Music MA (by Research)


Fact file

MA (by Research) Music
One year full-time or two years part-time
Entry requirements
2:1 in Music or related subject
Other requirements
  • Composition: a portfolio of two compositions, at least one of which must be a paper composition. One of these works may be an electroacoustic composition.
  • Performance: applicants are asked to prepare 20-30 minutes of contrasting repertoire, submitted as a recent unedited video performance (online link or DVD to be sent by post).
  • Music Technology: candidates should, unless otherwise agreed, submit a portfolio of audio recordings lasting between 40-60 minutes, either on CD or as uncompressed 24-bit audio via a download link.
  • Musicology: Candidates will be required to submit a brief research proposal, containing a proposed title, aims, objectives, methods, summary of content, and outline bibliography
    6.5 (no less than 6.0 in any element)

    If these grades are not met, English preparatory courses are available
    Start date
    University Park
    Tuition fees
    You can find fee information on our fees table.


    Our masters course has recently been enhanced to create one of the most flexible, contemporary and distinctive courses in the UK.
    Read full overview

    The MA in Music (by Research) is a unique course with flexible study pathway specialism options for students wishing to develop advanced skills at a postgraduate level.

    The following pathways are available, and you are able to design their own bespoke combination:

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

    Designed to help you reach a professional level of competence, this MA (by Research) provides rigorous and focused preparation for those intending to proceed to doctoral research, including our PhD programmes in musicology, composition and musical performance. The course may be taken full-time over one year or part-time over two years, and culminates in a major project such as a composition or recording portfolio, performance recital or dissertation.

    Key facts:

    • In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), 100% of our impact and environment submissions were judged world-leading and internationally excellent, a result that places us 7th out of 56 UK music departments.
    • The department has excellent practical and technical facilities including an on-site music library, a dedicated postgraduate study room with individual work places, an iMac suite, a recording studio, practice rooms, an orchestral-size rehearsal hall.
    • We regularly host major academic conferences and professional concerts, and organise a regular series of music colloquia featuring distinguished guest speakers.

    Academic English preparation and support

    If you require additional support to take your language skills to the required level, you may be able to attend a presessional course at the Centre for English Language Education, which is accredited by the British Council for the teaching of English in the UK. Students who successfully complete the presessional course to the required level can progress to postgraduate study without retaking IELTS or equivalent. You could be eligible for a joint offer, which means you will only need to apply for your visa once.


    Course details

    The formal programme of study (180 credits in total) comprises a compulsory 20-credit research methods training course, plus two 20-credit courses that can be completed by following a seminar or through individual supervision. There is also a 120-credit summer project. In the summer semester, the focus is on writing a substantial dissertation, creating a composition portfolio, or preparing a professional performance recital.

    The MA in Music by Research can be completed on a full-time basis over one year or part-time over two years. 

    Full-time :

    Autumn: 20 credits faculty Research course, 20 credits Specialised Studies 1.

    Spring: 20 credits Specialised Studies 2.

    Summer: Special Project 120 credits.

    Part-time :

    Autumn Year one: 20 credits faculty Research course,

    Spring Year one: 20 credits Specialised Studies 1.

    Autumn Year two: 20 credits Specialised Studies 2.

    Spring and Summer Year two: Special Project 120 credits.



    Provisional curriculum 2018/19
    Research Techniques (20 credits) – core module for all humanities students

    Specialised Studies I (20 credits) – project devised with a supervisor in one of our four areas: 

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

    Specialised Studies II (20 credits) – a project devised with a supervisor in one of our four areas:

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

    Special Project (120 credits) – choose one:

    • Dissertation
    • Performance Recital
    • Performance Recital and Project
    • Composition Portfolio
    • Studio Project

    Taught by individual supervision/tuition.


    For more details on our modules, please see the Module Catalogue.


    Non-subject specific modules

    All students will take one of the following two modules:

    Research Methods: The Laboratory of the Arts

    This module enhances students’ research skills, to support engagement in high-level research on a disciplinary, inter-disciplinary and transdisciplinary basis. An array of research techniques and methodologies will be critically reviewed and students will develop skills in gathering research insights from a range of sources drawn from across the Faculty.

    Arts in Society

    This module is designed to encourage students to think about the broader context of the Arts: to appreciate, evaluate and communicate the value of the Arts beyond the academy. Students will engage with the practices and techniques required to produce advanced research and develop the skills to communicate this research to a variety of audiences.

    Professional development modules

    Depending on your course you will also have the option to select from a range of professional development modules.


    The modules we offer are inspired by the research interests of our staff and as a result may change for reasons of, for example, research developments or legislation changes. This list is an example of typical modules we offer, not a definitive list.



    UK/EU Students

    Competitive scholarships available include:

    • MA Scholarships
    • PhD Scholarships
    • Department MA Studentships
    • School Overseas Research Scholarship

    This is by no means a complete list. For up-to-date information and application forms on these and other funding opportunities, please visit the Department's funding section.

    The University’s International Office has a wide range of scholarship opportunities for students on EU fee status, including a fee reduction for alumni, and EU and Accession State Scholarships.

    The University Graduate School operates funding schemes of its own to help support current postgraduate research.

    For a detailed list of external funding schemes, please visit the department's funding page.

    Government loans for masters courses

    The Government offers postgraduate student loans of up to £10,609 for students studying a taught or research masters course. Applicants must ordinarily live in England or the EU. Student loans are also available for students from Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

    International and EU students

    Masters scholarships are available for international and EU students from a wide variety of countries and areas of study. You must already have an offer to study at Nottingham to apply. Please note closing dates to ensure your course application is submitted in good time.

    Information and advice on funding your degree, living costs and working while you study is available on our website, as well as country-specific resources.



    A postgraduate degree is highly valued by employers. It is a guarantee of advanced skills in communication, organising resources, assembling substantial projects, and independent thinking. Increasingly, an MA from a respected university gives an edge to those seeking to enter business or other professions. An MA in Music from the University of Nottingham also provides rigorous training for doctoral study, and is highly regarded within the scholarly community.

    Average starting salary and career progression

    In 2016, 96% of postgraduates from the School of Humanities who were available for employment had secured work or further study within six months of graduation. The average starting salary was £22,370 with the highest being £30,000.*

    *Known destinations of full-time home postgraduates 2015/16. Salaries are calculated based on the median of those in full-time paid employment within the UK.  

    Career prospects and employability

    The University of Nottingham is consistently named as one of the most targeted universities by Britain’s leading graduate employers* and can offer you a head-start when it comes to your career.

    Our Careers and Employability Service offers a range of services including advice sessions, employer events, recruitment fairs and skills workshops – and once you have graduated, you will have access to the service for life.

    * The Graduate Market 2013-2016, High Fliers Research.

    Explore it - Virtual Nottingham

    This online prospectus has been drafted in advance of the academic year to which it applies. Every effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content) are likely to occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for the course where there has been an interval between you reading this website and applying.

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