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Department of Music

BA Music

Programme Code: W300 BA/MS Duration: 3 years


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Lucy Durán

Lucy Durán


2015 Entry Requirements

  • A Levels: BBB
  • including A Level 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, or equivalent is required for the single-subject degree.
A level Music is not required for the combined Music programme, 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 options” 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.


Learn a language as part of this programme

Degree programmes at SOAS - including this one - can include language courses in more than forty African and Asian languages. It is SOAS students’ command of an African or Asian language which sets SOAS apart from other universities.

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 is encouraged to focus on the music of a selected region or regions through “area” courses focussing on Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, Southeast Asia, East Asia, and the Jewish world. A number of non-regional “thematic” courses and independent research projects are also available. Courses in other departments (“open options”) may be taken as appropriate, once the Music requirements have been met.

Degree Detail

  • Students are required to take courses to the total value of 12 units over the duration of their degree, or 4 units per year.  A full-unit course will be taught over both terms, while a half unit is a course taught over one term.  
  • Up to 3 units may come from "open option courses" (courses outside of this programme - e.g. language or non-music courses), but only one unit of open option courses may be taken in each year.
  • SOAS Music undergraduates may take selected Western music courses at King's College, with the approval of the course tutor, as open option courses. Many King's courses are taught during one term only, and term and exam dates may differ from SOAS. In particular, some exams are held in January.

Year 1:

Single-subject students take the 6 compulsory 15 credit courses (90 credits in total) in the "Compulsory Courses" listing below. Their remaining 30 credits may be an "open option" course or a music course at King's College London.

Recommended open options for BA Music First Years

Other choices may be possible on application to your UG tutor.

Full units
  • History and Culture of China 155901001
  • Introduction to Arabic Culture 155901205
  • South Asian Culture 155900812
  • Culture in Africa 155900838
0.5 units
  • Introduction to the Art and Archaeology of Africa 154900100
  • Introduction to the Art and Archaeology of East Asia 154900163
  • Introduction to the Art and Archaeology of South and South East Asia 154900156
  • Introduction to the Art and Archaeology of the Near and Middle East 154900101
  • Aspects of Japanese Culture I - 155901199
  • Aspects of Japanese Culture II - 155901200
  • Religions of Africa 158000119
  • Judaism: Foundation 158000148
  • Hinduism: Foundation 158000118
  • Buddhism: Foundation 158000110
Kings College Department of Music (all 0.5 units)
  • Techniques of Composition 1a: 4AAMS132 (strong musicological skills needed)
  • Aural Training I: 4AAMS105 (strong musicological skills needed)
  • Intro to Popular Music since 1900: 4AAMS155
  • Origins of Twentieth Century Music: 4AAMS157

(all full units. Previous experience of learning a language, and regular commitment advised)

  • Chinese 101: 155901217
  • Elementary Modern Tibetan: 155901274
  • Basic Japanese 1: 155900874
  • Elementary Korean 155900842
  • Hausa 1: 155900834
  • Somali 1: 155900831
  • Swahili 1: 155900985
  • Yoruba 1: 155900833
  • Zulu 1: 155900840
  • Arabic 100: 155901202
  • Elementary written Persian 155901053
  • Elementary written Turkish 155901051
  • Bengali language 1: 155900491
  • Hindi language 1: 155900501
  • Nepali language 1: 155900535
  • Urdu language 1: 155900512

Year 2:

Single-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, with up to one unit from an open option course, or music courses at Kings College London.

Year 3:

Single-subject students take the compulsory 15 credit course Urban Soundscapes. They must also take one unit chosen from the "Area Courses" list below. 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 London.

Course Detail

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

Programme Specification

Teaching & Learning

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.

Graduates have gone on to work for a range of organisations including:

  • AKTC
  • Davies Arnold Cooper LLP
  • PPP Company Limited
  • Fundamental Frequency Productions
  • Golden Feathers - Alice Myth
  • Indigenous People
  • Music For Change
  • T&T Productions
  • Whitefield School
  • DfID World Music Matters

Types of roles that graduates have gone on to do include: 

  • Musicologist
  • Trainee Solicitor
  • English Teacher
  • Proofreader
  • Composer/Producer
  • Musician
  • Marketing Officer
  • Project Manager
  • Head of CSL Products
  • Musician
  • Translator
  • Director
  • Music Therapist

Specific Alumni

  • 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