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Opera Studies MA

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  • Entry requirements
    Applicants will normally hold a good honours degree in music, or an equivalent qualification. Performance experience of opera is not a prerequisite. You are required to submit an extended piece of writing, preferably on a musical subject, in order to provide evidence of writing skills and intellectual ability appropriate for musicological study at MA level. For those students whose first language is not English, one of the following qualifications (or equivalent standard) is also required: * IELTS: minimum well-balanced score of 6.5 across all areas * Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English: minimum acceptable grade C * TOEFL (internet-based): a score of at least 100
  • Academic Title
    Opera Studies MA
  • Course description
    Course overview

    Drawing upon the expertise of several specialists within the Department whose collective expertise spans opera and music theatre from the 17th to the 20th century, this programme meets the needs of students who wish to focus their MA degree on opera studies. Students benefit from a variety of teaching modules offered in this field, leading ultimately to a dissertation undertaken on a topic of their choosing. Available teaching ranges from lectures giving students a thorough grounding in opera studies through the exploration of the historical role of opera in culture and society, theoretical writings on opera and theatre, musical dramaturgy, cultural representation and exoticism in opera, singers and production, to critical engagement with key literature in group tutorials, to a practice-based module; candidates of a suitable standard may take lessons at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

    With its blend of classroom teaching and individually-supervised research, this programme caters for students seeking to expand their knowledge in the area of opera studies as well as providing ideal training for those wishing to proceed to a research degree in the field. Students on this pathway receive the award of PGDip/MA in Opera Studies. Alternatively, they may opt to receive the award of MA in Music Studies.

    Course content

    Approaches to Music Studies

    This module is delivered weekly over two terms, and provides an education in many aspects of recent musical thought and scholarship, as well as tuition in research methods, writing and presentation skills.  For more information, click here.

    Critical Readings (Opera Studies)

    This module takes a close look at important scholarly literature on opera studies, through a series of group tutorials. It fosters a critical awareness of current issues in the field of opera studies, and aims to equip students with the tools they need to critically evaluate current research and methodologies.

    Optional modules

    Students take one of the following modules:

        * Special Project
    | This module enables students to undertake a specialised independent project associated with their topic of study. Examples of possible projects include: community or professional project; fieldwork project; producing a radio programme; a detailed musicological analysis in liaison with a practising musician(s), and so on. Projects will normally involve some element of ‘applied’ musicology, allowing students to apply theoretical knowledge gained elsewhere on the course to a specific case study.
        * Taught Module | Students who wish to extend their understanding of a specific aspect of their chosen field may opt to pursue studies in musicology, composition or performance alongside final-year undergraduates. Supplementary supervision leads to an assessed research project, composition portfolio or recital specifically directed towards study at postgraduate level. For a full list of the modules available, together with their descriptions, click here.


    Students work throughout the programme towards a research dissertation of 12,000-15,000 words (6,000-7,500 words for the PGDip) on a topic related to some aspect of opera studies, guided through the tutorial support of a supervisor. They also give a presentation towards the end of Spring term on their dissertation work in progress.

    Teaching and assessment

    The coursework assignments associated with the modules described in the Course Content section aim to deepen students’ understanding of concepts discussed in lectures and seminars, and to develop methodological and writing skills. In addition, throughout the programme, students concentrate on research on a topic of their choice in the context of the dissertation (120 credits, or 60 credits for the PGDip), which is supported by one-to-one tutorials with a specialist in the area of study. Prior to the spring vacation a series of presentation seminars is held, in which students present and discuss their dissertation work in progress.

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