Musicology MA

Year of entry

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Start date
September 2024
Delivery type
On campus
12 months full time
24 months part time
Entry requirements
A bachelor degree with a 2:1 (hons) in music.
Full entry requirements
English language requirements
IELTS 6.5 overall, with no less than 6.0 in any component
UK fees
£11,500 (Total)
International fees
£26,500 (Total)

Course overview

Postgraduate student in the School of Music. They are performing on the organ in the Concert Hall, their back is to the camera. Behind the organ is a royal blue velvet curtain.

This course offers a foundation in musicological thought and practice, opportunities to develop specialised applied, editorial, archival, critical and theoretical skills, and the chance to produce a significant piece of work in a musicological area of your choice, whatever your musical tastes and preferences.

Through core modules you’ll explore a broad range of theoretical and methodological approaches to musicology, applied research methods, and issues that affect our understanding, reception and interpretation of music. You may also choose (provided you have the necessary prior knowledge and experience) an optional module that will enable you to focus on a specific area of music in depth, such performance, electronic music, or music psychology. Together, the core and optional modules will provide you with the knowledge and skills to develop musicological projects according to your own interests.

Your major project will take the form of a dissertation with a specific musicological focus, or a piece of applied or practice-led work such as an editing or transcription project, or an archival or fieldwork study, defining your topic in consultation with one of our expert staff. In addition to this, you may optionally choose to undertake a second, smaller musicological project on a topic of your own choice (a Short Dissertation, an Individual Project or, subject to approval, an International Research Project).

The course provides a logical progression from undergraduate music courses and will equip you with a range of skills desired by employers and of value in further research at MPhil/PhD level.

We have a variety of excellent facilities to support your learning, including rehearsal, performance and practice spaces, recording and electronic music studios, a music psychology lab, and five libraries that provide access to a wide range of books, periodicals, and online resources. The Special Collections housed in our beautiful Brotherton Library contain significant collections of music manuscripts, rare printed music and letters from composers and critics to help inform your work.

We have close working relationships with prestigious arts organisations: we host BBC Radio 3 concerts, Leeds Lieder and the Leeds International Piano Competition, and we engage with the flagship DARE partnership between the University and Opera North. We are also closely associated with Leeds Baroque and we engage with many other performing arts organisations in Leeds, which enjoys a thriving music and cultural scene.

Additional highlights

We are one of the largest schools of music in the country, which brings several benefits to our students. Our size enables us to incorporate an impressive range of specialisms within our curriculum, reflecting our ethos that music is music, regardless of genre or style. We attract a diverse body of students from across the UK and internationally, which gives the School a vibrant community and culture. Decolonisation, equality and inclusivity are embedded within our curriculum so all our students can feel a sense of belonging in the School and can thrive on their course no matter what their background and musical experience.

Take a tour of our School

Join School rep, Georgie, on a tour of our building and its specialist facilities to get a feel for life as a student in the School.

In the recent national Research Excellence Framework (REF2021) exercise, 93% of our research was considered to be ‘internationally excellent’ or better in terms of its originality, significance and rigour, with 56% rated as ‘world leading’, the highest classification. Each of these measures places us within the top 10 Schools of Music in the UK. Our staff expertise feeds directly into our curriculum, with musicological specialisms including:

  • Historical musicology
  • Aesthetics
  • Popular, folk, and global musical cultures
  • Opera and Western classical/art music
  • New music post-1945
  • Musical aesthetics and postcolonialism
  • Electronic and computer music
  • Film music
  • Music analysis
  • Practice research in music and the arts
  • Sound studies
  • Science and technology studies

We work closely with our students, particularly through our active Student Staff Partnership Forum, to ensure that we continue to offer the best possible experience to everyone studying in the School of Music. Our Industrial Advisory Board – an invited body of professionals from across the professional music sector, which includes several alumni within its membership – actively supports the ongoing development of our courses to ensure they deliver the skills and opportunities our students need to prepare them for life after University.

