It provides a grounding in the development of popular music research as a subfield of musicology, and encourages critical thinking about musical texts, artefacts and ecologies; audiences, reception and questions of interpretation; creativity, industries and production; repertoires broad in historical range and geographical scope.
The course addresses contemporary issues of significance to academics, musicians, industries and organisations involved with popular music.
You'll develop research skills, critical thinking and rigorous methodological expertise with a range of applications both within the academy (at doctoral level) and outside (in music related industries, marketing, arts management, museums and archives, the sciences).
Although a knowledge of and passion for popular music is vital, it is not essential that your first degree is in music or popular music.
We welcome applicants from a wide range of disciplines: the course is designed to be of benefit not only to those wishing to continue their research at doctoral level, but also those wishing to reflect on their experiences as musicians, listeners, or media and arts industry professionals.
Find out more about the MA in Music.
You can apply directly to Goldsmiths via the website by clicking the ‘apply now’ button on the main programme page.
You'll be able to save your progress at any point and return to your application by logging in using your username/email and password.
We accept applications from October for students wanting to start the following September.
We encourage you to complete your application as early as possible, even if you haven't finished your current programme of study. It's very common to be offered a place that is conditional on you achieving a particular qualification.
Late applications will only be considered if there are spaces available.
You will normally be required to attend an interview, and you may be asked to submit examples of your written work in advance (such as an essay of at least 1,500 words on a relevant topic).
You should have (or expect to be awarded) an undergraduate degree of at least upper second class standard in Music or an equivalent subject.
Your qualification should comprise a substantial academic element relevant to the selected MA pathway and option choices. For the generic MA in Music award you should write a detailed proposal explaining the rationale for your option course choices and how these provide a coherent programme of study leading to dissertation. A detailed transcript of your degree is preferred.
If your first language isn't English, you need to demonstrate the required level of English language competence to enroll and study on our programmes.
Please check our English language requirements for more information.
Get in touch via our online form
+44 (0)20 7919 7766
+44 (0)20 7919 7702
Dr Berta Joncus
Senior Lecturer, BMus Music Joint Admissions Tutor, Departmental Careers Advisor
Dr Freida Abtan
Dr Craig Ayrey
Lecturer, Chair of Board of Examiners
Professor John Baily
Emeritus Professor of Ethnomusicology, Head of the Afghanistan Music Unit
Dr Lisa Busby
Lecturer, MA Arts Admin and MA CCE (Music pathways) Admissions
Senior Lecturer, Programme Convenor for BMus Popular Music, Director of Popular Music Performance, BMus Popular Music Admissions Tutor
Dr John Levack Drever
Senior Lecturer, Head of Unit for Sound Practice Research
Senior Lecturer, Deputy Head of Department, Director of Studies
Professor Alexander Ivashkin
Head of the Centre for Russian Music, Director of Classical Music Performance
Professor Simon McVeigh
Professor Keith Negus
Director of Research, Head of Popular Music Research Unit
Dr Barley Norton
Senior Lecturer, International Admissions and Liaison Tutor
Dr Tom Perchard
Senior Lecturer, Senior Tutor
Jeremy Peyton Jones
Senior Lecturer, Composition
Reader in Music, Director of Postgraduate Research
Lecturer, Pathway Leader and Admissions Tutor for MA Music and MA Historical Musicology
Professor Roger Redgate
Professor in Composition, Director of the Contemporary Music Research Unit
Head of the Electronic Music Studios
Dr Michael Young
Senior Lecturer (seconded as Pro-Warden for Students and Learning Development until 2017)
Popular Music and Songwriting
Music and Film
Dr Dimitrios Excharcos
International Foundation Certificate and Music Computing
Dr Panos Ghikas
Dr Naomi Matsumoto
International Foundation Certificate
