The MMus in Vocal Music capitalises on research strengths within the department of music and is intended for composers, performers (including conductors) and musicologists with a particular interest in vocal and choral music.

This programme is studied on campus.

At the heart of this course is one-on-one teaching which takes the form of an extended project. Candidates work exclusively with a member of staff on an individual basis during regular tutorials which run throughout the year. During these sessions, the candidates research and create their extended project which might be a dissertation, a portfolio of compositions, a research-led performance recital or a combination of two of these. Composers of vocal and choral music will work with either Professor Paul Mealor or Dr Phillip Cooke – composers specialising in vocal and choral music.

Musicologists work with Dr Edward Campbell, whose research interests include: aesthetics, contemporary opera and twentieth century French music) or Dr Frauke Jürgensen who specialises in Mediaeval and Renaissance compositional practice, symbolic music analysis and computational musicology.

Both Professor Pete Stollery and Dr Suk-Jun Kim have combined their expertise in electroacoustic music with the voice and work with composers specialising in sonic arts. Mr Chris Gray offers courses on music and the community with an emphasis on how musicians can engage with the various communities within society.

Also, as well as the extended project, students take a course in research skills and one featuring a series of wide-ranging research seminars, as well as two course options reflecting the research interests of staff.

These can include Vocalstration, Words and Music, Contemporary European Opera and more.

There are also many opportunities for students to engage with practical vocal music. T

he Chapel Choir performs works by student composers regularly and offers opportunities to sing in the group and to conduct.

The Opera Society is active, and the Baroque Ensemble often includes music for singers directed by soprano, Dr Frauke Jürgensen.

The Choral Society performs larger-scale works and provides opportunities for conductors to work under the direction of Chris Gray.

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Key Programme Information

At a Glance

Learning Mode
On Campus Learning
Degree Qualification
12 months or 24 months
Study Mode
Full Time or Part Time
Start Month

What You'll Study

Extended Project - one-on-one sessions on your area(s) of study; research skills; research seminars; vocalstration; words and music; the voice as machine; vocal performance; contemporary European opera; Renaissance counterpoint.

Semester 1

Semester 1

Compulsory Courses

Music Research Skills (MU5003) - 30 Credit Points

This course provides students with a thorough grounding in advanced research skills relevant to all three sub-disciplines (i.e., composition, performance and musicology) and highlights the interrelationships between them. Students will acquire the skills which will underpin work done for the Extended Project and which will also relate to the Music Research Seminar course. The function and purpose of research proposals will also be addressed and students will submit (as assessment for this course) a proposal which relates directly to their specialism.

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Optional Courses

Select one of the following courses:

Renaissance Counterpoint (MU5007) - 30 Credit Points

This course is intended both for those interested in Renaissance music and for composition students who wish to explore the many possibilities of musical invention within a very controlled compositional environment. To acquire the basic tools of Renaissance composition, students progress through counterpoint exercises in two and three voices. Through more advanced exercises in motivic placement, canon, invertible counterpoint, and the fundamentals of improvised counterpoint, students learn to structure a complete composition, culminating in a motet for three voices. In addition, works are studied through analysis of compositions.

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Vocalstration (MU5008) - 30 Credit Points

This course is designed to encourage composers and performers to engage with the ‘orchestrational’ aspects of composing for choir, with particular emphasis upon each section of the choir, its characteristics, compass and blend, and how each part relates to the whole; creating chords that utilise the choir fully, blending choral chords, voice-leading, structuring choral music; the joys and problems when composing for choir with accompaniment (piano, organ & orchestra) and arranging for the voice.

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Composing with Sound (MU5011) - 30 Credit Points

Students will be expected to listen to, analyse and critique a prescribed list of electroacoustic compositions as well as demonstrating how this informs their own practice in one to one composition tutorials. Bi-weekly composition seminars will allow students to discuss their own work within the context of that of pioneers and established composers in a variety of genres drawn from electroacoustic music and sound art.

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Orchestration (MU5012)
Current Issues in Music Education (MU5015)
Composer, Player, Priest, Spy: Cultural Networks and the Music of Peter Philips (MU5014)
Contemporary Issues in Aesthetics (MU5016) - 30 Credit Points

This course will introduce students to the work of key contemporary texts in aesthetics relating to music and the other arts. Texts will be studied, discussed and related to one another. While selected texts will vary from year to year, readings will be taken from writers such as Adorno, Badiou, Benjamin, Barthes, Bloch, Boulez, Deleuze (and Guattari), Dahlhaus, Derrida, Dufrenne, Eco, Gadamer, Habermas, Heidegger, Husserl, Jameson, Jencks, Lachenmann, Lyotard, Nancy, Nietzsche, Rancière, Rihm, Sartre, Schoenberg, Serres, Sloterdijk, Spivak, Stockhausen, Vattimo, Wittgenstein, Zizek.

