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Research overview

Expand your knowledge and professionalise your skills as part of our music community.

You'll concentrate your studies across one of four pathways:

  • Composition (acoustic or digital)
  • Performance
  • Music Technology
  • Musicology

Depending on your passions and interests you might:

  • Develop advanced skills in performance, composition or music tech
  • Create your own recital or portfolio
  • Research a major project in musicology

You have the opportunity to shape your own studies while being supported by our experienced and dedicated staff.

Research areas

Our research strengths are grouped into four themes.

Music, space and place

  • Music and musical culture in a specific time and place
  • Transnational and transcultural exchange
  • Urban geographies and mobility

Music-text-image

  • How music interacts with other art forms
  • Applying and developing methodologies from other disciplines

Musical creativity and community

  • Musical creativity
  • Development of communities and networks

Music, politics and identity

  • How music has contributed to local, national and international political change
  • How music shapes individual identities

Explore our research themes and projects in detail

Course content

There are four compulsory modules worth 180 credits in total. You'll develop in-depth knowledge and skills across your chosen subjects as well as building your research skills.

You will select one pathway at the beginning of the year and follow it through to the end of the course.

Musicology

Create an extended piece of original research, usually relating to other coursework and supported by experts from the department. The final outcome will be a dissertation, editorial or analytical project of approximately 30,000 words (or similar).

Performance

Work to develop a capacity for instrumental or vocal performance, towards a professional standard. You will be assessed by a 50-60 minute practical recital and 30 minute lecture recital with submitted script.

Composition

You'll be supported to develop extensive creative originality, and appreciation of the practical realities of, contemporary composition. The assessment is through a portfolio of original compositions (30 minutes) and a critical commentary of 5000 words.

Technology

Develop your capacity for digital composition, arranging, recording and/or sound manipulation in the studio towards a professional standard. The assessment is a 60-70 minute recording project and a critical commentary of 5000 words.

 

This module is worth 120 credits.

Your opportunity for in-depth work on a specialised topic, working with staff members in an area of their expertise. There are four strands corresponding to the department's research strengths:

  • Contemporary Music
  • Music on Stage and Screen
  • Ethnomusicology/Cultural Study of Music
  • Performance and History

You will select one of these as your specialised topic for the Autumn semester.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Your opportunity for in-depth work on a specialised topic, working with staff members in an area of their expertise. There are four strands corresponding to the department's research strengths:

  • Contemporary Music
  • Music on Stage and Screen
  • Ethnomusicology/Cultural Study of Music
  • Performance and History

You will select one of these as your specialised topic for the Spring semester.

This module is worth 20 credits.

This module has been developed to introduce you to a range of research techniques and methodologies. It will also help you develop a variety of valuable transferable skills for your future career.

You will achieve:

  • greater confidence in dealing with original research
  • a recognition of the huge range of approaches that can be used to address research questions.

We build on the research skills you have already developed during both your undergraduate degree and discipline-specific MA modules. The emphasis is on:

  • ensuring you are possessed of a range of practical ways to approach research
  • making you think about the nature of your discipline-specific approaches within a context of growing interdisciplinarity.

You will have the chance to consider topics as varied as:

  • academic publishing
  • digital transformations
  • use of illustrations in dissertations.

You will also have the opportunity to hear academics from across the Faculty talk about the problems they have confronted and how they overcame them.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Mastering the Arts introductory video 

"With the Specialised Studies modules you don’t have to do everything on one topic. This term I’m looking at American protest music, where my final project is looking at the BBC Proms and British music. I can pick the things I’m interested in. That’s really important to me."

Kyle Campbell, MRes Music, 2021-22

The above is a sample of the typical modules we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Modules (including methods of assessment) may change or be updated, or modules may be cancelled, over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for information on available modules.

Full-time

Autumn semester

  • Specialised Studies 1
  • Mastering the Arts: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Research

Spring semester

  • Specialised Studies 2

Summer

  • Special Project

Part-time

Year one

Autumn semester
  • Mastering the Arts: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Research
Spring semester
  • Specialised Studies 2

Year two

Autumn semester
  • Specialised Studies 1
Spring semester and Summer
  • Special Project

Entry requirements

All candidates are considered on an individual basis and we accept a broad range of qualifications. The entrance requirements below apply to 2022 entry.