Music Computing, Laptop Ensemble Director and EMS Technician
Victoria Soames Samek
Professor Shuji Okada attached to the Sound Practice Research Unit
Professor Simon Morrison
University of Princeton
Dr Levon Hakobian
Head of the Russian State Institute of Art Studies, attached to theCentre for Russian Music
Librarian of the Gerald Coke Handel Collection, Foundling Museum
Senior Departmental Administrator
Senior Music Technician
Music Technician (Piano Specialist)
Music Technician & EMS Studio Technician
Saxophone: Dave O'Higgins; Melanie Henry
Horn: Gillian Jones
Trumpet: Andrew Hendrie
Trombone: Leslie Lake
Tuba: Oren Marshall
Violin/Viola: Devorina Gamalova (personal website)
Cello: Natalia Pavlutskaya (personal website); Rebecca Turner
Cello (postgrad): Alexander Ivashkin
Double Bass: Tony Hougham; Arnulf Lidner (Popular Music)
Harp: Gabriella D'Allolio
Bass (popular music): Tom Herbert ( The Invisible website); Matt Round
Piano: Simon Deacon; Nick Ramm; Sam Beste (Popular Music);Coady Green; Maria Krivenski; Andrew Zolinsky (classical)
Percussion:Chris Brannick (Ensemble Bash); Roger Beaujolais
Drum kit: Steve White; Dave Hattee; Tom Skinner
Voice and OperaGold Director: Nan Christie
Voice (popular music): Laura Zakian (see article here); Sarah Stephenson; Rachel Bennett
Guitar: Graham Devine
Guitar (popular music): Arthur Dick; Nicholas Meier; David Okumu (The Invisible website)
Chamber Choir conductor: Tim Hooper
The Department of Music welcomes most instruments and we will do our best to find a suitable teacher for your studies here. Please note, we cannot guarantee the availability of all tutors.
|MU71069A||Critical Musicology and Popular Music||30 CATS|
This course provides historical context by tracing the way in which popular music has posed problems for and also made a significant contribution to the development of musicology. It introduces key debates and issues, conceptual terms and methodological approaches and highlights the various legacies that feed into the study of popular music (in particular the ‘discovery’, valorisation and study of the ‘folk’ and folk song; and the ‘critical theory’ of Adorno and the Frankfurt School, the introduction of recorded sound and anxiety about ‘mass culture’). The course highlights how the development of scholarly debates about popular music have been informed by interdisciplinary dialogues, an embracement of ‘the popular’ as a political project and the gradual institutionalization of popular music studies within the academy.
Method of Assessment: 5,000-word essay.
|MU71014B||Contemporary Ethnomusicology||30 CATS|
This course explores contemporary approaches in ethnomusicology. The focus is on theoretical issues in the field, although current concerns are situated within the history of ethnomusicological discourse. The course addresses a range of topics and issues, such as globalisation and diasporas, the ‘world music’ phenomenon, ethics, urban ethnomusicology, cognitive approaches, musical experience and phenomenology, music technology, and issues of gender, sexuality, and ‘race’. During the course, you gain familiarity with the connections between ethnomusicology and related disciplines such as anthropology, and with debates concerning disciplinary boundaries within music studies.
Method of Assessment: 5,000-word essay.
|MU71054B||Contemporary Music: Practices and Debates||30 CATS|
This course traces significant paths through late 20th- and early 21st-century musical cultures, focusing on key repertoires and the debates that surround them. Modernism and post-modernism, both in music and culture more widely, form a natural focus for many of these debates. The modernisms of recent times, however much their creators may have insisted on an oppositional stance, have their origins in early 20th-century modernisms, whether in music or other art forms. While the post-modernisms that overlapped with, as well as succeeded, them are frequently associated with the blurring of barriers between ‘High Art’ and ‘Low Art’, this course assesses the significance of such movements and musical phenomena as part of a continuing tradition of ‘classical’ music – a tradition whose validity and success is also itself examined. Consideration is also given to the extent to which these terms and debates can usefully be applied to popular music. The methodologies examined and tested include history (cultural as well as musical), cultural theory and musical analysis.