Examples of issues and questions that may be covered include the nature of modernity, post-modernity more idiosyncratic variable theorisations of recent aesthetic history; the nature and purpose of the contemporary artwork; the beautiful and the sublime; relationships between the arts; the materiality of contemporary art forms; musique informelle.

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Creative Coding and Technology (MU5010) - 30 Credit Points

Practical and studio-based classes will offer a technical overview of creative coding and relevant technologies, such as Processing, a Java-based programming language and IDE built for image creation, manipulation, and interaction, and Pd (Pure Data), a real-time graphical dataflow programming environment for audio, video, and graphical processing. Furthermore, it introduces practical knowledge in physical computing using various micro-controllers Running concurrently, seminar-based classes will encourage students to form critical views of the recent and current sonic arts practice.

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A Survey of Sonic Arts: History, Theory and Practice (MU5009) - 30 Credit Points

Students will be exposed to and learn about the history and development of the sonic arts through six key themes, each of which will be delivered through one two-hour lecture and one three-hour seminar. The six key themes will be drawn from a pool of themes which will reflect the learning interests of the cohort of students. These might include areas such as Early Development of Electronic Instruments, Computer Music, Acousmatic Music, Listening, Sound as Art, Spatialisation, Space and Place and Networked Music

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Semester 2

Semester 2

Optional Courses

Select two of the following courses:

Words and Music (MU5503) - 30 Credit Points

This course aims to explore the link between words and music and how composers set various texts through many and varied genres, including eastern music, western music and popular music, and nonsense texts. Intended primarily for composers, this course would also be of interest to singers, conductors and musicologists with an interest in text-setting. Word-painting, structural design and poetic understanding will all be explored.

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Contemporary European Opera (MU5504) - 30 Credit Points

In the mid-twentieth century, it seemed that opera was a dying art form, surviving at best on the back of a canon of great historical works. While its future prospects looked bleak, the composition of over 150 new operas in the period between 1978 and 2003 marked a perhaps unexpected renaissance of the genre. Students on this course will study the factors which led to the resurgence of operatic/music theatre composition in Europe. A range of key operatic/music theatre works by composers from France, Italy, Germany and the United Kingdom will be considered from a number of points of view.

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Electroacoustic Composition: the Voice and the Machine (MU5506) - 30 Credit Points

Seminar-based classes will provide an historical overview of electroacoustic music that utilises the voice as sound object. The theme of each seminar, focused each week around a different aspect of the voice and technology, will provide the theoretical, philosophical, and aesthetic basis for practical applications, focusing on particular cultural and aesthetic issues that concern the mediated voice in recorded sound. Running concurrently, practical, studio-based classes will provide a technical overview of software applications and of sound recording techniques, particularly looking at the way the voice is rendered, represented or transposed through the electronic medium.

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Sound Design for New Media (MU5509)
Enhanced Practice in Music Teaching and Learning (MU5515) - 30 Credit Points

This course provides opportunities for students to explore and critically assess a number of approaches to musical learning and the educational theories that underpin them. Participants will evaluate and apply these to their own practice settings, critically discussing issues and debates that may arise from the application of theory to practice. Students will carry out a comparative study set in their own music education context, applying theory to practice.

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Music Research Seminar Series (MU5004) - 30 Credit Points

This course provides students with an applied understanding of advanced research skills relevant to all three sub-disciplines (i.e., composition, performance and musicology) and highlights the interrelationships between them. Students will engage directly with current issues in music research, experiencing different methods of dissemination of research through attendance at Research Seminars. These seminars are a forum for both external and internal speakers to present aspects of recent research undertaken. Students will carry out research for their own seminar (with accompanying written paper), based on a topic of interest to them.

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Semester 3

Semester 3

Compulsory Courses

Extended Project Module B (MU5006) - 60 Credit Points

This course enables students to be creative in developing their own independent and individual ideas through an extended research project in musicology and/or composition and/or performance resulting in a substantial piece of original work. They will acquire a range of skills, techniques and understanding enabling them to become effective researchers. The project outcome will be a dissertation and/or portfolio of compositions and/or a performance recital demonstrating original research. The exact nature of the project is the result of negotiation between supervisor (or supervisory team) and student, subject to the approval of the programme coordinator.

