Theoretical and practical grounding in the discipline of ethnomusicology, the opportunity to develop performance and ethnographic skills, in-depth study of global musical styles, and a practical understanding of how music can work in the sphere of social development – just some of what you can expect to develop on the MA Music. The programme has three pathways in Ethnomusicology, Development and Performance, tailored for musicians and musicologists, anthropologists and development practitioners, teachers and composers, as well as those dedicated to developing an in-depth knowledge of a specific music tradition.
You will study with a world-leading group of ethnomusicologists who are all experts in the musical traditions of Africa and Asia. You will be part of a thriving culture of performance, research and active engagement with music around the globe.
The programme will suit those looking for a springboard into further research or employment in a range of music-related fields including journalism, industry, NGOs and education, and often serves as a conversion route for those trained predominantly in western music traditions.
This programme replaces MA Music in Development.
Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings
Start of programme: September intake only
Mode of Attendance: Full-time or Part-time
- We will consider all applications with 2:ii (or international equivalent) or higher. In addition to degree classification we take into account other elements of the application including supporting statement and references.
- 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 (Development Pathway) programme involves taking 120 credits taught modules in addition to writing a 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.
Choose modules to the value of 30 credits from List A
Choose modules to the value of 30 credits from List A or List B
Choose modules to the value of 30 credits from List B, List C or List D
List A: Area Modules
List B:Additional Music Modules
List C: Music Modules Taught at King's College
SOAS MA Music students can also take as a credited part of their programme up to 30 credits at Kings College London Music Department, choosing modules from the list on the KCL website.
Please note that
- modules in Performance and Composition are not permitted as part of the agreement; and
- you will need to obtain the written consent of the convenor of the KCL course before enrolling.
Please check with modules tutors at King’s for requirements.
Modules at SOAS from other departments or MA Area Studies Modules (including languages). Module choices are subject to the agreement of both the module convenor and the MA Music in Development convenor. Modules will normally relate to the same geographical region chosen from List A Module(s). Please note that not all option modules may run every year.
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 (Development Pathway) 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
The enthusiasm that the lecturers have in their subjects is infectious and it ensures everybody succeeds. The extra curricular music scene is pretty unique and seriously enjoyable, one day you could be playing the kora, the next, gigging with the Cuban Big Band, the next, looking after Mory Kante and talking music with him after a gig in the Brunei Gallery! It’s all here under one roof.