Programme Structure for MA in Music Studies

Our MA in Music Studies consists of 60 credits of work as follows:
  • ONE Core Course (9 credits)
  • THREE MA Electives (9 credits each, 27 credits)
  • TWO Undergraduate Electives (6 credits each, 12 credits)
  • ONE MA Capstone Experience (12 credits)

Core Course (must take, 9 credits)

MUSI7101      Music Research: Skills and Methodologies (9 credits) 
This core course provides an overview of the theories and methods of musicological research, including historical, ethnographic, analytical and critical approaches. Students will learn about current debates and issues in music scholarship and practice, as well as the different disciplinary tendencies and fields within music studies today. The course will also emphasize professional development. Some of the topics covered include research design, conference preparation, bibliographic skills, as well as learning how to write according to academic standards.

MA Electives (choose THREE, 27 credits)

It is important to note that not all courses are offered each year. If the course is not listed in the Timetables, then it is not being offered for the current academic year.
MUSI7102      Topics in Western Art Music (9 credits)
This course will focus on key topics and issues in the study of Western art music. Topics may include historiography, performance, aesthetics, sociocultural approaches, among others issues. The focus of the course may change from year to year, and students will have the opportunity to explore their own research interests in relation to the issues and topics discussed in weekly meetings.

MUSI7103      Composition and Sound Art Workshop (9 credits)
This course will introduce practical and theoretical issues in music composition, sound art, and other experimental forms. A goal of the course will be to familiarise students with key trends in music composition, for which students will learn about the history, theory, and practice of compositional technique and sound-based experimentalism from the postwar to the present. Students will also undertake compositional exercises, which will be tailored to suit student’s interests and skill level.

MUSI7104      Global Perspectives in Music: Ethnographic Approaches (9 credits)
This course explores the theories and methods of ethnomusicology. Students will learn about the history of the discipline, as well as current debates and issues within the field. A key thematic focus will be on the idea of music as a “global” phenomenon, for which we will discuss such topics as world music, cultural appropriation, musical regionalisms, and the transnational movement of music in the 20th and 21st centuries, among other related subjects.

MUSI7105      Topics in Asian Music (9 credits)
Asia is home to an immense variety of musical practices and traditions. This course does not endeavour to survey Asia’s many music cultures, but rather will focus on a set of issues and topics that are relevant to studying music within the Asia-Pacific region. Topics may include the long history of musical and cultural exchange in East Asia, European imperialism and the rise of musical modernities in China and Japan, the transnational flow of popular culture in Asia, as well as the role that music plays in national, regional, and local imaginaries of belonging and identity. The focus of the course may vary from year to year in terms of its geographic and musical areas of emphases, but a central goal will be to critically rethink the epistemological and methodological stakes of studying music within regional and national frameworks of analysis and interpretation.

MUSI7106      Playing with Theory: Perspectives on Music Analysis (9 credits)
This course offers a broad survey of the different methods and approaches to analysing music. Students will be introduced to key readings in music theory, which will enable students to hone their skills at analysing a variety of music styles, genres, and forms. The course will also introduce students to key problems and debates in the field of music theory.

MUSI7107      Mastering Sound Technologies (9 credits)
The aim of the course is to develop student’s fluency in basic audio technologies, including recording, remixing, live coding, and other new media tools and methods. Students will have hands-on experience working with sound media, for which they will been encouraged to develop projects related to their individual research interests or their creative and artistic pursuits. The course is open to all students regardless of background and experience.

MUSI7108      Perspectives in Music Performance (9 credits)
All music is fundamentally performative, and yet ideas about performance can range widely across cultures and contexts. The act of performing music variously concerns knowledge of the body, the sociocultural context, ideals and values about music, as well as myriad other aspects of musical life that come together in the performance event. This course explores a range of topics, issues, and concepts in music performance, drawing broadly from the literature with the goal of leading us to a more holistic understanding of performance as practice. One goal of the course will be to bridge the theoretical and conceptual aspects of performance with the more practical questions and concerns that are relevant to performers in the 21st century. The course will aim to introduce students to non-traditional forms of performance, including site-specific performances, sound installations, online platforms, and community-based projects. There will also be opportunities to explore course materials through performance workshops and ensembles. All students regardless of background and experience are welcome to join.

