Master of Music

The Master of Music research degrees can be taken in the following disciplines:

  • Master of Music (Composition)
  • Master of Music (Music Education)
  • Master of Music (Musicology)
  • Master of Music (Performance)

All Master of Music research degrees must be completed within two years for full-time candidates. Any research period may be undertaken part-time according to the needs of the candidate. Calculation of the expected completion date will take into account the periods of full-time or part-time status.

All research students are eligible for one month of annual leave and are expected to be continuing their research work at other times.

Language requirements for international candidates

An IELTS level of 7.0 with no component below 6.5 is normally required for entry to all Master of Music degrees.

Master of Music (Composition)

The Master of Music (Composition) provides students with advanced compositional skills and affords opportunities to work on compositions of a length and complexity not possible during undergraduate award programs. Students work on both a composition portfolio (creative work) and a related research dissertation which, together, form the thesis.

Candidates develop skills in, and an understanding of, all aspects in the successful completion of a composition project.
Candidates may research compositional approaches of other composers, practitioners and artists, and to create musical works based upon the results of this research.

The musical outcomes may take place on the small and larger scales, and should demonstrate the development of a high-level creative approach, substantial composition technique and the initial establishment of a compositional voice within the national and international music sector.

Course structure

It is expected that both components of the thesis, the composition portfolio and the related research dissertation, will be pursued concurrently and at an even rate across the duration of the candidature. Demands of candidates in terms of craft skills and imaginative writing are high.

Candidature for all candidates includes:

  • enrolment in appropriate research methods units and elective units of study
  • supervised research on an approved topic which includes 24 one-hour sessions across each year to be divided between research supervision and one-to-one composition lessons as appropriate to the needs of the student
  • a confirmation presentation late in the first year of candidature
  • annual progress review (APR)
  • presentation at the Composition Seminar at some time during the candidature
  • attendance and presentation at the interdisciplinary Postgraduate Creative Work seminar
  • submission of a thesis comprising the portfolio of original compositions with accompanying recordings and the 10,000-20,000 word dissertation associated with the candidate’s composition portfolio and the research behind its creation.

The following are benchmark examples of portfolio size, and should be referred to by intending students writing the 1500-2000 word research summary when applying for entry into the course.

(a) Candidates specialising in instrumental or music theatre composition

A portfolio of compositions of approximately 50 to 70 minutes, including one designated major work. The portfolio should reflect and respond to the area(s) of research undertaken during the candidature. At least half of the music should have been performed, workshopped or publicly presented. Recordings should accompany the folio where possible.

Examples of submissions could include:

  • a set of solo saxophone etudes (15 minutes), a saxophone quartet (10 minutes), a piece for large chamber ensemble (10 minutes), a concerto for saxophone and orchestra (25 minutes)
  • two chamber works of 12 minutes each for 8 players, an orchestral piece (10 minutes), a piano sonata (19 minutes)
  • a 15-minute work for woodwind quintet + CD, a music theatre work of 45 minutes
  • a string quartet with didjeridu and erhu (20 minutes), a chamber work for mixed sextet (5 minutes), a work for dancers and chamber ensemble (14 minutes), a sound installation (variable duration), four pieces for large ensemble with jazz quartet (total 12 minutes)
  • a music theatre work of 60 minutes
  • works created as part of the Composing Women Program

(b) Candidates specialising in electroacoustic composition

A number of electroacoustic compositions intended for various configurations such as stereo, surround and multi-channel or interactive works that have a collective duration of 12-15 minutes of music per each full-time semester of the candidature, that is 48-60 minutes for the entire candidature.

Examples of works to be included in the portfolio could include:

  • a stereo acousmatic composition
  • a surround work with a minimum four channels
  • a work for 1-3 instruments and playback

    a performance for instrument and live electronics
  • a sound installation
  • an interactive multimedia piece for sound and video

(c) Candidates specialising in music technology

The written dissertation between 10,000 and 20,000 words will investigate a research topic in music technology. Projects may involve computer programming for musical applications, exploration of advanced signal processing techniques, analysis of existing electroacoustic repertoire, sound recording, digital audio production for visual and interactive media.

Music compositions must demonstrate the aesthetic value of the theoretical investigation and must be included in the submitted portfolio. Where software creation is a significant component of the work then a balance between music composition and software creation shall be negotiated with the supervisor, but a minimum of two 12-15 minute works will be required under any circumstance.