The School of Music is part of a strong musical community at the University of Leeds, and there are numerous Leeds University Union (LUU) clubs and societies that offer opportunities to get involved in music and performance activities. The Leeds University Union Music Society (LUUMS) is one of the Union’s largest societies and boasts ten ensembles including orchestras, choirs, brass and wind ensembles, and a composers’ collective; each one gives regular concerts, and some go on tour. LUUMS is linked to the School of Music as our departmental society, and the School and LUUMS work closely on social events and the promotion of musical opportunities. School of Music students also often participate in other campus-based ensembles such as the Clothworkers Consort of Leeds (led by School of Music staff members) and Student Union performance societies such as:

  • The LUU Big Band
  • Various musical theatre, opera and pantomime groups
  • Societies focused on jazz and blues, folk, and pop music
  • A cappella (unaccompanied) singing
  • Electronic music and DJing

The Clothworkers Concert Hall in the School of Music hosts our diverse International Concert Series, the Students’ Union runs regular gigs and its long-standing Friday evening club night, ‘Fruity’, and beyond the University campus the city of Leeds provides numerous opportunities to engage with a wide variety of musics at venues including:

  • Leeds First Direct Arena, a fixture on the national touring circuit for leading artists and bands
  • Leeds Grand Theatre, which routinely presents touring West End musicals, comedy and other shows, and is the home of Opera North (a partner of the University) and Northern Ballet
  • Leeds Playhouse, which presents a range of stage musicals and other theatrical productions, several of which then tour nationally
  • Leeds Town Hall, home to the Leeds International Concert Season (LICS), which usually features a wide range of international orchestras within its programming. LICS also run various chamber music series at venues including Holy Trinity Church, Leeds Cathedral, and The Venue at Leeds Conservatoire
  • O2 Academy Leeds hosts a range of popular-music events including its regular ‘Indie Thursdays’ and ‘PROJEKT’ club nights.
  • Seven Arts, an independent arts space and a not-for-profit Community Interest Company that presents a range of jazz, popular and light musics within its diverse programme
  • The Brudenell Social Club, which hosts events most nights of the week and covers a wide range of musical genres
  • The Howard Assembly Room, Opera North’s concert hall next door to Leeds Grand Theatre, which hosts folk, jazz, classical and world music as well as theatrical works, film screenings and talks
  • Wharf Chambers, a non-profit music venue hosting a diverse range of experimental and DIY events

All these elements combine to make studying Music at the University of Leeds a distinctive and memorable experience that actively supports our students to pursue careers or future study within and beyond music.

Specialist facilities

The School of Music provides you with dedicated, purpose-built facilities complete with dedicated learning and teaching spaces, rehearsal, performance and practice spaces, computer clusters, recording and electronic music studios, and a music psychology lab.

At the heart of our School is the Clothworkers Centenary Concert Hall, a beautiful performance space that hosts a large and varied programme of concerts in term time. As a student in the School you'll be able attend events in the International Concert Series programme free of charge. The spacious Clothworkers Foyer is the School’s social hub, and doubles as a venue for popular music and informal performances, including the LUUMS ‘Friday Feature’ series.

We were the first Russell-Group University to have All-Steinway status. Over £700,000 was invested in the pianos – a combination of uprights, baby grands and concert grands – and all 29 pianos in the School are Steinways. Our instrument collection also includes a specially commissioned gamelan, historic and modern keyboard instruments and a large selection of orchestral and world percussion.

Course details

You’ll study core modules that develop your understanding of a wide range of musicological issues, theories, and methods.

In Issues in Musicology you will engage in debates that cross and affect a broad range of musical genres and interests, and offer different ways of considering how we might engage with, understand and interpret music, musical activity and writings on music. In Applied Research Methodologies you will develop skills in searching for, locating and collecting primary sources, and contextualising, interpreting and presenting material drawn from primary sources to a scholarly standard. In Aesthetic Theory you will study contemporary trends in aesthetic thought and consider the ways in which those modes of thought can be applied in musicological contexts.

