New MA in Music from October 2014

Here is advance notice of the new MA in Music, which will be taught and assessed entirely online. The first part of the MA, A873, is a 60-credit module which introduces a wide range of music research skills in the context of the ‘digital humanities’. Several topics and themes are included in the programme that will help students think in new ways about written documents about music; musical criticism; musical performances; and ethnographical approaches to music. Music databases contained in the Open University’s online library (one of the largest in the world) are central to this module. A873 has a wide cultural and thematic breadth: all students engage with a range of western, non-western and popular music and encounter a number of musical topics, themes and repertories from different periods and styles. There are four main sections or ‘blocks’, each of which is broadly structured into a six-week study period. Some flexibility is built in to enable extended reading in areas of particular interest.

Block 1 is the introductory section, in which students look at the history of how music is studied and how the idea of musical knowledge has changed over the last century. It also includes the following topics: People and communities; Composition and creativity; Performance and listening; Musical biographies; Music criticism and journalism.

Block 2 focuses on the significance of the digital humanities for the study of music, and some of the emerging questions. Key utilities and databases are introduced.

Block 3 guides students towards looking critically at different types of resources and the challenges associated with them. The topics are: Documents; Images; Places; Repertories and musical sources; Instruments; Performances and recordings.

Block 4 develops the work begun in Block 3 by drawing together different digital resources in five case studies, which include the BBC Promenade Concerts, Aaron Copland and the study of jazz in rehearsal and performance.

Emphasis is placed on the relevance of this module to practical and professional aspects of music. The assessment strategy has therefore been designed with this in mind, offering the opportunity to produce different ‘real-life’ writing tasks. Students wishing to enrol for the new MA should have a good honours degree or equivalent, ideally, but not necessarily, in music. In particular, it is expected that registering students should have a good general knowledge of music, equivalent to that obtained by students who have studied our undergraduate module, Inside music [A224], should be literate in music, to the extent of being able to follow an orchestral score and know which instrument is playing, and should be able to understand musical discourse that uses technical language and introduces musical quotations (the articles in New Grove II, for example).

Further information will be available shortly.

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4 Responses to New MA in Music from October 2014

  1. Tom Hewitt says:

    This posting is welcome news. There have been a number of queries concerning the new MA posted on the OUSA Postgraduate Music Forum. I have put a link to here from there.


  2. Adrienne Wilson says:

    I am very interested to know if there is any further information regarding the 2nd part of the new music MA.

    • Catherine Tackley says:

      Dear Adrienne, many apologies for not responding to this sooner. Please contact Fiona Richards ( who will be able to answer your questions. With best wishes, Catherine Tackley, Head of Music

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