[skip to content]

Department of Music

BA Music and...

Duration: 3 or 4 year degrees


Featured events

Lucy Durán

Lucy Durán


2015 Entry Requirements

  • A Levels: BBB
  • including GCSE Music
  • IB: 31 (554 at HL)
  • Access to HE: Minimum of 30 Level 3 Credits at Distinction
  • Scottish Highers: BBBBB
  • Scottish Advanced Highers: BBB
  • Irish LC: 300 points from 5 Higher level subjects at grade C1 or above
  • Advanced Placement: 3 4 4 (Two semesters - UCAS Group A) plus US HSGD with GPA 3.0
  • Euro Bacc: 75%
  • French Bacc: 13/20
  • German Abitur: 2.5
  • Italy DES: 75/100
  • Austria Mat: 2.5
  • Polish Mat: Overall 70% including 3 extended level subjects

Subjects Preferred: A-level Music is not required, but evidence of both academic ability and active involvement in musical performance or composition is essential.

Interview Policy: Candidates not normally interviewed but encouraged to attend Open Days or contact the Department with enquiries

Music can be studied at SOAS in either of two BA degree structures: the single-subject (“single honours”) BA in Music, or the two-subject (“joint honours”) BA in Music and another subject. The two-subject degree allows more scope for studying language or other non-musical aspects of particular cultures. The single-subject degree allows greater concentration on music, including Western music and Performance.

Applicants for the single-subject degree will normally be expected to have at least a B grade at Music “A” level or equivalent qualification; the two-subject degree is less demanding in its entry requirements for Music, but applicants must also meet the requirements of the other department concerned. All applicants will be expected to show an active involvement in music performance.

Many music course units can also be taken as “open option” courses by students following other degree programmes

The Department is linked with nearby King’s College, University of London. Qualified SOAS students may take courses in Western music at King’s, and King’s students may take courses in ethnomusicology at SOAS, subject to approval from the appropriate tutors.

Key Information Set Data

The information for BA, BSc, or LLB programmes refer to data taken from the single subject degrees offered at SOAS; however, due to the unique nature of our programmes many subjects have a separate set of data when they are studied alongside another discipline.  In order to get a full picture of their chosen subject(s) applicants are advised to look at both sets of information where these occur.


May be combined with


General Structure

First-year courses cover the basic principles of ethnomusicology and survey a variety of Asian and African musics. Students additionally receive aural training (e.g. in transcription) and follow lessons in one or more Asian or African performance traditions. Qualified single-subject students may take one or two half-units in Western music at King’s College, London. 

In Years 2 and 3, the student will usually focus on the music culture of a selected area or areas: Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, Southeast Asia, East Asia, Jewish music. They may also choose from the general and performance courses on offer. 

Degree Detail

  • Students are required to take courses to the value of 12 units over the duration of their degree, or 4 units per year.  A full-unit course is taught over both terms, while a half-unit course is taught over one term only.  
  • Up to 2 units (for a three-year degree) or 3 units (for a four-year degree) may come from "open option courses" (courses outside of this programme - e.g. language or non-music courses).  However, open option courses may not be taken in year 1.
  • At least 5 units of Music courses must be taken in total.

Year 1:
Two-subject students take Sounds and Cultures 1 OR 2, Music and Culture, Introduction to Music Analysis, and Performance 1a OR Performance 1b.

Year 2:
Two-subject students take the compulsory 15 credit course Ethnomusicology Themes & Variations. They must also take one unit chosen from the "Area Courses" list. Remaining units can be selected from any of the course groups listed below, with up to one unit from an open option course, or music courses at Kings College.

Year 3:
Two-subject students take the compulsory half unit course Urban Soundscapes. They must also take at least a half unit chosen from the "Area Courses" list. Remaining units can be selected from any of the course groups, with up to one unit from an open option course, or music courses at Kings College.

Course Details
Year 1 Compulsory Courses
Year 2 Compulsory Course
Year 3 Compulsory Course
Area Courses
General Courses
Project Courses
Performance Courses

Programme Specification

Teaching & Learning

Year abroad

If you are studying a language as part of your combined honours degree, you will usually study for 4 years, with year 3 spent abroad.

Teaching & Learning

The Department of Music has been highly rated for teaching and research in all recent assessment exercises, and is regularly ranked amongst the top Music departments in the UK in Good University Guides.

Music students have access to the large Main Library of the School which holds numerous books, journals and recordings relevant to the study of ethnomusicology and world music, as well as the nearby British Library Sound Archive and other London libraries and museums.

The SOAS Library holds copies of standard reference works on music, such as the current edition of the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. The Grove dictionary and the RILM database can also be accessed on line from computer terminals in the Library or elsewhere on the SOAS network. Listening facilities are provided in the Library, and most CDs are available on short loan. Among special items in the Department’s collections are:

  • field recordings, films and slides
  • a large working collection of musical instruments from Asia and Africa
  • extensive staff collections relating to specific research interests


As a graduate who specialised in Music at SOAS, you will have gained competency in one or more world music performance traditions, intercultural awareness and understanding of global music and the world music industry. Familiarity with a specific region will have been developed through the study of its music. You will have the opportunity to develop practical vocational skills in sound recording and radio presenting. Graduates leave SOAS not only with musical and cultural expertise, but also with a portfolio of widely transferable skills which employers seek in many professional and creative capacities, including interpersonal skills, communication skills, focus, teamwork, passion and dedication. Studying a combined honours degree gives students to blend a solid grounding in another discipline or subject area which enables them to place the knowledge they gain as part of their degree within a specific regional, cultural or disciplinary context.

Specific Graduate Destinations:

  • Nana Klimek (BA Music Studies) works at HeadNod Talent Agency in London.
  • Rick Wilson (BA Music Studies), among other activities, collaborates with former MMus student Sally Pomme Clayton, providing music for her story-telling performances.
  • Leni Koupis (BA Music Studies) is a fund-raiser and charity concert organiser for the Free Tibet Campaign.
  • Nami Morris (BA Music & Korean) works in the External Affairs Division of Sungkyunkwan University, Seoul, Korea.
  • Mira Sengupta (BA Music Studies) has composed music for three radio plays for LBC and has worked as a concert promoter.
  • Many other graduates proceed to postgraduate study at SOAS or elsewhere. Others return, enhanced, to previous careers: Nigel Gomme as a composer and arranger, Fiona West as a music producer, David Wright as a jazz saxophonist, etc.

For more information about Graduate Destinations from this department, please visit the Careers Service website.

A Student's Perspective

SOAS is a great place to study Ethnomusicology. It has the flavour of the world spread through the music made by the students, lecturers and guests.

Marina Di Giorgi