BA Music and Drama / Course details

Year of entry: 2021

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Course description

Discover Music at The University of Manchester

Our BA Music and Drama joint honours course is one of only a handful of such courses available at any university in the UK, providing you with a rare opportunity to pursue your passions for all aspects of performance and creativity in a world-class university environment.

We attract a large number of singers and actors in particular, as well as students with passions in, for example, screen, film sound and digital media; the politics of avant-garde performance; performance, social policy and community arts; or the history of the voice and the body on a variety of theatrical and operatic stages.

With a huge range of course units to choose from, this course is diverse and flexible, enabling you to build upon existing interests while allowing you the room to discover new forms and traditions of performance, practice and media.

With a mix of academic and practical learning, you will be taught by internationally recognised academics, guest speakers and a roster of professional instrumental and vocal tutors drawn from Manchester and the north-west.

All our teaching and practice takes place in the Martin Harris Centre for Music and Drama where you will rehearse, workshop and perform in the Cosmo Rodewald Concert Hall and the John Thaw Studio Theatre, and where you can get your hands on the latest digital-audio technology in the award-winning NOVARS studios for electroacoustic music and interactive media.

The Martin Harris Centre itself is in the centre of the oldest part of the University, just 15 minutes on foot from the city centre and its many venues including The Bridgwater Hall, HOME, The Albert Hall, The Royal Exchange Theatre and plenty more besides. From there, it is a 20-minute tram ride to MediaCity in Salford, home to the BBC, ITV and The Lowry Theatre.

Many of the performances that you'll be involved in are presented by one of our Music or Drama student societies, offering students opportunities in direction, production and management as well as performance, new writing, sound design and composition.

The course requires you to achieve the same musical entry requirements as those on our single-honours MusB Music, enabling you to pursue any area of study in the Music department. Your first-year tutor group, peer support and academic advising will normally be provided by the Music department.

Learn more on the Music and Drama websites.


We aim to:

  • provide the opportunity for both single and interdisciplinary study of music, theatre and film as cultural process, artistic discourse and performance event through intellectual and creative investigation;
  • encourage a rich cross-fertilisation of ideas, concepts and practices between the disciplines of music and drama;
  • stimulate and support your individual development as scholar and practitioner within both music and drama, with particular reference to abilities of independent evaluation and research, critical analysis, technical and artistic skills, and effective written and oral communication;
  • encourage the analysis and use of technology as applicable to the study of music, theatre and film as creative practices;
  • equip you with a range of transferable skills, appropriate to later postgraduate academic and vocational study, and also engagement in the workplace in a wide range of careers in the disciplines of music, drama and related fields.

Special features

Performance-focused environment

You will benefit from a combination of academic excellence and conservatoire levels of performance at Manchester. You will receive 18 hrs of one-to-one practical tuition on your first-study instrument/voice with 20 hrs in Year 3 (when taken for credit).

There are six student conducting positions under the tutelage of Mark Heron (separate to Introduction to Conducting available as part of the ensemble performance unit).

The Music Society holds more than 50 performances each year, while the Martin Harris Centre - which includes the superb Cosmo Rodewald Concert Hall - presents over 100 events annually. We have many practice rooms, with 13 having pianos, as well as specialist percussion and keyboard rooms.

We have six full-time composers with expertise in a range of styles across instrumental and vocal composition, and fixed and interactive media, including live recordings of all student work in Years 2 and 3.

In Drama, there are over 60 performances each year by the music, drama and music theatre societies.

Placement year

Apply your subject-specific knowledge in a real-world context through a placement year .

Learn from experts 

We have world-leading musicological expertise in music theory and analysis, sketch study, reception studies, performance studies, aesthetics, critical theory, cultural studies and ethnomusicology. You will also learn from specialists in film and screen studies and theatre and performance studies.

Study abroad

You may apply to spend one semester studying abroad during Year 2.

Teaching and learning

With a mixture of lectures, seminars, tutorials, workshops and one-to-one performance coaching, our learning environment is open, friendly and designed to inspire.

Our research-based teaching places students at the heart of the learning process, enabling you to ask complex, original questions and to apply different methods for answering them.

We understand that making the step up to university study can be quite a challenge, especially if you have limited experience of independent study. We offer a range of support to help you make the transition:

  • All academic staff run two weekly consultation hours, where the office door is open for any question relating to your studies, progress or university life.
  • We host an active peer support network, including weekly study sessions organised and run by Year 2 and 3 students.
  • You'll be assigned to a weekly tutorial group (7-8 students) in your first year to develop your academic independence, writing skills and critical thinking. The group is run by your academic tutor and provides you with an opportunity to try out new ideas and receive feedback on your progress.

