MA Music: Global Popular Musics pathway

Start date
September
Duration
1 year full-time; 2 years part-time
Course Type
Postgraduate, Taught
Fees

We charge an annual tuition fee.
Fees for 2020/21:
UK / EU: £9,250 full-time
International: £18,450 full-time
More detail.

This programme builds on one of the department’s newest areas for research and teaching.It focuses on popular music in global, diasporic, transnational, and linguistically diverse forms, reflecting emerging trends in popular music scholarship.

It moves beyond the traditional focus on album recordings and stage performances to include significant forms of ‘ubiquitous music’, including music in film/TV/advertising/video games. For those wishing to study Anglophone popular music, this approach will enhance the cultural relevance of your work.

The MA in Music at Birmingham offers first class, world-recognised staff who are experts in their fields meaning students learn from people who really are the best at what they do.

Students study within the excellent facilities available with the Elgar Concert Hall, which is one of the most flexible concert halls of its type in any UK university.

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.

Dr Scott Wilson

Why Study this Course?

  • Excellent reputation - the Department of Music is one of the most distinguished in the UK, with a history stretching back to 1905 when Edward Elgar was appointed the University’s first Professor of Music and looking forward to the latest cutting-edge developments in the practice and study of music.
  • Learn from experts - Dr Luis-Manuel Garcia lectures on Ethnomusicology and Popular Music Studies and teaches on the programme. His research focuses on electronic dance music scenes, although he also publishes research on music festivals, fieldwork methodology, sonic grain/texture, and queer theory. Dr Alexander Cannon lectures on the musics of Asia, creativity studies, and fieldwork methodology.
  • Local research opportunities - being in the West Midlands, where large South Asian, Caribbean, and Eastern European migrant communities constitute a significant part of the local music community, provides considerable opportunities for local field research.
  • Exceptional facilities - You will benefit from some of the best facilities for music study and practice in the country, including state-of-the-art facilities in our Bramall Music Building along with practice rooms, electro-acoustic music studios, early instruments, computer workstations. You will also have access to the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, with its magnificent Art Deco Concert Hall and Library.
  • Employability - we have an excellent record of postgraduate employment, with former postgraduate Music students holding academic posts at institutions such as the University of Manchester, Edinburgh University, the University of Sheffield, the Royal Scottish Academic of Music and Drama, the University of Malaysia, and Harvard University.

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

Core modules

You will study three core modules:

Fieldwork Methods

This practice-led module will build the skills needed to conduct an independent ethnographic research project. Throughout the module, you will become acquainted with the various methods available for fieldwork and learn to assess their strengths and weaknesses in relation to varying research contexts.

Topics addressed may include: project design and planning, ethics, audio-visual documentation, interviewing, fieldnotes, transcription, and online/virtual ethnography. Instruction and assessment will be hands-on, applying theoretical readings to concrete materials and activities.  
Assessment: 2,500-word research prospectus and five applied fieldwork assignments totalling 2,500 words

Introduction to Global Popular Musics

This module aims to familiarise you with a field of study that has been emerging from the intersection of ethnomusicology and popular music studies. Assigned readings, discussions, and assessments will seek to situate popular music in a global context while also attending to the ways that global processes impact local musical actors, scenes, and styles. Particular attention will be paid to ethnography and its application to the study of popular musics. Topics and cases to be explored included diasporic popular musics, musical migration, recording and production, global music industries, musical labour in the ‘creative industries’, local music scenes, urban contexts, and media theory. This module will also provide an orientation to relevant fields of study (including ethnomusicology and popular music studies) through an engagement with foundational disciplinary texts as well as current debates.
Assessment: 3,000-word research project and ten weekly reading responses totalling 1,500 words

Introduction to Musicology

This module prepares you for the field of Musicology by examining key issues, theories, and methodologies in the field. It is taught as a series of seminars by a number of staff in the Department of Music, and any research presentations organised for department staff and visiting scholars. 
Assessment: Two 2,500-word essays

Optional modules

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

  • Advanced Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Music
  • Aesthetics and the Philosophy of Art
  • British Music Studies 1850-1975
  • Contemporary Music Studies
  • Experimental Music and Sound Art

You may also select one undergraduate module to take at the MA level. Modules may include:

  • Music Festivals
  • Music, Protest and Social Activism
  • Postsocialist Music and Ethnography
  • The Blues

For more information, see our Music module descriptions.

Optional modules outside of Music

You also have the opportunity to take one optional module outside of Music. Modules may include:

  • Empire and Identity
  • Ideas, Ideals and Ideologies
  • Sexuality, Gender and Representation

Dissertation

In addition to your taught modules, you will conduct a piece of independent research with the support of a supervisor, culminating in a 15,000-word dissertation.


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 2020/21 are as follows:

  • UK / EU: £9,250 full-time; £4,625 part-time
  • International: £18,450 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


For EU students applying for the 2020/21 academic year

The UK Government has confirmed that EU students will continue to be eligible for 'home fee status' for entry in September 2020, and will continue to have access to financial support available via student loans for the duration of their course. For more information take a look at the gov.uk website.

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.

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), writing sample 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 (writing sample, 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.

Application deadlines

The deadline for International students to apply is Wednesday 1 July 2020. The deadline for UK/EU students is Thursday 10 September 2020.

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

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.

All prospective students for pathways in musicology 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. This should be submitted at the time of making your application, or uploaded within two weeks of submitting your application. If this is 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, 21 Listening, 22 Speaking and 21 in Writing
  • Pearson Test of English (PTE): Academic 59 in all four skills
  • Cambridge English (exams taken from 2015): Advanced - minimum overall score of 176, with no less than 169 in any component

International Requirements


Your learning will be enhanced by our facilities and music-making opportunities, including the Bramall Music Building and the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group

Course delivery 

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

As a full-time student, you will typically take three modules in each term, 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, assignment preparation and independent study.

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 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.

Over the past 5 years, 75% of Music postgraduates were in work and/or further study 6 months after graduation (DLHE 2012 - 2017). While 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, advertising and public relations.