The MMus in Creative Musicianship at Ulster University is a series of linked postgraduate awards offered both full-time (1 year) and part-time (2 years). With a particular emphasis on practice-based study the programme has been designed to appeal to musicians from a variety of backgrounds and genres, interesting in pursuing one of three named pathways:
Performance Studies (classical, Irish traditional, jazz, rock or popular styles)
Composition and Creative Audio (including the combination of acoustic and electronic sources, film music, interactive and mixed media)
Music and Communities (including disability arts and traditional music communities)
Taught by a dedicated course team of leading professional musical practitioners and researchers and with further guidance from industry experts, the programme will enable you to refine your skills as a musician, while giving you the confidence to apply critical and practical approaches to the creation and performance of music across a range of creative environments.
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The MMus in Creative Musicianship is a flexible postgraduate programme which aims to produce informed, skilled and insightful musical practitioners across a wide range of musical genres working in three practice-based fields: Performance, Composition & Creative Audio or Music and Communities. Whether opting to spend a short, focused period of study honing your musicianship skills as part of a PGCert or expanding your studies into a PGDip or Masters, this is the ideal programme for those who wish to develop, refine or refresh their professional expertise for work in the creative industries while also providing the perfect springboard for further postgraduate and/or PhD study.
Over the first two semesters, two complementary Specialism modules (20 credits each) familiarise students with the most important recent developments in their specialist pathway, training them in essential technical, research and communication skills while providing them with opportunities to put their expertise to practical use. The Practice module is devoted entirely to developing the individual's creative practice in their chosen field affording opportunities for one on one tuition. Meanwhile, the Seminar module provides a platform for contextual, aesthetic and theoretical study in their chosen discipline via group tutorial work and practice-based workshops.
In addition, modules in Music Business, Research Project and Placement provide opportunities for students to compliment their chosen pathway through project work both in and outside the university.
For those continuing their study to MMus level, the third semester Final Project (60 credits) allows student to undertake a sustained period of self-directed, practice-based work related to their chosen specialism.
Here is a guide to the subjects studied on this course.
Courses are continually reviewed to take advantage of new teaching approaches and developments in research, industry and the professions. Please be aware that modules may change for your year of entry. The exact modules available and their order may vary depending on course updates, staff availability, timetabling and student demand. Please contact the course team for the most up to date module list.
All modules optional with the exception of Major Project (compulsory)
Composition Seminar 1
Composition Seminar 1 will facilitate the development of a student's technical work in composition and creative audio through its coverage of a range of theoretical and aesthetic issues and their connection with aspects of creative practice.
Composition and Creative Audio Practice 1
Composition and Creative Audio Practice 1 will nurture the development of original musical, audio and sound compositions through supervision and workshop/performance activity.
Music and Communities Seminar 1
Music and Communities Seminar 1 will explore the role of the musician in community arts, developing knowledge of theory and practice which will equip them to engage in a range of aspects of community-based arts projects.
Music and Communities in Practice 1
Music and Communities in Practice 1 will explore the practical roles of the musician in community music, developing skills which will equip students to contribute positively in a range aspects of community-based arts projects.
Performance in Practice 1
Performance in Practice 1 aims to give students advanced training in a variety of areas of practical and intellectual musicianship. Students are encouraged to evaluate critically and give appraisals of their own performance skills and those of their peers. Projection of a course of action for this module and beyond is a central focus.
Performance Seminar 1
Performance Seminar 1 investigates a range of performance-related issues including performance practice, repertoire selection/exploration, composition deconstruction/analysis and performance psychology.
Research Project 1
This module will allow students to present a research project representing the fruits of a sustained piece of individual research. Having agreed a topic with an appointed supervisor that will offer scope for higher academic study and/or professional development, the student's work will be supported by regular tutorial contact.
Music, Technology and Society
This module will give students an understanding of the music business in the context of
technological, legal and societal changes. Students cover major theories in science and
technology studies (STS), media and communication studies and intellectual property law,
as well as details about the music industry which includes music publishing, recording
business, music data and topical issues around artists earnings on the streaming platforms.
Music and Communities in Practice 2
Music and Communities in Practice 2 will explore the role of the musician in community arts, developing skills which will equip students to provide leadership in all aspects of community-based arts projects.
Composition and Creative Audio Practice 2
Composition and Creative Audio Practice 2 will nurture the development of original musical, audio and sound compositions through supervision and workshop/performance activity.
Music and Communities Seminar 2
Music and Communities Seminar 2 will explore leadership roles of the musician in community arts, developing skills which will equip students to provide leadership in a wide range of aspects of community-based arts projects.
Composition Seminar 2
Composition Seminar 2 will develop students' technical work in composition and creative audio through original composition, analytical work and research training.
Performance in Practice 2
Performance in Practice 2 will give students professional training in a variety of areas of practical and intellectual musicianship. Students are engaged with building repertoire as solo and/or ensemble musicians and the development of skills in musical direction as well as exploring in-depth personal interpretation and the reading of others.
Performance Seminar 2
Performance Seminar 2 will give students the opportunity to develop their understanding of current issues in performance practice, study key questions of performance psychology and health issues and develop their analytical and evaluation skills.
Research Project 2
This module will allow students to present a minor project representing the fruits of a sustained piece of individual research. Having agreed a topic with an appointed supervisor that will offer scope for higher academic study and/or professional development, the student's work will be supported by regular tutorial contact.
This module allows students to present a major project representing the fruits of a sustained piece of individual research. Having agreed a topic with an appointed supervisor that will offer scope for higher academic study and/or professional development, the student's work will be supported by regular tutorial support.
Full-time: three semesters (one calendar year in total) for MMus or two semesters for PGDip and PGCert
Currently timetabled as one contact day per week full-time, plus any relevant instrumental/vocal tuition and work in the library.
Part-time: six semesters (two calendar years in total).
Currently timetabled as one contact day per week, plus any relevant instrumental/vocal tuition and work in the library.
Teaching, Learning and Assessment
Teaching, Learning and Assessment
Each module on the MMus in Creative Musicianship is assessed by 100% coursework. Coursework can take many forms, for example: essay, research paper, presentation, performance, lecture recital, workshop activity, practical/design work and portfolio submission. Individual study, research and creative work is given progressive feedback, ensuring that students have the opportunity to reflect on and refine projects in light of tutor guidance.
Teaching is delivered through lectures, seminars, workshops, and one-to-one sessions with individual tutors and project supervisors; visiting creative industry professionals, including the department’s musician-in-residence, give talks and deliver workshops. Individual study, research and creative work is given progressive feedback, ensuring that students have the opportunity to reflect on and refine projects in light of tutor guidance.
The MMus comprises 180 credits, taken in five semesters when studied part-time (typically two semesters in year one and three semesters in year two). A Postgraduate Certificate (PGCert) comprises 60 credits and can usually be completed on a part-time basis in one year. A 120-credit Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip) can usually be completed on a part-time basis in two years. Normally, each module will have 4 learning outcomes, and no more than 2 items of assessment.
In broad terms, the educational aims of the MMus in Creative Musicianship are designed to inculcate those qualities identified under the 'Descriptor for a qualification at Masters level' in The Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (Quality Assurance Agency, 2008), and the Master's Degree Characteristics (QAA, 2010) document with particular reference to the Specialised/Advanced Study Master's rubric:
a systematic understanding of knowledge, and a critical awareness of current problems and/or new insights, much of which is at, or informed by, the forefront of their academic discipline, field of study, or area of professional practice;
a comprehensive understanding of techniques applicable to their own research or advanced scholarship;
originality in the application of knowledge, together with a practical understanding of how established techniques of research and enquiry are used to create and interpret knowledge in the discipline;
conceptual understanding that enables the student:
to evaluate critically current research and advanced scholarship in the discipline; and,
to evaluate methodologies and develop critiques of them, where appropriate, to propose new hypothesis.
Specifically, the postgraduate provision in Creative Musicianship is offered with the intention of:
enabling students to focus on a particular practice-based aspect of a broader subject area in which they have prior knowledge or experience through previous study or employment
enabling students to focus on a particular practice-based subject area or field of study in greater depth than they encountered during the course of previous study or experience.
enabling students to learn how to conduct research linked to a particular discipline or field of study;
enabling students to undertake a research project (including practice as research) on a topic within the area of interest that makes up the majority of the overall assessment;
enabling students to specialise or to become more highly specialised in an area of employment or practice related to a particular profession; generally, to prepare students for the next stage in their careers, whether that is further academic or professional study, or entering employment of different kinds.
The content for each course is summarised on the relevant course page, along with an overview of the modules that make up the course.
Each course is approved by the University and meets the expectations of:
the requirements of any professional, regulatory, statutory and accrediting bodies.
Attendance and Independent Study
As part of your course induction, you will be provided with details of the organisation and management of the course, including attendance and assessment requirements - usually in the form of a timetable. For full-time courses, the precise timetable for each semester is not confirmed until near the start date and may be subject to change in the early weeks as all courses settle into their planned patterns. For part-time courses which require attendance on particular days and times, an expectation of the days of attendance will often be included in the letter of offer. A course handbook is also made available.
Courses comprise modules for which the notional effort involved is indicated by its credit rating. Each credit point represents 10 hours of student effort. Undergraduate courses typically contain 10- or 20-credit modules and postgraduate course typically 15- or 30-credit modules.
The normal study load expectation for an undergraduate full-time course of study in the standard academic year is 120 credit points. This amounts to around 36-42 hours of expected teaching and learning per week, inclusive of attendance requirements for lectures, seminars, tutorials, practical work, fieldwork or other scheduled classes, private study, and assessment. Part-time study load is the same as full-time pro-rata, with each credit point representing 10 hours of student effort.
Postgraduate Masters courses typically comprise 180 credits, taken in three semesters when studied full-time. A Postgraduate Certificate (PGCert) comprises 60 credits and can usually be completed on a part-time basis in one year. A 120-credit Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip) can usually be completed on a part-time basis in two years.
Class contact times vary by course and type of module. Typically, for a module predominantly delivered through lectures you can expect at least 3 contact hours per week (lectures/seminars/tutorials). Laboratory classes often require a greater intensity of attendance in blocks. Some modules may combine lecture and laboratory. The precise model will depend on the course you apply for and may be subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. Prospective students will be consulted about any significant changes.
Assessment methods vary and are defined explicitly in each module. Assessment can be via one method or a combination e.g. examination and coursework . Assessment is designed to assess your achievement of the module’s stated learning outcomes. You can expect to receive timely feedback on all coursework assessment. The precise assessment will depend on the module and may be subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. You will be consulted about any significant changes.
Coursework can take many forms, for example: essay, report, seminar paper, test, presentation, dissertation, design, artefacts, portfolio, journal, group work. The precise form and combination of assessment will depend on the course you apply for and the module. Details will be made available in advance through induction, the course handbook, the module specification and the assessment timetable. The details are subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. You will be consulted about any significant changes.
Normally, a module will have four learning outcomes, and no more than two items of assessment. An item of assessment can comprise more than one task. The notional workload and the equivalence across types of assessment is standardised.
Calculation of the Final Award
The class of Honours awarded in Bachelor’s degrees is usually determined by calculation of an aggregate mark based on performance across the modules at Levels 5 and 6 (which correspond to the second and third year of full-time attendance).
Level 6 modules contribute 70% of the aggregate mark and Level 5 contributes 30% to the calculation of the class of the award. Classification of integrated Masters degrees with Honours include a Level 7 component. The calculation in this case is: 50% Level 7, 30% Level 6, 20% Level 5. At least half the Level 5 modules must be studied at the University for Level 5 to be included in the calculation of the class.
All other qualifications have an overall grade determined by results in modules from the final level of study. In Masters degrees of more than 200 credit points the final 120 points usually determine the overall grading.
Figures correct for academic year 2019-2020.
The teaching staff on the MMus are recognised nationally and internationally as practitioners and researchers in the fields of composition, performance, broadcasting, contemporary music, sound design studies, film music, creative technologies and disability arts practice. Collectively, the Music lecturers at Ulster have consistently produced 4* (world-leading) and 3* (internationally excellent) research. Their contribution to REF2014 resulted in Music at Ulster placing joint 2nd in the UK for Research Impact.
Dr Brian Bridges https://www.ulster.ac.uk/staff/bd-bridges
Dr Rob Caseyhttps://www.ulster.ac.uk/staff/r-casey
Professor Frank Lyonshttps://www.ulster.ac.uk/staff/fr-lyons
Dr Linley Hamiltonhttps://www.ulster.ac.uk/staff/lp-hamilton
Mr John Hardinghttps://www.ulster.ac.uk/staff/j-harding
Professor Brian Irvinehttps://www.ulster.ac.uk/staff/b-irvine
Dr Adam Melvinhttps://www.ulster.ac.uk/staff/a-melvin
Dr Shaun Ryanhttps://www.ulster.ac.uk/staff/sp-ryan
Dr Hyojung Sunhttps://www.ulster.ac.uk/staff/hj-sun
Staff have served as External Examiners at the Universities of Cork, Limerick, Glasgow, Birmingham City, Dundalk Institute of Technology, Waterford Institute of Technology and Dublin Institute of Technology, Technological University, Dublin, the Royal Academy of Music, London and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Most staff are recognised as Fellows or Senior Fellows of the Higher Education Academy. Two staff members have been awarded National Teaching Fellowships, while two others have received MBEs for services to Music.
The University employs over 1,000 suitably qualified and experienced academic staff - 59% have PhDs in their subject field and many have professional body recognition.
Courses are taught by staff who are Professors (25%), Readers, Senior Lecturers (20%) or Lecturers (55%).
We require most academic staff to be qualified to teach in higher education: 82% hold either Postgraduate Certificates in Higher Education Practice or higher. Most academic staff (81%) are accredited fellows of the Higher Education Academy (HEA) by Advanced HE - the university sector professional body for teaching and learning. Many academic and technical staff hold other professional body designations related to their subject or scholarly practice.
The profiles of many academic staff can be found on the University’s departmental websites and give a detailed insight into the range of staffing and expertise. The precise staffing for a course will depend on the department(s) involved and the availability and management of staff. This is subject to change annually and is confirmed in the timetable issued at the start of the course.
Occasionally, teaching may be supplemented by suitably qualified part-time staff (usually qualified researchers) and specialist guest lecturers. In these cases, all staff are inducted, mostly through our staff development programme ‘First Steps to Teaching’. In some cases, usually for provision in one of our out-centres, Recognised University Teachers are involved, supported by the University in suitable professional development for teaching.
Figures correct for academic year 2021-2022.
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Applicants must meet the University's minimum entrance requirements and, in addition, a) hold a second-class honours degree or better in music or another relevant discipline from a recognised institution, or b) an equivalent qualification, or c) be able to provide other evidence of ability and experience appropriate to the course. International applicants whose first language is not English must attain either of the following English competence standards:
A written proposal outlining the intended area of individual study (i.e. the Specialism and, ideally, an idea of what the third-semester project might involve) should support the application; all applicants will be interviewed and/or auditioned.
The University will consider applications on the basis of experiential learning for those who do not hold the normal entry qualifications. The onus is on the applicant to evidence that they have relevant experience equating to degree study at honours level.
English Language Requirements
English language requirements for international applicants The minimum requirement for this course is Academic IELTS 6.0 with no band score less than 5.5. Trinity ISE: Pass at level III also meets this requirement for Tier 4 visa purposes.
Ulster recognises a number of other English language tests and comparable IELTS equivalent scores.
Studies pursued and examinations passed in respect of other qualifications awarded by the University or by another university or other educational institution, or evidence from the accreditation of prior experiential learning, may be accepted as exempting candidates from part of the programme provided that
(a) they shall register as students of the University for modules amounting to at least the final third of the credit value of the award at the highest level.
(b) the Final Project module is not exempted for those wishing to complete the MMus award.
-Professional work in the creative industries (performance, composing, creative technologies)
-Further academic or practical study
-Community-based education and/or creative work
-Technical positions in the music industry
Work placement / study abroad
Work placements are available as an option within Research Project.
Fees and funding
Our postgraduate fees are subject to annual increase and are currently under review. See our tuition fees page for the current fees for 2022/23 entry.
Scholarships, awards and prizes
Additional mandatory costs
It is important to remember that costs associated with accommodation, travel (including car parking charges) and normal living will need to be covered in addition to tuition fees.
Where a course has additional mandatory expenses (in addition to tuition fees) we make every effort to highlight them above. We aim to provide students with the learning materials needed to support their studies. Our libraries are a valuable resource with an extensive collection of books and journals, as well as first-class facilities and IT equipment. Computer suites and free Wi-Fi are also available on each of the campuses.
There are additional fees for graduation ceremonies, examination resits and library fines.
Students choosing a period of paid work placement or study abroad as a part of their course should be aware that there may be additional travel and living costs, as well as tuition fees.
"Choosing the MMus at Ulster was one of the best decisions I ever made. As a traditional musician the level of tuition I received was world class - and opportunities my tutor created for me to perform and to enage with the traditional arts from an industry perspective was amazing. I wish I could do it every year!" Maggie Maguire, Co. Fermanagh (MMus, 2011-12)
"The MMus is designed to allow flexibility to choose an academic course of study that meets the individuals needs of the student. I chose the performance modules which are focused on investigating both practical and intellectual skills.
I believe the course provides an opportunity for you to further grow and mature as a professional musician. The lecturers are a constant source of great advice and support throughout the course which is particularly important for international students studying in their second language like myself.
As a mature returning student, I highly recommend the course for people of all ages."