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 10,000-20,000 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 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

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.

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
  • Two other units of study chosen from the table of postgraduate electives.

Typical progression pattern for Master of Music (Composition)*

Semester 1   Semester 2  

CMPN5001 Principal Study (Composition) 1


With guidance from your supervisors, work on portfolio development and early stages of dissertation

 

CMPN5001 Principal Study (Composition) 2


With guidance from your supervisors, work on portfolio development and early stages of dissertation

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

CMPN6003 Principal Study (Composition) 3


With guidance from your supervisors, work on portfolio and dissertation development

 

CMPN6004 Principal Study (Composition) 4


With guidance from your supervisors, complete full thesis for examination including composition portfolio and dissertation

 
    Submit for examination by end of the final research period  
       

* This pattern is for a full-time student. For part-time students 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.

Examination of the final submission - the thesis

At the end of your candidature you will submit your thesis for examination. The thesis you submit will include your portfolio of compositions and your dissertation. A preface can be used to introduce the 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.

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.

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 table of postgraduate electives

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 supervisor(s) work on development of your thesis   Work on completion of your thesis with guidance from your supervisor(s)  
    Submit the thesis for examination by end of the final research period  
       

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

Examination of the thesis

At the end of your candidature you will submit your thesis for examination. 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, chosen in consultation with faculty, and consisting of a portfolio of papers on two or three distinct topics or a monograph on a single topic (with departmental permission). 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. The thesis will normally include three papers and an introductory essay that binds these papers conceptually.

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 and are listed in the table of electives units of study in this Handbook. Electives choices should be chosen in consultation with your supervisor 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  
Work with supervisor on thesis development   Work with supervisor on thesis development  

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  
Work with supervisor on thesis development   Work on completion of your thesis with guidance from your supervisor (s)  

PERF5031 Methods of Music Analysis

MCGY5603 Music as Social Science

  Submit the thesis for examination by end of the final research period  
       

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

Examination of the thesis

At the end of your candidature you will submit your thesis for examination. Theses presenting a portfolio of research must include a preface introducing 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)

On successful completion of the Master of Music (Performance), candidates will be able to organise and present performances that 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 performance research.

Course Structure

The Master of Music (Performance) course is normally completed in two years of full-time study and includes research-led performance and scholarship. Research method and other elective units of study are normally completed as part of the first full-time year. During the second year, candidates will work towards completion of their final performance and written dissertation. Candidates should plan their candidature in consultation with their supervisory team, including planning when to present the final performance. Typical progresion 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 the approved topic in preparation of a thesis which comprises both the final performance and the associated 10,000 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 10,000 to 20,000 word dissertation on the approved topic. The written component 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 Principal Study (MMus) 1
  • PERF5002 Principal Study (MMus) 2
  • PERF6000 Principal Study (MMus) 3
  • MCGY6602 Performance Thesis
  • PERF5600 Graduate Research Methods
  • Two other units of study chose from the table of postgraduate electives

Typical progression pattern for Master of Music (Performance)*

Semester 1   Semester 2  

PERF5001 Principal Study (MMus) 1

With guidance from your supervisors, work on performance development and early stages of your dissertation

 

PERF5002 Principal Study (MMus) 2

With guidance from your supervisors, work on performance development and early stages of your dissertation

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

MCGY6602 Performance Thesis

During this semester your main focus will be the completion of your dissertation with the guidance of your supervisors

 

PERF6000 Principal Study (MMus) 3

During this semester you will focus on your final performance with the guidance of your performance supervisor. 

By end of the final research period, submit your full thesis for examination including the recording of the final performance and the dissertation
 
       

Version 2

Semester 1   Semester 2  

PERF5001 Principal Study (MMus) 1

With guidance from your supervisors, work on performance development and early stages of your dissertation

 

PERF5002 Principal Study (MMus) 2

With guidance from your supervisors, work on performance development and early stages of your dissertation

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

PERF6000 Principal Study (MMus) 3

During this semester your main focus will be the preparation and presentation of your final performance with the guidance of your performance supervisor. Your recital will be recorded for the final examination

 

MCGY6602 Performance Thesis

During this semester you will complete your dissertation with guidance from your supervisors

By end of the final research period, submit your full thesis for examination including the recording of the final performance and the dissertation
 
       

* This pattern is for a full-time student. For part-time students 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.

Preparation and examination of the final submission - the thesis

At the end of your candidature you will submit your thesis for examination. The thesis you submit will include the recording of your final performance and your dissertation. A preface can be used to introduce the 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 your supervisors will normally attend your final performance and will assess the performance for suitability for inclusion in the final thesis and for examination. If the performance is found not to be ready, there is normally a second opportunity to present the performance.