MA in Music

The Open University

Program Description

MA in Music

The Open University

MA in Music

This degree course is for those who want to develop their research and analytical skills and upgrade their qualifications. It will suit anyone with appropriate entry qualifications who has a passion for music and is looking for an intellectual challenge.

Educational aims

This taught postgraduate programme in music (which comprises the postgraduate foundation module (A870), the subject module (A871) and the dissertation module (A877) will:

  • provide you with an advanced academic training in the techniques of postgraduate study in music
  • increase your knowledge and understanding of a range of key themes, including the ways that research is conducted, using both traditional methods and those employing new technologies, and how scholarly discourses about music are conveyed in writing
  • enable you to explore the ways in which research and scholarship inform discourses about, and practices associated with, musical performance.

Teaching, learning and assessment methods

Knowledge and understanding are gained and developed through the study materials in a postgraduate foundation module, a subject module, and a final dissertation module. Teaching materials supporting the first two of these include study guides and offprints, a scores supplement, audio CDs, assignment booklets, and access to a large number of online resources through the Postgraduate Music website. Learning outcomes are assessed primarily by means of tutor-marked assignments (TMAs). The foundation module also has an examination, which provides you with the opportunity to demonstrate your understanding of the broad methodological themes of the module, and the subject module includes a final long assignment, or ‘project’, which prepares you for the independent work of the dissertation. For the dissertation you will choose a topic relating to the themes studied earlier in the programme, and write this up in 16,000–18,000 words. Tutors provide ungraded feedback on draft chapters, but the dissertation itself forms the assessed component of this final module.

Cognitive skills: the case studies contained in the first two programme modules are designed to provide you with opportunities to learn through the analysis and comparison of secondary sources in various media (for example, sound recordings, documents and scores), and to encourage increasing independence in research. The use of ICT is an inherent element of the learning technique, which is developed in both the foundation and subject modules as an aid to learning (rather than as a skill that is taught and tested in its own right). The programme’s online facilities form an extension of the techniques that are taught, for example, in respect of library research, and the assessment of these skills is manifest throughout the TMAs.

Practical and professional skills: the formation of arguments and the employment of critical and evaluative skills are taught in the foundation and subject modules, and assessed in these and the dissertation module. The use of research libraries is taught in the foundation module and developed at each stage of the programme. Similarly, the use of online facilities is taught in the study material at foundation level and developed through the programme. These skills are assessed throughout the programme.

Key skills: the foundation module sets up the learning-centred approach for the whole programme, using a recurring four-week pattern in which you will normally spend two weeks learning from the module materials, one week applying and developing this knowledge by working on case studies relevant to a forthcoming TMA, and one week working on the TMA itself. The key skills developed within this structure and in subsequent modules are tested, either explicitly or implicitly, in every assessment component in the programme.

Career impact

If you wish to pursue a career in academia or research, this qualification will provide a route towards a higher level research degree (e.g. PhD), which is an essential prerequisite for such a career. A masters degree can help to enhance your career prospects as a teacher in secondary and higher education. If your aim is to enter professions associated with the media, culture or knowledge industries, or if you already have a career in one of these areas and are seeking a further qualification as a means of career development, then a masters degree, supplemented by relevant skills and experience, can be useful.


The Arts Faculty was rated by a Times Higher Education survey as one of the best 100 institutions in the world for the study of the arts. Noted for the strength of our interdisciplinary approaches, our scholars of international standing also teach and research a very wide range of topics and themes in specific subject areas. These include art history; classical studies; creative writing; English; history; music; philosophy; and religious studies. The Faculty also has validated partnerships with several important institutions in the UK and other parts of the world. The head of the Faculty is the Dean, Professor David Rowland.

Entry requirements

You must hold an honours degree or its equivalent to study for our MA in Music course. Your degree need not be in music but you must have the basic skills expected of a graduate in that area. The part 1 module will bring you up to date with the latest ideas and approaches in the subject, but does not offer remedial undergraduate training for those who have an inappropriate bachelors degree and inadequate experience. Before you embark on the MA you must be able to:

  • write clear, concise, grammatically correct and accurately spelt prose
  • read large quantities of text quickly, accurately and critically
  • classify evidence precisely and assess its value and reliability
  • argue logically, consistently and sceptically
  • marshal various sorts of evidence to support a logical argument
  • be literate in music, to the extent that you can follow an orchestral score and know which instrument is playing.

If you would like help to assess your preparedness you can contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service for advice.

For students starting in 2014, you must commence your studies towards the MA in Music with the part 1 module and your final module must be the part 2 module.

You must complete this qualification within ten years.

You should note that the University’s unique study rule applies to this qualification. This means that you must include at least 60 credits from OU modules that have not been counted in any other OU qualification that has previously been awarded to you.

You will also need to be proficient in English, to an IELTS standard of 7.0. If you are unsure you will be able to take a free English test as part of the registration process.

Read more about this programme on the Open University website here

This school offers programs in:
  • English
The Open University
Duration & Price
This course is Online
Start Date
Start date
Aug. 2017
2 years
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Full time
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Start date Aug. 2017
United Kingdom
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End date Contact school
Duration 2 years
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