MA Music: Choral Conducting pathway

Are you a relatively experienced conductor with a burning passion to make conducting your livelihood? 

Our unique MA programme in Choral Conducting is directed by Professor Simon Halsey CBE and is in association with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and its internationally renowned choruses and conductors. It gives students the opportunities to observe, conduct and sing every week. 

The University of Birmingham is home to one of the most vibrant and exciting Music departments in the world. We are an international leader in research and our programme embodies the latest cutting-edge developments in the practice and study of music. 

 
Joshua Rhode

Joshua Rhode

“It’s not just studying – it’s not just classes and textbooks, but podium time. Actually singing with the CBSO; actually connecting with three University choirs. [It has] without a doubt, made me a better conductor.”

The programme will allow you to have significant directed podium time with University ensembles as well as undertaking singing lessons, sing in Birmingham University Singers, sing in the CBSO Chorus and act as assistant conductor to two University choirs.

Additional podium time will be available at the discretion of the Director of Choral Activities.

You will study two core modules:

  • Choral Conducting
  • Arts Management

You will also choose two optional modules offered by the Department of Music.

Assessment

Modules are assessed by a combination of written and practical assignments. You will complete the course with a final recital, which will take the form of a substantial solo recital or a substantial concert of choral repertoire. The recital offers you the opportunity to unite practical and theoretical musicianship, and to demonstrate the ability to plan and independently prepare (with some supervision) a performance at an advanced level.

Why study this course

  • Fantastic teaching - you will learn under the guidance of Professor Simon Halsey as Director of Choral Activities within the Department of Music at Birmingham. Students will also receive tuition from distinguished guest staff including Visiting Lecturer, Julian Wilkins, and Professor Simon Carrington, who joined the choral music-making team in September 2016.
  • Practical opportunities - you will observe and participate in choral ensembles in Birmingham and have the chance to audition for further conducting experience at the University. 
  • Outstanding facilities - students will be based within our £16 million Bramall Music Building, which also features the 450-set Elgar Concert Hall, the most adaptable space of its kind in any UK university. 
  • The city - Birmingham has been a significant national and international centre of choral excellence for over two hundred years and is the birthplace of works as important as Mendelssohn's Elijah, Dvorak's Requiem and Elgar's The Dream of Gerontius. The city has also become a hotspot of composition invention and a world leader in community and education work. 

Modules

You will study two core modules:

Choral Conducting

The module introduces you to the techniques and methods of choral conducting, working with consorts, chamber groups and large symphonic choirs, including singing skills and vocal warm up techniques.
Assessment: Public performance, assessed rehearsal and aural test

Arts Management

A practical module in Arts Management focussing on the Classical Music industry delivered as a combination of seminars and practical classes. Subjects covered include marketing, stakeholder management, project management, fundraising and finance, and ‘creating a project with impact’.
Assessment: Written assignments and presentation

You will also choose two optional modules from a range which typically includes:

Introduction to Musicology 

This module prepares students for the field of Musicology by examining key issues, theories, and methodologies in the field. It is taught as a series of seminars by various members of staff, and lectures within the Music Research Colloquium series.
Assessment: Written assignments and class presentation

British Music Studies

This module takes the broadest perspective on modern British art music, offering case studies in the work of the ‘great composers’ of the tonal idiom such as Elgar, Vaughan Williams and Britten, evaluation of the Anglican choral tradition and the British symphonic tradition, examination of the problematic status of modernism in British music before 1960, and criticism of modernist and postmodernist composition since World War II. Approaches are critical, analytical and sociological, with some reception history as well. The repertory under study is mainly choral, orchestral and chamber music.
Assessment: Two 4,000-word essays

Gender and Music

The field of gender studies is a very important area of focus in musicological and ethnomusicological research. This module is divided into two parts: a ten-week seminar on gender studies in general followed by an independent study during which you will apply learned information from the seminar to a chosen essay topic in the discipline of music. The seminar will focus on the interdisciplinary and cross-cultural aspects of gender studies and feminist theories. You will be introduced to a range of theoretical and methodological issues and debates that have characterised the development of gender studies in the twentieth century. You will also be introduced to the ontological, epistemological and methodological issues that arise in feminist scholarship. You will engage with the study of these issues both as analytical categories and approaches within the social sciences. During your independent study, you will meet with an advisor to create an appropriate project that will enable you to apply the general knowledge of gender studies and feminist theories specifically to research in the discipline of music.
Assessment: One or two written assignments, totalling 7-8,000 words

Analysis of Music 1770–1910

This module explores major compositions of the Classical and Romantic traditions and explains the main analytical techniques that have been developed for understanding them over the last two decades. These include theories of formal functions (William E. Caplin), ‘dialogic’ form’ (James Hepokoski and Warren Darcy), metrical conflict (Harald Krebs, Richard Cohn), and ‘second practice’ tonality.
Assessment: Two analytical assignments

Studies in Performance Practice

This module combines the disciplines of musicology and performance, introducing you to the main topics in performance practice of western music. Case studies are devoted to Baroque, Classical, Romantic and twentieth-century music. The module will instruct develop the skills necessary for the PhD in Performance Practice. Topics covered may include organology, rhythm and tempo, articulation, pitch and temperaments, notation, the history of recorded performance and debates around ‘authenticity’ in performance. 
Assessment: Two written assignments or a combination of written and practical assignments 


Please note that the optional module information listed on the website for this programme is intended to be indicative, and the availability of optional modules may vary from year to year. Where a module is no longer available we will let you know as soon as we can and help you to make other choices.

