MA
2022 start September 

Psychology of Music

Department of Music, Faculty of Arts and Humanities

Explore fundamental questions about music and its central place in our lives on the longest established music psychology programme in the UK. Our interdisciplinary approach offers a unique perspective on music and rigorous training in research techniques.
Music group in studio

Course description

You'll cover the key areas and debates in music psychology and become proficient in psychological research techniques on this course. You'll receive a rich grounding in areas such as music cognition, the neuroscience of music, music education, music therapy and wellbeing, music in our everyday lives and psychological approaches to performance.

You'll specialise within an area of your choice and pursue original research leading to a dissertation. The course is taught by widely-published and leading experts in the field who will guide and support you in your work.

This MA offers an unparalleled opportunity to develop your insight into music and musical experience, which will help to shape your career, whether you go on to be a researcher, teacher or practitioner.

Our department has a vibrant community of academics and students and, between us, we cover an extraordinary range of specialisms and interests. We currently have large projects on wellbeing and ageing, orchestras and the cultural life of Sheffield during the Covid-19 pandemic.

We have internationally recognised research centres such as SPARC (Sheffield Performer and Audience Research Centre), Music, Mind and Machine and other research clusters (in music and wellbeing, creativity in music and musical time). These act as focal points, not only for students doing research in the department but for staff working on projects too. Our staff are also involved in consultancy work that help them to keep abreast of what the arts and cultural sectors need from academics.

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Accreditation

We are an All-Steinway School.

Modules

The modules listed below are examples from the last academic year. There may be some changes before you start your course. For the very latest module information, check with the department directly.

Core modules:

Academic Skills

This module provides a general introduction to academic skills in music, assisting with the transition to PGT study, with particular reference to :
(1) accessing library resources
(2) critically evaluating academic literature
(3) developing feedback literacy
(4) understanding employability skills and career opportunities
(5) reflective writing skills
(6) understanding the wider field of music research beyond their discipline
These skills are taught in the context of five Graduate Study Days (normally weighted towards the first semester to assist transition to PGT study) which the students attend alongside the rest of the graduate community. . Students submit a short portfolio of critical writing and a piece of reflective writing that charts their skill development. As part of the portfolio, students are encouraged to engage with department activities outside these contact hours, such as attending performances in the concert series, talks in the department seminar series, and taking part in study skill development through activities such as reading groups.

15 credits
Advanced issues in Psychology of Music

The aim of this module is for students to consider in-depth a chosen topic within Psychology of Music through studying a relevant body of recent research literature, analyse and reflect on the research methodologies used to investigate the topic, and explore how research and its findings may be disseminated and be of interest to audiences beyond academia. Group work is central to the module as students work in groups on a particular chosen topic. Assessments are also the result of group work and include a literature review, a methodological review and a dissemination of research for a non-academic audience. Topics may include a subarea related to for example Musical Development, Music Education, Music Therapy, Music in Commercial Settings, Music Perception and Cognition, and Neuroscience of Music. The topic area is decided by group consensus and in consultation with the module leader.

15 credits
Dissertation

A dissertation of about 15,000 words comprising original research and survey of relevant literature, on a topic agreed between the student and supervisor.

60 credits

Optional modules - one from:

Topics in Music Psychology

This module provides an introduction to the core topics in the psychology of music, including psychoacoustics and perception, cognition of musical structure, emotion and meaning in music, development psychology of music, psychological approaches to performance, and social and applied music psychology, including music therapy and music education.

30 credits
Selected Topics in Music Psychology

This module provides an introduction to the core topics in the psychology of music. Topics covered can be selected from psychoacoustics and perception, cognition of musical structure, emotion and meaning in music, developmental psychology of music, psychological approaches to performance, social and applied music psychology, including music therapy and music education.

15 credits

Optional modules (up to 60 credits): Subject to the approval of the course director.

If you take Quantitative Research Techniques, you cannot take Statistics in Music Psychology. If you take Qualitative Research Techniques, you cannot take Qualitative Data Collection.

Communicating about music and music research

This exciting module is delivered in collaboration with the English Language Teaching Centre, and is directed at all students who wish to work on English communication skills - written and oral, in order to reach a variety of audiences interested in music and music research. Assessments for this module provide opportunities to improve academic writing skills, which can benefit performance in other modules. They also offer the opportunity to engage with a broad spectrum of written and oral communication, useful for academic and professional contexts.