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Course Availability

We will endeavour to make all course options available; however, these may be subject to timetabling and other constraints. Please see our InfoHub pages for further information.

How You'll Study

The course is led by the distinguished choral composer Professor Paul Mealor, with teaching taking the form of one-to-one tutorials for the project and small class groups for the options. Also, visiting specialists will lead extra, practical sessions with the choir in residence.

Learning Methods

  • Individual Projects
  • Lectures
  • Research
  • Tutorials

Assessment Methods

Assessment is by means of a project portfolio (either a portfolio of compositions; performance or dissertation or combination of all three, negotiated for both 30 and 60 credits) and the completion of a number of supporting options. The options will be assessed by means composition work, essay, oral presentation and/or performance.

Why Study Vocal Music?

  • An innovative programme of study intended for composers, musicologist and performers with a particular interest in vocal and choral music. 
  • An opportunity to work one-on-one with world leading specialists in the field 
  • Opportunities for performance and hearing your compositions sung by major visiting artists

Entry Requirements

Normally there is no audition or interview process. However, candidates should submit samples of recent work appropriate to the sort of project they would like to pursue (e.g. written work, and/or compositions, and/or a recording of a performance). Initial enquiries may be made by contacting Professor Paul Mealor


The information below is provided as a guide only and does not guarantee entry to the University of Aberdeen.

Candidates are expected to hold a degree in music at 2.1 level. Normally there is no audition or interview process. However, candidates should submit samples of recent work appropriate to the sort of project they would like to pursue (e.g. written work, and/or compositions, and/or a recording of a performance). Initial enquiries may be made by contacting Professor Paul Mealor.

Please enter your country to view country-specific entry requirements.

English Language Requirements

To study for a Postgraduate Taught degree at the University of Aberdeen it is essential that you can speak, understand, read, and write English fluently. The minimum requirements for this degree are as follows:

IELTS Academic:

OVERALL - 6.5 with: Listening - 5.5; Reading - 6.0; Speaking - 5.5; Writing - 6.0


OVERALL - 90 with: Listening - 17; Reading - 21; Speaking - 20; Writing - 21

PTE Academic:

OVERALL - 62 with: Listening - 51; Reading - 54; Speaking - 51; Writing - 54

Cambridge English Advanced & Proficiency:

OVERALL - 176 with: Listening - 162; Reading - 169; Speaking - 162; Writing - 169

Read more about specific English Language requirements here.

Document Requirements

You will be required to supply the following documentation with your application as proof you meet the entry requirements of this degree programme. If you have not yet completed your current programme of study, then you can still apply and you can provide your Degree Certificate at a later date.

an up-to-date CV/Resumé
Degree Certificate
a degree certificate showing your qualifications
Degree Transcript
a full transcript showing all the subjects you studied and the marks you have achieved in your degree(s) (original & official English translation)
Personal Statement
a detailed personal statement explaining your motivation for this particular programme
Reference x 2
two reference letters, one of which should be from your university discussing your academic ability. If you have been out of education for a long time you may wish to use your current or most recent employers, or other professional individuals
Research Proposal

Fees and Funding

You will be classified as one of the fee categories below.

Fee information
Fee category Cost
Home / EU / RUK Students £9,000
Tuition Fees for 2020/21 Academic Year
International Students £19,000
Tuition Fees for 2020/21 Academic Year

Additional Fees

  • In exceptional circumstances there may be additional fees associated with specialist courses, for example field trips. Any additional fees for a course can be found in our Catalogue of Courses.
  • For more information about tuition fees for this programme, including payment plans and our refund policy, please visit our InfoHub Tuition Fees page.

Funding Opportunities

The SFC Postgraduate tuition fee scholarship may be available for those classified as Home/EU fee status students for this programme. Visit the scholarship page for more information.

The James Carnegie maintenance scholarship for postgraduate students is available with this degree.

Our Funding Database

View all funding options in our Funding Database.


Graduates will be well placed for careers in fields such as:

  • Composition
  • Conducting
  • Lecturing
  • Performance in choral and vocal music
  • Teaching
  • Pedagogy

Our Experts

Programme Coordinator
Professor Paul Mealor

Information About Staff Changes

You will be taught by a range of experts including professors, lecturers, teaching fellows and postgraduate tutors. Staff changes will occur from time to time; please see our InfoHub pages for further information.

Get in Touch

Contact Details

School of Language, Literature, Music and Visual Culture
University of Aberdeen
King's College
AB24 3UB