SOAS University of London

Department of Music, School of Arts

BA Music and ... (2018 entry)

  • Combinations
  • Structure
  • Teaching and Learning
  • Employment



This programme is a unique opportunity to study the musical traditions of Asia, Africa and the Middle East, and their global diasporas. Students are taught the basic principles of ethnomusicology and survey a variety of Asian and African musics. In years 2 and 3 they are encouraged to focus on the music of specific regions and to consider cross-regional themes. Performance is a central component of the degree. Students have the opportunity to develop expertise in a great variety of musical performance traditions.

SOAS has the only Music department in the UK devoted to the study of world music. We have a very active musical life, including concert series, student ensembles and a successful summer school in which students can become involved. Students are taught in the heart of London, home to many vibrant and diverse communities and to a breath-taking array of world music concerts, workshops and festivals. Our students actively participate in this rich and varied musical scene.

Graduates possess not only musical and cultural expertise, but also a portfolio of widely transferable skills sought by employers in professional and creative industries. The programme leads into careers and vocational pathways including arts management, festival administration and curating, music journalism, teaching, performing and composing, album production, and management and consultancy within the music industry in Europe, Asia and Africa.

This two-subject degree allows more scope for studying language or other non-musical aspects of particular cultures than the single subject BMus Music. See the ‘Combinations’ tab for the list of subjects that can be taken. Some two-subject programmes are completed in three years while others take four years and include a year abroad. The single-subject degree allows greater concentration on music, including Western music and Performance.

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings

Start of programme: September

Mode of Attendance: Full-time

Entry requirements

  • 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
A Levels:
including GCSE Music
31 (554 at HL)

View alternative entry requirements


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

Featured events

3 or 4 year degrees

Please see the Unistats data for the various combinations of this programme under the Combinations tab.


May be combined with:
  • African Studies, (WT35 BA/MSAF)
  • Arabic+, (TW63 BA/MSA)
  • Burmese++, (TWH3 BA/MSBU)
  • Chinese+, (TW13 BA/MSCH)
  • Development Studies, (LW93 BA/MSDVS)
  • Georgian, (TW93 BA/MSGN)
  • Hebrew+, (QW43 BA/MSHE)
  • History, (VW3 BA.MSH)
  • History of Art/Archaeology, (VW33 BA/HAAM)
  • Indonesian++, (TWHH BA/MSI)
  • Japanese+, (TW21 BA/MSJ)
  • Japanese Studies, (TW2H BA/JSMu)
  • Korean+, (TWLJ BA/MSKO)
  • Linguistics, (QW33 BA/LGMS)
  • Middle Eastern Studies, (TW6H BA/MESMS)
  • Persian, (TWQ3 BA/PMS) ( + Compulsory Year Abroad which is split between 2 countries)
  • Social Anthropology, (LW63 BA/SAMS)
  • South Asian Studies (3 years), (WTH3 BA/SASMS)
  • South Asian Studies (4 years) +, (TW33 BA/SASMS)
  • South East Asian Studies, (WTHH BA/MSSEA)
  • Study of Religions, (VW63 BA/SRM)
  • Swahili+, (TWN3 BA/SWMS)
  • Thai++, (WT33 BA/THMS)
  • Turkish+, (TWP3 BA/TUMS)
  • Vietnamese++, (WTJ3 BA/VMS)
    + 4-year degree with (compulsory) one year abroad
    ++ 3 or 4-year degree with option of one year abroad

Key Information Set data

Click on a combined programme to load KIS data


General Structure

First-year modules 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. The Department is linked with nearby King’s College, University of London. Qualified SOAS students may take 15 or 30 credits modules in Western music at King’s, and King’s students may take modules in ethnomusicology at SOAS, subject to approval from the appropriate tutors.

In Years 2 and 3, the student will usually focus on the music culture of a selected area or areas: Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, Southeast Asia, East Asia, Jewish music. They may also choose from the general and performance modules on offer. 

Degree Detail

  • Students are required to take modules to the value of 360 credits over the duration of their degree, 120 credits per year. A 30 credits module is taught over both terms, while a 15 credits module is taught over one term only.  
  • Up to 60 credits (for a three-year degree) or 90 credits (for a four-year degree) may come from the list of "open option modules" (modules outside of this programme - e.g. language or non-music modules).  However, open option modules may not be taken in year 1.
  • At least 150 credits of Music modules must be taken in total.