15 credits
Quantitative Research Techniques

This module provides a research training in quantitative research techniques relevant to the study of musical behaviour. The module consists of teaching and learning of statistical techniques in a computer-lab setting, plus a group project in which an empirical study is partially designed and fully executed and analysed. The project is assessed by means of an individual report of 6,000 words.

30 credits
Qualitative Research Techniques

This module provides a research training in a qualititative research techniques relevant to the study of musical behaviour. This module consists of teaching and learning of qualitative research design and analysis techniques in a seminar setting, plus a group project in which an empirical study is executed and reported. This project is assessed by means of an individual report of 6,000 words.

30 credits
Qualitative Data Collection

This module provides a research training in qualitative research data collection relevant to the study of musical behaviour. The module consists of teaching and learning of qualitative research design techniques, including ethical consideration and evaluation of methods through pilot studies and critique of existing research. The module is assessed through a portfolio of qualitative data collection tools, including questionnaires and interview schedules, which the student has designed, piloted and evaluated.

15 credits
Statistics in Music Pscyhology

This module provides a research training in quantitative research techniques relevant to the study of musical behaviour. The module consists of teaching and learning of statistical techniques in a computer-lab setting. The learning is assessed by means of a portfolio of coursework of 3000 words.

15 credits
Fundamentals of Cognition

The module provides an overview of the fundamental issues in cognitive neuroscience and its contributory disciplines. The approach taken is in terms of its development over the past 50 years, providing an overview of the key concepts in the information processing approach and in cognitive science, followed by an analysis of the advances that have been made recently using cognitive neuroscience techniques. Topics include: fundamental issues in cognition (memory, attention, learning, language); theoretical approaches including cognitive neuropsychology, symbolic and sub-symbolic modelling; and methodological issues.

15 credits
Topics in Musicology

This unit gives students the opportunity to develop skills and knowledge in a focused area of musicolgy. Students will explore the literature related to a specific topic in depth, and will write an essay that responds to the current state of the literature in this area. Topics offered will be in line with staff research interests, but the exact number and selection of topics will depend on student demand.

30 credits
Critical Listening and the Musical Work

Students will consider recordings across a range of genres from European and American music to develop their critical listening skills and understanding of musical works. Classes will cover broader questions in the first half of the module, giving way to focused case studies in the second.
Key issues may include:
what is a musical work?;
what is critical listening?;
scores and editions;
positionality;
types and values;
taste and recordings;
reception of recordings;
recording over time;
and other issues and ideas in musical listening.
Weekly listening and research tasks will contribute to an independent project, which will be assessed through a presentation and short essay.

15 credits
Critical Listening and the Musical Work

Students will consider recordings across a range of genres from European and American music to develop their critical listening skills and understanding of musical works. Classes will cover broader questions in the first half of the module, giving way to focused case studies in the second.
Key issues may include:
what is a musical work?;
what is critical listening?;
scores and editions;
positionality;
types and values;
taste and recordings;
reception of recordings;
recording over time;
and other issues and ideas in musical listening.

Weekly listening and research tasks will contribute to an independent project, which will be assessed through a presentation and short essay.

30 credits
Collaborative practice, public engagement and impact

Collaborative practice, public engagement and impact’ supports projects that entail an aspect of collaboration, co-operation, knowledge exchange or impact. Students are supported to form relevant partnerships within or outside the module, department, faculty or university, which may be with an/another artist or practitioner (e.g. scientist, engineer), or with a venue such as a concert hall, gallery, museum or media outlet. Within the context of these partnerships students will design and execute projects leading to a live performance, presentation or event. KE or impact-focussed projects will be mandated to involve a public audience. Projects may involve diverse media and may be presented in a live or digital/mixed format. In order to accommodate a wide range of arts and humanities practices, including novel formats engendered through the module, the assessment format will be approved on an individual basis within specified parameters appropriate to the project.
Indicative projects include:
- Collaboration with an/another artist within or outside the student’s discipline to produce a new artistic work
- Collaboration with a scientist, engineer or other academic, to produce an event, experiment, demonstration or new tool
- Co-operation/partnership with an external organisation, venue or media outlet to produce or present work to a public audience
- Innovative presentation