The core modules provide a foundation for you to undertake a large musicological project on a topic of your own choice, which you will define in consultation with our expert staff. Your major project will take the form of a dissertation with a specific musicological focus, or a piece of applied or practice-led work such as an editing or transcription project, or an archival or fieldwork study. You’ll also take an optional module, which might be a short dissertation on a musicological topic, an individual project in a focused area of music or sound studies, an international research project (subject to approval) or, depending on your prior knowledge and experience, in an area such as performance, electronic music, or music psychology.

If you choose to study part-time, you’ll study over a longer period and take fewer modules in each year.

Course structure

The list shown below represents typical modules/components studied and may change from time to time. Read more in our terms and conditions.

For more information and a full list of typical modules available on this course, please read Musicology MA Full Time in the course catalogue

For more information and a full list of typical modules available on this course, please read Musicology MA Part Time in the course catalogue

Compulsory Modules:

Issues in Musicology (30 credits) – This module focuses on a range of theoretical work by prominent scholars associated with a variety of critical viewpoints in current musicology and musical culture. It is designed as a thorough grounding in the principles and philosophies that have shaped the discipline of musicology, concentrating on European and American approaches. Issues addressed may include (but are not limited to) canon formation, reception history, consumption and popular music, ethnicity, religion, class, gender, and sexuality. The module aims to enable you to develop the critical skills necessary to evaluate differing theoretical premises, and relate to them to a musicological framework.

Applied Research Methodologies (30 credits) – This module engages with the theory, history and practice of applied research methodologies such as archival studies, editing, fieldwork and transcription. You will explore the qualities and properties of different methodologies, and the range of source materials to which they may be applied. You will select one or more methodologies suitable to a source-based research project of your own devising (guided by tutors), which will be developed with the support of a series of small group and individual tutorials.

Critical and Aesthetic Theory (30 credits) – The module looks at contemporary trends in aesthetic thought and the ways in which those modes of thought can be applied, with particular reference to music. Specific texts by leading thinkers in aesthetics form the basis of class discussion, which are at the heart of the module.

Compulsory Optional Module:

You must choose one major project module from this list.

Dissertation (60 credits) – The Dissertation module provides you with the opportunity to investigate a musical subject of your choice (subject to the approval of the module leader), and to present your findings in an extended essay of 13,500-16,500 words. Your supervisor will help you to define the scope and topic of your Dissertation, but it should be one that enables you to demonstrate a range of skills, including assimilating scholarly literature, expressing concepts and hypotheses in a critical fashion, and working confidently as an independent learner.

Applied Musicology Project (60 credits) – The Applied Musicology Project provides you with the opportunity to investigate an applied or practice-led area of musicology of your own choosing such as editing, archival study, fieldwork or transcription, agreed in negotiation with the module leader. You will define the scope of the project in consultation with a supervisor, and produce applied musicological work that enables you to demonstrate a range of skills, including assimilating scholarly literature, the critical application of theory and practice, and working confidently as an independent practice-led learner.

Optional Modules:

Short Dissertation (30 credits) – The Short Dissertation module provides you with the opportunity to investigate a focused musical subject of your choice (subject to the approval of the module leader), and to present your findings in an essay of 6,000-8,000 words. Your supervisor will help you to define the scope and topic of your Short Dissertation, but it should be one which enables you to demonstrate focused criticality, the assimilation and synthesis of scholarly literature, and the confidence to work independently.

Individual Project (30 credits) – This module allows you to pursue an independent research project in an area of music or sound studies in which you have a strong interest, agreed in negotiation with an appointed supervisor. The module involves devising, carrying out, documenting, and critically reflecting on an independent project, and it is the project documentation and critical reflection, rather than the project work itself, that is assessed. Accordingly, the Individual Project is an ideal opportunity for you to explore an appropriate area of interest without risk of any inexperience adversely affecting your ability to achieve on the module.

International Research Project (30 credits) – The International Research Project module provides an opportunity for you to research a topic of your choice with staff at Leeds and an international partner institution, subject to the approval of both potential supervisors. It is anticipated that you will spend approximately 3 months at an international partner university where you will continue to develop your research project (which you will start at Leeds), by collecting information/data and contextualising your research in a broader learning environment. You will submit a research proposal, an interim report and a final piece of work equivalent to 6,000-8,000 words in total.

Electronic and Computer Music Contexts (30 credits) – This module gives you the opportunity to listen to, discuss, research, and write about electronic and computer music with an emphasis on its historic, social, cultural, aesthetic, philosophical, and/or analytical dimensions (it is not a practical course in electronic music production). The module has a reading-group format, and you will attend weekly seminars in which set texts and works of electronic or computer music are discussed. The range of texts and works aims to provide a balanced overview of historical and contemporary, practice-based and theoretical, critical and analytical work in or relevant to the fields of electronic music and computer music, and you are encouraged to relate the readings to your own experiences of electronic and computer music.

Short Recital (30 credits) – On this module you will have one-to-one lessons with a specialist instrumental or vocal teacher and participate in weekly performance classes, leading to a recital for which you will select the repertoire and produce programme notes. This module is for experienced performers working at Masters level; you will need to submit an online video recording to be reviewed by performance staff before being granted a place on the module.

Case Studies in the Applied Psychology of Music (30 credits) – This module is designed to provide you with a contextual understanding of the field of the applied psychology of music, enabling you to develop and refine your skills of critical evaluation, reasoning, and literature searching. The module adopts a case-study approach, examining key concepts and texts thematically, considering areas such as education, therapy, advertising, technology, science, and society. You will attend staff-led seminars and are required to prepare key texts in advance of each seminar. Please note, previous experience of music psychology is needed to study this module, and you will normally be required to submit appropriate written work for review by the module team before being granted a place on the module.

Learning and teaching

Academics in the School of Music are experts in their fields, and their activities inform their teaching directly. We use a range of inclusive, active and student-centred approaches to learning and teaching to engage you in your course and support you to develop your knowledge, understanding, and skills. Depending on the modules you choose, your learning and teaching methods may include workshops and practice-based sessions, as well as lectures, seminars, tutorials and other small-group learning classes. If you take a performance module you may also have one-to-one instrumental/vocal lessons with a specialist teacher, as well as rehearsals and performance classes.

Taught sessions are only a part of University learning, and on many of our modules you’ll be supplied with online learning resources designed to work in tandem with classroom sessions. Some modules may require you to engage with videos, podcasts, readings or other activities before class sessions, with some of the classroom time devoted to debate, discussion and deeper learning based on how students have interpreted the online materials. Your learning experience will offer opportunities for collaboration, a key aspect of music and the arts, and peer learning, as well as fostering a culture of reflection and self-awareness. Independent study is also an important part of your course, and you’ll develop your critical, creative and research skills through time spent in the University Library and Special Collections, practice rooms and studios, depending on your module choices.

We support your learning in several ways. Resources are made available through our virtual learning environment, Minerva, you can seek assistance as required from our experienced technical staff and your Academic Personal Tutor, and there is extensive support for students offered through the academic skills programme at the University Library. Additionally, all staff have office hours when they are available should you have questions, or you need to ask for help. We also work closely with the University’s Language Centre to ensure that international students are fully supported and able to thrive on our courses.


Elements of local fieldwork may be embedded in a range of modules that take you outside teaching spaces as part of the learning experience. The Applied Research Methodologies module incorporates fieldwork as part of the taught content and provides the opportunity to undertake fieldwork, if you wish to do so, as part of the assessed coursework. You might also undertake fieldwork in your 60-credit project or 30-credit Short Dissertation or Individual Project (if relevant), again, if you wish to do so.

On this course you’ll be taught by our expert academics, from lecturers through to professors. You may also be taught by industry professionals with years of experience, as well as trained postgraduate researchers, connecting you to some of the brightest minds on campus.