(d) Candidates specialising in jazz composition

A portfolio of compositions as outlined below:

  • four small ensemble works of 6-8 minutes duration for 8-10 instruments
  • two small ensemble works of 6-8 minutes duration for 8-10 instruments + string group
  • two big band works of 6-8 minutes' duration

    one third stream (confluent) work for 3-4 soloists + rhythm section and chamber group of 8-10 minutes duration
  • one third stream (confluent) work for 3-4 soloists and full orchestra (no rhythm) of 8-10 minutes duration

It is expected that the works contain no more than 30 percent of improvisation with the work being at least 70 percent fully scored. If a candidate would like to include a greater percentage of improvisation than the 30 percent standard, this must be negotiated with and approved by the supervisor and the Associate Dean. The duration of such works should be at the upper limits of the durations given above.

All Composition candidates normally complete the following units of study

  • CMPN5001 Creative Work (Composition) 1
  • CMPN5002 Creative Work (Composition) 2
  • PERF5600 Graduate Research Methods
  • Two other units of study chosen from the table of postgraduate electives or an approved alternative.

Typical progression pattern for Master of Music (Composition)*

Semester 1   Semester 2  

CMPN5001 Creative Work (Composition) 1


With guidance from the supervisory team, work on portfolio development and early stages of dissertation

 

CMPN5002 Creative Work (Composition) 2


With guidance from the supervisory team, work on portfolio development and early stages of dissertation

 
PERF5600 Graduate Research Methods**   Postgraduate elective  
Postgraduate elective   Postgraduate Creative Work seminar  
Postgraduate Creative Work seminar    Late in semester: Confirmation presentation and progress review  
Semester 3   Semester 4  

With guidance from the supervisory team, work on portfolio and dissertation development

 

With guidance from the supervisory team, complete full thesis for examination including composition portfolio and dissertation

 
 Postgraduate Creative Work seminar   Postgraduate Creative Work seminar  
    Submit for examination by the end of the final research period  

* This pattern is for a full-time student. For a part-time student the pattern will be adjusted.
** For students commencing in the 2nd half of the calendar year, Graduate Research Methods can be taken in the 2nd semester of enrolment, or an alternative option may be available.

Year 1 (or part-time equivalent)

The student will work with a supervisory team throughout the year. Up to 24 one-hour supervision sessions are provided for the year with your supervisory team which comprises a principal supervisor and an auxiliary supervisor. The student and the supervisory team negotiate the spread of hours at the beginning of the year. Supervision sessions do not need to be confined to semester dates.

During year 1, students normally complete all required units of study. Students attend and participate in the interdisciplinary Postgraduate Creative Research Seminar as part of MMus Creative Work 1 and 2. At this seminar each student will present twice attending all sessions.

Year 2 (or part-time equivalent)

The student will work with their supervisory team throughout the year as in year 1. During the second year the student prepares their written research dissertation and composition portfolio (henceforth the ‘thesis’*) for submission by the end of the year. Although there are no unit of study requirements, students should continue to attend and participate in the Postgraduate Creative Research Seminar. At the Seminar in the second year, students are expected to present their thesis* research normally attending a minimum of 6 sessions.

* The term thesis includes both components of the research project – the composition portfolio and written research dissertation.

Students should consider the entire project in choosing the thesis title. A preface can be used to introduce the components of the thesis.

Submission of final thesis includes:

  1. the final composition portfolio of a suggested 45-60 minutes of music (or as negotiated with the supervisory team depending on the nature of the project.)
  2. the dissertation of 10,000-20,000 words.

Normally, both components of the thesis will be examined together.

Submission and examination of the thesis

The thesis, including both your composition portfolio and your written research dissertation, must be submitted no later than the end of your second year of enrolment (or by the end of the part-time equivalent for students proceeding by part-time enrolment). The thesis will be examined in accordance with University of Sydney policy by two approved examiners, including at least one examiner external to the University of Sydney.

Master of Music (Music Education)

The Master of Music (Music Education) facilitates students’ development of knowledge and research skills relating to the discipline of Music Education. This degree promotes the scholarly interrogation of teaching and learning in a variety of contexts and culminates in the completion of a thesis. The program includes two streams of study. The first stream of study consists of two seminars selected from a range of fields relevant to music teaching and learning. The concurrently running research stream provides instruction in research methodology which underpins the writing of a thesis, the major component of the degree.

