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)

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) offers candidates the opportunity to develop advanced compositional skills and to work on compositions of a length and complexity not possible during undergraduate award programs. Candidates are exposed to theoretical, philosophical and sociological aspects of composition.

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


These 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 music sector.

Course structure

The Master of Music (Composition) can be completed either in four semesters of full-time study or eight semesters of part-time study. There is an expectation that work on all aspects of the thesis, including the composition portfolio and the research component, 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
  • enrolment in nominated seminar topics
  • supervised research on an approved topic
  • presentation at the Composition Seminar towards the conclusion of the candidature
  • submission of a thesis comprising the portfolio of original compositions with accompanying recordings and the 10,000-15,000 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 75 minutes
  • works created as part of the National Women Composers’ Development 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 tape

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

(c) Candidates specialising in music technology

A written dissertation between 10,000 and 15,000 words investigating 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.

Candidates specialising in jazz composition

A portfolio of compositions as outlined below:

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 Chair. The duration of such works should be at the upper limits of the durations given 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

Candidates normally complete the following units of study

  • CMPN5001 Principal Study (Composition) 1
  • CMPN5002 Principal Study (Composition) 2
  • CMPN6003 Principal Study (Composition) 3
  • CMPN6004 Principal Study (Composition) 4
  • PERF5600 Graduate Research Methods
  • PERF5612 Graduate Seminar 2 Thinking Research
  • One other unit of study chosen from the list of postgraduate electives

Master of Music (Music Education)

The Master of Music (Music Education) program consists of 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. A concurrently running research stream provides instruction in research methodology which underpins the writing of a thesis, the major component of the degree. The term thesis is interpreted loosely in this context, and refers to any form of research-based work approved by the Conservatorium.

Course structure

The Master of Music (Music Education) degree can be completed in either four semesters of full-time study or six to eight semesters of part-time study. The emphasis in the first year is primarily on the development of research skills. In the second year, it focuses 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, and
  • 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 list of postgraduate electives

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, chosen in consultation with faculty, and consisting of a monograph or a portfolio of papers on two or three distinct topics. Students in the course carry out research in a variety of fields supported by the faculty, 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

The Master of Music (Musicology) is normally completed in four semesters of full-time study or up to eight semesters of part-time study. 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 supervisor(s) on the development of the thesis.

Candidature includes

  • Enrolment in four research training modules;
  • Enrolment in three elective courses;
  • Presentation of research at the Musicology Graduate Symposium two or more times during candidature;
  • Supervised research in preparation of the thesis, and
  • 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 petition for waiver of one or more elective courses.

Research training modules

Candidates normally complete the following units of study

  • Critical Discourses in Music
  • Music through Ethnography
  • Methods of Music Analysis
  • Music as Social Science

Two modules are offered each year in 1st semester.

Elective courses

Elective courses on offer at the Conservatorium vary from year to year. For these refer to the Master of Music elective unit of study table in this Handbook. With approval, one or more elective courses may be pursued in another faculty.

Master of Music (Performance)

On successful completion of the Master of Music (Performance), candidates will be able to organise and present performances which demonstrate independence of thought, critical awareness and interpretative capacities, and high potential as a musician and scholar. 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.

Applicants should be prepared to present an audition comprising a 50-minute recital of works at an advanced level of difficulty to a high standard of excellence. The audition panel retains the right to curtail the performance and select excerpts of the works presented as it sees fit. At the interview, candidates should be prepared to discuss their proposed area of research and its relationship to their performance work.

The Master of Music (Performance) course is normally completed in two years of full-time study and includes research-led performance and scholarship.

Candidature includes

  • Enrolment in appropriate coursework to support the candidate’s development as a researcher
  • Supervised performance and research in preparation of a thesis which comprises the final performance and the associated 15,000 to 20,000 word dissertation
  • Final performance
    The final performance will be a 50 to 80 minute recital or performance project which demonstrates originality and makes a contribution to knowledge beyond its aesthetic merits.
    Critical notes will be prepared to accompany the performance. These will articulate the aim of the performance and its place in the area of the student's research enquiry. (Where necessary candidates can apply for up to 8 hours of rehearsal time plus the recital with a staff accompanist.)
  • Dissertation
    The written component of the thesis will be a 15,000 to 20,000 word dissertation on a research topic relevant to the performance focus, developed with the supervisors. The written component will investigate the subject of the thesis normally developing one or more hypotheses placing the research within the relevant body of knowledge.

