Musicology and Music Theory, M.Phil.

  • Application Deadline
  • 12 months
  • Tuition
    Tuition (Year)
    Tuition (Year)
  • English (take IELTS)
Many universities offer postgraduate taught programmes in Musicology; rather fewer offer equivalent courses in Music Theory. This course is one of a small number of programmes that offer students both.
  • Overview
  • Programme outline
  • Key facts
  • Admission requirements
  • Fees and funding


This one-year course is designed to offer a grounding in two core areas within the academic study of music-Musicology (historical, critical and analytical), and Music Theory. Many universities offer postgraduate taught programmes in Musicology; rather fewer offer equivalent courses in Music Theory.

This course is one of a small number of programmes that offer students both. Where possible, shared or interdisciplinary modules are being offered, although the need for prior musical training means that the number of such modules is limited. At least one full module, focussed around music as a cultural phenomenon (a branch of historical musicology), will be made available to students on the School of Drama, Film and Music's other M.Phil. courses.

Also, although the larger part of the module on Research Methodologies in Music is specialist, some individual lectures will be shared with equivalent modules in the other M.Phil. courses in the School.

This course offers modules in two of the main subjects within the academic study of music-Musicology (historical, critical and analytical), and Music Theory. Its linking of contemporary and historical aspects of both subjects, its range of electives in both areas, and its module in Research Methodologies, are designed to equip students with strong analytical and critical skills that can be applied to the study of any area of music, including work to doctoral level. The course consists of core modules in Musicology and in Music Theory, plus a range of related electives that students will choose before the beginning of the academic year.

Programme Structure

The course consists of seven taught modules, five of which (1-5 below) are compulsory for all students. One of the elective modules (6 & 7 below) may be replaced by an elective module in the other M.Phil. courses offered by the School of Drama, Film and Music, subject to the approval of the course directors and/or the Head of School. In addition, from Hilary Term onwards, students begin working on a dissertation.

1. Research Methodologies (3 terms)

A series of lectures and seminars that introduce students to the principles of research within musicology and music theory and that, via both formal lectures and seminar presentations by students, prepares them for the writing of a dissertation. It is an 18-hour course that takes place over the three terms of the academic year. In Hilary and Michaelmas terms, students will receive tuition in research skills. Classes will take place every two weeks. In Trinity term, they will present their work to peers and staff in an open forum.

Preparation of the student's dissertation will be a central component of this module. Students will begin discussing topics for their dissertations with course coordinators not later than early in Hilary term, and supervisors will be assigned at that time.

2. Historical case studies in 19th- and 20th-century musicology (Michaelmas term)

A study of selected writings in musicology from the middle to the 19th century to the middle of the 20th century. It will consider the relationship between musicological thought and the culture in which it was situated, the relationship between the music concerned and the time of writing, plus the relationship between musicological thinking and developments in science and philosophy. It aims to encourage a critical approach to musicology that will enable students to appreciate the strengths and limitations of specific schools of thought and practice.

3. Contemporary theory and practice in musicology (Hilary term)

A series of case studies that will examine some of the main trends in musicology over the last 50 years. It will consider how and why the discipline has become increasingly characterised by fragmentation into niches such as feminist musicology, the sociological and contextualising aspects of "new" musicology, and the recurrent pleas (dating back at least as far as Charles Seeger in the 1920s) for an approach focussed primarily upon music itself. The contributions of scholars such as Susan McClary, Gary Tomlinson, Joseph Kerman, Nicholas Cooke and Richard Taruskin will be considered in their own right and in the context of late 20th-century thought within and without music. It will show how musicological enquiry may be approached from a variety of standpoints, how to identify the presuppositions behind, and the purposes of, modern trends in musicology, and how to take a critical stance when reading modern musicology and to write accordingly.

4. Schenkerian Theory (Michaelmas term)

An introduction to the analytical methods and theories of Heinrich Schenker, and how they can be applied to the analysis of tonal music. At the end of this module students will be able to discuss and write about Schenker's theories and analytical methods. They will be able to apply Schenker's techniques to the analysis of tonal music. They will acquire a deeper understanding of structure and process within tonal music.

5. Post-tonal Theory (Hilary term)

A study of the principal theoretical literature on post-tonal music and the analysis of such music using set theory and other methods. At the end of this module students will be able to discuss and write about various methods of analysing post-tonal music, including set theory. They will be able to apply these theories and techniques to the analysis of post-tonal music. They will acquire a deeper understanding of process within such music.

6 & 7. Electives (Michaelmas and Hilary terms)

A sequence of four- and eight-week modules on specific theoretical and musicological subjects. These subjects will comprise practical applications of concepts and methods learned in the core modules (2-5 above) to a wide range of musical repertoires and to various historical studies of music theory. It aims to demonstrate how the principles learned in the core modules can be applied in a wider context, and to show that, although music theory and musicology are distinct disciplines, they can be combined for the purposes of specific research projects.

Students will be informed of the list of electives as soon as decisions on admission are reached; and students must present their list of choices not later than 1st of September. The list of electives that will finally be presented will be restricted by student demand, staff availability and timetabling; and not more than one elective will normally be offered at any one time. Some electives will run for four weeks and some for 8 weeks.

Students may replace one of these modules with one of the modules offered by other M.Phil. programmes within the School of Drama, Film and Music. Such replacement is subject to the availability of staff and places, and the agreement of course directors and the Head of School.

A provisional list of electives would be as follows:

  1. Opera as a manifestation of national consciousness (1 term) (Available to all M.Phil. students within the School of Drama, Film and Music)
  2. The history of harmonic theory from Rameau to Schoenberg (1 term)
  3. Elgar, Newman and The Dream of Gerontius (1 term)
  4. The art of recording (4 weeks)
  5. Brahms and the String Sextet (4 weeks)
  6. Sketch study of twentieth-century music (1 term)
  7. White mensural notation (4 weeks)
  8. Brahms's harmony (4 weeks)
  9. Poetry of madness: music of control-Britten's Rejoice in the Lamb. (4 weeks)
  10. The late music of Alban Berg (4 weeks)
  11. Formal aberrations in Haydn's symphonies (4 weeks)
  12. The musico-dramatic structure of Verdi's Il Trovatore (4 weeks)
  13. Handel and the English oratorio: the creation of a genre (1 term)
  14. Elective modules offered by other departments within the School of Drama, Film and Music, and open to other students (1 term)
All modules except Methodologies of Research will be assessed by 4,000 word essays or equivalent analytical projects. Expressed in ECTS, the six essays/projects will account for 60 ECTS; Methodologies of Research will be 5 ECTS, and the dissertation will be 25 ECTS. Dissertations of up to 15,000 words in length will be due for submission on or before 31st of August.

Detailed Programme Facts

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  • Duration full-time 12 months
  • Languages
    • English
  • Delivery mode
    On Campus
  • Educational variant Full-time

Academic Requirements

Applicants will be required to hold at least an upper second class honours in a music degree. Non-EU applicants will be required to hold an equivalent qualification. (A "B", average 3.0 or above, for North American students.) Candidates with relevant, and significant, experience in music may be accepted with lower qualifications.

English language requirements:

  • IELTS: Grade 6.5
  • TOEFL: 88 - iBT, 230 - Computer based, 570 - paper based
  • Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English: Grade C
  • Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English: Grade C

Tuition Fee Per Year

  • EUR 12700 International
  • EUR 5750 EU/EEA
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