MUSI7109      Time and Temporality in Music (9 credits) 
Rhythm is foundational to all music in so far as music is a temporal medium. This course understands rhythm in the broadest sense to include all aspects of how musical time is organised, especially at the micro and meso levels of temporality. This includes such concepts as repetition, timing, pulse, groove, and other related terms that help us make sense of how music is patterned in time. Some topics this course may explore include psychological and cognitive aspects of rhythm, the role of the body in movement, methods of rhythmic analysis, as well as other issues and topics drawn broadly from a wide diversity of musical genres and practices. Students will also have the opportunity to engage in hands-on practical learning through workshops and ensemble playing.

UG Electives (choose TWO, 12 credits)

It is important to note that not all courses are offered each year. If the course is not listed in the Timetables, then it is not being offered for the current academic year.

MUSI3029      Music and Scientific Thoughts: past and present (6 credits) 
This course investigates the link between music and science in the Western history. Music has been frequently associated with science but the way the two realms are interconnected with each other varies throughout history. In exploring each case of scientific thoughts on music in history, students are expected to gain a contextual understanding of music and science as socio-cultural products and grow insight to the interdisciplinary nature of the study of music.

MUSI3034      The qin (6 credits) 

Redolent of the scholar, aristocrat, and literatus, the qin has a deep and distinguished lineage within the pantheon of Chinese musical traditions. This course is a survey of qin music from the late Bronze Age to the present times. Several themes are examined in detail: basic playing skills, semiotics of notation and the earliest known qin score, different styles and pivotal figures, representative works from the repertoire, typological analysis of historical instruments, and transmission and appropriation of the qin in East Asia. Readings from musicology, anthropology, archaeology, and art history introduce a variety of approaches to the interpretation of qin music.

MUSI3037      Opera (6 credits) 

This course will chart the history of opera in the Western world in both its relationship to social and political history and that of other major musical and theatrical genres. Through the close reading of the genre, students will learn about opera as the art of singing, poetry, and stagecraft, and make their 12 acquaintance with some of the remarkable protagonists of its history, be they singers or composers, poets or designers, impresarios or monarchs. Attention will also be placed on the strength and resilience of local, as opposed to national or continental, traditions, such as the ones that flourished in Rome and London in the 17th century, Naples in the 18th, or St. Petersburg in the 19th, to name a few. The course will also provide students with an appealing and vivid demonstration of the diversity of musical and literary traditions in Europe during the period between ca. 1600 and 1900. The course will end with a reflection on the current state of Western opera as performed and consumed in East Asia, with particular reference to China.

MUSI3039      Methodological Perspectives in Music II (6 credits) 
This course aims to equip students with critical research methods by focusing on specific musical works (in any media), artifacts, or issues. It approaches an object of investigation from various methodological perspectives (e.g., historical, theoretical, philosophical, and anthropological), and will provide an overview of the reception history of the scholarship around the object as well as the latest research. The course promotes students’ critical reflection on such methods and scholarly traditions. The object for investigation may vary from year to year. During the course, students will be required to formulate a research proposal and to give a written presentation in the form of a conference paper. The course is designed to give undergraduates insights into the ethos of post-graduate research and form a bridge between the two “realms.”

MUSI3041      Music and the Environment (6 credits) 
This course concerns the relationship between music and the environment, broadly construed. The key question this course asks is, how can we understand music as an ecological phenomenon? The course aspires to answer this question in several ways: firstly, the course will introduce ecological models of musical and cultural analysis; secondly, we will discuss the concept of nature in various music traditions, including Western art music and Japanese traditional music, among others; and thirdly, the course will attend to the role of music in the ongoing global environmental crisis. Components of the course will cover soundscape studies, ecocriticism, as well as the more recent field of ecomusicology.

MA Capstone Experience (choose ONE, 12 credits)

MUSI7999      Capstone Experience: MA Dissertation in Music (12 credits) 
Students will produce a written dissertation of approximately 10,000 words on an original topic. The dissertation will demonstrate the ability to conduct individual research at an advanced level, as well as mastery of the conventions of academic writing and form. Only students who have maintained a grade average of an "A-" or higher in four or more courses in the MA programme are eligible, and students are required to submit a formal proposal by the middle of the second semester, for which final approval is subject to the discretion of the MA Programme Coordinator.

MUSI7998      Capstone Experience: Portfolio (12 credits) 
Students are required to revise at least two previous MA papers into a final paper of approximately 10,000 words. The portfolio piece will allow students to develop their skills of argumentation, writing, evaluating data, and to develop fluency in the conventions of academic form.

MUSI7997      Capstone Experience: Individual Project (12 credits) 
Students will pursue an individual project, which maybe a supervised creative work or a performance lecture-demonstration. Students will submit a written report of approximately 5,000 words.