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Advanced Musical Studies MMus

UCAS code
Year of entry 2018
Course Length
1 year full time
2 years part time
Department Music »


Providing a balance of broad-based study and specialist training, this MA is designed to meet your needs whether you wish to specialise as preparation for future research or take a more varied set of options as a stand along qualification.

Offering four distinct pathways in composition, ethnomusicology, musicology, or performance, the course allows you to take the initiative in constructing your own study programme with options in areas such as multimedia and film music, performance studies, historical musicology, and acoustic and electronic composition.

You will come away well-versed and well-practised in whatever discipline you choose, verbally and technically fluent, fully conversant with a broad range of issues of concern in current musical and musicological endeavour and able to present your ideas orally, in writing, and through performance and composition.

  • Join one of the largest postgraduate Music communities in the UK (with more than 50 research students and 20 MA students each year)
  • We are ranked third in the UK for research quality (REF 2014) and the only music department in the country to hold a prestigious Regius Professorship.
  • You will have access to well-equipped studios and recording facilities, including a Disklavier, as well as incredible performance spaces including the Windsor Auditorium, Boilerhouse Theatre, Victorian Picture Gallery and College Chapel.
  • Be a part of our creative campus.  Choose from a wide range of performance opportunities including a wide range of orchestras and choirs, including the Royal Holloway Symphony Orchestra and Chapel Choir of Royal Holloway, as well as ensembles, music groups and student led music societies.

Core modules

Skills in Advanced Musical Studies

One core 'Special Study' option (depending on pathway chosen):

Composition: 14 – 16 minutes of original music. Please note that the MMus in Composition also contains co-requisite courses.

Ethnomusicology/ Musicology: Dissertation of 15,000-18,000 words

Performance: 50 - 60 minutes of a full recital programme, exclusive to the Performance pathway

Optional modules

Along with these core modules, you will choose four other optional course units, at least one of which must be related to your special study.  Examples include: 

  • Historical Musicology 
  • Topics in Multimedia and Film Music 
  • Topics in World Music
  • Music, Management and Production
  • Techniques of Performance Studies 

Please note that although the College will keep changes to a minimum, new units may be offered or existing units may be withdrawn, for example, in response to a change in staff.

Elective courses are typically assessed by essay (3,000–5,000 words, or two shorter essays), composition portfolio, or performance. At least one of the electives you choose from this list must be in the same area as your Special Study (i.e. in the broad area of ethnomusicology, music history, etc.). Up to two electives may be substituted for course units taken in other departments at Royal Holloway (such as languages or history).

In addition to the Special Study and the four electives, all students take the core 'Skills in Advanced Musical Studies', which consists of five lectures in the first term (leading to a 2,500-word essay) plus a second component chosen from a wide range of different research training options (including seminars at the Institute for Musical Research or Visiting Lecturer series). This component is assessed mostly by essay but there is scope for other kinds of assignment by agreement.

Entry criteria:

UK Upper Second Class Honours degree (2:1) or equivalent.

Applicants with relevant professional qualifications and experience will also be considered.

English language requirements:

IELTS score of 6.5 with 7.0 in writing and no sub-score below 5.5 for non-native English speaking applicants.


If you require Royal Holloway to sponsor you to study in the UK, your IELTS must be a UK government-approved Secure English Language Test (SELT).

International and EU entry requirements

Please select your country from the drop-down list below




Students from overseas should visit the International pages for information on the entry requirements from their country and further information on English language requirements. Royal Holloway offers a Pre-Master’s Diploma for International Students and English language pre-sessional courses, allowing students the opportunity to develop their study skills and English language before starting their postgraduate degree.

 Additional information:

  • Candidates may be called to interview and be asked to submit examples of written work in support of their application.
  • If you wish to pursue a Special Study in performance rather than a dissertation, an authenticated 20 minute audition recording of three contrasting pieces should be submitted.
  • If you wish to pursue a Special Study in Composition, a small portfolio of original music is requested for review.
  • If you wish to pursue a Musicology and ethnomusicology pathway please submit an academic essay

Our recent graduates have gone into careers as music teachers, composers and musicians. Others have gone into PhD studies at Royal Holloway or other leading universities, and then into academic careers, with some working in the highest-rated research departments in the country.

Composers at Royal Holloway have their music played and recorded regularly by resident and visiting professional musicians, the Royal Holloway Sinfonietta and, of course, by fellow students. Our award-winning Ensemble-in-Residence CHROMA gives you unrivalled workshop and performance opportunities.

Many Royal Holloway graduates are now making careers as professional composers, including:

  • Tansy Davies
  • Richard Baker
  • KT Tunstall
  • Joby Talbot
  • Michael Zev Gordon
  • Deirdre Gribbin
  • Jonathan Cole
  • Paul Newland

Home and EU students tuition fee per year 2018/19*: £7,200

International students tuition fee per year 2018/19*: £14,900

Other essential costs**: There are no single associated costs greater than £50 per item on this course

How do I pay for it? Find out more about funding options, including loans, grants, scholarships and bursaries.

* These tuition fees apply to students enrolled on a full-time basis. Students studying part-time are charged a pro-rata tuition fee, usually equivalent to approximately half the full-time fee. Please email student-fees@royalholloway.ac.uk for further information on part-time fees. All postgraduate fees are subject to inflationary increases. Royal Holloway's policy is that any increases in fees will not exceed 5% for continuing students. For further information see tuition fees and our terms and conditions.

** These estimated costs relate to studying this particular degree programme at Royal Holloway. Costs, such as accommodation, food, books and other learning materials and printing, have not been included.

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