Instrumental tuition is provided by the University for your first instrument or voice. Prominent players from outside the University provide this tuition, and include visitors from the Hallé Orchestra, BBC Philharmonic and the Royal Northern College of Music. 18 hours of one-to-one tuition is provided per year, with 20 hours in the third year. Expert performers provide coaching on our ensemble performance units.

You'll be encouraged to attend our weekly programme of Thursday research forums, including performance and composition masterclasses. You'll also be encouraged to develop knowledge and skills beyond your course, including extra-curricular opportunities with the Music Society. These range from performance and rehearsal to concert management and marketing.

In Drama, Manchester is distinct from an acting conservatoire; rather than offering purely vocational training, we bring together theory and practice in the study of Drama as cultural process and artistic discourse.

You'll study stage and screen, the ancient and the contemporary, the mainstream and the avant-garde. You'll develop skills in critical thinking, creative problem solving, and the clear articulation of ideas. You will learn through lectures, seminars, practical workshops, masterclasses and group work, and engage with the theories and techniques of practitioners past and present in our dedicated studio spaces.

Drama practical work is generally workshop-based, and not all projects culminate in public performance.

Coursework and assessment

Coursework is regularly assigned and assessed either continually or at the end of the semester, depending on the course units taken. Students have opportunities to take classes in which presentations may count as an assessed element.

In Music, some musicology and music analysis units are assessed by a combination of written essay and written exam, some by coursework essays only, and others by analytical study (as appropriate). Practical classes in musicianship, harmony and aural skills are assessed by examination.

In Drama, units tend to be assessed by a combination of different written assignments. In practice-based units, practical assessment is typically combined with written assignments, whereas in Music practice-based units in solo or ensemble performance and composition tend not to require written assignments.

Course content for year 1

You'll be introduced to the core disciplines of performance practice and theatre studies in Drama, and to musicology and ethnomusicology in Music. You'll then select the remaining credits from a breadth of optional courses.

You will take a minimum of 40 credits in Music and a minimum of 40 credits in Drama, with 40 credits in areas of your own choice (including units from elsewhere in the University).

Course units for year 1

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
Theatre & Performance 1 - Texts DRAM10001 20 Mandatory
Approaches to Musicology MUSC10511 20 Mandatory
Theatre & Performance 2 - Concepts DRAM10002 20 Optional
The Art of Film DRAM10031 20 Optional
Performance Practices 1 DRAM10101 20 Optional
Performance Practices 2 DRAM10102 20 Optional
Introduction to Early and Classical Cinema DRAM13331 20 Optional
Tonality: Form and Function MUSC10011 20 Optional
Tonality: Motive and Meaning MUSC10022 10 Optional
Techniques of Tonal Harmony MUSC10112 10 Optional
Musical Notation MUSC10212 10 Optional
Sonic Invention A MUSC10311 10 Optional
Sonic Invention B MUSC10312 10 Optional
Music and Its Contexts MUSC10512 20 Optional
Solo Performance 1 MUSC10600 20 Optional
Introduction to World Cinema SALC11002 20 Optional
Displaying 10 of 16 course units for year 1

Course content for year 2

Continue to tailor your studies by selecting from a huge range of optional course units offered by the Music and Drama departments.

You will take a minimum of 40 credits in Music and a minimum of 40 credits in Drama, with 40 credits in areas of your own choice (including units from elsewhere in the University).

Course units for year 2

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
Theatre of Spontaneity DRAM21402 20 Mandatory
Contemporary British Cinema DRAM20032 20 Optional
Screen, Culture and Society DRAM20041 20 Optional
Theatres of Modernity: the Popular and the Avant-Garde DRAM20051 20 Optional
Black on Screen DRAM20091 20 Optional
Post-Thatcher British Theatre: New Writing Since 1992 DRAM20102 20 Optional
Dramaturgy: Professional Practices DRAM20291 20 Optional
A Score is Born: History and Ideology in Hollywood Film Music DRAM20711 20 Optional
Introduction to Documentary Film Practice DRAM21091 20 Optional
Varieties of Shakespeare DRAM21131 20 Optional
Playmaking DRAM21141 20 Optional
Street Theatres DRAM21211 20 Optional
Audio Project 1: The Audio Feature DRAM21222 20 Optional
Solo Performance DRAM21231 20 Optional
Drama in Education DRAM21252 20 Optional
Horror Film: Genre, Periods, Styles DRAM21262 20 Optional
Social Acts: Applied Theatre and Engaged Arts Practice DRAM21272 20 Optional
Theatre of Spontaneity DRAM21402 20 Optional
Introduction to Screenwriting DRAM21552 20 Optional
Analysis MUSC20011 20 Optional
Fixed and Electroacoustic Composition MUSC20061 10 Optional
Interactive Media Composition Environments MUSC20072 20 Optional
Harmony and Counterpoint MUSC20112 10 Optional
Music post 1900 MUSC20222 20 Optional
Instrumental Composition MUSC20321 20 Optional
Vocal Composition MUSC20362 10 Optional
Solo Performance II MUSC20600 20 Optional
Ensemble Performance A (10 credits) MUSC20611 10 Optional
Ensemble Performance A (20 credits) MUSC20621 20 Optional
Ensemble Performance B (10 credits) MUSC20650 10 Optional
Ensemble Performance B 20 Credit MUSC20660 20 Optional
Conducting MUSC20670 10 Optional
Music Cultures of the World MUSC20722 20 Optional
Introduction to Participatory Music MUSC20802 20 Optional
Early Opera MUSC20931 20 Optional
Jazz Improvisation, Theory, and Analysis MUSC21501 20 Optional
Displaying 10 of 36 course units for year 2