Course structure

The Master of Music (Music Education) degree can be completed in either two years of full-time study or three to four years of part-time study. The emphasis in the first year is primarily on the development of research skills. In the second year, the focus is on the writing of a thesis.

Candidature includes

  • enrolment in the Music Education Research Method courses
  • enrolment in two elective seminars
  • supervised research on an approved topic which includes 24 one-hour sessions or equivalent across each full-time year
  • a confirmation presentation late in the first full-time year of candidature
  • annual progress review (APR)
  • submission of a thesis of 25,000-40,000 words embodying the results of the research

Candidates normally complete the following units of study

  • MUED5008 Music Education Research Methods 1
  • MUED5016 Music Education Research Methods 2
  • Two units of study chosen from the table of postgraduate electives or an approved alternative

Typical progression pattern for Master of Music (Music Education)*

Semester 1   Semester 2  
MUED5008 Music Education Research Methods 1   MUED5016 Music Education Research Methods 2  
Postgraduate elective   Postgraduate elective  
    Confirmation presentation  
       
Semester 3
  Semester 4
 
With guidance from the supervisory team, work on development of the thesis   With guidance from the supervisory team, work on completion of the thesis  
    Submit the thesis for examination by end of the final research period  

* This pattern is for a full-time student. For a part-time student the pattern will be adjusted.

Examination of the thesis

The thesis must be submitted no later than the end of your second year of enrolment (or by the end of the part-time equivalent for students proceeding by part-time enrolment). The thesis will be examined in accordance with University of Sydney policy by two approved examiners, including at least one examiner external to the University of Sydney.

Master of Music (Musicology)

The Master of Music (Musicology) aims to train students to become independent scholars in the discipline of musicology and to communicate their findings in appropriate written and spoken forms. The program of study culminates in a thesis consisting of a portfolio of papers on two or three distinct topics or a monograph on a single topic chosen with permission of the Musicology Division. Students carry out research in a variety of fields supported by the Division, including western historical musicology, music analysis, ethnomusicology, popular music studies, empirical musicology and more. This research degree may stand alone or serve as preliminary to PhD study in the discipline.

Course structure

Through enrolment in required research training modules and coursework units of study, students develop knowledge of a variety of musicological research methods and understanding of different fields in the discipline. Throughout the candidature, a student will work with the supervisory team on the development of the thesis. The thesis will normally take the form of a portfolio including three papers and an introductory essay that binds these papers conceptually.

Candidature includes

  • enrolment in four research training modules
  • enrolment in three elective courses
  • a confirmation presentation late in the first full-time year of candidature
  • annual progress review (APR)
  • presentation of research at the Musicology Graduate Symposium two or more times during candidature
  • supervised research in preparation of the thesis which includes 24 one-hour sessions or equivalent across each full-time year
  • submission of a thesis of between 25,000 and 40,000 words embodying the results of the research and which may be in the form of a portfolio of research or a thesis on a single topic

Note: Students pursuing a monograph thesis may request a waiver of one or more elective courses.

Research training modules

Candidates normally complete the following units of study

  • MCGY5600 Critical Discourses in Music
  • MCGY5601 Music through Ethnography
  • PERF5031 Methods of Music Analysis
  • MCGY5603 Music as Social Science

Two modules are offered each year in first semester.

Elective courses

Elective courses on offer at the Conservatorium vary from year to year and are listed in the table of electives units of study in this Handbook. Electives choices should be chosen in consultation with your supervisory team and the degree coordinator. With approval, one or more elective courses may be pursued in another faculty.

Typical progression pattern for Master of Music (Musicology)*

Semester 1   Semester 2  
With guidance from the supervisory team, work on development of the thesis   With guidance from the supervisory team, work on development of the thesis  

MCGY5600 Critical Discourses in Music through Ethnography

  Postgraduate elective  
MCGY5601 Music through Ethnography   Postgraduate elective  
Postgraduate elective (or take in semester 3)   Confirmation presentation  
Semester 3   Semester 4  
With guidance from the supervisory team, work on development of the thesis   With guidance from the supervisory team, work on completion of the thesis  

PERF5031 Methods of Music Analysis

  Submit the thesis for examination by end of the final research period  
MCGY5603 Music as Social Science      

* This pattern is for a full-time student. For a part-time student the pattern will be adjusted.

