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MA in Music

Aim: This programme offers students the opportunity to explore a wide variety of research and composition fields including Irish Music, Eighteenth-Century Studies, Opera, Performance and Manuscript Studies; Words and Music (leading composers’ writings), Set Works, Techniques and Portfolio.

All students take a compulsory portfolio of training topics taught at Faculty level, which provides an introduction to methodologies and skills applicable to graduates of a Arts, Humanities, or Social Sciences degree. All students take MUS7008, which offers specialist training in historical musicology or in composition; a triple module (Dissertation, Edition and Commentary, or Portfolio) gives students the opportunity to conduct research or composition at a professional level.

The focus is on developing core skills essential to the practising musicologist or composer, both with regard to professional work and progression to doctoral work. There is also a wide range of optional modules, including an Arts Administration module featuring work placement and strategy research with local arts organisations; musicology students can select an option from the composition courses, and composers likewise are encouraged to select from musicology options.

IN CONSULTATION WITH THE PATHWAY CONVENOR, Students may design their own Independent Study in areas not covered by the specialisms listed above. The programme also features modules in the critical analysis of the work of twentieth century and contemporary composers, providing a thorough experience and understanding of the contemporary compositional idiom.

 Student Work:
  •  Nollaig Casey-McGlynn, Eibhlín a Rúin:
    Song and Story 
    and the Impact of 
    Fashion in its Dissemination in 
    Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century
  • Susan McCormick, The Choralbuch of
    Johann Christian Kittel: Its Significance
    in Our Understanding of Bach’s Legacy


Assessment:  A combination of assessed project work, assessed seminar presentations, analytical composition projects, submission of portfolio or dissertation and assessed recital. 

Funding: MA Funding

Please contact   if you would like further information about this course. Applicants are advised that interviews for the MA in Music will normally be completed by the end of May. You are therefore advised to submit supporting material (essays for all applicants to the MA in Music) as soon as it is requested, and to check your email on a regular basis for correspondence regarding your application.


Click here to apply

My experience at Queen's - Catrin Watts, MA Music

"When I moved from Cardiff to Belfast I found the city and Queen's University to be very welcoming and quickly started calling Belfast home. Everyone on my course was really friendly and I would highly recommend joining a club or society to meet new people and discover new hobbies. Coming to Queen's from outside Northern Ireland can be a bit daunting but I found that all the members of staff were willing to help with practical information and if they didn't know the answer to a question, they could definitely point you in the direction of someone that did. I also used the Disability Services at Queen's and they were most helpful with making practical arrangements for exams, lectures and coursework. The range of places at Queen's that can provide you support whilst you are on your course is incredible and easily accessible from the Student Guidance Centre website." 

Music for Sleeping & Waking Minds (2010 - 12) Poster Credit: Stephen Maurice Graham

Experimental Music added to curriculum

Students in the MA in Music at Queen’s study composers as diverse as Bach and Elgar, and repertories ranging from Irish Traditional Music to Grand Opera. We have now added Experimental Music to the fold, and present a short feature on its convenor.

Dr Gascia Ouzounian gave the 2012 Keynote Lecture at the Graduate Musicology Association (USA), on the theme 'Temporality: Issues of Change and Stasis in Music'. Her chapter on sound installation art appears in the newly published volumeMusic, Sound & Space (ed. G. Born, Cambridge University Press), and she has a forthcoming article with Greek composer Marianthi Papalexandri-Alexandri in a special issue of Current Musicologydedicated to experimental writing on music. Her composition Music for Sleeping & Waking Minds, created in collaboration with the Biomuse Trio and R. Luke DuBois, was featured in last year's NIME conference in Michigan, as well as the World Science Festival (New York). In this work, four people fall asleep while wearing EEG and motion sensors. Over the course of the night, the ensemble's brainwave activity generates an immersive audio-visual environment. Audiences are invited to experience the work in different states of attention: while awake, sleeping, and dreaming.

Nathan Morrison in the School's production of Dido and Aeneas (2009)

Performance as Research

Convenor Franziska Schroeder, whose creative teaching style was recognised through a “Rising Star” Queen's teaching award in 2011, is an active performer-researcher who stimulates the creativity of our advanced student-performers. At MA level, rather than pursuing the more conventional route of a recital closely directed by a teacher, students are encouraged to identify a theme to explore, for which they evaluate relevant performance practices.

2012 projects included, ‘The Countess, an exploration and development of the Character of Rosina Almaviva’, as well as ‘Coloratura Diva Absoluta’. We can also mention Edward Butler’s collective “Howl”, who have “made quite a name for themselves, playing in several great venues in Belfast, including the Menagerie and the Black Box.” To sample repertory from their upcoming tour in the UK, US and Europe, try “howlband” at, or Google “edwardfbutler”.

Eighteenth-Century Studies

This has long been a particular strength in our curriculum, with Faculty such as Ian Woodfield (Mozart source studies), Yo Tomita (Bach), Sarah McCleave (Handel and London theatre), Martin Dowling (Irish Traditional Music), and Jan Smaczny (French baroque). Students are further supported by the Centre for Eighteenth-Century Studies, one of the largest and most active such fora in the United Kingdom.  Many of our MA students in this area have gone on to funded PhDs.

Recent events include the Bach Study Day (21 March 2013) to honour associated lecturer Professor Robin Leaver; Professor Marina Nordera (Université of Nice) will speak on ‘Being a female dancer in eighteenth-century France’ in the CECS seminar series on 19 April.  

Professor Piers Hellawell with the Lawson Trio


Practical experience of having music explored by the professionals is part of the MA in Composition experience on a regular basis. In March 2013 this year's composers were lucky enough to have trio and duo pieces explored by the Fidelio Trio and Robert Plane (clarinet), as part of our Crystal Liturgies: Messiaen's Quatuor study day for students and staff; the composers were able to get informed comment and illustration from leading new music players who had worked on their pieces.

Previous visiting performers and ensembles providing workshop wisdom have included The Lawson Trio (pictured), Sarah Watts (bass clarinet), Juice vocal ensemble and Clare Hammond (piano).