Candidates normally complete the following units of study

  • PERF5001 Principal Study (MMus) 1
  • PERF5002 Principal Study (MMus) 2
  • PERF6000 Principal Study (MMus) 3
  • PERF5600 Graduate Research Methods
  • PERF5612 Graduate Seminar 2 Thinking Research
  • One other unit of study chose from the list of postgraduate electives
  • MCGY6602 Performance Thesis
Course rules
 

Master of Music


These resolutions must be read in conjunction with applicable University By-laws, Rules and policies including (but not limited to) the University of Sydney (Coursework) Rule 2014 (the 'Coursework Rule'), the Coursework Policy 2014, the Resolutions of the Faculty, the University of Sydney (Student Appeals against Academic Decisions) Rule 2006 (as amended) and the Academic Board policies on Academic Dishonesty and Plagiarism. Up to date versions of all such documents are available from the Policy Register: sydney.edu.au/policies.

Course resolutions

Part 1: Preliminary

1 Course codes

Code

Course and stream title

RMMUARMP-01

Master of Music (Applied Research in Music Performance)

RMMUCOMP-02

Master of Music (Composition)

RMMUMEDU-02

Master of Music (Music Education)

RMMUMUSI-02

Master of Music (Musicology)

RMMUPERF-02

Master of Music (Performance)

Part 2: Admission requirements

2 Eligibility for admission to candidature

(1)
Master of Music (Applied Research in Music Performance)
(a)
To be eligible to be admitted to candidature by the Dean or Associate Dean, an applicant must hold or have completed the requirements for:
(i)  the degree of Bachelor of Music from the University of Sydney; or
(ii)  a qualification or qualifications that, in the opinion of the Faculty Research Committee, are equivalent to that prescribed in sub-paragraph (i).
(b)
Applicants must
(i)  present a 1500-2000 word summary of their proposed area of research; and
(ii)  attend an interview.
(c)
In exceptional circumstances the Dean may admit to candidature an applicant who does not meet the requirements of paragraph (a), provided that the applicant has exceptional qualifications and presents evidence of having the aptitude required for undertaking the course.
(2)
Master of Music (Composition)
(a)
To be eligible to be admitted to candidature by the Dean or Associate Dean, an applicant must hold or have completed the requirements for:
(i)  the degree of Bachelor of Music (Composition) from the University of Sydney; or
(ii)  a qualification or qualifications that, in the opinion of the Faculty Research Committee, are equivalent to that prescribed in sub-paragraph (i).
(b)
Applicants must
(i)  present a folio of original compositions; and
(ii)  present a 1500-2000 word summary of their proposed area of research/creative work; and
(iii)  attend an interview.
(c)
In exceptional circumstances the Dean may admit to candidature an applicant who does not meet the requirements of paragraph (a), provided that the applicant has exceptional qualifications and presents evidence of having the aptitude required for undertaking the course.
(3)
Master of Music (Music Education)
(a)
To be eligible to be admitted to candidature by the Dean or Associate Dean, an applicant must hold or have completed the requirements for:
(i)  the degree of Bachelor of Music (Music Education) from the University of Sydney; or
(ii)  a qualification or qualifications that, in the opinion of the Faculty Research Committee, are equivalent to that prescribed in sub-paragraph (i).
(b)
Applicants must
(i)  present a 1500-2000 word summary of their proposed area of research work; and
(ii)  attend an interview.
(c)
In exceptional circumstances the Dean may admit to candidature an applicant who does not meet the requirements of paragraph (a), provided that the applicant has exceptional qualifications and presents evidence of having the aptitude required for undertaking the course.
(4)
Master of Music (Musicology)
(a)
To be eligible to be admitted to candidature by the Dean or Associate Dean, an applicant must hold or have completed the requirements for:
(i)  the degree of Bachelor of Music from the University of Sydney; or
(ii)  a qualification or qualifications that, in the opinion of the Faculty Research Committee, are equivalent to that prescribed in sub-paragraph (i).
(b)
Applicants must
(i)  provide a statement of research interest and intent; and
(ii)  present a folio of academic writing; and
(iii)  attend an interview.
(c)
In exceptional circumstances the Dean may admit to candidature an applicant who does not meet the requirements of paragraph (a), provided that the applicant has exceptional qualifications and presents evidence of having the aptitude required for undertaking the course.
(5)
Master of Music (Performance)
(a)
To be eligible to be admitted to candidature by the Dean or Associate Dean, an applicant must hold or have completed the requirements for:
(i)  the degree of Bachelor of Music (Performance) from the University of Sydney; or
(ii)  a qualification or qualifications that, in the opinion of the Faculty Research Committee, are equivalent to that prescribed in sub-paragraph (i).
(b)
Applicants must
(i)  present a program on their principal instrument in audition at graduating undergraduate standard;
(ii)  present a 1500-2000 word summary of their proposed area of research/creative work; and
(iii)  attend an interview.
(c)
In exceptional circumstances the Dean may admit to candidature an applicant who does not meet the requirements of paragraph (a), provided that the applicant has exceptional qualifications and presents evidence of having the aptitude required for undertaking the course.

