Overview and entry requirements
The MA Music (Ethnomusicology Pathway) programme provides theoretical and practical grounding in the discipline of ethnomusicology, as well as the opportunity to develop performance and ethnographic skills. On this programme students gain a practical understanding of how music can work in the sphere of social development and an in-depth study of global musical styles. The MA in Music Ethnomusicology 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.
This Ethnomusicology MA 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 MMus Ethnomusicology.
See Department of Music
Why study Music and Ethnomusicology at SOAS
- SOAS is ranked 44th in the world in the 2021 QS World University Rankings for Arts and Humanities
- SOAS has the only Music department in the UK devoted to the study of world music.
- very active musical life, including concert series, student ensembles and a successful summer school in which students can become involved
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- One calendar year (full-time).
Two or three years (part-time, daytime only)
Degree programmes at SOAS - including this one - can include language courses in more than forty African and Asian languages. It is SOAS students’ command of an African or Asian language which sets SOAS apart from other universities.
Students must complete 120 credits of taught modules in addition to the compulsory dissertation of 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: 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 MMus Ethnomusicology 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 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
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.
Students in the School of Arts develop a critical and theoretically informed approach to global arts and culture. In addition to an intercultural awareness and practical expertise, graduates gain a wide portfolio of transferable skills which are especially sought after in the creative and cultural industries.
Recent School of Arts graduates have been hired by:
- Christine Park Gallery
- Design Museum
- Hong Kong Museum Of Art
- India Foundation For The Arts
- Japanese Gallery
- Museum of East Asian Art
- Music in Detention
- National Gallery
- Pan Arts
- People Projects Culture & Change
- Roundhouse Trust
- Somerset House Trust
- Songlines Magazine
- South Asian Art UK
- Stratford Circus Arts Centre
- Taiwan Embassy
- The Alliance for Global Education
- The British Embassy
- The National Museum Of Korea
- The Royal Collection
- Victoria and Albert Museum
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A Student's Perspective
SOAS gave me the freedom to study and practice a musical genre of my choosing in a relaxed, engaging and supportive environment, alongside exploring musical sounds and cultures from a non-Western-centric theoretical perspective.