30 credits
Performing World Music

The unit provides an opportunity to integrate practice in an unfamiliar musical genre into the MA in Ethnomusicology (and also, as an option, into the MA Music Performance Studies and MA Musicology). Taught weekly in practical classes, the unit will focus on the music of one tradition hitherto unfamiliar to the class in question, requiring them to learn vocal or instrumental performance in that style. Students will back up their practice-based understanding of the world music tradition with an online learning diary and theoretical knowledge derived from the ethnomusicological literature. Their practical learning leads to a performance examination with an oral component dealing with historical, organological or cultural aspects of the same musical tradition.

30 credits
Critical Musicology

This unit acts as an introduction to key trends and figures in musicology from the mid-twentieth century to the present day. Students will learn techniques and skills related to the literature in the field, and will employ them in an essay on a topic of their own choice.

30 credits
Strategic planning for music business clients

The module consists of students working as a team with a live client from the world of professional music to address an issue of the client's choice. The issues sought from prospective client organisations will be those which either have a long term strategic bearing on the organisations's work and existence, or which address an immediate operational issue or set of issues. In both instances the issues to be studied will be typical of what might be expected to be encountered in the real world of music management. Once the definition of the issue to be studied has been fully agreed with the cilent, the course will consist of weekly seminars at which the team will plan reasearch into the issue and will discuss on a regular basis its ideas and proposals for action with the course tutor. The progress of the team will be checked with the client at the mid-point of the semester. The final outcome of the project will be a live presentation by the team to the client outlining its research findings, its interpretation of these, followed by conclusions and recommendations. This presentation in turn will be followed by the creation of a written group report which will be the subject of formal assessment and then made available for the client to use as they choose Assessment will also include peer-group assessment by the students of themselves.

15 credits
Staging Music in Theory and Practice

This unit is practice based as students develop and run a one day music related event within the local community. There will be theoretical input on the nature and impacts of, and planning for, art oriented festivals and events including marketing and the practical application of legal and health and safety principles.

15 credits

The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it's up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research; funding changes; professional accreditation requirements; student or employer feedback; outcomes of reviews; and variations in staff or student numbers. In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and take reasonable steps to minimise disruption. We are no longer offering unrestricted module choice. If your course included unrestricted modules, your department will provide a list of modules from their own and other subject areas that you can choose from.

Teaching

You’ll learn through lectures, lab-sessions, graduate study days, and tutorials.

Learn more about your supervisors:

Assessment

The taught programme is continuously assessed through a variety of forms such as reports and essays. They are usually individual assessments, even if they concern the processes and outcomes of group work.

Duration

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

Student profiles

Image of Christ Aryanto, postgraduate student in the Department of Music

Studying here was the best decision I have ever made. The lecturers are experts in their field, the facilities are great, and the city has a good ambience to study. I gained a lot of knowledge and sharpened my critical thinking here.

Christ Aryanto

MA Psychology of Music

Entry requirements

2:1 in music, psychology or a combined degree with a substantial music or psychology component.

Degrees in other related subjects may be acceptable depending on your background.

Overall IELTS score of 6.5 with a minimum of 6.0 in each component, or equivalent.

Pathway programme for international students

If you're an international student who does not meet the entry requirements for this course, you have the opportunity to apply for a pre-masters programme in Business, Social Sciences and Humanities at the University of Sheffield International College. This course is designed to develop your English language and academic skills. Upon successful completion, you can progress to degree level study at the University of Sheffield.

We also accept a range of other UK qualifications and other EU/international qualifications.

If you have any questions about entry requirements, please contact the department.

Fees and funding

University funding and scholarships opportunities are available each year. Please check the department funding webpages for music specific scholarships. Department scholarships details are released in the January prior to the start of your course.

Funding information on the Department of Music website

Apply

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

Apply now

Contact

music-admissions@sheffield.ac.uk
+44 114 222 0495

Any supervisors and research areas listed are indicative and may change before the start of the course.

Our student protection plan

Recognition of professional qualifications: from 1 January 2021, in order to have any UK professional qualifications recognised for work in an EU country across a number of regulated and other professions you need to apply to the host country for recognition. Read information from the UK government and the EU Regulated Professions Database.

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