SOAS University of London

Department of Music, School of Arts

MA Music in Development

Duration: One calendar year (full time). Two or three years (part time, daytime only). We recommend that part-time students have between two and a half and three days free in the week to pursue their course of study.

Fees 2018/19

UK/EU fees:
Overseas fees:

Fees for 2018/19 entrants. This is a Band 1 fee. The fees are per academic year. Please note that fees go up each year. Further details can be found in the Fees and Funding tab on this page or in the Registry Postgraduate Tuition Fees page

2018 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.

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  • Overview
  • Structure
  • Teaching and Learning
  • Fees and funding
  • Employment
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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 modules 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.

Scope and Syllabus

Music in Development explores the role of music within the broad framework of Culture for Development. It builds on the premise that music and associated performance modalities represent significant discursive sites where local knowledge, social structures and cultural subjectivities are negotiated and affirmed. Drawing on the theoretical intersections between advocacy/activist ethnomusicology and a range of cognate disciplines – e.g. anthropology, gender and development studies – it aims to build critical understanding of how music’s agentive and imaginative capacities act in different contexts to communicate needs and interests, and to mobilize action.

The course places particular emphasis on the politics of listening and focuses on the role of sound and performance in the following capacities:

  • As a framework for self-representation and critical citizenship
  • As a source of oral history, memory and local knowledge
  • As public education and community mobilization, and
  • As a catalyst for personal and societal change

The syllabus is partially led by students, who together will shape its thematic trajectories. The following represent some of the areas of interest from previous years of study:

  • Music, Human Rights and Social Movements
  • Music, Violence and Conflict Resolution
  • Forced Migration, Displacement and Cultural Identity
  • Music, Local Knowledge and Sustainable Livelihoods
  • Music, Health and Wellbeing
  • Musical Memory and the Politics of Repatriation



The MA Music in Development programme involves taking 120 credits taught modules in addition to writing a 10,000-word dissertation (60 credits). 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.

Students may be allowed to study for the MA on a part-time basis.

  • The part-time MA may be taken over two years, in which case the student takes two 30 credits modules (or equivalent 15 credits modules) in the first year, and two 30 credits modules (or equivalent 15 credits modules) and the dissertation in the second year.
  • Alternatively, it can be taken over three years, in which case the student can distribute the 120 credits modules evenly in each of the three years. The dissertation can be written in year two or three, but it is strongly recommended that this be undertaken in the final year of the programme. It must be submitted in September of the year in which the student registers for it.

Programme Specification

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

  • The core modules Music in Development (15 credits) and Theory and Method in Ethnomusicology (15 credits).  Part-time students must take these in their first year.
  • The Dissertation in Music (60 credits): A special study 10,000 words on a topic agreed with the candidate's supervisor based on practice-based research (preferably based on a consultancy for a commissioning agency)
    Part-time students normally take this in their final year.
  • Student must also select modules to the value of 30 credits from List A
  • Student must also select modules to the value of 30 credits from list B .Please note that not all option modules may run every year.
  • Student must also select modules to the value of 30 credits from list A or B

Compulsory Modules
Module Code Credits Term Availability
Music in Development 15PMUC034 15 Term 2
Theory and Method in Ethnomusicology 15PMUH030 15 Term 1
Dissertation in Music 15PMUC999 60 Full Year
List A: Area Modules
Module Code Credits Term Availability
Atlantic Africa: Musical Rebels and Divas 15PMUH029 15 Term 1 Not Running 2017/2018
Atlantic Africa: Players in the Mediation of African Popular Music 15PMUH027 15 Term 1 Not Running 2017/2018
Aspects of Music and Religion in South East Asia 15PMUH017 15 Term 2
Ethnicity, Religion and Gender in Middle Eastern Musical cultures 15PMUH024 15 Term 1 Not Running 2017/2018
Indian vocal music: Styles and histories 15PMUH025 15 Term 2
Klezmer Music: Roots and Revival 15PMUH011 15 Term 2 Not Running 2017/2018
Musical Traditions of East Asia (Masters) 15PMUH016 15 Term 2 Not Running 2017/2018
Music in Africa: Critical Listening 15PMUH028 15 Term 2
Music in Africa: Travelling on a Song 15PMUH026 15 Term 1
Music, Nation and Conflict in Jerusalem 15PMUH022 15 Term 1 Not Running 2017/2018
Music, Place and Politics in Cuba 15PMUH015 15 Term 1
Pop and Politics in East Asia (Masters) 15PMUH014 15 Term 1
Popular and Fusion Music in South East Asia (PG) 15PMUH018 15 Term 2 Not Running 2017/2018
Sacred Sound in South Asia 15PMUH021 15 Term 1
List B:Additional modules