QualificationMRes
Degree

2:1 (or international equivalent) in music or a related subject

Portfolio

Depending on which pathway you want to follow, you will also need:

  • Composition: portfolio of two compositions with at least one notated (one can be electro/acoustic)
  • Performance: 20 to 30 minutes of contrasting repertoire, submitted as a recent unedited video performance (online link or DVD sent by post)
  • Music technology: portfolio of audio recordings lasting between 40 to 60 minutes, either on CD or as uncompressed 24-bit audio via a download link (unless otherwise agreed)
  • Musicology: Brief research proposal, containing a proposed title, aims, objectives, methods, summary of content and outline bibliography
QualificationMRes
Degree

2:1 (or international equivalent) in music or a related subject

International and EU equivalents

We accept a wide range of qualifications from all over the world.

For information on entry requirements from your country, see our country pages.

Portfolio

Depending on which pathway you want to follow, you will also need:

  • Composition: portfolio of two compositions with at least one notated (one can be electro/acoustic)
  • Performance: 20 to 30 minutes of contrasting repertoire, submitted as a recent unedited video performance (online link or DVD sent by post)
  • Music technology: portfolio of audio recordings lasting between 40 to 60 minutes, either on CD or as uncompressed 24-bit audio via a download link (unless otherwise agreed)
  • Musicology: Brief research proposal, containing a proposed title, aims, objectives, methods, summary of content and outline bibliography
IELTS6.5 (no less than 6.0 in any element)
English language requirements

As well as IELTS (listed above), we also accept other English language qualifications.

This includes TOEFL iBT, Pearson PTE, GCSE, IB and O level English.

Meeting our English language requirements

If you need support to meet the required level, you may be able to attend a presessional English course. Presessional courses teach you academic skills in addition to English language. Our Centre for English Language Education is accredited by the British Council for the teaching of English in the UK.

If you successfully complete your presessional course to the required level, you can then progress to your degree course. This means that you won't need to retake IELTS or equivalent.

For on-campus presessional English courses, you must take IELTS for UKVI to meet visa regulations. For online presessional courses, see our CELE webpages for guidance.

We recognise that applicants have a variety of experiences and follow different pathways to postgraduate study.

We treat all applicants with alternative qualifications on an individual basis. We may also consider relevant work experience.

If you are unsure whether your qualifications or work experience are relevant, contact us.

Applying

We encourage you to get in touch with a member of academic staff about your research proposal before submitting an application. They may be able to help you with your proposal and offer support to find funding opportunities in your area.

You will have a supervisor who will offer expert guidance, support and feedback throughout your course.

Supervisors and research specialisms

Our step-by-step guide contains everything you need to know about applying for postgraduate research.

How to apply

Fees

UK fees are set in line with the national UKRI maximum fee limit. We expect fees for 2022 entry to be confirmed in February 2022.

Additional information for international students

If you are a student from the EU, EEA or Switzerland, you will pay international tuition fees in most cases. If you are resident in the UK and have 'settled' or 'pre-settled' status under the EU Settlement Scheme, you will be entitled to 'home' fee status.

Irish students will be charged tuition fees at the same rate as UK students. UK nationals living in the EU, EEA and Switzerland will also continue to be eligible for 'home' fee status at UK universities until 31 December 2027.

For further guidance, check our information for applicants from the EU.

These fees are for full-time study. If you are studying part-time, you will be charged a proportion of this fee each year (subject to inflation).

Funding

Thanks to the generosity of our alumni and partners we sometimes have specific funding available for Music postgraduate students.

Funding for Music postgraduate students

There are many ways to fund your research degree, from scholarships to government loans.

Check our guide to find out more about funding your postgraduate degree.

Postgraduate funding

Support

The department's lively research culture offers the chance to hear visiting scholars from elsewhere in the UK and from overseas. Events include:

  • regular research seminars
  • professional concerts
  • colloquia
  • conferences

Research in progress

These sessions for staff and postgraduates give you the space to present your developing work in a friendly and constructive environment. They also allow you to broaden your knowledge of the subject and gain a better sense of how research develops as part of an interactive process.

Research centres

The department hosts two research centres that you are encouraged to get involved in. They offer opportunities for research, performance and event support.