Fees and funding

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2017/18: 

  • Home/EU: £8,370 full-time
  • Overseas: £17,610 full-time 

Fee status

Eligibility for home/EU or overseas fees can be verified with Admissions. Learn more about fees for international students

We can also confirm that EU students who are already studying at the University of Birmingham or who have an offer to start their studies in 2017-18 or 2018-19 academic years will continue to be charged the UK fee rate applicable at the time, provided this continues to be permitted by UK law. The UK Government has also confirmed that students from the EU applying to courses starting in the 2017-18 and 2018-19 academic years will not see any changes to their loan eligibility or fee status. This guarantee will apply for the full duration of the course, even if the course finishes after the UK has left the EU.

Paying your fees

Tuition fees can either be paid in full or by instalments. Learn more about postgraduate tuition fees and funding.

Scholarships and studentships

Scholarships to cover fees and/or maintenance costs may be available. To discover whether you are eligible for any award across the University, and to start your funding application, please visit the University's Postgraduate Funding Database.

International students can often gain funding through overseas research scholarships, Commonwealth scholarships or their home government.

Entry requirements

We usually ask for a good Honours degree (2:1), or equivalent, in Music or a related subject with a substantial musical component. Degrees in other subjects will be considered where candidates have significant professional musical experience and relevant qualifications.

Your application should include a personal statement of approximately 5,000 characters. You should use your personal statement to explain why you are interested in studying this programme. In order to expedite processing, please clearly state the pathway to which you are applying within the first paragraph of your personal statement. For the Choral Conducting pathway, please also ensure that you are applying to the 'MA Music (with Performance)'.

All prospective students must also provide audition materials. Students from the United Kingdom are expected to audition in person, where possible. If you are unable to arrange an audition in person or are located overseas, you should submit video evidence to support your application. Please submit two videos - one video in a rehearsal setting and one of a recent public performance. Videos should be submitted online via YouTube/YouKu (preferred option) or DropBox.

Please adhere to the following guidelines for both videos:

  • Each video should be 10 minutes in duration
  • The camera should be facing you as conductor with your upper body and facial expressions visible
  • You should show contrasting repertoire from the Western Classical Tradition

Learn more about entry requirements

International students

Academic requirements

We accept a range of qualifications; our country pages show you what qualifications we accept from your country.

English language requirements

You can satisfy our English language requirements in two ways:

How to apply

Please review our Entry Requirements before making your application.

International students requiring visas

Monday 3 July 2017 is the application deadline for international students who require a visa to study in the United Kingdom. Applications received after this date will not be considered. Applications will reopen for 2018 entry on 15 September 2017.

Before you make your application

You may wish to register your interest with us to receive regular news and updates on postgraduate life within this Department and the wider University.

Making your application

When clicking on the Apply Now button you will be directed to an application specifically designed for the programme you wish to apply for where you will create an account with the University application system and submit your application and supporting documents online. Further information regarding how to apply online can be found on the How to apply pages

Apply now

Your learning will be enhanced by our extensive facilities, including the Bramall Music Building and the Barber Music Library.

You will also become part of, and contribute to, the lively international community of the College of Arts and Law Graduate School, which offers dedicated research resources and a supportive working environment. Our team of academic and operational staff are on hand to offer support and advice to all postgraduate students within the College.

Support with academic writing

As a postgraduate student in the College of Arts and Law, you have access to the Academic Writing Advisory Service (AWAS) which aims to help your transition from undergraduate to taught Masters level, or back into academia after time away. The service offers guidance on writing assignments and dissertations for your MA/MSc programme with individual support from an academic writing advisor via tutorials, email and the provision of online materials.

International students can access support for English Language development and skills through the Birmingham International Academy (BIA).

Your degree will provide excellent preparation for employment and this will be further enhanced by a range of employability support services offered by the University.

The University's Careers Network provides advice and information specifically for postgraduates that will help you to develop an effective career and skills development strategy, and to make the most of your time with us at the University. The College of Arts and Law also has a dedicated careers and employability team to deliver tailored programmes of careers events and local support.

You will have opportunities to: meet employers face-to-face at on-campus recruitment fairs; attend employer presentations and skills workshops; receive individual guidance on your job applications, writing your CV and improving your interview technique; and access to comprehensive listings of hundreds of graduate jobs and work experience opportunities.

You will also be able to access our full range of careers support for up to two years after graduation.

Postgraduate employability: Music

Birmingham's Music postgraduates work in a wide range of careers within and beyond the music world. A postgraduate degree in Music develops a broad base of skills including general skills such as communication, problem solving and research, and also specific skills developed by practice and performance such as self-management, team work and presentation.

Over the past five years, 91% of Music postgraduates were in work and/or further study six months after graduation. Whilst some graduates pursue music-related careers, or go on to teaching and lecturing roles, others choose to use their transferable skills to follow career paths in fields including finance and the public sector.

Music postgraduate alumni profiles

Birmingham has been transformed into one of Europe's most exciting cities. It is more than somewhere to study; it is somewhere to build a successful future.

Get involved

The Guild of Students hosts over 250 student groups and societies to suit a wide range of interests. These include the Postgraduate and Mature Students Association which runs a regular and varied programme of events specifically tailored to postgraduate students.

In addition, you will find that each Department runs its own social activities, research fora and student groups.

Accommodation

We offer accommodation for postgraduates on or near to campus, although many of our students also choose to live privately in student accommodation, shared houses or flats. If you do choose to live in private accommodation, the University has dedicated support services to help you to find properties from accredited landlords.

The City of Birmingham

One of Europe's most exciting destinations, Birmingham is brimming with life and cultures, making it a wonderful place to live, study and work. Our students fall in love with the city - around 40% of our graduates choose to make Birmingham their home.