Students may also take approved modules from Kings College Department of Music, see this link for available options: //

Module Code Credits Term Availability
Analysing World Music: Transcription & Analysis in Ethnomusicology 15PMUH004 15 Term 2
Aspects of Music and Religion in South East Asia 15PMUH017 15 Term 2
Composition 15PMUH013 15 Term 1
Gender and Music (MMus) 15PMUH009 15 Term 2
Music and Healing 15PMUH019 15 Term 1 Not Running 2017/2018
Music, Place and Politics in Cuba 15PMUH015 15 Term 1
Musical Traditions of East Asia (Masters) 15PMUH016 15 Term 2 Not Running 2017/2018
Performance 15PMUC002 30 Full Year
Pop and Politics in East Asia (Masters) 15PMUH014 15 Term 1
Sound Recording and Production 15PMSH025 15 Term 1
The Music Business (Masters) 15PMUH003 15 Term 2
Development Studies
Module Code Credits Term Availability
Theory, policy and practice of development 15PDSC001 30 Full Year
Centre for Media and Film Studies
Module Code Credits Term Availability
Global Media and Postnational Communication: Theoretical & Contemporary Issues 15PMSC003 30 Full Year
Transnational Communities and Diasporic Media:Networking, Connectivity, Identity 15PMSH004 15 Term 2
Module Code Credits Term Availability
Anthropology of Development 15PANC090 30 Full Year
Cultural Understandings of Health 15PANC093 30 Full Year
Issues in the Anthropology of Gender 15PANH024 15 Term 2
Perspectives On Development 15PANH033 15 Term 1
Therapy and Culture 15PANH027 15 Term 1
Gender Studies
Module Code Credits Term Availability
Gender theory and the study of Asia, Africa and the Middle East 15PGNC002 30 Full Year
Gendering Migration & Diasporas 15PGNH002 15 Term 2


This is the structure for 2017/18 applicants

If you are a current student you can find structure information on Moodle or through your Faculty.

Programme Specification


Teaching and 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.

Contact Hours

All Masters programmes consist of 180 credits, made up of taught modules of 30 or 15 credits, taught over 10 or 20 weeks, and a dissertation of 60 credits. 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, including reading and research, preparing coursework, revising for examinations and so on. 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. At SOAS, most postgraduate modules have a one hour lecture and a one hour seminar every week, but this does vary.

More information is on the page for each module.

Pre Entry Reading

Conquergood, D. 2004. Performance Studies. Interventions and Radical Research. The Performance Studies Reader. H. Bial. London and New York, Routledge

Crewe, Emma and Axelby, Richard. 2012. Anthropology and Development: Culture, Morality and Politics in a Globalised World. Cambridge University Press.

Denzin, Norman K. 2003. Performance Ethnography: Critical Pedagogy and the Politics of Culture. New York: Sage Publications.

Freire, Paulo. Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New York: Continuum, 2007.

Madison, D. Soyini. 2010. Acts of Activism: Human Rights as Radical Performance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Quarry, Wendy and Ricardo Ramirez. 2009. Communication for Another Development. Listening before Telling. London, New York: Zed Books.

Sanford, Victoria and Asale Angela-AJanuaryi (eds). 2006. Engaged Observer. Anthropology, Advocacy and Activism. New Brunswick New Jersey and London: Rutgers University Press

Schech, Susanne and Jane Haggis. 2000. Culture and Development: A Critical Introduction. Wiley-Blackwell.

Turino, Thomas. 2008. Music as Social Life. The Politics of Participation. Chicago, London: The University of Chicago Press.

Fees and funding

Tuition Fees

Full details of postgraduate tuition fees can be found on the Registry's Postgraduate Tuition Fees page.

This is a Band 1 tuition fee.

Fees for 2018/19 entrants. The fees below are per academic year. Please note that fees go up each year. 

Full-time Part-time 2 Years Part-time 3 Years
£9,225 £18,980 £4,613 £9,490 £3,075 £6,327
Commonwealth Shared Scholarships

Application Deadline: 2018-03-05 17:00

Felix Non- Indian Scholarship

Application Deadline: 2018-01-29 00:00

Felix Scholarships

Application Deadline: 2018-01-29 00:00

John Loiello AFSOAS FISH Scholarship

Application Deadline: 2018-02-20 17:00

SOAS Master's Scholarships

Application Deadline: 2018-02-20 17:00

Sasakawa Postgraduate Studentship

Application Deadline: 2018-02-20 17:00

Tibawi Trust Award

Application Deadline: 2018-06-05 00:00

For further details and information on external scholarships visit the Scholarships section


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

I would sum up my studies here so far as a white-knuckle intellectual adventure. It has opened doors not only in my mind, but in real life, especially in terms of people I have met.

Richard Gray


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