Method of Assessment: 5,000-word essay.
|MU71051A||Ethnographic Film and Music Research||30 CATS|
The course examines the uses of ethnographic film/video in music research and enables students to develop the practical, technical and theoretical skills necessary to make their own short ethnographic film on a music topic in a critical and self-reflexive manner. Through a critical reading of key ethnographic films about music, the course will address questions of aesthetics, representation and ethics that arise in the process of filmmaking. It will also consider the use of digital media in musical ethnography more generally and assess the methods of analysis afforded by the visual documentation of music practices. In complement with theoretical seminars, practical workshops on the methods of digital video recording and editing will familiarise students with a variety of approaches to ethnographic filmmaking and techniques of sound recording.
Method of Assessment: Coursework Portfolio consisting of: 1. A short ethnographic film on a music topic (c.10-20mins), or other equivalent video documentation of musical practices. 2. Commentary and analysis of film/audiovisual material (c.2,000 words)
|tbc||Musicological Theory||30 CATS|
This course looks at the way in which musicology has dealt with the uneasy relationship between fact, value, interpretation and purpose in relation to the discipline. The course is taught through a combination of concept analysis and the history of traditions in relation to musicological theory. The course covers the origins of musicology as a discipline, and the patterns of change that have occurred since, together with their causes. It describes some major influences on the discipline (critical theory, gender studies, deconstruction, analytic approaches, post-modern theory, etc) and illustrate their effects on the interpretation of musical works and events. Additionally it reflects on the history of historical writing, and how we have come to favour particular narratives in relation to music, and how these might depend on the historical situation of the historians involved. Finally it will reflect on future trends in historical musicology and its increasing rapprochement with cultural theory.
Method of Assessment:
One 5,000-word essay.
EITHER: a) critically reflect upon a recent interpretative methodology
OR: b) assess the contribution of a particular musicologist
OR: c) analyse an important concept in the historico-social situating of works
|MU71071A||New Directions in Popular Music Research||30 CATS|
This course provides a critical appraisal of the philosophical, conceptual and methodological limitations of existing approaches to researching popular music, whilst exploring ways of overcoming these and finding new research directions. The course surveys a cross section of studies that have been conducted in different contexts, with varied methodologies informed by contrasting agendas: This includes scholarship focussing separately on industries and production, texts and meaning, reception and consumption and scientific research on music. You think across disciplinary boundaries, informed by an oft-repeated maxim; that innovative and significant research entails the art of asking the right questions. Hence, you ask new questions of old research, and set up new questions for potential future research. The course will complement musicological techniques by drawing from methods deployed across the arts and humanities, business and the sciences when exploring methodological techniques for researching such questions.
Method of Assessment: 5,000 word essay on an individual research project.
|MU71056A||Performance as Research||30 CATS|
The course develops your knowledge and understanding of musical performance as a research technique, particularly in relation to the music of other cultures. It addresses practical, theoretical and conceptual issues concerning music performance, including the nature of musicality, processes of learning, theories of improvisation, modal theory, and the body in music performance. Theoretical understanding is developed in conjunction with practical, experiential learning. You develop a research-centred performance project by learning to perform from a repertory outside their primary music culture, or by developing expertise in a new area of performance practice. This may include learning to perform a new instrument and/or genre; developing improvisation skills; or the arrangement and performance of pieces from a particular music tradition. You present a short performance that demonstrates your developing skills.
