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 modules 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.
Scope and Syllabus
Music in Development explores the role of music within the broad framework of Culture for Development. It builds on the premise that music and associated performance modalities represent significant discursive sites where local knowledge, social structures and cultural subjectivities are negotiated and affirmed. Drawing on the theoretical intersections between advocacy/activist ethnomusicology and a range of cognate disciplines – e.g. anthropology, gender and development studies – it aims to build critical understanding of how music’s agentive and imaginative capacities act in different contexts to communicate needs and interests and to mobilize action.
The course places particular emphasis on the politics of listening and focuses on the role of sound and performance in the following capacities:
- As a framework for self-representation and critical citizenship
- As a source of oral history, memory and local knowledge
- As public education and community mobilization, and
- As a catalyst for personal and societal change
The syllabus is partially led by students, who together will shape its thematic trajectories. The following represent some of the areas of interest from previous years of study:
- Music, Human Rights and Social Movements
- Music, Violence and Conflict Resolution
- Forced Migration, Displacement and Cultural Identity
- Music, Local Knowledge and Sustainable Livelihoods
- Music, Health and Wellbeing
- Musical Memory and the Politics of Repatriation
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, teamwork, 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.
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 in Development programme involves taking 120 credits taught modules in addition to writing a 10,000-word 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.
- Dissertation in Music
- Music in Development
- Theory and Method in Ethnomusicology
From List A (Area Modules) to the value of 30 credits.
From List B (Additional Music Modules) to the value of 30 credits.
From List A (Area Modules) or List B (Additional Music Modules) to the value of 30 credits.
- Aspects of Music and Religion in South East Asia
- Atlantic Africa: Players in the Mediation of African Popular Music
- Ethnicity, Religion and Gender in Middle Eastern Musical cultures
- Indian vocal music: Styles and histories
- Klezmer Music: Roots and Revival
- Music in Africa: Critical Listening
- Music in Africa: Travelling on a Song
- Music, Urbanism and Conflict in Jaffa
- Music, Place and Politics in Cuba
- Musical Traditions of East Asia (Masters)
- Pop and Politics in East Asia (Masters)
- Sacred Sound in South Asia
List B: Additional Music Modules
Students may also take approved modules from Kings College London Music Department.
- Analysing World Music: Transcription & Analysis in Ethnomusicology
- Gender and Music (MMus)
- The Music Business (Masters)
- Theory and Method in Ethnomusicology
- Sound Recording and Production
The information on the programme page reflects the intended programme structure against the given academic session.
Admissions and Applications
You can apply for this course via the online application form.
We aim to assess a complete application and provide a decision within a 5-week time frame. Overseas students who require a Tier 4 visa and wish to join SOAS should bear in mind visa applications can take several weeks, so you should apply as soon as possible.
Consideration of Application
The whole application, including transcript and references, is considered before a decision is reached. You are therefore advised to submit a complete application including references and transcript (where required). An incomplete application will add considerable delays to the decision-making process.
Students will receive an acknowledgement of their application. Each application is carefully considered and although we try and respond as quickly as possible, we do ask that students should expect to receive a response within five weeks of receipt.
Candidates who are available in the United Kingdom may be called for an interview. The absence of academic members of staff (or instance on study leave) may affect the timing of decisions.
Students with a demonstrably strong background in music performance and evidence of a serious and sustained interest in the development and creative communication. 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.
English Language Entry Requirements
You must be able to show that your English is of a high enough standard to successfully engage with and complete your course at SOAS. Please note that we take our English language requirements seriously and failure to meet them exactly may well result in your application to SOAS being rejected. It is not possible to negotiate if your scores are below our required levels, with the expectation that because they are 'close enough' they will be accepted. It is important that you plan appropriately, well in advance, so that your English language test comes in good time and so that you have time to retake the test if necessary. We do not accept reasons of inconvenience or financial hardship for not submitting or retaking an English test.
For EU and International students who need a visa, if unconditional entry scores are achieved we accept qualifications from several countries, as well as a range of international qualifications and tests.
If a Tier 4 entry visa is required then a SELT, such as UKVI IELTS may be needed. For this reason, we recommend all Tier 4 visa students to choose the UKVI IELTS Academic test as the test of first resort.
About the School
SOAS University of London welcomes the brightest minds to study on its central London campus with like-minded individuals who feel passionately about contemporary world issues.