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Department of Music

MMus Ethnomusicology

Duration: One calendar year (full-time); Two or three years (part-time, daytime only)

Overview

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Minimum Entry Requirements: Minimum upper second class honours degree (or equivalent), usually in Music

Start of programme: September intake only

Mode of Attendance: Full Time or Part Time

This programme offers training in ethnomusicology as well as in-depth understanding of selected musical traditions of Africa and Asia. Optional courses allow students to pursue additional interests as well. Candidates should normally have an upper second class degree in music or a related discipline, or significant equivalent experience. The programme is available over one calendar year full-time, or two or three calendar years part-time.

The programme may serve four purposes:

  1. to provide training and preparation for research degrees appropriate to the “training year” of the AHRC postgraduate scheme;
  2. to serve as a “conversion year” to ethnomusicology, for students with training mainly or entirely in the Western tradition, or with training in other appropriate disciplines;
  3. to serve as a “stand alone” course for students who wish to deepen their knowledge of the field, but have no expectation of direct future research or a professional career in ethnomusicology;
  4. to give students the basic tools to teach ethnomusicology.

Structure

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.

The MMus programme involves taking three courses and writing a 10,000-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 MMus Ethnomusicology programme are:

  1. The full unit core course Ethnomusicology in Practice.
    A broad introduction to the major themes of ethnomusicological study. Taught as a weekly two-hour lecture/seminar with additional tutorials. Part-time students must take this in their first year.
  2. The Dissertation in Music.  
    A special study 10,000 words in length on a topic agreed with the candidate's supervisor. This will normally relate to the "major region" chosen below, but may instead deal with a theoretical or comparative topic. Part-time students normally take this in their final year.
  3. "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.
  4. 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.  They must relate to the same geographical region chosen in the Major Region specialisation above.
  5. 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
Programme Specification

Programme specification currently subject to programme amendment procedure.

Major Region Courses

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

Minor Courses

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

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

Destinations

A postgraduate degree in Ethnomusicology from SOAS gives students greater intercultural awareness, improved competency in performance 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.

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

Internet Advertising Board
Marie Stopes International
Association of Culture & World Music
School of Traditional & Popular Music
Vortex Jazz Club
Sony/EMI
S24 Film
British Library
Grant & Cutler
British Library
UK Government
Warner Music 
Types of roles that graduates have gone on to do include:
Production Assistant
Sound Archive assistant
Bookseller
Solicitor
Finance Manager
Manager of Musical Association
Junior Research Executive
Project support officer
Policy adviser
Playworker
Library Assistant
Local Councillor 
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