MA Music: Early Music Performance Practice pathway (without solo tuition)

The University’s new £16m Bramall Music Building has a world-leading Centre for Early Music Performance and Research with state-of-the-art facilities. These include especially designed rooms with humidity and environment control in which you can carry out practice-based research on the collection of over 100 of the finest ‘period’ instruments. Those wishing to study performance practices in early music will benefit from access to these facilities, as well as the expertise of staff on a wide range of topics in early music, from the Middle Ages to c.1800. In addition, we provide essential training in early music theory, and a full and detailed knowledge of all the sources of information on performance practice appropriate to the early music repertoire you are playing. This pathway, without solo performance tuition, is ideal for experienced players who wish to concentrate on a particular aspect of performance practice. This pathway focuses on the performance of early music, but we also offer a Music MA: Performance Practice pathway (post-1800)

Course fact file

Type of Course: Taught

Study Options: Full time, part time

Duration: 1 year full-time; 2 years part-time

Start date: September 2014


Early Music studies have always been a centrepiece of Birmingham’s offerings, and the department includes three early music specialists: Mary O’Neill, who has expertise in music from the Middle Ages to the late 18th Century; Amy Brosius, specialist in seventeenth-century vocal music; and Andrew Kirkman, scholar of late medieval music and director of early music projects from the fifteenth to the early nineteenth century. In addition, CEMPR has some twenty professional early music performers of international standing on its staff who not only teach early vocal and instrumental techniques and repertoire, but also engage in practice-led research.

You will study two core modules:

  • Information Skills and Resources in Music
  • Introduction to Music Research

You will complete the programme with your choice of optional modules and present a substantial solo recital plus a discursive commentary. The recital offers you the opportunity to unite practical and theoretical musicianship. The performance interpretation should be informed by historical context, and the commentary should establish and discuss the rationale for the interpretation with reference to that context. The recital programme should be built around a particular historical repertory or technique.


You will study two core modules:

  • Information Skills and Resources in Music
    This module helps you to identify and access appropriate bibliographical resources, archives, and other sources of relevant information; describe in detail the process of bibliographical research and justify it; and execute a critical survey of the existing literature on a research topic.
  • Introduction to Music Research
    The module introduces you to contemporary issues, methods, techniques and debates in music, in such areas as source studies (manuscript, printed, electronic), historical performance practice, reception history, and genre studies.

You will also choose three optional modules as follows:

One of –

  • Advanced Studies in Baroque and Early Classical Music 
    This module will provide the technical and theoretical background for working in this period and equip you with the skills necessary to proceed to a PhD in Baroque and Early Classical Music. Through a series of case studies, you will be shown a variety of analytical models to provide you with different ways of engaging with the music as well as of talking and thinking about it. You will also examine complex and controversial issues of performance practice.
  • Advanced Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Music 
    This module will provide the technical and theoretical background for working in this period and equip you with the skills necessary to proceed to a PhD in Medieval or Renaissance Music.  Through a series of case studies, you will be shown a variety of analytical models to provide you with different ways of engaging with the music as well as of talking and thinking about it. You will also examine complex and controversial issues of performance practice.

One of –

  • Techniques of Music Editing
    This module will show you the mechanics and transcription of early notation in the context of brief editing projects, and to apply knowledge gained in Introduction to Music Research and elective modules in understanding source traditions. You will develop skills in transcription, in the interpretation of various notations, and in the critical evaluation of different editions.
  • Baroque Performance Practice 
    This module will equip you with a range of skills necessary to proceed to PhD in Performance Practice, or, if you are specialising in other areas, it will give you a detailed knowledge to be able to engage with many practical aspects of Baroque music. Topics covered will include organology, rhythm and tempo, articulation, pitch and temperaments, notation, and performance rhetoric.

Plus, one of –

  • Musicology Research Seminar
    Invited speakers from other universities will give eight musicology research seminars, each of one hour in length, followed by discussion. The seminars will provide case studies in a range of methods, techniques and philosophies in contemporary musicology. Staff of the Music Department will lead four follow-up sessions of up to one hour in length, examining the broader issues that lie behind the approaches taken in the seminars.
  • Introduction to Medieval and Renaissance Music 
    This module introduces you to some central issues of music of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Topics addressed will include: issues of working with original sources; orality and literacy; the relationships between image, music and text; performance practices and locations; liturgical, secular and broader social and cultural roles of music. You will also look at new critical ways to approach music of the time within an interdisciplinary context.
  • Early Music Small Ensemble 
    You will have the opportunity to put together a small ensemble, arrange regular rehearsals, devise and prepare a programme of 25 minutes of music and write a commentary on the programme.
  • Module outside of music
    You may also select a complementary module outside of music – for example, a language module or a module from Medieval or Early Modern programmes within the College of Arts and Law.

Fees and funding

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2014/15 are as follows:

  • Home / EU: £5,940 full-time; £2,970 part-time
  • Overseas: £13,665 full-time

Learn more about 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.

University of Birmingham graduates - including those due to graduate in summer 2014 - may be entitled to a fee reduction through the College of Arts and Law Alumni Bursary scheme.

Entry requirements

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

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

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Learning and teaching

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

You will also become part of, and contribute to, the vibrant 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 through the English for International Students Unit (EISU).

Related research


The University of Birmingham has been ranked 8th in the UK and 60th in the world for post-qualification employability in the latest global survey of universities commissioned by the International Herald Tribune.

Your degree will provide excellent preparation for employment and this will be further enhanced by the employability skills training offered through the College of Arts and Law Graduate School.

Music postgraduates develop 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. A snapshot of graduate destinations over a five-year period has identified a variety of career paths from being a music tutor or a singing teacher to becoming a business analyst or advertising executive. Over the last five years, we are proud that 100% of our Music students have been in employment or further study within six months of graduating.