M.A. Psychology of Music

University of Sheffield

Tuition fee: Not specified
Start date: September  2015
Duration full-time: 12 months
  • English
Delivery mode: On Campus
Educational variant: Part-time, Full-time

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Music Psychology uses psychological theory and methods to interpret and understand musical behaviours, sounds and ideas. The inter-disciplinarity of the subject, and its use of a wide range of empirical approaches, offers a unique perspective on music.
Postgraduate teaching and research in music psychology is well established at Sheffield, with the department offering both a distance learning MA in Psychology for Musicians and a site-based MA in Psychology of Music, and supporting a number of research students working on projects reflecting these interests.

The course tutors have published widely in the areas of music psychology and music education, contributing to the music department's status as an internationally leading centre for research in these fields. There are three full-time specialist staff in the psychology of music and music education: Dr Renee Timmers, Dr. Nicola Dibben and Dr Stephanie Pitts. Opportunities for research in music psychology are further enhanced by connections with other areas of staff expertise: music analysis; music education; ethnomusicology; historical, analytical and critical musicology; and performance practice.

The Psychology of Music onsite MA aims to

* provide you with a training in the research methods used by psychologists, and with a conceptual framework within which you might use them to explore your musical surroundings
* Enrich your professional and musical life through facilitating psychological perspectives on performing, listening and educational or therapeutic issues in music

By the end of this course you will be able to

* use information resources to find out about psychological research relevant to your musical interests
* evaluate psychological theories in relation to each other and to your own experience
* Write clearly and knowledgeably about psychological approaches to music
* Generate new knowledge about music through collecting, analysing and interpreting data
* Demonstrate an attitude of open-minded critical awareness
* Decide for yourself what psychology has to offer to musicians


Course Content
The MA in Psychology of Music consists of compulsory units designed to ensure coverage of essential elements of graduate study in music and key learning experiences in the psychology of music. The first half of the programme provides training in generic musicological research skills alongside a seminar series focusing on the music psychology literature. You will also participate in the planning and design of two collaborative research projects, alongside the design of a substantial and original research project which will become the basis for your dissertation. The second half of the programme provides an opportunity for you to demonstrate your assimilation of this learning through completion of an original piece of research reported as a dissertation.
Part-time candidates follow a pathway that divides these modules across two years of study. There is some flexibility in this, but typically candidates will take the dissertation proposal and dissertation in year 2 and all other modules in year 1.

Part I

* Folio (75 credits)
* Research Techniques (15 credits)
Total 90 credits

Part II

* Dissertation Proposal (15 credits)
* Dissertation (75 credits)
Total 90 credits
Course total 180 credits

Module Outlines
Folio of Experiments (MUS6060)

This is taught through the Psychology of Music seminars. Topics include: music perception and psychoacoustics, cognitive psychology of music, social psychology, musical development, music education, music therapy, emotion and expression. Assessment is by means of a 7-day take away paper, an assessed essay and two empirical research tasks.

Research Techniques (MUS6000)

This module introduces a range of music-related research techniques including defining and designing a research topic, collecting and analysing data, access to unusual research materials from libraries or internet sites, compiling and laying out literature reviews and empirical studies, becoming acquainted with basics of music processing. Assessment is by means of the completion of exercises set within the class.

Dissertation Proposal (MUS6070)

This module will help you identify and refine a topic of research suitable for a Masters dissertation. Attendance at psychology of music weekly seminars provides the forum for discussion. Assessment is by means of two written submissions. A preliminary dissertation proposal is submitted in the first semester followed by a more detailed proposal in semester two.

Dissertation (MUS6020)

Dissertation research takes place primarily in the second semester of the course, giving you the chance to develop your ability to carry out an independent research project. The dissertation, of between 16,000 and 20,000 words, should report psychological research of an empirical or theoretical nature, deal with musical issues, and place this research within the context of existing work in psychology and music. Topics chosen by previous students have included absolute pitch and pitch memory, determinants of musical skill among talented young musicians. the role of music in autobiographical memory.

Optional modules

Students on the MA are also encouraged to attend appropriate undergraduate modules in both the psychology and music departments. Modules in the Music Department include Psychological Approaches to Performance, Music in the Community, Music in Education, and Music Perception. A range of courses on perception, memory and cognition, experimental methods and statistics, are available in the Psychology Department.

Library and resources

The University library is well equipped to support research in music psychology, housing a range of music psychology texts and journals as well as mainstream psychology and education texts and collections of a wide range of other musicological resources. The department also owns Disklavier pianos allowing piano performances to be digitally recorded and analysed. For students on the Distance Learning MA, time is available during residential weeks to make full use of the resources in the department, and the SCONUL Access scheme means that part-time and distance learning students from the UK can join up to three other UK University libraries nearer their home.


Entry Requirements
At least a good second-class honours degree or international equivalent in music, or combined degree with substantial music component. In some cases, a degree in anthropology, drama, education, psychology or another subject is acceptable, as may be equivalent life experience or a performance diploma from a conservatoire or academy.

Applicants whose first language is not English are required to take a suitable test, eg. IELTS, minimum score 6.5; TOEFL, minimum score 575, plus a score of 4.5 in the Test of Written English, or minimum of 232 in the computer-based TOEFL.

English Language Requirements

CAE score: (read more)

Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) is part of the Cambridge English suite and is targeted at a high level (IELTS 6.5-8.0). It is an international English language exam set at the right level for academic and professional success. Developed by Cambridge English Language Assessment - part of the University of Cambridge - it helps you stand out from the crowd as a high achiever.

60 (Grade C)

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