1 Advanced and C2 Proficiency 169, minimum 162 in each component
Duolingo 100, minimum 90 in all other components
LanguageCert B2 Communicator High Pass with 33/50 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'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 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 materials 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 Western art music.

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

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School of Arts and Creative Technologies

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