Skip to main content

Taught Masters in Performance

Performance at Durham

Durham is a great place to be if your interest is performance. Our department embraces performance from many different angles, including synergies with other areas such as analysis, musicology, ethnomusicology, psychology and more, and this means that you can explore your interests as a performer using different perspectives and methods. Our specialisms include areas such as early modern vocal and instrumental music, empirical research on performance, lute repertoire and its context, as well as 19th and 20th century performance practice, especially of piano repertoire. Studying here you will find a dynamic community of like-minded staff and students, both within and outside the department, which will develop your skills and networks for a career in performance.

What will you do?

Get to know your discipline, and why it matters

Within the Performance pathway, you’ll work closely with staff and your peers to explore various aspects of performance practice throughout history, in addition to performance research methods and scholarly discourses. You are encouraged to link this work to current discourses such as decolonisation, gender, interdisciplinarity, the canon and aesthetic value of performance in order to grow your own critical apparatus as a professional musician. Engaging with music in this way will allow you to offer attractive and thoughtful programming to leading festivals and concert series, something that has become more essential in recent years.

Explore your interests in more detail

In the performance pathway you’ll do two written projects on topics relating to performance practice: 1) a practice-based assignment looking more in depth at the music you perform (this can include analysing recordings, music editions, editorial work, ornamentation, empirical research, etc), and 2) an assignment where you can explore current debates about performance practice, the music industry, aspects of teaching and learning and more. You will also do a practical project, your final recital, bringing together the academic and practical elements of your work. At the same time, you can choose additional taught modules that play to your interests (for example, in 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.

Be part of the musical community

When you join Durham, you become part of the research community and you get to work very closely with our academics and with a project supervisor, as well as finding that other staff are at your disposal. Feel free to contact specific lecturers whose specialisms relate to your interests: take a look here. You’ll 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. We also have connections with some of the centres such as the Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies (IMEMS) and the Centre for Nineteenth-Century Studies where you will be able to share ideas with specialists from other areas. In addition, you will join a thriving performance community. We run our own professional concert series (MUSICON), and play host to a number of resident ensembles (EXAUDI, the Ives Ensemble and the Frankland Quartet). Within the university there is an extraordinary range of music-making, much of it student led (visit the Music Durham website): from Gregorian Chant to 21st-century repertoire, our student choirs and ensembles thrive and are supported by workshops, master classes and more.

What do our students think?

Karen Christianson testimonial

 Jacob Barns testimonial


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