Occasionally the availability of optional modules changes as a result of staffing and other circumstances. Students who had signed up for such modules will be notified as soon as possible and given the opportunity to choose from available alternatives.

Module Details

Year 1
Compulsory Module
Module Code Credits Term
Sounds and Cultures 155800071 15 Term 1
AND choose ONE of the following Modules
Second Subject

Students take 60 credits from second subject

Module Code Credits Term
Performance 1 155800062 15 Full Year
Year 2
Compulsory Module
Module Code Credits Term
Ethnomusicology: Themes and Variations 155800065 15 Term 1

Choose a module(s) from the List of Area Modules below to the value of 15 credits

Open Options

Choose related Language or Non-Language open option modules to the value of 30 credits

Guided Option

Choose a module(s) from the List of Modules below to the value of 30 credits


From list of Music modules at King's College London at 30 credits

Second Subject

Students take 60 credits from second subject

Year 3
Compulsory Module
Module Code Credits Term
Urban Soundscapes 155800083 15 Term 2

Choose a module(s) from the List of Area Modules below to the value of 15 credits

Open Options

Choose related Language or Non-Language open option modules to the value of 30 credits

Guided Option

Choose a module(s) from the List of Modules below to the value of 30 credits


From list of Music modules at King's College London at 30 credits

Second Subject

Students take 60 credits from second subject

List of Modules (subject to availability)
Area Modules
Module Code Credits Term
Song, Voice, and Body in Indian Music 155800093 15 Term 2
Sound, Text, and Image in South Asian Arts 158100005 15 Term 2
Music and travel on the Silk Road 158100006 15 Term 1
Music in Africa: Critical Listening - The Mande World 155800096 15 Term 2
Music in Africa: Musical crosscurrents in East Africa and the Indian Ocean 158100007 15 Term 2
Music, Religion and Society in the Middle East and North Africa 155800092 15 Term 1
Music and Sound Art in South Asian Religions 155800086 15 Term 2
Musical Traditions of East Asia 155800078 15 Term 2
Pop and Politics in East Asia 155800077 15 Term 1
The World of Cuban Music 155800058 15 Term 1
Music, Healing and Pilgrimage in Morocco 155800097 15 Term 1
General Modules
Module Code Credits Term
Arts, Culture and Commodification: Themes in the Global Creative and Cultural Industries 158100001 15 Term 2
Creative Practice 155800082 15 Term 1
Key Concepts in Cultural Theory 158100002 15 Term 1
Curating Global Arts 158100004 15 Term 1
Gender and Music 155800073 15 Term 2
Global Hip-Hop 155800084 15 Term 2
Introduction to Sound Recording 155800069 15 Term 1
Presenting World Music On Radio 155800076 15 Term 2
Project Modules
Performance Modules
Module Code Credits Term
Performance 2 155800042 15 Full Year
Performance 3 155800045 30 Full Year

Programme Specification

Important notice

The information on the programme page reflects the intended programme structure against the given academic session. If you are a current student you can find structure information on the previous year link at the top of the page or through your Department. Please read the important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules.

Teaching and Learning

Year abroad

If you are studying a language as part of your combined honours degree, you will usually study for 4 years, with year 3 spent abroad.

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

Contact Hours

All full-time undergraduate programmes consist of 120 credits per year, in modules of 30 or 15 credits. They are taught over 10 or 20 weeks. The programme structure shows which modules are compulsory and which optional.

As a rough guide, 1 credit equals approximately 10 hours of work. Most of this will be independent study (see Approaches to teaching and learning at SOAS). It will also include class time, which may include lectures, seminars and other classes. Some subjects, such as learning a language, have more class time than others. In the School of Arts, most undergraduate modules have a one- or two-hour lecture or seminar every week. Some, but not all, also have a 1-hour seminar or tutorial every week.

More information is on the page for each module.


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. Studying a combined honours degree gives students to blend a solid grounding in another discipline or subject area which enables them to place the knowledge they gain as part of their degree within a specific regional, cultural or disciplinary context.

Specific Graduate Destinations:

  • 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

Studying at SOAS has been a genuinely enriching experience that has vastly expanded my views of music and what it is to be a musician.

Dishan Abrahams

Find out more