We use a variety of assessment methods, each of which is chosen to best measure your achievement of a module’s learning outcomes and associated skills, so you and we can understand and support your progress and development. Depending on the modules you choose, across your degree you are likely to encounter a mix of written assignments (e.g. essays, reports, reviews, reflective logs), creative outputs and portfolios (e.g. compositions, editions), recitals and performances, presentations, and project work. Assignments will generally be completed individually, though some may require elements of group working leading to individual submissions.

You might be given a brief, question or problem to be addressed, or you may have scope to determine your own question or approach under the guidance of a member of staff. You’ll be given clear instructions regarding the assessment requirements and criteria, and you’ll receive feedback on your work to support your learning as you progress through your course. Assessments will usually require you to synthesise and evaluate learning from multiple taught sessions and learning resources (e.g. a module’s lectures, seminars, set readings and other online resources), and you should think of your course as a whole, and apply your learning across your modules. Creative, applied and practical work may offer you the chance to take risks and experiment with new ideas and concepts, and in all cases we encourage you to challenge yourself, to think critically and creatively, to move as far beyond your comfort zone as you can, and to reflect on your working process and achievement.

Our assessments are designed to be fair and inclusive, to engage you intellectually and to help prepare you for life beyond University through the development of relevant skills, knowledge and experience.


Entry requirements

A bachelor degree with a 2:1 (hons) in music.

English language requirements

IELTS 6.5 overall, with no less than 6.0 in any component. For other English qualifications, read English language equivalent qualifications.

Improve your English

International students who do not meet the English language requirements for this programme may be able to study our postgraduate pre-sessional English course, to help improve your English language level.

This pre-sessional course is designed with a progression route to your degree programme and you’ll learn academic English in the context of your subject area. To find out more, read Language for Arts and Humanities (6 weeks) and Language for Social Science and Arts: Arts and Humanities (10 weeks).

We also offer online pre-sessionals alongside our on-campus pre-sessionals. Find out more about our six week online pre-sessional.

You can also study pre-sessionals for longer periods – read about our postgraduate pre-sessional English courses.

How to apply

Application deadline

Please see our How to Apply page for information about application deadlines.

The ‘Apply’ link at the top of this page takes you to information on applying for taught programmes and to the University's online application system.

If you're unsure about the application process, contact the admissions team for help.

Documents and information you need

  • Your degree certificate and transcript, or a partial transcript if you’re still studying. Please provide official translations if applicable.

  • If English is not your first language, you’ll need to provide evidence of your English language qualification.

  • A fully referenced essay or dissertation, in English, of around 2,000 words on a musical topic. You may be asked to provide a second example of your writing, to provide a fuller assessment of your potential.

  • A personal statement in response to the questions asked in the supporting statement section of the application form.

  • If you are an international applicant and have previously studied in the UK on a Student Visa, please provide a copy of your Visa (and Residence Permit if applicable) to cover all the dates of your time in the UK, a copy of your CAS summary, and a copy of your completion/award certificate if applicable.

  • Please note that there are some optional modules available as part of our courses for which new students may be required to provide an example of their work, audition, or liaise with the relevant Module Leader first in order to assess suitability for entry on to the optional module. Assessment for optional modules with pre-requisites is not part of the admissions process. Offer holders are normally contacted by the School regarding optional modules in advance of their studies.

  • References may be requested.

The Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures receives very large numbers of high-quality applications and regrets that it cannot make offers to all of its applicants. Some particularly popular schools may have to reject many that hold the necessary academic qualifications.

Read about visas, immigration and other information in International students. We recommend that international students apply as early as possible to ensure that they have time to apply for their visa.

Admissions policy

University of Leeds Admissions Policy 2025

Contact us

Postgraduate Admissions



UK: £11,500 (Total)

International: £26,500 (Total)

Additional cost information

There may be additional costs of study that students need to cover. We estimate that these additional costs could be as described below, but this amount may vary depending on your chosen modules.

Equipment and materials costs

If you are enrolled on an optional Performance module you’ll continue to be liable for covering ongoing costs of insuring and maintaining your own instrument and buying instrument-specific materials such as reeds, strings, etc. These costs are variable depending on the type of instrument and the nature of the maintenance required. You’ll have access to a good supply of sheet music that is available in the University libraries; however, you might need to purchase your own repertoire if you take a performance module (costs for this are variable).