Method of Assessment: Performance Project consisting of a performance (about 15 minutes) and an essay or reflexive diary (3,000 words) relating to the performance and/or the learning process.
|MU71036B||Philosophies of Music||30 CATS|
The course examines concepts that play a role in the ways in which we define, understand and evaluate music. All students of music encounter philosophical questions of these kinds, whether performers (the ontology of the work and ‘authentic’ performance), composers (the identity of the work and the laws of copyright), critics (questions of value or meaning), or arts administrators (justifications for support and existence of certain works). This course analyses them systematically in relation to the writings of important figures in the field. The course surveys major issues by concept (definition, ontology, musical meaning, intentionality and expression, performativity, formalism, evaluation, etc). Theories of particularly influential writers and movements are examined in detail – Adorno, Hanslick, Scruton, Deconstruction, Relativism, etc. Your essay presents an argument on a philosophical issue of existence, or meaning, or evaluation, or justification in relation to music applied to specific musical examples.
Method of Assessment: 5,000-word essay. The essay should present a discourse or argument on a philosophical issue of existence, or meaning, or evaluation, or justification in relation to music centred upon specific musical examples, events or phenomena.
|MU71070A||Popular Music: Listening, Analysis and Interpretation||30 CATS|
This course explores ways in which analytical listening and writing can – and perhaps cannot – help us to understand individual and generic working methods within, and to locate and construct ‘meaning’ for, popular music. Key topics covered include the problems of the popular music ‘text’, and of the analytical methods that might be used to access it; the representation of popular music in writing, notation and visual image; the use of close listening and analysis in the investigation of individual, cultural and historical musical subjects (in both senses of that term); the variety of ‘analytical’ popular musical knowledge as it appears in scholarly, journalistic and audience discourses.
Method of Assessment: 5,000 word essay.
|MU71040B||Sound Agendas||30 CATS|
The course develops a theoretical framework for practice –with reference to core concepts in sonic art, and current thinking studio-based composition. Pivotal historical developments in the application of audio technologies are studied, placing compositional techniques in a wider context. We consider the theoretical underpinnings of musique concrète, elektronische musik, futurism and fluxus, interactivity, silence and noise, post-digital aesthetics, plunderphonics, utterance and text-sound composition, audiovision, acoustics and architecture, perception, acoustic ecology and phonography. These issues and their artistic manifestations provide a basis for experiment and evaluation through creative work and/or theoretical writing. This can provide support for work in your Portfolio/Creative Project.
Method of Assessment:
EITHER a creative project with 3,000-word essay. This is a practice-based assignment informed by research into historical precedence, contextual enquiry, and reflective practice (compulsory for MMus Studio Composition).
OR a 5,000-word analytical essay. This will demonstrate your ability to apply critical reasoning to a set question, conduct independent research and produce an academic argument that can be supported by evidence and examples.
|MU71048A||Working with Original Documents||30 CATS|
The course provides detailed study of selected manuscript and printed sources, with a guide to their notational systems, palaeographic features, their relation to other copies of the same repertory (stemmatics) and their construction as documents (codicology). It also teaches methods of dating documents, locating them geographically and institutionally, and the conventions of transcribing them. The course will necessitate visits to repositories of original sources (eg. Sotheby’s British Library).
Method of Assessment:
EITHER a critical edition of an older musical source, which would include a critical commentary and accompanying contextualising essay,
OR a professional description of an older musical source with a contextualising essay (5,000 words).
The dissertation acts as focus of the knowledge and skills acquired during the programme, and gives students the opportunity to undertake genuinely original work, employing relevant research methods and building upon the advanced and systematic understandings developed in other elements of the programme. The dissertation can be in the form of a critical discussion of a problem in musicology, analysis, or an appropriate repertoire, or a critical edition of a musical document. Most work on the dissertation will be independent study, supported by frequent and individual consultation with the appointed supervisor throughout the academic year, with particular emphasis on term three.
Method of Assessment:
OR a critical edition of a single musical document (manuscript or printed), including an editorial commentary and apparatus, and an introduction discussing any problems raised by the document, situating it within its historical and social context and including a critical discussion of the music or the musical issues involved (textual component not exceeding c. 10,000 words).
Goldsmiths, University of London, New Cross, London, SE14 6NW, UK
Telephone: + 44 (0)20 7919 7171
Goldsmiths has charitable status