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MA Music (with Performance): Choral Conducting pathway

Start date
September
Duration
1 year full-time
Course Type
Postgraduate, Taught
Fees

Annual tuition fee for 2024 entry:
UK: £11,642 full-time
International: £25,290 full-time
More detail.

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. 

The programme will allow you to have significant directed podium time with University ensembles and beyond. This includes leading weekly rehearsals with University Camerata, singing in Birmingham University Singers, singing in the CBSO Chorus, and acting as assistant conductor for up to five University choirs (additional podium time will be available at the discretion of the Director of Choral Activities).

Scholarships for 2024 entry

The University of Birmingham is proud to offer a range of scholarships for our postgraduate programmes. With a scholarship pot worth over £2 million, we are committed to alleviating financial barriers to support you in taking your next steps.

Each scholarship has its own specific deadlines and eligibility criteria. Please familiarise yourself with the information on individual scholarship webpages prior to submitting an application.

Explore our scholarships

At Birmingham, Postgraduate Taught and Postgraduate Research students also have the opportunity to learn graduate academic languages free of charge, to support your studies.

The MA in Music at Birmingham offers first class, world-recognised staff who are absolute experts in their fields, so you're learning from people who really are the best at what they do. We also have excellent facilities such as the Elgar Concert Hall, which is arguably the most flexible concert hall of its type in any UK university.

Professor Scott Wilson

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 Visiting Lecturer, Julian Wilkins, as well as other distinguished guest staff across the academic year in masterclasses and workshops.
  • Practical opportunities -  you will participate in a wide variety of choral ensembles in Birmingham and have the chance to audition for further conducting experience at the University. Students will also observe world-leading conductors and educators in choral practice on a regular basis, including Bob Chilcott who is part of the choral music-making team.
  • Outstanding facilities - students will be based within our state-of-the-art Bramall Music Building, which also features the 450-seat Elgar Concert Hall, the most adaptable space of its kind in any UK university. Concerts and rehearsals are also held in the University Music Hub.
  • 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. 

The postgraduate experience

The College of Arts and Law offers excellent support to its postgraduates, from libraries and research spaces, to careers support and funding opportunities. Learn more about your postgraduate experience.

Modules

You will study four core modules and two optional modules before completing your Choral Conducting Major Project.

Core modules

You will study four core modules:

Choral Conducting 1

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. Study of core symphonic choral repertoire, as well as detailed score study and preparation, complement the learning experience.
Assessment: Public performance

Choral Conducting 2

The module continues to develop your conducting technique, as well as working with consorts, chamber groups and large symphonic choirs.
Assessment: Aural assessment and assessed rehearsal

British Music in Performance

This module will provide an introduction to issues specific to the performance of British art music repertory, both vocal and instrumental, from the mid-nineteenth century to the post-1945 period. There will be two primary areas of focus. The first will be the history of institutions and occasions for musical performance: concert and choral societies, pedagogical institutions (especially the conservatories), festivals, broadcasting, the recording industry, commemorative events, and so on. The second will be the history of performance practice itself, as documented by pedagogical texts and written reminiscences, as well as by recordings. 

Assessment: Two written assignments

Music Employability

Music Employability offers opportunities to develop applicable skills to foster a music career and identify transferable skills for adjacent career trajectories. You will improve your grant writing skills, cultivate public presentation skills, acquire skills in content creation, and explore new means of self-promotion. Using a combination of seminar discussions, masterclasses, and project-based work, you will draw on the resources of the University of Birmingham Careers Network and connections to the wider city community to pursue topics that may include leadership cultivation, digital literacy, professional development, copyright awareness, public presentation tools, podcast and video creation, and website development.

Assessment: Professional Development Statement and Portfolio and Creative Project 

Optional modules

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

  • Historically Informed Performance
  • Introduction to Global Popular Musics
  • Topics in Early Music
  • Electronic Music Studies
  • Aesthetics and the Philosophy of Art
  • Sound Studies
  • Music as Critical Practice
  • Classical and Romantic Keyboard Music
  • Gustav Mahler: The Philosophy of Music
  • Postsocialist Music and Ethnography

For more information, see our Music module descriptions.

Choral Conducting Major Project

Students apply skills and methods acquired in other MA modules to a conduct formal concert (or equivalent parts of more than one concert) of choral repertoire. The concert(s) offer(s) the student the opportunity to unite practical and theoretical musicianship and to demonstrate an ability to plan and independently prepare (with supervision) a performance at an advanced level.

