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MA in Music

You must complete your study by 31 December 2025. If you would like to discuss your options with one of our advisers, please contact us.

This fascinating introduction to the methods and materials used for music research will suit professionals working in a wide range of music-related settings, and is also applicable if you have a leisure interest in music. Your studies will be based in the digital humanities using creative technologies to develop your research skills and critically analyse a variety of musical sources. You'll encounter a number of musical topics, themes and repertoires from different periods and styles – as you engage with Western, non-Western and popular music – and will be able to tailor your studies according to your musical interests. 

Key features of the course

  • Introduces essential music research skills 
  • Explores a range of sources including text, music criticism and performance
  • Investigates different musical styles and genres from across the world
  • Concludes with a dissertation on a subject of your choice

Masters degree

Course code
F32
Credits

Credits

  • Credits measure the student workload required for the successful completion of a module or qualification.
  • One credit represents about 10 hours of study over the duration of the course.
  • You are awarded credits after you have successfully completed a module.
  • For example, if you study a 60-credit module and successfully pass it, you will be awarded 60 credits.
180
How long it takes
2 years
Read more about how long it takes
Study method
Distance learning
Find out more in Why the OU?
Course cost
Postgraduate loan available
See Fees and funding
Entry requirements

Find out more about entry requirements.

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Course details

Modules

To gain the 180 credits you require for this qualification, you must study the modules in the order shown below and have passed part 1 before progressing to part 2:

Compulsory modules Credits Next start
MA Music part 1 (A873)

This module introduces skills for studying musics from a wide range of times and places, as well as writing and other material relating to these musics.

See full description

60 No current presentation
MA Music part 2 (A874)

This module explores areas of current interest to music scholars and concludes with the writing of a dissertation on a subject of your choice.

See full description

120 No current presentation

Or 180 credits from the discontinued modules A870, A871 and A877 if you started before 2014.

Please note that MA Music part 2 (A874) is worth 120 credits. Module fees for postgraduate modules are based on the number of credits you study. Therefore the fee for this 120-credit postgraduate module will be double that for the 60-credit module MA Music part 1 (A873).

You should note that the University’s unique study rule applies to this qualification. This means that you must include at least 60 credits from OU modules that have not been counted in any other OU qualification that has previously been awarded to you.


Learning outcomes, teaching and assessment

The learning outcomes of this qualification are described in four areas:

  • Knowledge and understanding
  • Cognitive skills
  • Practical and professional skills
  • Key skills
Read more detailed information about the learning outcomes.

Credit transfer

If you’ve successfully completed some relevant postgraduate study elsewhere, you might be able to count it towards this qualification, reducing the number of modules you need to study. You should apply for credit transfer as soon as possible, before you register for your first module. For more details and an application form, visit our Credit Transfer website.


On completion

On successful completion of the required modules you can be awarded the Master of Arts in Music, entitling you to use the letters MA (Mus) (Open) after your name. You will have the opportunity of being presented at a degree ceremony.

If you leave the programme before you qualify for a degree you can be awarded a Postgraduate Certificate in Humanities after successfully completing MA Music part 1 (A873).

Recognition in your country

If you intend to use your Open University qualifications to seek work or undertake further study outside the UK, we recommend checking whether your intended qualification will meet local requirements for your chosen career. Read recognition in my country.

Regulations

As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the qualification-specific regulations below and the academic regulations that are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website. 


We regularly review our curriculum; therefore, the qualification described on this page – including its availability, its structure, and available modules – may change over time. If we make changes to this qualification, we’ll update this page as soon as possible. Once you’ve registered or are studying this qualification, where practicable, we’ll inform you in good time of any upcoming changes. If you’d like to know more about the circumstances in which the University might make changes to the curriculum, see our Academic Regulations or contact us. This description was last updated on 17 March 2021.

Entry requirements

You must hold an honours degree to study for our MA in Music. Although your degree needn't be in music, you must have the basic skills expected of a graduate in that area. The first module brings you up to date with the latest ideas and approaches in music, but does not offer remedial undergraduate training if your qualifications and/or experience are inadequate. The MA assumes that a candidate for a masters degree already has the knowledge and skills usually acquired by pursuing the subject at undergraduate level. Any student beginning the qualification without an undergraduate degree in music or equivalent experience, should do so at their own risk. You should be aware that a degree of at least 2.1 or equivalent will greatly increase your chances of successfully completing the MA.

It is expected that your spoken and written English will also be of an adequate standard for postgraduate study. If English is not your first language, we recommend that you will need a minimum score of 7 under the International English Language testing system (IELTS). Please see their website for details.

Before you embark on the MA you must be able to:

  • write clear, concise, accurate prose
  • read large quantities of text quickly, accurately and critically
  • classify evidence precisely and assess its value and reliability
  • argue logically, consistently and sceptically
  • marshal various sorts of evidence to support a logical argument
  • be literate in music, to the extent that you can follow an orchestral score and know which instrument is playing.

Further guidance is given in the module descriptions. If you would like further advice regarding this qualification, please speak to an adviser.

How long it takes

You will be able to complete this masters qualification within two years by studying one module each year.

Career relevance

If you wish to pursue a career in academia or research, this qualification will provide a route towards a higher-level research degree (e.g. PhD), which is an essential prerequisite for such a career. A masters degree can help to enhance your career prospects as a teacher in secondary and higher education. If your aim is to enter professions associated with the media, culture or knowledge industries, or if you already have a career in one of these areas and are seeking a further qualification as a means of career development, then a masters degree, supplemented by relevant skills and experience, can be useful.

Careers and Employability Services have more information on how OU study can improve your employability.