What is the Musicology and Ethnomusicology MMus pathway, and is it right for me?

The Orchestra in the King's Musical Theatre Society production of West Side Story

At King’s, there are two different pathways available for the MMus. Here, I will talk through some of the main aspects of the Musicology and Ethnomusicology pathway, and what it’s like to be a student on it.

This course focuses on writing about music, and aims to broaden students’ awareness of contemporary issues in musicology. One of the key features of the course is the two Approaches to Music Research modules, which involve a weekly 3-hour seminar in which we discuss and debate specific issues facing modern (and future) musicologists, having done some prior reading to get to grips with the topic. These conversations also help build the skills that will be needed for the dissertation you will write in the final stretch of the course.

Some conservatoire players outside of King’s helped in the Modern Music Society Sinfonietta concert, which took place in the gorgeous acoustics of the King’s College Chapel

As well as the big, double-weighted Approaches to Music Research modules, there are a number of optional modules that can be taken in the first two semesters. These can be taken within the Department of Music, but there are also opportunities to take modules from other departments within the Faculty of Arts & Humanities, or at SOAS. This means that there are opportunities to explore the topics you are interested in, or to branch out into something you are less familiar with. These modules generally leave essay briefs quite broad, leaving room for you to explore the elements of the module that have particularly interested you.

With full-time students only taking an average of three modules per semester, the MMus at King’s gives you the opportunity to explore topics deeply, with time to really consider the issues raised. Especially with the help of the Approaches to Music Research modules, students are encouraged to question their role within musicology, and tackle what it means to research music today. These perspectives come to influence students’ approaches to all their modules, as they become increasingly conscious of the social and political role of music, and of the power dynamics that exist within scholarship.

The Musicology and Ethnomusicology pathway attracts a diverse group of students, including people coming straight from an undergraduate Music degree, people from performance backgrounds, people who have had a break from education, and people whose academic background is in a different subject altogether. This means there are lots of different perspectives in any conversation or debate, creating a lively, intellectually stimulating environment.

Students are also encouraged to attend the department’s weekly colloquium series, in which various speakers from King’s and beyond give talks on a musical or music-adjacent topic. These are a useful forum in which to learn about ongoing musical research, while also an opportunity to socialise with other members of our small, friendly department.

The MMus Musicology and Ethnomusicology pathway at King’s might be for you if you are interested in thinking more deeply about music. If you are excited by the idea of regularly having big discussions about the state of music research, want to increase your knowledge of different music’s from across the world, or are interested in the role of music in society, this degree might well be for you!

For more information on our MMus, click here.

King’s College London reviews the modules offered on a regular basis to provide up-to-date, innovative and relevant programmes of study. Therefore, modules offered may change. We suggest you keep an eye on the course finder on our website for updates. Please note that modules with a practical component will be capped due to educational requirements, which may mean that we cannot guarantee a place to all students who elect to study this module.

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