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    Department of Music, Faculty of Arts and Humanities

    Gain new insights into how music is created, disseminated and received in different times and cultures. This course draws on a range of methodologies and disciplines to help you get the most out of the music you love.
    Two female students from the School of Health and Related Research take a look at the content of library books.

    Course description

    This course gives you a wide-ranging introduction to advanced musicological study. Our breadth of expertise in the Department of Music means that you can engage with a range of specialist areas, including:

    • Mozart
    • music of the classical period
    • Renaissance music
    • music and visual culture
    • eighteenth and nineteenth-century style
    • the concerto genre
    • the Broadway and Hollywood musical.

    You'll explore themes such as gender, musical philosophy and culture, the creative process, performance and reception, and use a range of methodologies to understand how music is created, disseminated and received.

    In the first semester, all students take a module on critical musicology. This gives you a grounding in the key concepts of musicological thought and technique, from nationalism and canon to semiotics and aesthetics. You'll then apply these concepts to a specific repertoire in the second semester.

    For many students, the dissertation is the climax of their course. You'll have the opportunity to explore a research topic of your own choice on any topic or repertoire. Previous students have explored everything from art and music in Renaissance Italy to gender identity in Disney musicals. A particular strength of our department is that we treat all genres with the same respect, and although we have significant expertise in Western art music, it is by no means more important than other repertoires.

    As well as musicological modules, you can take modules in other areas of the curriculum such as performance, music psychology and world music. This gives you the chance to meet students from other MA music courses and provides an interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary grounding in the subject.

    Sheffield is the perfect place to complete your MA in Musicology. The Department of Music works closely with the University's Concerts Series and oversees ensembles such as the Symphony and Chamber Orchestras, the Chamber Choir and the Folk Group. Our MA students have performed with these ensembles. One student conducted an edition of a long lost Broadway musical that he reconstructed for full orchestra and cast.

    Our students also benefit from a thriving research environment and take part in academic conferences. The University's archives also offer the potential for musicological work, particularly in the collection of scores used by the renowned conductor Sir Thomas Beecham.

    Sheffield is celebrated as one of the UK's leading music cities, with dozens of major venues. Sheffield benefits from regular visits from the Halle and Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestras, the nationally important Music in the Round chamber music organisation, and a rich programme of musicals, ballets and operas at the Crucible and Lyceum theatres. Sheffield is particularly known for its folk scene. Our students regularly take part in gigs at smaller venues across the city, as well as the Yellow Arch Studios.


    We are an All-Steinway School.


    A selection of modules are available each year - some examples are below. There may be changes before you start your course. From May of the year of entry, formal programme regulations will be available in our Programme Regulations Finder.

    Core modules:

    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
    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
    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 a number of sessions split equally between first and second semester.

    Students submit a short portfolio of two pieces of critical writing (concert review and article/chapter review) and a piece of reflective writing that charts their skill development and is closely tied to MySkills.

    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
    Dissertation in Musicology

    This unit gives students the opportunity to design and complete an extended piece of independent research in musicology. There is an emphasis on originality, and the module is heavily weighted in anticipation of the especially intensive effort required in achieving this pre-doctoral standard (for example, through archival research). Students will be supported through group seminars in which key techniques will be explored; they will then undertake the research under the guidance of a supervisor in tutorial format.

    60 credits

    Recommended and optional modules:

    Subject to the approval of the course director.

    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
    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;
    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
    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;
    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

    Optional modules:

    Subject to the approval of the course director.

    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
    Performing South Asian Rhythm

    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
    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
    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
    Music, Brain and Body

    In this module, you will explore the perceptual and cognitive foundations of music. Over the course of the module, we cover issues in the neuropsychology of music, examine memory processes in music, learn about the complex relationship between music and emotions and the psychological foundations of the elements of music such as pitch and rhythm. The module will give you contemporary insight and understanding of the way in which our brains and bodies engage with and process musical sound. 

    15 credits
    The Social and Applied Psychology of Music

    This module explores the psychology of music in a variety of settings, from the everyday uses of music to music in education and in therapeutic settings. The emphasis in this module lies in two related areas: the use of music psychology to help solve the practical problems of people’s lives (in terms of wellbeing, therapy, education and development) and also to explore music as a social phenomenon, that is understanding the psychology of music as a social and interactive facet of human life. 

    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.

    Open days

    An open day gives you the best opportunity to hear first-hand from our current students and staff about our courses.

    Find out what makes us special at our next online open day on Wednesday 17 April 2024.

    You may also be able to pre-book a department visit as part of a campus tour.Open days and campus tours


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


    Teaching is through seminars, reading group, graduate study days and individual tutorials. These are combined with departmental study days and extracurricular performance opportunities, all of which makes for a stimulating and supportive study environment.

    Department of Music students study at the heart of the campus in our Jessop Building, Soundhouse and performance facilities. We timetable teaching across the whole of our campus. Teaching may take place in a student's home.

    Learn more about your supervisors

    Changes to the teaching staff on the programme are possible, but are likely to include:


    Assessment is through essays, short presentations and a dissertation. Written essays will assess your knowledge of a broad range of current research practices along with your skills in evaluation, analysis, criticism, information organisation and writing.

    Your career

    Many of our graduates have found success in the music industry, while a large number have gone onto teach or work in creative arts organisations. Others have stayed to continue their studies at PhD level, or taken up offers to study further at leading music conservatoires.

    By joining a leading Russell-Group University you'll experience an outstanding teaching and learning environment. The multidisciplinary approach will provide you with a well-rounded skill set to succeed in a wide range of rewarding career paths.


    Department of Music

    Our department ethos combines high achievement with a sense of community and a shared passion for music. Our internationally recognised research informs our high-quality teaching and our student experience is collaborative, supportive and inspiring.

    Sheffield is celebrated as one of the UK's leading music cities, with dozens of major venues from the City Hall and Crucible to Yellow Arch Studios and the Foundry, covering all music genres. This brings with it a host of opportunities for our students to get involved in professional music-making of the highest quality.

    We work closely with the University's Concerts Series and oversee ensembles such as the Symphony and Chamber Orchestras, the Chamber Choir and the Folk Group, so our MA students have the opportunity to perform and develop ensemble skills with their peers.

    Student profiles

    I feel I have grown and developed as an academic during my MA at Sheffield. The support and encouragement from the staff is exceptional and I believe I am now more than equipped to move on to a PhD thanks to this course.

    Ben Redmayne
    MA Musicology

    Entry requirements

    Minimum 2:1 undergraduate honours degree in music or a combined degree with a substantial music component.

    We may accept other undergraduate degrees in a related subject, depending on your experience.

    We also consider a wide range of international qualifications:

    Entry requirements for international students

    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.

    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


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

    Apply now


    +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.