3 Application for admission to candidature

(1)
An applicant for admission to candidature must submit to the Faculty:
(a)
satisfactory evidence of the applicant's eligibility for admission;
(b)
a proposed course of research and advanced study, approved by the Associate Dean in which the work is to be undertaken; and
(c)
a statement certifying the applicant's understanding that, subject to the HDR Rule, if the candidature is successful, his or her thesis will be lodged with the University Librarian and made available for immediate public use.
(2)
In addition, an applicant for admission to part-time candidature must submit a statement that he or she will have sufficient time available to complete the requirements of the degree in accordance with these resolutions.

4 Credit transfer

The HDR Rule specifies the conditions for the granting of credit for previous studies, including the effect on completion times.

Part 3: Candidature

5 Appointment of supervisor

The Associate Dean will appoint a supervisor and associate supervisor for each candidate in accordance with the HDR Rule and Academic Board policies for postgraduate research higher degree supervision.

6 Control of candidature

The HDR Rule specifies the conditions for the control of candidature by the University.

7 Location of candidature and attendance

The HDR Rule specifies the conditions for the location of candidature and attendance by candidates at the University.

Part 4: Requirements

8 Streams

(1)
The degree is offered in the following streams:
(a)
Applied Research in Music Performance;
(b)
Composition;
(c)
Music Education;
(d)
Musicology; and
(e)
Performance.
(2)
The testamur will include the stream completed.

