MA Sonic Arts

Department of Music, Faculty of Arts and Humanities

We have expertise in everything from musicology and ethnomusicology to performance, composition and music management.

You'll work alongside professional musicians and researchers with visits and masterclasses from guest performers and teachers.

About the course

Study with experts at the cutting-edge of technical, creative and theoretical knowledge in this rapidly evolving area of study. The course focuses upon the relationship between technology and creative practice, training musical students to use software tools and enabling students with a solid music technology background to investigate creative opportunities. Initial intensive training in the knowledge and methods of the field at the start of the course is followed by opportunities for increasingly independent research and exploration.

At the University of Sheffield we take a broad and inclusive view of the sonic arts; we embrace anything from sound installations to free-improvised performances, computer programming through to fine art practice, art in which sound is the medium through to that in which sound plays a supporting role.

Our influences are equally diverse; we embrace anything from the Intonarumori of futurist Luigi Russolo through to the cut-up techniques of William Burroughs, the concrete experiments of Pierre Schaeffer through to the abstract processes of Steve Reich, the high-modernist work of Stockhausen through to the ‘eyebrow’ moments of Zappa, from the sculptural works of Zimoun through to the ephemeral improvisations of John Zorn. There is no one comprehensive definition of sonic art – this exciting field is still in the process of defining itself, pushing into new territories and discovering new ways of being.

Course tutors – Dr Adrian Moore and Dr Adam Stansbie – are both highly experienced and internationally recognised composers whose work is widely performed, published and prized.

Course content

Modules on department website

Teaching

Teaching is informed by new technologies and methods of working. It takes place through:

  • Seminars
  • Laboratory-based demonstrations
  • Individual tutorials

Assessment

Assessment takes a variety of forms such as problem based assignments and the completion of a creative portfolio.

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Sonic Arts course students

Mixing desk

I would highly recommend this course to anybody interested in challenging themselves and in creating highly original pieces of sonic art.

Andy Reeman

Key facts

Course duration

  • 1 year full-time
  • 2 years part-time

Entry requirements

You'll need a 2:1 in music or a combined degree with a substantial music component.

Other qualifications may be acceptable depending on your background, for instance a degree in drama, psychology or another subject, equivalent life experience or a performance diploma from a conservatoire or academy.

English language requirements

Overall IELTS grade of 6.5 with a minimum of 5.5 in each component, or equivalent.

Entry requirements for international students

Fees and funding

University and faculty funding is available each year. The closing date for applications is mid-January. The department has a small number of tuition studentships available. The closing date for these is the end of April. You can also apply for a small grant to support your postgraduate research project.

Financial information for postgraduate taught courses

Funding information on the Department of Music website

Your career

Many of our graduates work in education. Others are performers in various popular genres, in the UK and abroad. Some work in recording studios. Employers include universities, colleges, concert agencies and music promoters.

Studios and equipment

We have a postgraduate research suite and several studios for advanced compositional work, software development, sound recording, laboratory and field experimentation, transcription, music notation and other research applications. You will have access to scores, books, periodicals, recordings and online resources.

Through a series of graduate study days you will be able to use the tools for digital recording, video and film. We also have excellent practice facilities and collections of historical and world music instruments.

Our team of professional musicians bring performance expertise to the department – including clarinettist Sarah Watts, pianist Inja Davidovic and North Indian tabla and santoor performer John Ball.

About us

Music at Sheffield attracts world-leading academics and musicians working in a wide range of specialist fields. This is reflected in the diversity of the MA programmes we offer, both onsite and by distance learning. Our courses are taught by experts and backed by world-class research. In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) 84 per cent of our work was rated internationally excellent or world-leading.

We are influential in composition, ethnomusicology, musicology, performance, music technology, music management and psychology of music. Our MA programmes allow students to take advantage of the Department’s distinctive interdisciplinary research environment and to be part of a strong postgraduate community by taking modules from other specialist areas. Our three research centres, Music, Mind, Machine, Sheffield Performer and Audience Research Centre, and Music & Wellbeing provide a hub for research collaborations in music psychology and audience research.

Performance is an important part of our work. You will have the chance to participate in orchestras, music theatre, contemporary music, folk and world traditions. We have strong links with the community, giving you the chance to make music or investigate uses of music outside the University.

Apply now

You can apply for postgraduate study using our Postgraduate Online Application Form. It is a quick and easy process.

Postgraduate Online Application Form

Any questions?

If you'd like to know more about any aspect of our courses, contact us:

E: music@sheffield.ac.uk
T: +44 (0)114 222 0461