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Taught Masters in Musicology

Musicology at Durham

The Music Department boasts a distinguished tradition of musicology stretching back over a century, and now plays host to world-leading historical musicologists, analysts and theorists working across disciplinary boundaries. Today, the Department has a concentration of expertise relating to the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, with a particular focus on music and musical life in the German-speaking world, France, Great Britain, Ireland, and the British, German and Japanese Empires. As an MA student in Musicology, you’ll be a part of this cutting-edge research environment

What will you do?

Get to know your discipline, and why it matters

Within the core Contemporary Musicology module you’ll work closely with internationally-renowned staff and your peers to develop a firm grounding in current debates in the discipline (such as decolonisation, gender, interdisciplinarity and the limits of musicology, the canon and aesthetic value) as well as an overview of tools and theoretical approaches (such as voice theory, mobility studies, New Materialism, archival skills).

Explore your interests in more detail

You’ll do a large-scale independent research project within the broad remit of musicology, benefitting from expert one-to-one supervision: students in the past have done everything from a study of Soviet ballet scores; heteronormativity in Broadway musicals; King Crimson; gender and the nineteenth-century harp. At the same time, you can choose additional taught modules that play to your interests (for example, Advanced Music Analysis), or that broaden your horizons, including modules in other departments and in the Centre for Foreign Language Study. That way you can develop breadth and depth, and learn specialist skills, depending on your needs. For full details on the course structure, see here.

Be part of the academic community

When you join Durham, you become part of the research community and work very closely with the academics in your pathway and with a dissertation supervisor, as well as finding that other staff are at your disposal. Feel free to contact individual lecturers whose specialisms relate to your interests: take a look here. You’ll also join Masters and PhD students across the pathways in reading groups and the postgraduate seminars, and the whole department meets regular to hear presentation from visiting scholars in our Research Forum. For more about the musicological research environment at Durham, including the interdisciplinary networks, conferences and publications hosted at the university, see here.

What do our students think?

University student
I chose Durham because I was totally impressed by the natural scenery, hospitable people and academic atmosphere here ... At first studying in a different country was really challenging. I had to read everything, discuss with my classmates, join tutorials and seminars in English which is not my mother tongue ... But all my professors patiently answered all my questions about the reading and gave advice on my work. … I must say I will never ever regret choosing Durham.

Tianlei Han (2019-20)
University student
The postgraduate community in the department is really supportive, understanding and encouraging…our year group became pretty close-knit and often socialised together outside of classes with the doctoral and undergrad students…Over the course of the year, we tackled so many different and fascinating topics. For me personally, the structure of the taught MA course was ideal…I felt that there was plenty of breadth in the course and a lot of freedom to choose which topics you want to delve into

Alice Benton (2017-18)
University student
I came to Durham after researching several programs back in the United States, as well as in the UK. Durham’s Music Department seemed uniquely poised to support my research of music, technology, and theology via the wonderful faculty, programs, and emphasis on interdisciplinarity. Durham University has exceeded my expectations…The faculty, staff, and students have been amazing! I have appreciated the sense of support and collegiality that has been afforded to me and my classmates.

Ryan Mackey (2019-20)
University student
The community in the department is very welcoming...I’ve not only learned varied research skills and improved my music history knowledge, but I've also determined what were my main research interests in musicology as well as the subject of my Ph.D. thesis…I’ve loved living in Durham so much that I've actually stayed there after my degree! It's small enough so you feel part of the community but big enough that you keep on meeting new people.

Laure Olivier (2017-18)

For more details on course structure, how to apply etc, see here.