Open University Pioneers Online Music Study

June 20, 2002

The new suite of courses combine traditional OU teaching methods with the latest in new technology. As well as printed and audio material, students will have access to a unique and specially-created online ‘music research environment’.

They will be able to search the web through hundreds of indexed routes, submit their essays electronically, have email access to tutorial support, and join in email conference sites with tutors and other students.

Perhaps the most valuable asset is the large bank of musical and other databases to which students have free and unlimited access from the comfort of their own homes.

These include the entire New Grove 2 (the definitive English language encyclopaedia of music), many musical journals, Early English Books On-line, the full-text versions of The Times since the eighteenth century and an array of sophisticated search and reference tools.

The three modules, which can lead to an MA in Music, teach students how to research and write about music. The main theme of the programme is the relevance of musical research to performance.

Professor Trevor Herbert, the chair of the OU’s postgraduate music programme, said: “I believe this programme to be the first to teach music at this level in a way that integrates IT with a genuine academic agenda. The advantages of online resources for music are vast, but they have to be taught in a framework in which real scholarly objectives are visualised. These resources are too important, too rich, to be regarded as mere decorative gadgetry.”

The programme, which covers a range of different types of music, begins with a foundation module. Students are introduced to research methods and to a range of different types of sources – recorded music, musical texts, documents, instruments and ethnographical sources – that cast light on the way that musical performance is practised and understood.

The OU has set up a special information site at which includes a link to a demonstration version of the online learning environment. The foundation course begins next February, and people can enrol (until October) or order a printed prospectus via the web information site or by phoning 01908 654851.

The subsequent courses in the programme will be the Performances and Repertories module (beginning February, 2004) and a dissertation module (beginning February, 2005). Successful completion of these modules leads incrementally to a Postgraduate Certificate, a Postgraduate Diploma and an MA in Music.

• Entrants must have an honours degree, but not necessarily in music as long as they have a basic ability to read music.

• Certain postgraduate-level qualifications may be credited towards the MA degree. These include the Fellow of the Royal Schools of Music (FRSM) Diploma that can substitute for the dissertation module.

• The OU teaches music to more students than any other UK institution. Its teaching of music is classified by the highest rating, ‘Excellent’, by the Quality Assurance Agency.

Media contacts:

Open University Music Department

Professor Trevor Herbert

Tel: 029 20 262757

Open University Media Relations

Gary Spink

01908 653343

Fiona Leslie

01908 653256