This programme is designed for students who wish to specialise in performance while studying for an academic degree. Students have the unique opportunity to develop performance in specific Asian and African music traditions to professional standard. They acquire expert knowledge about performance and the geographical or stylistic region of their performance specialism.
The performance component of the programme, in which students choose an Asian or African performance tradition, includes practice-based research. Students study the music of a particular region alongside performance theory training. Through a range of optional modules they pursue additional interests as well.
The programme is particularly suited to performing musicians who wish to deepen and broaden their theoretical perspectives and musical horizons. Many former students have found their performance careers enhanced, while others have gone on to engage with their performance from more critical, academic perspectives, including MPhil/PhD research.
Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings
Start of programme: September intake only
Mode of Attendance: Full-time or Part-time
- Minimum upper second class honours degree (or equivalent), usually in Music
- Full time: 1 calendar year.
Part time: 2/3 calendar years.
Introduction to Music Performance Pathway
What does the course involve?
This is a unique Masters programme that enables you to put your performance practice at the heart of your learning and research. The programme provides a balance between performance and essay-based courses, on topics such as ethnomusicology and regional music studies that focus on musics of Africa, Asia, the Middle East and diasporas. The final Performance as Research module is a performance-based dissertation equivalent in which you explore your chosen research topic through your musical practice.
What kind of students will the course appeal to?
Performers, both professional and amateur who wish to deepen and broaden their specific and theoretical knowledge of world music traditions, and also those who wish to combine an academic with a practical component to their programme in the field of ethnomusicology.
What facilities are available?
As the leading centre in Europe for the study of music from Asia, Africa, the Middle East and their diasporas, we have practice and instrumental facilities for a wide range of world musics. We also have unique links with a range of instrumental and vocal tutors in various traditions who can help guide students through their musical studies. There is a recording studio and a radio station.
What is special about the programme at SOAS?
Besides the world-leading academic expertise of our music staff, the unique nature of music at SOAS is to partake of its truly global outlook.
Can you recommend a good book to read on MMus Performance?
Ted Solís, ed, 2004. Performing Ethnomusicology: Teaching and Representation in World Music Ensembles. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.
What do students do after graduating?
Professional performance, professional composition, arts and music administration, marketing, music journalism, broadcasting, PhD research.
Students are required to take a total of 120 credits modules in addition to Performance as Research (60 credits).30 credits modules being two-terms in duration, while 15 credits modules are taught in one term only. In addition to these formal elements, students may attend postgraduate and public seminars and may also participate in performance ensemble classes and other activities.
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.
Students may be allowed to study for the MA on a part-time basis.
- The part-time MMus 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 a module to the value of 15 credits from List A
Choose modules to the value of 30 credits from List A, List B or List C
Choose modules to the value of 30 credits from the recommended options list below or from the Open Options list if approved by programme convenor
List A: Area Modules
List B: Additional 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.
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.
The Convenor will communicate by email and through meetings with all students taking Performance or Performance as Research, and must be approached for official approval of your choice of performance tradition and teacher. Such approval is signalled by the
Convenor’s signature on the Department’s standard “Performance study application form”, available from the Faculty office and online. No lessons should be taken until this form has been signed.
The staff member most closely related to your chosen tradition acts as a Sub-convenor and should be your first point of contact for any matters pertaining to the specific tradition you are studying. Convenor and Sub-convenor will liaise as necessary.
The Department will not support training in “Western” vocal or instrumental traditions. Subsidy towards the cost of lessons: The Department will pay for approved external tuition, up to a maximum amount agreed at the start of the session (currently £500 for Performance and £300 for Performance as Research). Please be aware that the cost of regular performance lessons might exceed these amounts; any excess must be paid by the student.
Claims for reimbursement must be submitted using the standard Music Performance Lesson Reimbursement Form available from the convenor, accompanied by a signed receipt or invoice from the teacher. Claims cannot be accepted after the examination. The student is also responsible for arranging regular lesson times, negotiating lesson fees, and obtaining access to any necessary instrument. You will receive an Information Sheet for External Teachers, describing payment procedures, the teacher’s obligations, and so forth; you should read through this together with your teacher at the earliest opportunity.
A postgraduate degree in Music Performance from SOAS gives students improved competency in performance 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.
Specific Graduate Destinations
- Helen Evans is an Education Officer for the Asian Music Circuit.
- Jo Shaw (née Hoskin) was gamelan co-ordinator for the London Symphony Orchestra’s educational Discovery programme, but is moving on to set up her own Indonesian music and dance programme in southwest England.
- Sarah Hall has worked as India regional director for two different charities.
- Jon Kertzer directed the Smithsonian Global Sound Network and is now working on the business development of the Microsoft MSN Music Service.
- Hélène Rammant is a Producer for BBC Radio 3, specialising in World Music.
- Megan Jones is a Producer in the Music Department of BBC Cymru Wales.
- Katie Vickers (née Hall) is a music Marketing Officer for the South Bank Centre, London.
- Sally Pomme Clayton is a storyteller and lecturer on world oral traditions at Middlesex University.
- Rachel Ireland first served as executive assistant at the Great Britain-Sasakawa Foundation and is now Executive Officer, Operations for the London-based charity Youth Music.
- Chua Siew Ling is a music officer in the Ministry of Education in Singapore.
- Louise Taylor was an administrator for Folkworks at the Sage Gateshead music centre, and has now moved on to a related community post in Newcastle.
- Elie Gussman is an Education Officer for the Asian Music Circuit. London.
- Nobuko Miyazaki is an Education Officer for the Asian Music Circuit, London.
- Many other MMus graduates continue on to do MPhil/PhD research. Others return, enhanced, to their previous careers. For example, Belinda Sykes is Professor of Medieval Song at Trinity College of Music and singer and director of the Arabic and European medieval song ensemble Joglaresa.
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.