Musicology at Utrecht University

The bachelor Musicology (Muziekwetenschap) at Utrecht University is a Dutch bachelor and unfortunately only available to Dutch-speaking students. There are however a few courses in English which are accessible to international students:

Early Music History (MU3V14006)

Early Music History is part of the deepening package ‘Historical Musicology’ (“verdiepingspakket Historische muziekwetenschap”). The course aims to familiarize students with salient aspects of sonic and music culture in medieval and early modern Europe and early modern colonial empires up to ca. 1800. For this purpose, the course first introduces (a selection of) pre-modern ways of conceptualizing music (e.g., the use of hexachords and the Guidonian hand), corresponding notations, and relevant source types. This is followed by practical applications of these concepts through the examination of one or several selected segments of repertoire in relevant cultural contexts. The typically high level of cultural alterity and interdisciplinarity of the course materials will help expand students’ ways how to conceptualize music and musicking in an ‘exotic’ setting, while also opening their eyes for the necessity and fascination of interdisciplinary and contextual research in so-called ‘data-poor’ areas of inquiry. Besides students of musicology, this course is also of interest for students who have taken the minors Medieval Studies or Early Modern Studies in combination with a minor in Musicology. For more information, see Osiris or the UU website.

Modern Music History (MU3V17001)

This course is part of the deepening package ‘Historical musicology’ (‘verdiepingspakket Historische muziekwetenschap’). The name of the course makes reference to ‘history’ both in the sense of ‘res gestae’ (the past) and in the sense of ‘historia rerum gestarum’ (historiography). The adjective ‘modern’ in its name, then, refers to either the music to be studied in this course (primarily art music of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries), or to the methods that are used to do so (methods ranging from hermeneutics to dodecaphonic theory). Participating students will obtain knowledge of and insight into all of this by means of ten case studies, for which they will both read and provide comments on several musicological publications as well as make a few musical analyses. For more information, see Osiris or the UU website.

Film Music (MU3V16001)

Film music is a specific music genre with a history of well over a century. In 1908 the first film with real ‘film music’ was released: L’assasinat du Duc de Guise by André Calmettes and Charles le Bargy; the music was composed by Camille Saint-Saëns. From the earliest years on, the sound accompanying the images (whether performed live, or mediatized via ever improving speaker systems) has challenged debates about the role of sound and music in relation to the narrative and the moving image. Strongly aesthetized (and politized) in the first half of the century, studying and writing about ‘film music’ has gained academic legitimacy since a few decades. In this course we follow the discussions, the topics and the paradigm changes concerning film music from a historical point of view. We will study context and content of the most prominent functions of music within (most importantly) narrative feature film. At the same time, the course will provide a historical tour d’horizon on technology, aesthetics and implications of film sound and film music, using several theoretical approaches (Breil, Adorno, Eisler, Copland, Prendergast, Gorbman, Chion, Kassabian, Pisani et alt.) A History of Film Music by Mervyn Cooke will provide the historical framework. Students of this class practice various theoretical approaches and coinciding audio-visual analyses in a series of weekly assignments. A weekly film viewing is part and parcel of the course.

Film music: History and Analysis forms part of the deepening package Music and Media deals especially with the role of music within narrative cinematographic contexts. For more information, see Osiris or the UU website.

Subcultures (MU3V14012)

From the safety pins and three-chord songs of the punks to the message boards and square waves of the chiptune scene, music, media and subcultures have always been closely intertwined. This course discusses the subject of subculture theory ranging from the semiotic approaches of Dick Hebdige towards punk to the ethnographic methods of Sarah Thornton’s research on EDM club cultures. Throughout the course, we will not only contextualize these theories and their subcultural focuses in the broader history of popular music, media and technology, but also consider their application to other areas of musicological research. To that effect, the course will also include a basic introduction to ethnographic research methods and the ways in which they can be combined with more traditional music-historical approaches in studying contemporary music scenes. This course is part of the in-depth courses Muziek en media. For more information, see Osiris or the UU website.

Masters at Utrecht University

Musicology in Utrecht offers two Masters’ programs: Applied Musicology and the Research Master Musicology. Both are taught in English and accessible for international students.

Musicology (RMA)

The Musicology programme at Utrecht University focuses on Western music from the Middle Ages to the present, the impact of media on the reception and conceptualisation of music, and digital musicology. Interdisciplinary work is central to the programme, and there are particularly strong links
with Medieval and Renaissance Studies, New Media & Digital Culture, Gender Studies, Postcolonial Studies, Computational Humanities, as well as Game Research, the focus area Cultures, Citizenship and Human Rights, and the strategic theme Institutions. This programme aims to innovate, while at
the same time retaining its links to the traditional musicological research fostered at the University over the past 85 years. This Masters’ programme is 2 years, full-time and after finishing your studies, you will have a Masters’ Degree in Arts & Culture (Research). For more information, like tuition fees, the study programme or an impression of this programme, look at the UU website.

Applied Musicology


Through its focus on musical infrastructure, Utrecht University’s Master’s programme Applied Musicology will equip you with the specific knowledge and skills required to operate as a musicologist within the international musical industry. The programme utilizes reflective training in both current and innovative approaches in musicology, through which you will learn to apply academic musicological skills to the day-to-day challenges in a musical life. This Masters’ programme is 1 year, full-time and after finishing your studies, you will have a Masters’ Degree in Arts & Culture. For more information, like tuition fees, the study programme or an impression of this programme, look at the UU website.