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MA in Music

This degree course is for those who want to develop their research and analytical skills and upgrade their qualifications. It will suit anyone with appropriate entry qualifications who has a passion for music and is looking for an intellectual challenge.

Study Mode

Online Education, Distance Learning & External study modes available

Career relevance and employability

If you wish to pursue a career in academia or research, this qualification will provide a route towards a higher level research degree (e.g. Ph.D.), which is an essential prerequisite for such a career. A masters degree can help to enhance your career prospects as a teacher in secondary and higher education. If your aim is to enter professions associated with the media, culture or knowledge industries, or if you already have a career in one of these areas and are seeking a further qualification as a means of career development, then a masters degree, supplemented by relevant skills and experience, can be useful.

There is more information about how OU study can improve your employability in the OU's Employability Statement from our Careers Advisory Service. You can also read or download our publication OU study and your career and look at our subject pages to find out about career opportunities.


For this masters degree you require:

180 credits from the following compulsory modules:

Postgraduate compulsory modules Credits Next start
Postgraduate foundation module in music (A870)

Find out how music research informs the study of musical performance through examining sources from recordings to ethnographies, across music from many periods and styles.

See full description.

60 Jan
Performances and repertories (A871)

Study musical performances - Western, non-Western and popular - in relation to the environments and institutions in which composers worked, pursuing your own enthusiasms through the course.

See full description.

60 Feb
The music dissertation (A877)

Complete your MA in Music with a dissertation of 16,000-18,000 words, on a subject of your choice, with the guidance of your tutor.

See full description.

60 Feb

Educational aims

This taught postgraduate programme in music (which comprises the postgraduate foundation module (A870), the subject module (A871) and the dissertation module (A877) will:

  • provide you with an advanced academic training in the techniques of postgraduate study in music
  • increase your knowledge and understanding of a range of key themes, including the ways that research is conducted, using both traditional methods and those employing new technologies, and how scholarly discourses about music are conveyed in writing
  • enable you to explore the ways in which research and scholarship inform discourses about, and practices associated with, musical performance.

Learning outcomes

The learning outcomes of the programme are described in four areas.

Knowledge and understanding

When you have completed this degree you will have a sound knowledge and understanding of:

  • the nature, purpose and diversity of postgraduate research in music
  • investigative methods that are generic to music research, together with an ability to use those methods
  • the major concerns in current and recent musical discourse, and the arguments that have existed within them
  • how to analyse a range of different types of sources relevant to music, and an ability to express ideas in extended pieces of writing
  • the relationship between musical scholarship and performance
  • the cultural and thematic breadth of postgraduate music study: the programme structure ensures that you will engage with western and non-western music.

Cognitive skills

When you have completed this degree you will be able to:

  • compare different methodological approaches to music research
  • analyse and compare sources in different media, written and aural
  • analyse and describe musical works and practices
  • use new technology discriminatingly and systematically
  • understand the relationship between scholarly sources and musical performance.

Practical and/or professional skills

When you have completed this degree you will be able to:

  • use research libraries, their archives and their contents efficiently
  • use specialist online databases and other online facilities for postgraduate study
  • form arguments at postgraduate level and express those arguments in substantial pieces of writing using proper academic conventions
  • apply critical and evaluative skills to several themes and topics related to musical performance and assess the importance of these research skills to practical and professional aspects of music.

Key skills

When you have completed this degree you will be able to:

  • write extended pieces of prose based on your own research of primary and secondary sources
  • use internet resources relevant to music efficiently and discriminatingly
  • structure arguments
  • use scholarly conventions accurately
  • find and evaluate musical sources
  • understand relationships between different research and interpretative methods.

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