MA in Music

Did you know the Open University offers a 2-year part-time MA degree in Music? The new degree, which has been running since 2014, provides students with a thorough grounding in contemporary digital approaches to music research, and culminates in a 10-12,000 word dissertation. It addresses both musicology and ethnomusicology, and studied material ranges from Mozart manuscripts, music in Nazi Germany, and the BBC Proms to the songs of Joni Mitchell, Folk and contemporary notation practices, and music in Tudor London. Students have written dissertations on subjects as diverse as the film music of James Newton Howard, UK jazz festivals, music therapy, women composers at the Proms, and Scottish music of the Highlands.

The MA materials–which are accessed entirely online and contain embedded audio and video, with links to external databases–were praised as ‘exemplary’ by the degree’s external assessor, Dr Sarah Hibberd of the University of Nottingham. A small selection of them have been made available for free for you to try via the OU’s OpenLearn site as An Introduction to Music Research.

Should you decide to register, you’ll be assigned a personal tutor to support you in your studies and to provide feedback on your work. Prof. Jeremy Barham of the University of Surrey–the degree’s external examiner–has praised the standard of tutor feedback and remarked that the marking of students’ dissertations was ‘similarly impressive in its attention  to detail’.

Students have access to a number of forums to discuss readings with members of the music department and with each other, and the MA Music team also organises a number of optional study days each year in Milton Keynes, London, and Manchester to allow students to meet in person. Students who have completed their degrees commented that:

  • “My horizons expanded greatly from all the materials and activities…The weekly format [was] easy to grasp”
  • “I enjoyed the freedom of choice in assessments. This allowed [me] to concentrate on aspects of music that interested me and allowed me to work to my strengths.”
  • “[T]he experience was completely worthwhile and I am finding it hard to adjust to the hole left by the absence of [the MA]! I went into this MA to challenge myself and for personal satisfaction and I have not been disappointed.”
  • “I found the course extremely stimulating, challenging and exciting and am pleased I took the plunge to enrol. The research opened up many new avenues for me to explore and I felt the whole experience was a deeply fulfilling one.”

If you’re interested in learning more, further details can be found here.

About Ben Winters

Ben Winters is a Senior Lecturer in Music.
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