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Department of Music

MA Music in Development


Minimum Entry Requirements: Students with a demonstrably strong background in music performance and evidence of a serious and sustained interest in development and creative communication. An undergraduate training in ethnomusicology, music psychology or music sociology would be an advantage, although a 2.1 pass in any social science degree would be acceptable. Under exceptional circumstances, significant fieldwork experience may off-set the absence of formal academic qualifications in this area.

Start of programme: October, 2014

Mode of Attendance: Full Time or Part Time

The MA Music in Development is an innovative, new degree that is offered on a full-time or part-time basis. The programme explores the role of music within the broad framework of Culture for Development, building on the premise that music and associated performance activities represent rich discursive sites where local knowledge, social structures and cultural meanings are negotiated, challenged and affirmed. Drawing on the intersections between Ethnomusicology and a range of allied disciplines (Anthropology and Media in Development in particular), the programme encourages critical examination of how knowledge is acquired and communicated through music, how music is used to promote, reflect or resist development, and how music’s agentive and imaginative capacities act in different cultural and political contexts to advance individual and collective interests and identities.

Students on the MA Music and Development programme will also conduct in-depth study on the musical styles and cultures of either Asia, Africa, or the Middle East, and may choose from a wide range of 'minor' courses in Music, Anthropology, Media or other disciplines taught at SOAS.

The programme draws on the expertise of staff in Music at SOAS and encourages inter-disciplinary dialogue with other relevant departments and centres within SOAS.


Programme Specification

The MA Music in Development programme involves taking three courses and writing a 11,000-word dissertation. In addition to these formal elements, students are expected to attend regular postgraduate and public seminars and may also participate in performance ensemble classes and other activities.

Course Detail
The four formal elements of the MA Music in Development programme are:

  • The full unit core course Music in Development: Taught as a weekly two-hour lecture with additional tutorials. Part-time students must take this in their first year.
  • The Dissertation in Music: A special study 11,000 words in length on a topic agreed with the candidate's supervisor. Part-time students normally take this in their final year.
  • "Major Region" specialisation:Students must select a total of one course units of regional music courses as their "major". They may choose either one full unit course or two half unit courses from the list below. Part-time students normally take the "major" in their first year, but because not all regional courses will necessarily be available in any one year, this may also be taken in year 2 or 3 if Department approval is obtained.
  • An approved "Minor" course: This is chosen from the "Minor Courses" list below, and may consist of one full course or two half-courses taken in any year of registration.  Students may also choose courses from other departments in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities or MA Area Studies courses in the Faculty of Languages & Cultures, subject to the agreement of the course convenor.
  • Students may also take approved courses from Kings College Department of Music".
One compulsory Core Course
Major Region Courses

Choose either one full unit course or two half-unit courses from the list below.

A dissertation of 11,000 words

based on practice-based research (preferably based on a consultancy for a commissioning agency)

Minor courses

Students are strongly advised to take a half unit in either Anthropology of Development OR Media in Development in the first term. In addition, if students do not have a strong background in Ethnomusicology, it is highly recommended that they register for Ethnomusicology in Practice (1 unit). Prior to registering, however, please be sure to discuss course options with both the Programme Tutor and with the respective course convenors.


Choose either (a) one full unit course or two half unit courses from the list below, or (b) choose, but subject to the agreement of the course convenor, courses from other departments in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities or MA Area Studies courses in the Faculty of Languages & Cultures. If you choose option (b), the course(s) will normally relate to the same geographical region chosen in the Major region specialisation. "Students may also take approved courses from Kings College Department of Music" see this link for available options: http://www.kcl.ac.uk/artshums/depts/music/study/pgt/mods12-13.aspx

Development Studies
Centre for Media and Film Studies
Gender Studies

Programme Specification

Teaching & Learning

Teaching & Learning

The aim of the programme is to develop:

  1. critical understanding of music as a culturally embedded system that has wide-ranging application as a communication tool and process in a variety of development contexts;
  2. a critical understanding of relevant theories in Ethnomusicology and allied disciplines, such as Development Studies and Anthropology;
  3. a critical understanding of participatory research methodologies and applications;
  4. the development of workshop modelling and management skills aimed at linking musical performances and meanings to social action and advocacy work; and
  5. a critical knowledge of the musical practices, meanings and performance contexts from select regions of the world.

The programme is designed to prepare students for entry into a range of professional sectors, namely International Development, Social Music Therapies, Cultural Research and Policy, Sound and Audio-Visual Archiving, Media for Development, and documentation and research for the UNESCO Intangible Heritage Programme.

More information will be added soon...


An MA in Music in Development from SOAS gives students greater intercultural awareness and a better understanding of global music which will enable them to continue in the field of research or engage in related work. Equally, they develop a portfolio of widely transferable skills which employers seek in many professional and creative capacities including interpersonal skills, communication skills, focus, team work, passion and dedication. A postgraduate degree is a valuable experience that provides students with a body of work and a diverse range of skills that they can use to market themselves with when they graduate.

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

A Student's Perspective

The enthusiasm that the lecturers have in their subjects is infectious and it ensures everybody succeeds. The extra curricular music scene is pretty unique and seriously enjoyable, one day you could be playing the kora, the next, gigging with the Cuban Big Band, the next, looking after Mory Kante and talking music with him after a gig in the Brunei Gallery! It’s all here under one roof.

Liam Barnard