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Department of Music

MA Music in Development


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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: September intake only

Mode of Attendance: Full Time or Part Time

This unique programme has been designed for students wishing to combine an interest in music and related cultural performance with advocacy and social development practice. Students will build critical understanding of how music’s agentive and imaginative capacities act in different contexts - e.g. human rights, forced migration, health, and environmental justice - to communicate needs and interests, and to mobilize action.

Students will have the opportunity to build the programme around their specific interests by drawing on optional courses from a range of disciplines, while also developing an understanding of the musical practices of Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

The programme is particularly suitable for students wishing to deepen their understanding of social and cultural theory and to develop applied research skills. It appeals to those wishing to develop a career in the   international NGO sector, in arts-based public sector programmes (e.g. UNESCO) and in arts policy. Students interested in research may proceed to MPhil/PhD in ethnomusicology or allied disciplines.


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 A 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 list B 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.

Student must select courses to the value of 90 credits from List A and B including at least one course from each list.

One compulsory Core Course
List A: Area Courses
A dissertation of 11,000 words

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

List B:Additional 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