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
Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings
Start of programme: September intake only
Mode of Attendance: Full-time or Part-time
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
from List A (Area Modules) to the value of 30 credits
from List B (Additional Music Modules) to the value of 30 credits
from List A (Area Modules) or List B (Additional Music Modules) to the value of 30 credits
List A: Area Modules
List B:Additional Music Modules
Students may also take approved modules from Kings College London Music Department.
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 & Learning
The aim of the programme is to develop:
- 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;
- a critical understanding of relevant theories in Ethnomusicology and allied disciplines, such as Development Studies and Anthropology;
- a critical understanding of participatory research methodologies and applications;
- the development of workshop modelling and management skills aimed at linking musical performances and meanings to social action and advocacy work; and
- 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.
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.
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
Marina Di Giorgi
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.