MA Music in Development

SOAS University of London

Program Description

MA Music in Development

SOAS University of London

MA Music in Development

Duration: 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.

Minimum Entry Requirements: 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.

Start of programme: September intake only

Mode of Attendance: Full Time or Part Time

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 courses 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.


Programme Specification

The MA Music in Development programme involves taking three courses and writing a 11,000-word dissertation. 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.

Course Detail

The four formal elements of the MA Music in Development programme are:

  • The full unit core course Music in Development: Taught as a weekly two-hour lecture with additional tutorials. Part-time students must take this in their first year.
  • The Dissertation in Music: A special study 11,000 words in length on a topic agreed with the candidate's supervisor. Part-time students normally take this in their final year.

Student must select courses to the value of 90 credits from List A and B including at least one course from each list.

One compulsory Core Course

  • Music in Development - 15PMUC034 (1 Unit) - Full Year

List A: Area Courses

  • Atlantic Africa: (P)Layers of Mediation in African Popular Music (PG) - 15PMUC009 (1 Unit) - Full Year
  • Aspects of Music and Religion in South East Asia - 15PMUH017 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2 - Not Running 2016/2017
  • Central Asian Music - 15PMUH008 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2
  • Ethnicity, Religion and Gender in Middle Eastern Musical cultures - 15PMUH024 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1 - Not Running 2016/2017
  • Indian vocal music: Styles and histories - 15PMUH025 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2
  • Klezmer Music: Roots and Revival - 15PMUH011 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2 - Not Running 2016/2017
  • Music, Place and Politics in Cuba - 15PMUH015 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1
  • Musical Traditions of East Asia (Masters) - 15PMUH016 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2
  • Pop and Politics in East Asia (Masters) - 15PMUH014 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1 - Not Running 2016/2017
  • Popular and Fusion Music in South East Asia (PG) - 15PMUH018 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2
  • Sacred Sound in South Asia - 15PMUH021 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1

A dissertation of 11,000 words
based on practice-based research (preferably based on a consultancy for a commissioning agency)

  • Dissertation in Music - 15PMUC999 (1 Unit) - Full Year

List B:Additional Courses

Students are strongly advised to take a half unit in either Anthropology of Development OR Media in Development in the first term. In addition, if students do not have a strong background in Ethnomusicology, it is highly recommended that they register for Ethnomusicology in Practice (1 unit). Prior to registering, however, please be sure to discuss course options with both the Programme Tutor and with the respective course convenors.

Choose either (a) two half unit courses from the list below, or (b) choose, but subject to the agreement of the course convenor, courses from other departments in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities or MA Area Studies courses in the Faculty of Languages & Cultures. If you choose option (b), the course(s) will normally relate to the same geographical region chosen in the Major region specialisation. "Students may also take approved courses from Kings College Department of Music" see this link for available options: //


  • Analysing World Music: Transcription & Analysis in Ethnomusicology - 15PMUH004 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2
  • Aspects of Music and Religion in South East Asia - 15PMUH017 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2 - Not Running 2016/2017
  • Atlantic Africa: (P)Layers of Mediation in African Popular Music (PG) - 15PMUC009 (1 Unit) - Full Year
  • Central Asian Music - 15PMUH008 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2
  • Composition - 15PMUH013 (0.5 Unit) - Full Year
  • Ethnomusicology in Practice - 15PMUC004 (1 Unit) - Full Year
  • Gender and Music (MMus) - 15PMUH009 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2 - Not Running 2016/2017
  • Music and Healing - 15PMUH019 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1 - Not Running 2016/2017
  • Music, Place and Politics in Cuba - 15PMUH015 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1
  • Musical Traditions of East Asia (Masters) - 15PMUH016 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2
  • Performance - 15PMUC002 (1 Unit) - Full Year
  • Pop and Politics in East Asia (Masters) - 15PMUH014 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1 - Not Running 2016/2017
  • The Music Business (Masters) - 15PMUH003 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2

Development Studies

  • Theory, policy and practice of development - 15PDSC001 (1 Unit) - Full Year

Centre for Media and Film Studies

  • Global Media and Postnational Communication: Theoretical & Contemporary Issues - 15PMSC003 (1 Unit) - Full Year
  • Transnational Communities and Diasporic Media:Networking, Connectivity, Identity - 15PMSH004 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2


  • Anthropology of Development - 15PANC090 (1 Unit) - Full Year
  • Cultural Understandings of Health - 15PANC093 (1 Unit) - Full Year
  • Issues in the Anthropology of Gender - 15PANH024 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1
  • Perspectives On Development - 15PANH033 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1
  • Therapy and Culture - 15PANH027 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1

Gender Studies

  • Gender theory and the study of Asia, Africa and the Middle East - 15PGNC002 (1 Unit) - Full Year
  • Gendering migration & diasporas - 15PGNH002 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1

Teaching & Learning

The aim of the programme is to develop:

  1. 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;
  2. a critical understanding of relevant theories in Ethnomusicology and allied disciplines, such as Development Studies and Anthropology;
  3. a critical understanding of participatory research methodologies and applications;
  4. the development of workshop modelling and management skills aimed at linking musical performances and meanings to social action and advocacy work; and
  5. 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.


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.

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."

Liam Barnard

This school offers programs in:
  • English

Last updated September 2, 2016
Duration & Price
This course is Campus based
Start Date
Start date
Sept. 2017
Part time
Full time
Start date Sept. 2017
United Kingdom London, England
Application deadline Request Info
End date Request Info
Duration Request Info
Price Request Info