Students are also required attend and to write short summaries of eight seminars presented as part of the Music Research Colloquium series during the academic year.


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

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2024 entry:

  • UK: £11,642 full-time; £5,821 part-time
  • International: £25,290 full-time

The above fees quoted are for one year only; for those studying over two or more years, tuition fees will also be payable in subsequent years of your programme.

Fee status

Eligibility for UK or international fees can be verified with Admissions. Learn more about fees for international students.

Paying your fees

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


Are you an international applicant?

All international applicants to this course will be required to pay a non-refundable deposit of £2,000 on receipt of an offer, to secure their place.

Find out more about the deposit >>.

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.

How To Apply

Advice on your application

Please review our Entry Requirements carefully before making your application.

Please note that we take your degree grades, personal statement, English language results (if applicable), audition and relevant experience into consideration when we make admission decisions. We also conduct telephone/Skype interviews and ask for your cooperation in setting a mutually convenient date for this to enable us to make a decision on your application.

Please ensure that your application has been completed fully within two weeks of submission as we cannot consider your application without all of the necessary documentation (audition, references, personal statement and results, if available). If you have outstanding documentation relating to pending language test results and degree results, please make this clear on your application, and your application will be considered. We are able to make offers which are conditional on you achieving a particular qualification if you have not yet finished your current programme of study.

How to Apply for a Postgraduate Degree - Taught programmes

Application deadlines

The deadline for International students (requiring a VISA) to apply is 30 June 2024. The deadline for UK students is 30 August 2024.

Making your application

How to apply

To apply for a postgraduate taught programme, you will need to submit your application and supporting documents online. We have put together some helpful information on the taught programme application process and supporting documents on our how to apply page. Please read this information carefully before completing your application.

Apply now

Our Standard 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

Where the audition is not taking place in person, videos should be submitted at the time of making your application, or uploaded within two weeks of submitting your application. If they are not provided within the stated timeframe your application may be declined.

International/EU students

Academic requirements: We accept a range of qualifications from different countries - use our handy guide below to see what qualifications we accept from your country.

English language requirements: standard language requirements apply for this course - IELTS 6.5 with no less than 6.0 in any band. If you are made an offer of a place to study and you do not meet the language requirement, you have the option to enrol on our English for Academic Purposes Presessional Course - if you successfully complete the course, you will be able to fulfil the language requirement without retaking a language qualification.

IELTS 6.5 with no less than 6.0 in any band is equivalent to:

  • TOEFL: 88 overall with no less than 21 in Reading, 20 Listening, 22 Speaking and 21 in Writing
  • Pearson Test of English (PTE): Academic 67 with no less than 64 in all four skills
  • Cambridge English (exams taken from 2015): Advanced - minimum overall score of 176, with no less than 169 in any component

Learn more about international entry requirements

International Requirements


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

Teaching year

We have three teaching terms per year, the autumn, spring and summer terms. Term dates can be found on our website.

As a full-time student, you will typically take three modules in each of the first two terms, followed by your dissertation. If you are a part-time student, you will typically take three modules across each year, followed by your dissertation.

Each module represents a total of 200 hours of study time, including preparatory reading, homework and assignment preparation.

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).

The University of Birmingham is the top choice for the UK's major employers searching for graduate recruits, according to The Graduate Market 2024 report.

Your degree will provide excellent preparation for your future career, but this can also be enhanced by a range of employability support services offered by the University and the College of Arts and Law.

The University's Careers Network provides expert guidance and activities especially for postgraduates, which will help you achieve your career goals. The College of Arts and Law also has a dedicated  careers and employability team who offer tailored advice and a programme of College-specific careers events.

You will be encouraged to make the most of your postgraduate experience and will have the opportunity to:

  • Receive one-to-one careers advice, including guidance on your job applications, writing your CV and improving your interview technique, whether you are looking for a career inside or outside of academia
  • Meet employers face-to-face at on-campus recruitment fairs and employer presentations
  • Attend an annual programme of careers fairs, skills workshops and conferences, including bespoke events for postgraduates in the College of Arts and Law
  • Take part in a range of activities to demonstrate your knowledge and skills to potential employers and enhance your CV

What’s more, you will be able to access our full range of careers support for up to 2 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.

Graduates from the Choral Conducting pathway have moved into positions with organisations such as: Dallas Symphony Chorus; London Symphony Chorus; Berliner Philharmoniker; Genesis Sixteen; Crouch End Festival Chorus; University of Miami; Baltimore Choral Arts; National Youth Choirs of Great Britain; and Gondwana Choirs.