Course content for year 3

Select at least one option from the following: Long Essay (Drama), Dissertation (Drama), Dissertation (Music), Composition Portfolio, or Recital, and you may opt to take two options if desired.

You will take a minimum of 40 credits in Music and a minimum of 40 credits in Drama, with 40 credits in areas of your own choice (including units from elsewhere in the University).

Course units for year 3

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
Long Essay in Drama DRAM30000 20 Optional
Docufiction Filmmaking DRAM30062 40 Optional
Applied Theatre: Theatre in Prisons DRAM30112 40 Optional
Writing For Performance DRAM30211 40 Optional
Performing America DRAM30222 20 Optional
Directors Project DRAM30412 40 Optional
Activist performance DRAM30821 20 Optional
Contemporary European Theatres DRAM30831 20 Optional
Dissertation DRAM30990 40 Optional
From Documentary to Mockumentary DRAM31011 20 Optional
Falstaff and Gandalf go to the Movies: Adapting Fantastic Texts to Screen DRAM31042 20 Optional
Contemporary Theatre-Making DRAM32001 40 Optional
Gender and Sexuality on the 20th Century Stage DRAM32021 20 Optional
Screen Acting & Stardom DRAM33301 20 Optional
Theatre, performance and care: studying artful care and careful art DRAM33461 20 Optional
Screening the Holocaust GERM30482 20 Optional
Analysis MUSC30011 20 Optional
Composition Portfolio MUSC30300 40 Optional
Dissertation MUSC30400 40 Optional
Aesthetics MUSC30502 20 Optional
Advanced study in Musicology A MUSC30510 20 Optional
Advanced Study in Musicology B (40) MUSC30520 40 Optional
Composition for Film and Game Audio MUSC30542 20 Optional
Recital MUSC30600 40 Optional
Ensemble Performance A (10 credits) MUSC30611 10 Optional
Ensemble Performance A (20 credits) MUSC30621 20 Optional
Ensemble Performance B (10 credits) MUSC30650 10 Optional
Ensemble Performance B (20 credits) MUSC30660 20 Optional
Early Opera MUSC30931 20 Optional
Modern Spanish Music: A Cultural History SPLA31082 20 Optional
Displaying 10 of 30 course units for year 3


The Martin Harris Centre for Music and Drama

Home to Music and Drama at Manchester, this purpose-built creative facility includes:

  • The Cosmo Rodewald Concert Hall - an acoustically designed auditorium seating up to 350 people
  • The Lenagan Library - our dedicated performing arts library
  • The John Thaw Studio Theatre - a flexible, fully equipped performance space with seating for 150 people
  • Specialist rehearsal and practice spaces

NOVARS Research Centre

NOVARS boasts state-of-the-art facilities for composition and performance, including award-winning electroacoustic composition studios. Studios are equipped with digital recording equipment, Yamaha, Emagic, Akai, Alesis, Max/MSP and GRM technology, as well as Apple Mac work stations.

We own many specialist percussion and keyboard instruments, including a chamber organ, harpsichord, Gamelan Degung and a five-octave marimba. We also own a full suite of replica Baroque instruments, and we offer tuition and performance opportunities on these instruments as part of the Baroque Orchestra concerts which we present every year.

You'll also have access to:

  • Manchester Central Library's Henry Watson Library - known for its Handel and Vivaldi manuscripts
  • The nearby Royal Northern College of Music Library
  • The Delia Derbyshire Collection of digitised reel-to-reel tapes, electronic scores and manuscripts

Technical resources for Drama include camera kits, sound-editing and video-editing suites within the John Thaw Studio Theatre. You'll also benefit from the departments close links with the neighbouring Contact Theatre and the Royal Exchange Theatre.

Globally renowned for its arts and cultural offer, Manchester is home to the second highest concentration of theatres in the UK, the largest multi-arts centre outside of the capital, Manchester International Festival and brand new £110 million arts development, The Factory.

Find out more about Music and Drama facilities.

Disability support

Practical support and advice for current students and applicants from the Disability Support Office. Email: