MA Music: Performance pathway

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

Annual tuition fee for 2022:
UK: £10,867.50 full-time
International: £22,140 full-time
More detail.

The Performance Pathway prepares students for careers as performers and educators, with an emphasis on advanced technique and stage performance.

Performance constitutes perhaps our fastest growing and most exciting venture, with ambitious plans growing out of the £16 million Bramall Music Building, a facility equipped with the acoustically peerless Elgar Concert Hall and Dome Rehearsal Room, designed by Birmingham Symphony Hall acoustician Nick Edwards.

Full time staff include Director of Performance Ceri Owen, an award-winning collaborative pianist and scholar, and scholar-performer and early music conductor Andrew Kirkman. They join forces with Simon Halsey, renowned chorus master of the CBSO and Berlin Radio Choir, and orchestral conductor Daniele Rosina, plus instrumental and vocal lessons arranged with the faculty of the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire.

You also receive the opportunity to take advantage of the early performance opportunities afforded by the Centre for Early Music Performance and Research (CEMPR).

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.

Not sure which MA Music pathway is right for you?

A woman conducting an orchestra

There are 10 different pathways available on our MA Music programme which caters for those with a wide range of interests and specialisms. Depending on your interests and experience there is a pathway for you.

Visit our handy guide to help you decide

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. 
  • 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. 
  • Taught by experts in the field – you will have the opportunity to draw upon the wide range of interests and knowledge held by the Department’s expert academic staff. 
  • 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.

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.

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Modules

Core modules

You will study four 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 which helps to establish technical skills needed for Advanced Performance 2 and further recital modules.
Assessment: 10-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: 20 minute lecture recital (10 minute performance + 10 minute lecture).

Performance Skills 1

This module runs in the autumn term. It is designed to address the extra-musical aspects of successful musical performances and is intended to complement and enhance performances given in other MA performance modules. 

You will attend seminars/workshops in the Department’s Music Health and Wellbeing series, which focus on the physical and psychological elements of performance. You will deliver a presentation summarising the key skills and techniques covered in the series, relating them to your own performance practice. You will also attend Barber Evening Concerts, and produce a review of each concert.
Assessment: 10 minute presentation and concert reviews (500 words per concert).

Performance Skills 2

This module runs in the spring term. Following on from Performance Skills 1, it is again intended to address the extra-musical aspects of successful music performance.

You will attend 'Performance Platform' sessions, where students perform for one another, analyse each other’s performances, and receive formative feedback from professional specialists, as well as their peers. Your assessment - a performance and short presentation - will require you to apply the skills and techniques learned in both the Music Health and Wellbeing Series (autumn term) as well as the feedback received during Performance Platform sessions. You will also attend further Barber Evening Concerts, and produce a review of each concert.
Assessment: Ten-minute performance and five-minute presentation, plus concert review (500 words per concert).

Optional modules

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

  • Aesthetics and the Philosophy of Art
  • Historically Informed Performance
  • Topics in Early Music
  • Electronic Music Studies
  • British Music Studies
  • Introduction to Global Popular Musics

For more information, see our Music module descriptions.

Please note: A wider range of optional modules is available through the Open Pathway with Performance, but applicants for the Open Pathway with Performance should demonstrate in their application materials that they are sufficiently versatile to excel across the pathway’s more diverse range of optional modules.

Recital

In addition to your taught modules, you will present a substantial solo recital, 45 minutes in length. The recital offers you the opportunity to unite practical and theoretical musicianship, and to demonstrate the ability to plan and independently prepare (with some supervision) a performance at an advanced level. Students are also required attend and to write short summaries of research seminars presented 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 2022 entry:

  • UK: £10,867.50 full-time; £5,433.75 part-time
  • International: £22,140 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), 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.

How to Apply for a Postgraduate Degree - Taught programmes

Application deadlines

The deadline for International students (requiring a VISA) to apply is Friday 1 July 2022. The deadline for UK students is Wednesday 31 August 2022.

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 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 focusing on Western classical repertoire. 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/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

Learn more about international entry requirements

International Requirements


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, your modules will be taken across these two terms, followed by your recital. If you are a part-time student, your modules will be taken across the two years, followed by your recital (in your second year).

Each full module represents a total of 200 hours of study time, including preparatory reading, assignment preparation and independent study. (On this programme, Performance Skills 1 and Performance Skills 2 are half-modules).

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 teaching, social care and publishing.

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