Examination of the thesis

The thesis must be submitted no later than the end of your second year of enrolment (or by the end of the part-time equivalent for students proceeding by part-time enrolment). A thesis presenting a portfolio of research must include a preface or introduction to introduce the thesis as a coherent whole. The thesis will be examined in accordance with University of Sydney policy by two approved examiners, including at least one examiner external to the University of Sydney.

Master of Music (Performance)

The Master of Music (Performance) provides a unique opportunity to develop high-level skills in the production of research-based creative work. Within the degree structure, candidates receive training in research methods and areas of study pertinent to their research, as well as one to one lessons that help develop professional performative skills. Candidates will learn to organise and present creative work (a recital, lecture recital, recording or other appropriate form) that demonstrates independence of thought, critical awareness and interpretative capacities, and high potential as a scholarly musician. Candidates will be able to articulate the contribution which their performance makes towards extending the boundaries of the discipline of performance through such means as expanded stylistic or interpretative horizons, investigation of historical performance practice, development of new performance modes, relationships and techniques, or through enhanced critical, historical or analytical perspectives.

Course Structure

The Master of Music (Performance) helps candidates in the development of research-led performance and scholarship. Research Methods, Creative Work and other elective units of study are normally completed as part of the first full-time year. During the second year, candidates work towards completion of their thesis comprising the final creative work presentation and written research dissertation. Candidates should plan their candidature in consultation with their supervisory team, including the date for presentation of the final creative work. Typical progression patterns are shown below.

Candidature includes

  • enrolment in appropriate units of study to support the candidate’s development as a researcher
  • supervised performance research on an approved topic in preparation of a thesis which comprises both the final creative work presentation and the associated 10,000-20,000 word written research dissertation. This includes 24 one-hour sessions across each year to be divided between written research supervision and one-to-one lessons (instrumental, vocal, conducting) as appropriate to the needs of the student.
  • a confirmation presentation late in the first full-time year of candidature
  • annual progress review (APR)
  • presentation of research at an appropriate graduate symposium at some time during the candidature
  • attendance and presentation at the interdisciplinary Postgraduate Creative Work seminar
  • the final creative work presentation* of 50 to 80 minutes duration in an appropriate format (recital, lecture recital, recording and so on), demonstrating originality and making a contribution to knowledge beyond its aesthetic merits
  • production of critical notes to accompany the final creative work presentation, articulating its aims and its place in the area of the candidate’s research enquiry.
  • the written research component of the thesis which will be a 10,000-20,000 word dissertation on the approved topic. This will investigate the topic normally developing one or more hypotheses and placing the research within the relevant body of knowledge.

Candidates normally complete the following units of study

  • PERF5001 Creative Work (Performance) 1
  • PERF5002 Creative Work (Performance) 2
  • PERF5600 Graduate Research Methods
  • Two other units of study chosen from the table of postgraduate electives

Typical progression pattern for Master of Music (Performance)*

Semester 1   Semester 2  

PERF5001 Creative Work (Performance) 1

With guidance from the supervisory team, work on performance development and early stages of your dissertation

 

PERF5002 Creative Work (Performance) 2

With guidance from the supervisory team, work on performance development and early stages of your dissertation

 
PERF5600 Graduate Research Methods**   Postgraduate elective  
Postgraduate elective   Confirmation presentation  
Postgraduate Creative Work seminar    Postgraduate Creative Work seminar  
Semester 3   Semester 4  

With guidance from the supervisory team, work on preparation of both thesis components

 

With guidance from the supervisory team, work on completion of both thesis components

 
Postgraduate Creative Work seminar   Postgraduate Creative Work seminar  
    By end of the final research period, submission of the full thesis for examination including the recording of the final creative work presnetation and the written research dissertation  

* This pattern is for a full-time student. For a part-time student the pattern will be adjusted.
** For students commencing in the 2nd half of the calendar year, Graduate Research Methods can be taken in the 2nd semester of enrolment, , or an alternative option may be available.

Preparation and examination of the final submission - the thesis

At the end of your candidature candidates will submit the thesis for examination. The thesis will include the recording of the final creative work presentation and the written research dissertation. A preface can be used to introduce the two components of the thesis. The thesis will be examined in accordance with University of Sydney policy by two approved examiners, including at least one examiner external to the University of Sydney.

An internal panel including the supervisory team will normally attend the final creative work presentation and will assess its suitability for inclusion in the final thesis and for examination. If this is found not to be ready, there is normally a second opportunity to give the presentation.