Key Facts

Course Title: Music
Course type: MA
Mode of Study:Full Time or Part Time
Contact Details:Prof Alastair Williams
Website: Go to School homepage
Faculty: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
Subject Area: Humanities


‌The MA in Music provides you with a thorough grounding in the creative, critical and practical underpinnings of advanced study and research in composition, musicology and performance. Specialist areas of study include analysis, screen music, critical theory, cultural history and ethnomusicology. Practice and creativity can be balanced with innovative and more traditional critical-theoretical approaches; there is also the option of a work placement. Modules blending performance and composition enhance the programme’s flexibility, and its final project options enable you to specialise in one or two areas, blending practical and theoretical work.

Please also refer to MA Music & MA Creative Music Technology Handbook 2017-18

Aims of the Course

The principal purpose of the MA in Music is to develop critical and artistic creativity, equipping students with the tools to undertake independent ‘research’ (broadly construed) as musicologists, composers and performers, as well as providing students with understanding of a range of important issues in their chosen area(s). The Masters equips students for further study (for instance a PhD in musicology, composition or performance practice) or employment through the generation of subject specific knowledge and transferable skills central to the pursuit of careers related to these areas and a much broader field of potential careers (for instance, but not exclusively, in media production, finance and banking, the law, publishing, broadcasting, marketing and consultancy, or as performer, composer, teacher (at all levels of education), music therapist, community musician, private tutor or sound technician, or in arts administration, orchestras, bands, a recording company, publishing, game design, film, radio and television). The MA in Music provides students with higher-level research, analytical and study skills necessary for students intending to pursue further academic research. It also provides students with the opportunities to enhance their oral and written communication skills, as well as their team working and individual organisational capabilities.

The MA in Music aims to equip students with the ability to:

  • demonstrate a range of advanced musicological, creative and/or performance skills appropriate to the level of study;
  • express (through writing, presentations, composition and performance) their particular expertise in individual areas of musical interest and specialisation;
  • create critical perspectives on music’s historical, theoretical, creative, practical and wider cultural dimensions;
  • analyse and critique significant trends in the history and reception of Western and non-Western music;
  • evaluate and shape debates and texts concerning the nature of music, as practised in a number of countries, cultures and societies;
  • analyse musical works in recorded or notated form and utilise historical data and analytical skills in formulating critical perspectives of a works’theoretical, aesthetic and technical backgrounds;
  • evaluate the importance of music in relation to other areas of human endeavour;
  • develop advanced skills in the use of information technology for bibliographical searches, learning, creative practice and research;
  • prove their critical understanding of issues, debates and themes in the student’s interests, including the theoretical and creative underpinning of different research methodologies (practice-led and text-based) within Music;
  • apply key methodologies and strategies in order to develop their own subject-specific interests and to undertake independent scholarship and research;
  • gather and evaluate appropriate evidence and to analyse scholarly debates;
  • manage time effectively, deploy communication skills (written, oral, compositional, performative) and group work skills, and demonstrate (as appropriate to student specialism) through practice and creative work important issues in the subject;
  • construct, develop, and write/compose/perform an extended dissertation, portfolio or performance project based on independent research;
  • utilize the sources and resources available for the dissertation, portfolio or performance project and appraise the methodological debates relevant to it;
  • situate a specific research topic within current debates and methodologies in relevant disciplines within Music, the humanities and social sciences;
  • express project management skills including defining and planning projects, meeting deadlines, and recording and reflecting on outcomes;
  • appreciate and respond appropriately to the ethical guidelines appropriate for work in Music and, more broadly, the Humanities, especially those involving live subjects, together with an awareness of the professional standards adopted by disciplines.

Entry Requirements

High 2.2 or above

For further information please contact

Course Content

Indicative Modules

The following is a list of indicative modules:

  • Music as Creative Practice
  • Music Analysis
  • Critical Musicology
  • Screen Music Studies
  • Music as Social Life
  • Approaches to Music Research
  • Contemporary Music Studies
  • Advanced Techniques in Current Musicology
  • Advanced Techniques in Creative Music Technologies 
  • Dissertation, Creative Portfolio, Recital

Teaching and Assessment

You will be taught and supervised by the researchers who have earned Keele an international reputation as a centre for excellence in these areas: practice-led research in composition and technology, and text-based research in musicology. The musicology research group at Keele enjoys a strong reputation for its expertise in music analysis, philosophy, cultural history, aesthetics, screen music, ethnomusicology, music from Germany, Poland, and Peru, and composers including Lutosławski and Rihm. There is a shared focus on the twentieth century (in the context of its precursors and successors), and on exploring common themes such as modernity, identity, narrative and embodiment. The MA enables students to benefit from research-led teaching in such areas. The musical life on campus is extraordinarily rich. As a Keele music student you’ll have access 24/7 to our purpose-built practice rooms and studios, and also to an extensive music library. You’ll have opportunities to play with orchestras, choirs, ensembles and bands, and to attend concerts, gigs and workshops by world-leading musicians.

 Modules are generally taught through a combination of seminars, workshops, small group discussions and individual supervision. There is a strong emphasis on independent learning and students are expected to work on their own to produce work. Assessment is diverse through the use of dissertations, composition portfolios, projects, recitals, essays, reflective diary, presentation, book reviews, posters, etc. For full-time students, taught modules are completed by May, leaving the summer months for students to complete final projects.

The pass mark is 50%. A merit will be awarded where students obtain 60% or over for the dissertation (or equivalent project or performance) and an average of 60% on their other coursework. A distinction will be awarded where students obtain 70% or over for the dissertation, and an average of 70% in their other coursework.

Additional Costs

We anticipate no additional costs to students once enrolled. Full access to Keele Music & Music Technology facilities and kit is provided to all students – although many students own and add to their collections of instruments, technology and software, obviously, during their time at Keele. We can advise on personal purchases, suppliers, etc.

Lydia Triner

Lydia Triner

"The warm and positive atmosphere provides you with the self-confidence, passion and inspiration needed to keep pushing yourself further."

Music MRes graduate