MA Music: Early Music pathway

Are you fascinated in early music - not just the music of a particular period, but also the approach to performing and thinking about music?

Are you interested in learning how the music performance of the past can be used to enhance our understanding today? 

The University’s £16m Bramall Music Building has a world-leading Centre for Early Music Performance and Research (CEMPR), with state-of-the-art facilities. Those wishing to write a dissertation on 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.

You will receive specialist supervision as well as training in specific critical and analytical skills to equip you for further study. You will also have the opportunity to participate in one or more of our CEMPR ensembles and receive tuition from the professional performers on our staff, providing an invaluable context for your work.

 

Early Music studies have always been a centrepiece of Birmingham’s offerings, and the department includes two early music specialists:

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:

  • Introduction to Musicology
  • Advanced Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Music

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

  • British Music Studies
  • Contemporary Music Studies
  • Special Study in Music
  • Studies in Performance Practice

Full descriptions are available below.

Assessment

Modules are typically assessed by written assignment, and some also require a presentation, examination or practical component. You will also complete a 15,000-word musicology dissertation.

Why study this course

  • Centre for Early Music Performance and Research (CEMPR)CEMPR is one of the few centres of its kind in Europe where the highest professional level of performance and academic research in early music are bought together.
  • Plenty of opportunities to get involved – CEMPR also exists to co-ordinate and encourage all kinds of early music activities within the Music Department and the University, from lessons for beginners on Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque instruments and in early vocal techniques, through workshops, master classes and concerts, to performance practice, international symposia and research projects.
  • Attend workshops and masterclasses - we have close links with many of the leading early music performers and ensembles around Europe and in the US, and with staff  working in other early music institutes (such as the Schola Cantorum  Basiliensis, Switzerland, and others in The Hague, Amsterdam, Paris, Rome, Venice and Berlin). Consequently there are frequent opportunities at CEMPR to attend workshops, lectures and masterclasses with some of the best performers and scholars of our generation. 
  • Flexibility – you will have the opportunity to undertake further research in early music or to pursue a professional career as a performer or even mix the two paths – the choice is really up to you.

Modules

You will study two core modules:

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: Four 2,000-word essays

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. 
Assessment: Written assignments and examination

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

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

Contemporary Music Studies

This module studies the explosion of musical expression that characterises 20th-century and contemporary music, focusing on key movements (serialism, minimalism, etc) and concerns (tonality/atonality, aleatoric principles, etc). Starting from the musical ‘crisis’ of the early years of the 20th century, the course will address issues such as the separation of ‘art’ and ‘popular’ music, the impact of technology and the presumption of postmodernism at the start of the 21st century. The marked shift in aesthetics and music’s ‘function’ will also be discussed.
Assessment: One or two written assignments, totalling 9,000 words

Special Study in Music 

You will undertake a special study of a particular field of your choice under the direction of the leader of your pathway, which will typically require attendance at an appropriate series of lectures or tutorials as well as independent reading and research. Topics for study might include: vocalists in the Baroque era; topics in music analysis; or topics in critical musicology.
Assessment: Written assignment 

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 2018/19 are as follows:

  • UK / EU: £9,000 full-time; £4,500 part-time
  • International: £16,290 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/EU or international 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 the 2018-19 academic year 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 2018-19 academic year 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.

All prospective students must also submit a sample of written work of at least 3,000 words - in English - in addition to the usual supporting documents. This should focus on a musical topic, with academic bibliography and references.

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.

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.

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 four 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

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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

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