MA Music: Performance Practice pathway

The University’s Bramall Music Building offers state-of-the-art facilities for performance, including a custom-built music auditorium, the Elgar Concert Hall.

Those wishing to study performance practice post-1800 will benefit from access to these facilities, as well as period-specific resources. For those wishing to study mid- and late-19th Century music, we have an 1851 original Erard piano which can be used for performance of relevant repertoire; and those with an interest in 20th and 21st Century music will have the opportunity to work with the Department’s ‘Ensemble in Association’, the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group.

Dr Scott Wilson

Dr Scott Wilson

“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.”

You will study six core modules and present a substantial solo recital, with commentary.

You will study three core modules:

  • Advanced Performance 1
  • Advanced Performance 2
  • Introduction to Musicology 

You will also choose three optional modules from a range offered within the Department of Music.

Further module information is available below.

Assessment

Modules are assessed by a combination of written and practical assignments. You will also present a substantial solo recital, plus a discursive commentary. 

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. 
  • Taught by experts in the field – you will be taught by our specialists, who embrace an exceptionally wide range of performance practice interests. These include Andrew Kirkman, who, besides being director of the critically acclaimed Renaissance vocal ensemble ‘The Binchois Consort’ has worked on performance-practice projects from the fifteenth to the early nineteenth century; and Amy Brosius , specialist in seventeenth-century Italian vocal music.
  • Fantastic resources available – the state-of-the-art Bramall Music Building offers outstanding facilities, including climate controlled rooms for the Centre for Early Music Performance and Research, multichannel electroacoustic music studios and BEAST, the department’s huge loudspeaker system for electroacoustic music. It is also home to the acoustically flexible and technologically advanced 450-seat Elgar Concert Hall, arguably the best and most adaptable space of its kind in any University in the UK. 
  • The city – the main University campus is within easy reach of the world-renowned Symphony Hall – home of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO) and the Hippodrome – home of the Birmingham Royal Ballet. The Department itself mounts concerts in Symphony Hall, the CBSO Centre and the historic Town Hall, which was the venue for the premieres of many major works, including Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius.

Modules

Core modules

You will study three core modules:

Advanced Performance 1

This module focuses on the technical aspects of performance, and is for advanced performers who are approaching a professional standard. The module culminates in a recital, and the repertoire must be chosen from either the LRSM or FRSM syllabus. 
Assessment: 15-minute recital

Advanced Performance 2

Following on from Advanced Performance 1, your skills will be honed through individual tuition with experts on your instrument/ voice. 
Assessment: Lecture recital comprised of a 15-minute recital and a 15-minute lecture  

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 Electroacoustic Composition 1 and 2
  • Advanced Studies in Instrumental/Vocal Composition
  • Advanced Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Music
  • Arts Management in Practice
  • British Music Studies 1850-1975
  • Composition Tutorials 1
  • Composition Tutorials 2
  • Contemporary Music Studies
  • Fieldwork Methods
  • Historically Informed Performance
  • Introduction to Global Popular Musics
  • Laptop Ensemble
  • Performance Skills 1 and 2

For more information, see our Music module descriptions.

Recital (with commentary)

In addition to your taught modules, you will present a substantial solo recital, of around 30 minutes in length, supported by a prose commentary of 3,800 words. 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.


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 2019/20:

  • UK/EU: £10,000 full-time; £5,000 part-time
  • International: £18,945 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.

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 for pathways in performance must also submit a sample of written work of at least 1,500 words - in English - in addition to the usual supporting documents. This should focus on a musical topic, with academic bibliography and references.

For this pathway, you must also present a 20-minute programme during which you play a varied programme specific to the performance practice period you intend to study at Birmingham. The audition should include a brief spoken introduction - in English - to the programme, discussing the repertoire performed. Students from the United Kingdom are expected to audition in person, where possible. If you are unable to audition in person or are located overseas, you should submit a video-recorded audition. This is preferably submitted as an internet video link, (e.g., YouTube/Vimeo/Youku or Dropbox/WeTransfer/YouSendIt), with the URL pasted into a text document and uploaded to the application portal. 

The writing sample and audition video (where the audition is not taking place in person) 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 students

Academic requirements: We accept a range of qualifications from different countries - our country pages show you 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, or PTE with 59 in all four skills. 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.

Learn more about international entry requirements

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, 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 (writing sample, 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.

Application deadlines

International students requiring visas

Monday 1 July 2019 is the application deadline for international students who require a visa to study in the United Kingdom. We are not able to consider applications for 2019 made after this date - a new application should be made for September 2020. Applications will reopen for 2020 entry in early October 2019.

UK/EU students

Please apply by Thursday 12 September 2019*. However, we would encourage you to apply at the earliest opportunity, to allow adequate time to prepare for starting your studies once receiving a decision on your application.

* Students applying on 12 September must submit their full application with all necessary documents in order to be considered for September 2019 entry. Late applicants are encouraged to contact the Admissions Tutor for advice.

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.

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 final project. If you are a part-time student, you will typically take three modules across each year, followed by your final project.

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 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, around 90% 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, advertising and public relations.

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.