9 Degree requirements

(1)
Master of Music (Applied Research in Music Performance)
(a)
To satisfy the requirements of the degree candidates must:
(i)  complete any specified probationary requirements;
(ii)  complete prescribed units of study, as set out in the Faculty Handbook;
(iii)  carry out research on the approved topic; and
(iv)  submit a thesis of approximately 40,000 words embodying the results of the research.
(2)
Master of Music (Composition)
(a)
To satisfy the requirements of the degree candidates must:
(i)  complete any specified probationary requirements;
(ii)  complete prescribed units of study, as set out in the Faculty Handbook;
(iii)  carry out composition and research on the approved topic; and
(iv)  submit a thesis of 10,000 to 15,0000 words associated with the candidate's composition portfolio embodying the results of the research; and
(v)  submit a substantial body of original compositions.
(b)
The portfolio submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the Master of Music (Composition) must:
(i)  be submitted in a form prescribed by the Faculty Research Committee; and
(ii)  be accompanied by a statement from the candidate's supervisor certifying that the form of presentation of the portfolio is satisfactory.
(3)
Master of Music (Music Education)
(a)
To satisfy the requirements of the degree candidates must:
(i)  complete any specified probationary requirements;
(ii)  complete prescribed units of study, as set out in the Faculty Handbook ;
(iii)  carry out research on the approved topic; and
(iv)  submit a thesis of 25,000 to 40,000 words embodying the results of the research.
(4)
Master of Music (Musicology)
(a)
To satisfy the requirements of the degree candidates must:
(i)  complete any specified probationary requirements;
(ii)  complete prescribed units of study, as set out in the Faculty Handbook ;
(iii)  carry out research as approved for the thesis; and
(iv)  submit a thesis, which may be in the form of a portfolio of research of 25,000 to 40,000 words embodying the results of the research;
(b)
The thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the Master of Music (Musicology) must:
(i)  be submitted in a form prescribed by the Faculty Research Committee; and
(ii)  be accompanied by a statement from the candidate's supervisor certifying that the form of presentation of the thesis is satisfactory.
(5)
Master of Music (Performance)
(a)
To satisfy the requirements of the degree candidates must:
(i)  complete any specified probationary requirements;
(ii)  complete prescribed units of study, as set out in the Faculty Handbook ;
(iii)  prepare performances and/or recordings and give performances on their principal instrument, as required by the Associate Dean;
(iv)  carry out research on the approved topic; and
(v)  submit a thesis of 15,000 to 20,000 words embodying the results of the research and/or recordings.

10 The thesis

A candidate shall produce a thesis that meets the requirements specified in the HDR Rule.

Part 5: Enrolment and progression

11 Probation

(1)
A candidate is normally accepted for candidature on a probationary basis for a period not exceeding one year according to the provisions of the HDR Rule.
(2)
In the probationary period each candidate must:
(a)
complete a specified research methods unit of study;
(b)
develop and present a refined research proposal to the satisfaction of the Supervisor and Associate Dean; and
(c)
demonstrate adequate English language competency for the completion of the degree.

12 Time limits, earliest and latest submission dates

The HDR Rule specifies the allowable completion times and submission dates available for full- and part-time candidates in this course.

13 Mode of attendance

The attendance pattern for this course is full-time or part-time according to candidate choice. Visa requirements commonly restrict international students to full-time study only.

14 Discontinuation of candidature

A candidate may discontinue enrolment in a unit of study or the degree subject to the conditions specified by the HDR Rule.

15 Suspension of candidature

A candidate may suspend enrolment from the degree subject to the conditions specified by the HDR Rule.

16 Leave of absence

A candidate may take leave of absence from the degree subject to the conditions specified by the HDR Rule.

17 Progress

A candidate is required to maintain satisfactory progress towards the timely completion of the degree. Progress will be reviewed annually according to the provisions of the HDR Rule.

Part 6: Examination

18 Examination of the thesis and other degree components

(1)
The thesis
(a)
Examination of the thesis will be conducted in general accordance with standards prescribed by Academic Board for the Doctor of Philosophy, except that:
(i)  three copies of the thesis shall be submitted by the candidate;
(ii)  two examiners will be appointed by the Faculty, at least one of whom shall be external to the University; and
(iii)  the Faculty Research Committee will act in place of the PhD Award Sub-Committee.
(b)
The thesis will be graded by the examiners and a 'Thesis grade' will be recorded on the academic transcript.
(2)
Other examinable components
(a)
Master of Music (Composition)
(i)  The examiners appointed by the Faculty to examine the thesis will also examine and report on the portfolio.
(b)
Master of Music (Performance)
(i)  For the final public recital, given as part of the degree requirements, the Faculty will appoint an examination panel to assess the candidate's performance and/or recording.
(ii)  At least one of the examiners on the panel shall not be a member of Faculty staff.

19 Award of the degree

The degree is awarded at the pass level only.

Part 7: Other

20 Transitional provisions

(1)
These course resolutions apply to students who commenced their candidature after 1 January, 2016.
(2)
Candidates who commenced prior to 1 January, 2016 may complete the requirements in accordance with the resolutions in force at the time of their commencement, provided that requirements are completed within the time limits specified in those resolutions. The Faculty may specify a later date for completion or specify alternative requirements for completion of candidatures that extend beyond this time.