Reading materials

You’ll have access to a good supply of books, academic journals, periodicals, etc., that are available in the University libraries. You’ll also have online access to an extensive range of reading resources. You might decide, however, to purchase required books that are recommended on your programme.

Study trips and placements

There may also be the opportunity for optional study trips and individual projects / placements. Costs will depend on the project / placement undertaken, and on the nature and location of each trip. If you take the International Research Project module will be expected to fund your own travel, accommodation and living costs whilst studying at the international partner institution.

There may be general additional costs related to being a student at the University of Leeds – you can read more about this here.

There may be additional costs related to your course or programme of study, or related to being a student at the University of Leeds. Read more on our living costs and budgeting page.

Scholarships and financial support

If you have the talent and drive, we want you to be able to study with us, whatever your financial circumstances. There may be help for students in the form of loans and non-repayable grants from the University and from the government.  Find out more at Masters funding overview.

Find out more about scholarships and funding opportunities available in the School of Music.

Career opportunities

A postgraduate degree in Music from the University of Leeds equips you with valuable subject knowledge, cultural and social awareness, and a strong balance of musical and transferrable skills. Skills such as communication, leadership, time and resource management, and the ability to work independently and collaboratively are particularly attractive to employers, and you’ll also be able to demonstrate the flexibility, resilience and confidence needed to adapt to new situations and environments. Your subject-specific knowledge will bring your critical, applied, research and problem-solving abilities to the fore, and you’ll be able to articulate how the experience gained through your postgraduate course has prepared you for whatever comes next, be that work or doctoral research.

Our postgraduate courses equip our graduates to work in a wide range of areas within the music industry, including:

  • Performing
  • Composing
  • Teaching, lecturing and coaching
  • Arts, artist, project and event management
  • PR
  • Creative production
  • Theatrical stage direction and musical direction
  • Music supervision
  • Music publishing and copyright
  • Marketing and digital marketing
  • Arts research
  • Music therapy

Graduates from our postgraduate courses also often go on to undertake Doctoral research here at Leeds and elsewhere.

Reach your potential

Hear more about the School and Faculty support you can access from our employability lead, Professor Karen Burland.

Careers support

Skill development is built into our courses, so you start becoming more employable from the moment you begin your studies, and your degree is designed to help you recognise your skills and understand how you demonstrate them. Reflection on and understanding of your skillset is part of your course, meaning we will support you to be able to demonstrate these things by the time you graduate.

You’ll also have additional opportunities to develop your skillset and your CV. You could become a course representative and participate in our Student Staff Partnership Forum on behalf of your cohort, or apply to be our School Taught Postgraduate Representative and work with School and Faculty staff and the Students’ Union to drive the School and University forward.

Leeds for Life is our unique approach to helping you make the most of University by supporting your academic and personal development. You’ll also have access to the University’s ‘MyCareer’ portal and have opportunities to discuss your personal and professional development with your Academic Personal Tutor. We run careers events every year in collaboration with our Faculty Employability Team and encourage all our students to attend to develop their awareness of the opportunities that exist beyond graduation, even if they are not yet sure what they want to do after their degree. Alongside this, the Careers Service provide a range of support and advice to help you plan your career and make well-informed decisions along the way, even after you graduate.

Study abroad and work placements

One of the optional modules available on this course is our International Research Project, which provides an opportunity for you to research a topic of your choice with staff at Leeds and an international partner institution, subject to the approval of both potential supervisors.

If you are accepted onto this module, you would normally start the research at Leeds and then continue to develop the project for approximately three months at an international partner university (usually over the summer, towards the end of the academic year), collecting information/data and contextualising your research in a broader learning environment.

You will be expected to fund your own travel, accommodation and living costs whilst studying at the international partner institution, and ensure that all necessary travel documentation (including visas) are in place before you are due to travel.