SOAS University of London

Department of Music, School of Arts

Dissertation in Music

Module Code:
FHEQ Level:
Taught in:
Full Year
A Dissertation of 9,000-10,000 words (excluding bibliography, appendices, etc., but including footnotes) is a required element of the MMus Ethnomusicology. The topic of the dissertation is left to students to decide according to their interests and subject to the agreement of their supervisor.
The dissertation should show an appropriate command of ethnomusicological theory and the relevant literature, as well as the capacity to apply this to the topic in question. This will normally relate to the "major region" , but may instead deal with a theoretical or comparative topic.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

The 9,000-10,000 word limit is strictly adhered to and a word-count is required on the front page. This limit excludes bibliography (and discography etc.), acknowledgments, maps, tables, figures, plates etc. It also excludes essential appendices, but these should be used sparingly if at all, and preferably with the agreement of the supervisor. The limit includes footnotes or endnotes. Students undertaking field research (please see the School's regulations) or projects involving work outside libraries (e.g. involving interviews or other original unpublished data) should discuss the word limit with their supervisors. Appendices may be appropriate in such cases or exceptionally, and alternatively, consideration may be given to a suitable extension within an agreed word limit.


Students are allocated a dissertation supervisor early in the second term. Students can expect six hours substantive supervision with the allocated supervisor. The role of the supervisor is to assist the student in reaching an agreed topic of research, to approve the plan of work, help the student with any problems that may arise, advise on sources etc. The supervisor may read and comment on early or partial drafts of the dissertation, provided these are submitted according to the timetable set out below, but not on the final draft. Further guidance on the role of the dissertation supervisor is set out in the Faculty Guidelines.

Method of assessment

  • One 300-word summary of research project (worth 5%)
  • One 700-word annotated bibliography (worth 9%)
  • One dissertation of 9,000-10,000 words submitted by the School Dissertation deadline (worth 86%)

Achievement in the dissertation is given particular attention in the writing of personal references, especially in applications for research degrees.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules