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School - School of Arts & Media

Subject area - Music

Start Date(s): September


MA (one year full-time or 28 months part-time)

Fees 2018-19:

2019-20 fees will be displayed shortly.

Part-time - £1,260 per 30 credit module

UK - £7,560

International - £13,860

In Brief:

  • Taught by professional practitioners at all stages of your study
  • Compete for a variety of prizes including the Kirklees Composition Competition
  • Gain a breadth of professional musical experience
  • Part-time study option
  • International students can apply

Course Summary

Our postgraduate degrees in music stand apart from similar courses due to the breadth of musical genres that they will expose you to. From rock and pop, to classical, jazz, electronic and other world styles, each genre is given equal precedence, and you will have a great opportunity to learn from each  tradition.

During your time with us, you will also have the opportunity to collaborate on projects with other students and you will learn from academics who are all practicing professional musicians at national and international levels.

On this exciting and challenging music course, you will have the opportunity to follow one of four specialist pathways:

  • Composition (C)    
  • Performance (P)    
  • Interactive Music and Advanced Studio Production (IMASP).    

If you are keen to broaden your musical knowledge, you can also combine your specialist pathway with other pathways.

Course Structure

This course begins with a shared 30-credit plenary module, you would then take another module dependent upon your specialist pathway. Semester 2 allows you to choose one 30-credit option outside of your chosen pathway alongside another 30-credit module from your specialist pathway. Semester 3 sees you working on a single 60-credit module; your Negotiated Final Project.

Semester 1    

  • The written score as locus of authority          
  • The graphic score as provocation          
  • The musical text in popular music          
  • The aural tradition in European folk music and in non-Western Traditions          
  • The recording as artefact          
  • Forms in the 21st century          
  • Texture and instrumentation          
  • Colour and structure in composition          
  • Presentation of artefact          
  • Cognitive processes in performance          
  • Physiological responses          
  • Relaxation techniques          
  • Dynamic Sound Editing, Design and Spatialisation          
  • Studio Composition and Sound-Design Strategies, including those for Mixed-Media          
  • An examination of the historical/cultural context for Studio-based Composition          
  • Recent and current repertoires for Studio-based Composition practice          
  • Delivery of the musical works in a form appropriate for the medium(s) chosen          

Semester 2    

  • Composition for TV and film          
  • Composition for games          
  • Composition for theatre          
  • Sound environments          
  • Project managing in the commercial world          
  • Leadership skills          
  • Non-verbal communication          
  • Psychology of group performance          
  • Repertoire planning          
  • Historical Development and key figures in Ethnomusicology          
  • Instrument Classification & the construction of Instruments (Hindustani, West African, Chinese, 'Are'are, etc.)          
  • Gender and Sexuality          
  • Localisation & Globalisation          
  • Race & Ethnicities          
  • Fieldwork methodologies          
  • Participant-Observation: History, theoretical framework & Techniques          
  • Transcriptions, Interviews, & Fieldwork Diaries          
  • Learning Procedures: Enculturation, Acculturation, Nature, Nurture; Anthropology of the body          
  • Music and socialisation: musical behaviour and emic and etic          
  • Film & phonographic recordings in ethnomusicology          
  • Music Space & Place          
Students taking the module negotiate a series of proposed projects with their specialist tutor. Typically, projects will be undertaken across a range of areas including, for example, band management and promotion, musical directing and community music in its broadest sense.      

Semester 3    

Entry Requirements

A good honours degree preferably in Music or a related subject and/or evidence of industry/professional practice experience.

Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL)

The Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) process could help you to make your work and life experience count. The APL process can be used for entry onto courses or to give you exemptions from parts of your course.

Two forms of APL may be used for entry: the Accreditation of Prior Certificated Learning (APCL) or the Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL).

English Language Requirements

International applicants will be required to show a proficiency in English. An IELTS score of 6.5 (with no less than 5.5 in any band) as proof of this.

Suitable For

A musician and/or musicologist wishing to further develop their skills and expertise to an enhanced professional level. You will typically have a good honours degree in music or a related subject and/or evidence of industry/professional practice experience.

Applicant profile

Whether you are a composer, performer, technologist or musicologist you should prepare yourself for an interview or audition as appropriate. You will be asked to submit an appropriate portfolio of work evidencing its quality or to perform a contrasting programme of appropriate works.

Fees 2019-20

Fees for entry in 2019 will be displayed shortly.

Fees 2018-19

Type of StudyFee
Part-time£1,260 per 30 credit module
Full-time International£13,860

Additional Costs

You should also consider further costs which may include books, stationery, printing, binding and general subsistence on trips and visits.

Scholarships and Bursaries

For more information please see our funding section.

The University of Salford is participating in the British Council Great China Scholarship programme. This means students in China interested in studying on this course can apply for one of two £5,000 scholarships. Further information can be found at


The course is delivered by way of lectures, seminars, masterclasses, supervision tutorials/instrumental lessons


  • Examination
  • Coursework folio

Postgraduate Staff Profile

Phil Brissenden - MA Course leader

A profile which exemplifies the cross-genre, multi-disciplinary approach of the programme; Brissenden is a composer, performer, instrument designer and music technologist.

Originally a first study pianist and composer Brissenden studied at University of York and completed postgraduate studies at University of Durham.

He has diverse performance experience ranging from, from solo performance  of Liszt, Ravel, through unusual contemporary ensemble; such as performance with shakuhachi player Yoshi Iwamoto to Jazz piano with the world jazz band the Mambos broadcast live on BBC radio.

His phd studies took him into musical instrument design, with a patented, pianistic adaptation of the autoharp ( Working with luthier Alec Annes he continues to develop and perform/record on this instrument. He actively seeks commission work with MA students (for example:

Brissenden teaches composition, studio composition, acoustics and recording theory. He has a particular interest in the blend of live and virtual instruments, the boundaries of realism with sampled instruments, and the relationships between traditional and virtual orchestration, and production.

Brissenden is currently a senior lecturer in music/music technology, but has also served as a studio technician/demonstrator, and also held the post of associate head (academic) to the school (2009-13) where he oversaw a school wide curriculum review integrating cross-disciplinary practice within the undergraduate and postgraduate provision.


After completing the MA in Music people will find their professional skills to be considerably enhanced. We have found that this has enhanced career prospects in Music Education (Teachers/Lecturers), Arts Administration and as freelance Performers and Composers.

Alumni Profile

Rodney Newton, successful composer of film and band music.

Brendan Williams, composer, teacher, producer and sound recordist.

Kim Kuok Ip, composer and teacher in Macao, China

Ian Culross, Principal Cornet Fairey (Geneva) Brass Band.

Rob Wiffin (conductor, former principal director of music, RAF).

Links with Industry

We have direct links with professional institutions such the BBC Philharmonic, Halle Orchestra, National Youth Orchestra of Scotland, National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain as well as the 'Sounds from the Other City' festival. We have a good working relationship with many venues in the local area including Islington Mill.

Further Study

PGR options in Composition, Performance, Technology and Musicology


Music Technology Facilities

Watch our video

A virtual tour of the Music Technology facilities in the University of Salford's Directorate of Music.

The Music Directorate houses 5 fully equipped professional recording studios with access to a variety of recording/performance spaces. We have created a creative and educational environment which aims to mirror contemporary professional studio practise. Our general philosophy is to facilitate the use of both analogue and digital recording platforms, software and hardware signal processing. All studios centre around a large format mixing desk which can feed hard disk recording systems and 24 track analogue tape machines. All studios make use of professional level outboard and software plugins as well as comprehensive balanced patch bays, giving students the opportunity to fully explore traditional signal routing, a skill vital to ones progression into professional practice.

Studio 1

Mixing Desk:   
Audient ASP 8024 (36 Microphone Preamplifiers / 72 channels on mixdown)  

PMC IB2S / Yamaha NS10M  

48 channels of A/D – D/A conversion through MOTU 24 I/O interfaces – Mac Pro
Tascam MSR24s 24 Track analogue tape machine.  

A selection: Empirical Labs Distressor x2 / TL Audio 5051 x 2 / TL Audio 5021 / Focusrite Twin Track / Lexicon PCM 60, MPX1, MPX550, TC Electronics reverb and multi-effects units / Drawmer Compressors and Gates.  

Live Rooms:
Studio A has a large main live room with a variable acoustic and is also ‘tie lined’ to a more reverberant live space (“Studio O”), to enable complete acoustic separation of sound sources.  

Tama Superstar Drumkit / Rhodes Stage 73 MK2 Electric Piano / Yamaha Upright Acoustic Piano (with MIDI) / Roland RD300sx.  

Laney vc 30, Fender Deluxe Tweed, Line 6 Spider 100w, Roland KC 550, Ampeg BA 300  

Studio 2

Mixing Desk:    
Audient ASP 8024 (24 Microphone Preamplifiers / 48 channels on mixdown)  

Quested VS3208 3-Way Active Studio Monitors/ Dynaudio BM5a.  

24 channels of A/D – D/A conversion through MOTU 24 I/O interfaces – Mac Pro Tascam MSR24s 24 Track analogue tape machine  

TL Audio 5001 / DBX and Alesis compressors / Lexicon and TC Electronics multi effects  

Live Rooms:    
Large acoustically 'dead' room with isolation booth for separation of sound sources.  

korg SP200 stage piano. Wurlitzer EP200a electric piano. Sonor Force Drumkit.  

Line 6 Spider 100w, Marshall JCM 900 (x 2), Orange Ext Cab 120w, Peavey Renown, Peavey Bandit 112, Peavey Blazer 158, Peavey TNT 150, Ashdown Mag 250  

Studio 3

Mixing Desk:    
Tascam dm 4800  

Genelec 8030 / Dynaudio BM6a  

24 tracks of A/D-D/A via RME Hammerfall ADAT – Mac Pro. Tascam MSR24s 24 Track analogue tape machine.  

Live Rooms:    
Tie lines to “Studio O” live room.  

Roland Juno 106 / Access Virus C / Yamaha DX7 / Novation Supernova / Korg MS2000          

Studio 4

5.1 surround mixing room with up to 8 x Genelec 8030a and 8040a monitors. Avid control surfaces with Lynx Aurora audio interface.

Studio 5

Mixing Desk:

Audient ASP 8024 (36 Microphone Preamplifiers / 72 channels on mixdown)


Genelec 1030a / NS10s


24 channels of A/D – D/A conversion through MOTU 24 I/O interfaces – Mac Pro.


A selection: DBX, Alesis, SPL compressors. Lexicon and TC Electronics and Yamaha multi effects.  

Live Rooms:

2 live rooms with tie lines to the lecture theatre housing a Yamaha baby grand piano.  


Full Mapex drum kit, Baby grand piano, Clavia Nord Stage EX


Laney vc 30, Fender Deluxe Tweed, Line 6 Spider 100w, Roland KC 550, Ampeg BA 300

Computer suite:
Our suite of 24 iMacs are equipped with sequencing, wave editing, synthesis, signal processing and post-production software. The software in the computer suite is, on the whole, the same as that found in the recording studios, so that work can easily be transferred from one facility to another. Logic Studio 9 and Sibelius 6 are standard across all the machines.  

Location Recording:
There are a variety of facilities available for location recording assignments, ranging from simple stereo microphone and SD/compact flash card recorder kits to 3 x 24 track recording systems. We stock location microphone kits adequate for recording both large acoustic ensembles and venue based band performances.  

Microphones and Other Equipment:

In addition to the equipment permanently installed in the recording studios, there are a variety of synthesizers, preamps, and effects units stored in the studios’ facilities office which can be booked out for use in sessions. This office also houses our extensive microphone collection. We stock microphones from manufacturers such as Neumann, Brauner, AKG, Beyer Dynamic, Electrovoice, Blue and many more. Access to microphones is streamed as students begin to specialise in music technology.    

Opening Hours:

Monday - Friday:           9.30am – Midnight
Saturday:                      10am – Midnight
Sunday:                        10am – 9pm  

The recording facilities are always looked after by a full time member of technical staff and / or an evening and weekend 'technician / demonstrator', on hand to deal with technical issues and provide students with advice.  

Rehearsal Facilities

Watch our video

Reader in Music Dr. Robin Dewhurst introduces the postgraduate MA in Music at The University of Salford.

The Music Directorate houses six 'amplified rehearsal rooms', each containing a vocal PA system, stage piano / keyboard, drum kit and back-line amplifiers for guitars, bass and keyboards / electronics. The equipment is sourced from a wide range of manufacturers such as Sonor, Sabian, Roland, Mackie, Yamaha, Line 6, Fender and many more. All of the equipment is maintained by our team of both full time and evening / weekend rehearsal suite supervisors.

We also encourage students to use their own equipment for rehearsals. To facilitate this we have an instrument storage facility where students can leave their equipment to avoid having to constantly transport it between lectures, seminars and accommodation. Students are free to store instruments, amplifiers, drum kit accessories on a short/mid term basis.

'The Band Room' is a large double height space with a modifiable acoustic characteristic. It is mainly used for large acoustic ensemble rehearsals, catering for our Big Band, Brass Bands, Adelphi Contemporary Music Group and Wind Band. It is also used for performance master classes and small concerts (capacity approx 80 - 100) with a two tier stage and 5kw PA system.

Specialist rooms for drum / percussion tuition and bass guitar tuition are located in this area. When these facilities are not in use by teaching staff the rooms can be booked for individual student practice. 

In addition to the facilities housed in the University we have a partnership with 'Blueprint Recording and Rehearsal Studios' ( This world class facility is located just 10 minutes walk from the Adelphi campus and caters for any overspill from our own rehearsal rooms. Many students take 'block bookings' at Blueprint whilst working towards ensemble musicianship performance exams.

We also have a range of equipment for loan to students to enable them to put on their own events both inside and outside the University. This includes PA systems, amplifiers and drum kits.

Opening Hours:
Monday - Friday:           9.30am – 10.30pm
Saturday:                      10am – 8.30pm
Sunday:                        10am – 8.30pm  

Individual Practice and Tuition:

The Adelphi Building houses a suite of ten rooms used for both instrumental tuition and practice. These rooms cater primarily for Pianists, Woodwind, String, Brass players, Guitarists and Vocalists. Each room contains a well maintained upright acoustic piano (Yamaha and Kemble). With high ceilings, natural light and a complimentary acoustic the rooms are perfect for long periods of individual practice. The rooms are also used by small acoustic ensembles; Saxophone quartets, brass trios etc. When not in use for 1-1 teaching the rooms are 'open access' for student use.

Opening Hours:

Monday - Friday:           9.30am – Midnight
Saturday:                      10am – Midnight
Sunday:                        10am – 9pm

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