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M.Phil. Course structure

Whichever area you specialise in, the M.Phil. in Music Studies has a common structure:

1 Plenary courses

  • Music skills: a series of sessions covering general music study skills such as bibliography, discography, remote database access and search, relevant software applications, etc). This element is not separately assessed but feeds into all the others.
  • Musicology and its debates: this series of seminars, based on set readings, introduces contemporary thinking across a wide range of musical topics. This element counts for 15% of the programme and is assessed through a book review and portfolio of abstracts of literature covered in the seminar (Pass/Fail) and one 3,500-word essay (15%).

2 Teaching within specific areas

  • Specialist teaching within each area takes the form of lectures, seminars, and/or supervisions. This teaching will cover key subdisciplinary areas and methodologies, but precise content as well as format will depend on the number of students taking the course and their particular interests. With the agreement of the Degree Committee, this teaching may be replaced by courses offered by other faculties: this applies in particular to students working on medieval or renaissance music, who may take courses in such areas as Palaeography, Codicology, Printing, or Advanced Latin and to students wishing to take courses through the SSRMC (Social Sciences Research Methods Centre). This element counts for 30% of the programme and is assessed through two 3,500-word essays or their equivalent (e.g. compositions, transcriptions, fieldwork notes).
  • Optional courses on offer in 2016-17 include Sources and Notations (Prof Susan Rankin), Theory, Analysis and Song (Prof Nicholas Marston), Techniques of Performance Studies (Prof John Rink), Music and the Cold War (Prof Marina Frolova Walker) and Music and Science (Prof Ian Cross).  In 2016-17 MPhil students will also be permitted to choose to attend Part II lectures in three courses: Musical Countercultures of the 1960s (Dr Ross Cole), Music, Nationalism and Politics in Spain (Dr Matthew Machin Autenrieth) and Introduction to Music and Philosophy (Dr Tomas McAuley)
  • Students who specialise in Performance Studies and choose the recital option are recommended to take 20 hours of instrumental or vocal lessons with a teacher approved by the Faculty.

3 Individual project

Counting for 55% of the programme and due on the last working day in August, this supervised element of the course consists of a 15,000-word dissertation, except in the following cases:

  • in Performance studies (recital option only), this element may alternatively consist of a recital lasting approximately 50 to 60 minutes plus a related essay of 7,500 words (the recital and essay will be assessed as an integrated submission).
  • in Composition, this element will consist of a portfolio of compositions lasting approximately 30 to 45 minutes plus a related essay of 5,000 words (again assessed as an integrated submission). 
Students may typically expect 8 hours of supervision for dissertations and for composition portfolios plus explanatory essays and 4 hours for explanatory essays, and accompanying recitals.
Extended project

Composers may choose to offer an extended portfolio of compositions in place of ‘Musicology and its debates’. The extended submission option is also available to other students, but on an exceptional basis and based on performance in the first part of the programme. With the agreement of the Degree Committee, such students may submit, in place of the Musicology and its debates essay and the individual project described above, one extended individual project drawn from the following list:

  • a 25,000-word dissertation;
  • in Performance studies (recital option only), this element may alternatively consist of a recital lasting 50 to 60 minutes plus a related essay of 12,500 words (the recital and essay will be assessed as an integrated submission);
  • in Composition, this element will consist of a portfolio of compositions lasting approximately 45-60 minutes plus a related essay of 7,500 words.

Study Music at Cambridge