Nottingham Forum for Artistic Research (NottFAR)

NottFAR features performances and composers from our staff and high profile guests from around the UK and abroad. Performances are both on-campus and at major venues in Nottingham such as the Royal Concert Hall and Rough Trade.

Centre for Music on Stage and Screen (MOSS)

Promotes the interaction of history, theory and practice in the study of opera, ballet, melodrama, film, video and other multi-media performance genres. It encourages multi-disciplinary and inter-institutional collaboration.

Performance opportunities

There are numerous opportunities to get involved in performing for both players and singers including:

  • University-wide orchestra and choir
  • Over 20 dedicated ensembles covering all types of music
  • A lively and wide-ranging musical culture in the city of Nottingham

Find out more about performance opportunities

 

Find out more about our postgraduate support and community.

Researcher training and development

The Researcher Academy is the network for researchers, and staff who support them. We work together to promote a healthy research culture, to cultivate researcher excellence, and develop creative partnerships that enable researchers to flourish.

Postgraduate researchers at Nottingham have access to our online Members’ area, which includes a wealth of resources, access to training courses and award-winning postgraduate placements.

Graduate centres

Our graduate centres are dedicated community spaces on campus for postgraduates.

Each space has areas for:

  • studying
  • socialising
  • computer work
  • seminars
  • kitchen facilities

Student support

You will have access to a range of support services, including:

  • academic and disability support
  • childcare services
  • counselling service
  • faith support
  • financial support
  • mental health and wellbeing support
  • visa and immigration advice
  • welfare support

Students' Union

Our Students' Union represents all students. You can join the Postgraduate Students’ Network or contact the dedicated Postgraduate Officer.

There are also a range of support networks, including groups for:

  • international students
  • black and minority ethnic students
  • students who identify as women
  • students with disabilities
  • LGBT+ students

SU Advice provides free, independent and confidential advice on issues such as accommodation, financial and academic difficulties.

Where you will learn

Record, compose, research and experiment

We also have strong links with venues and spaces in the rest of Nottingham.

Careers

Whether you are considering a career in academia, industry or haven't yet decided, we’re here to support you every step of the way.

Expert staff will work with you to explore PhD career options and apply for vacancies, develop your interview skills and meet employers. You can book a one-to-one appointment, take an online course or attend a workshop.

International students who complete an eligible degree programme in the UK on a student visa can apply to stay and work in the UK after their course under the Graduate immigration route. Eligible courses at the University of Nottingham include bachelors, masters and research degrees, and PGCE courses.

Our graduates go on to many different careers. Examples include:

  • Music management
  • Programme controller
  • Composer
  • Civil Service Fast Stream
  • Marketing
  • Law
  • Accountancy
  • Airline pilot

We have a good track record of students progressing on to our PhD programmes in musiccomposition and performance.

78.4 % of postgraduates from the Faculty of Arts secured graduate level employment or further study within 15 months of graduation. The average annual salary was £23,045*

*HESA Graduate Outcomes 2020. The Graduate Outcomes % is derived using The Guardian University Guide methodology. The average annual salary is based on graduates working full-time within the UK.

The department enjoys a close relationship with a number of performance venues in the local area, providing opportunities for public engagement and real world experience.

Portrait of Nick Baragwanath smiling at camera with sheet music and metronome
This is a course for students with a real passion for music, whether as performers, composers, or scholars. It allows you to choose your own learning path and to focus on what most interests you, from classical to popular and world musics. As a way to gain advanced skills in music, there are few more flexible masters courses in the UK
Nick Baragwanath, Associate Professor, Department of Music

Related courses

Research Excellence Framework

We are ranked 8th in the UK for research power (2014). The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is the system used by UK higher education funding bodies to assess research quality in universities.

  • 7th out of 56 UK music departments
  • 100% of the Department of Music's impact and environment submissions judged as world-leading or internationally excellent
  • More than 97% of research at Nottingham is recognised internationally
  • More than 80% of our research is ranked in the highest categories as world-leading or internationally excellent
  • 16 of our 29 subject areas feature in the UK top 10 by research power

This content was last updated on 06 July 2021. Every effort has been made to ensure that this information is accurate, but changes are likely to occur between the date of publishing and course start date. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply.