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Postgraduate taught courses

MMus in Advanced Musical Studies, MMus in Composition and PG Dip in Music


With one of the largest postgraduate communities in the UK (typically around 50-60 research students and 20 Masters students each year), we are established as one of the country's premier institutions for postgraduate education in Music. Our research profile is of international standing, and this is reflected in the exceptionally high quality of our postgraduate provision.

Our taught graduate programme, the MMus in Advanced Musical Studies, is designed to allow you either to specialize in one particular area of advanced musical study such as composition, ethnomusicology, musicology, or performance, or to choose a more varied set of options. We are generous in our funding for Masters students, and at present we offer up to four fee waivers (at Home/EU rate), for which all applicants are eligible to be considered. 

On this website you will find details about our MMus programme, as well as information on how to apply and the funding possibilities open to you. There is more information of a general sort on Royal Holloway's central admissions pages, and if you have any specific queries you are very welcome to email either our administrator (music@rhul.ac.uk) or the Postgraduate Admissions Tutor, Professor Tina K. Ramnarine 

The MMus in Advanced Musical Studies and MMus in Composition programmes allow for specialism in particular research areas, but all students take the following courses, further details of which can be seen here:

  • Special Study (80 credits)
  • The core MMus course ('Skills in Advanced Musical Study', 20 credits)
  • 4 elective courses (each worth 20 credits)


For students choosing to specialize in ethnomusicologymusicology, or performance, the MMus in Advanced Musical Studies could for example comprise:
  • A Special Study (a 15,000–18,000-word dissertation or a 50-60 minute recital; performers can also choose to specialise in Conducting)
  • The core MMus course
  • 1 elective related to your chosen pathway (e.g. 'Studies in Musical Sources' or 'Techniques of Ethnomusicology')
  • 3 additional electives from the Music department or any other.  

For students taking the MMus in Composition, the degree could for example comprise:

  • A Special Study (14-16 minutes of original music)
  • The core MMus course
  • 3 electives in Composition
  • 1 additional elective of choice from the Music department or any other.

Although the elective course units on offer vary slightly from year to year, the electives available for students to choose between will typically include:

Four in composition:

  • Practical Composition Projects
  • Composing for Ensemble
  • Media and Commercial Composition
  • Fusion Electronics and Sonic Art

Two each in the following areas:

  • Ethnomusicology 
  • Music History
  • Performance Studies

And the following:

  • Theory and Analysis
  • Schenkerian Analysis
  • Topics in Multimedia and Film Music
  • Issues in Popular Music 
  • Documenting Performance 
  • Short Recital 
  • Studies in Musical Sources
  • Music and Management
Details of the core and elective courses can be seen here.


PG Dip

The PGDip in Music Performance programme is designed to develop specific techniques, skills and knowledge relevant to the musical performance interests of individual students, equip students for performance at an advanced/professional level and allow for both contextualised study and distinct specialism within the field of performance. Courses are delivered and most coursework tasks submitted during terms one and two, enabling students to focus on preparation for their Special Study Recital for the remainder of the programme. Students work towards a Special Study Recital (worth 80 credits): MU5539 Special Study: Performance. They must also take two electives (20 credits each) from the Department of Music (one of these may be MU5500 Skills in Advanced Musical Studies, the MMus Core Course, if the student wishes). The part-time programme lasts 104 weeks, beginning in September of year one. Part-time students normally take two electives in their first year, and work towards the Special Study Recital in their second year. 


Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Mode 

Our department also offers the more relaxed Continuing professional Development (CPD) mode of study where students with ongoing professional careers take modules over a four or five-year period. Here, the Core Course is taken in the first year and the Special Study in the last. 

Elective courses are typically assessed by essay (4,000–5,000 words), 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 and Visiting Lecturer series). This component is assessed mostly by essay but there is scope for other kinds of assignment by agreement.

Part-time students take Skills in Advanced Musical Studies plus three electives in the first year, followed by the remaining elective and Special Study in the second year.

Our department also offers the more relaxed Continuing professional Development (CPD) mode of study where students with ongoing professional careers take modules over a four or five-year period. Here, the Core Course is taken in the first year and the Special Study in the last. 



Application to the MMus should be made directly to the College, and you will be asked to send some evidence of your ability in written work, composition, or performance directly to the Music Department. 

Details of how to apply are given on the Royal Holloway graduate application page.

Please see this link for the English Language requirements.


Our scholarships are decided on the basis of academic merit. Please see information on our competitive scholarships here.


Alumni Bursaries

If you completed your undergraduate degree here and enrol on a Masters course, you will automatically receive a ten per cent discount on your tuition fees. For more information, see here.





MMus musicologists and ethnomusicologists from our department go on to PhD study at RHUL or other leading universities, and many go on to academic careers, with some currently 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 New Music Ensemble-in-Residence CHROMA provides 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 and Paul Newland.


Further information

We have PDF flyers containing further information on our pathways in compositionethnomusicologymusicology, and performance, and you can read more about the breakdown of the course options if you are interested in composition or ethnomusicology on dedicated pages.  


To watch video interviews with our Regius Professor of Music, Julian Johnson, about the range of postgraduate programmes we offer, our unique strengths and support available to students, studying for a PhD and what we look for in an applicant, as well as the kind of careers our postgraduates go onto, click below.

Music overview   Music strengths  
Music PhD study   Music applicants and employability  

Films courtsey of PostgraduateSearch.com   



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