Earlier this year, we launched the MA in Music Industries. It’s a course I lead and teach with some of my colleagues at Birmingham City University’s School of Media. It’s been going well so far, with a small group of smart people doing interesting research and study about the music business and popular music culture.
Some of those students are full time, and a couple are doing the MA part-time over two years. But ever since we started the course, we’ve been working to make it possible to deliver it by distance learning as well.
It’s not just a case of putting the course material online – or of simply linking to articles and writing instructions for essays and assignments. It’s important that the experience for distance learning students is as interactive, immersive, collaborative and involving as it is for students who turn up to classes, work in the same room together, and occasionally go to the pub as a group.
The academic culture and the student experience are, for us, really important aspects of the overall process of studying for a Masters degree.
So we’ve given that a lot of thought, and we’ve managed to get that course – and a few others, including an MA in Social Media, an MA in Online Journalism, and one in Creative Industries & Cultural Policy – to the point where we can now deliver it in a way that allows students all over the world to study with us – and with each other – without having to move to the UK.
And we’re taking enrolments now for students starting in September.
There are five main parts to the MA in Music Industries, and the British academic calendar is composed of two semesters. Full time students do two taught modules per semester, and then either write a dissertation or complete an individual practical project. Part time students spread the modules over two years, and again, then they either complete the MA by dissertation or by practice.
The four taught modules are:
Popular Music As Culture
This theory module explores the debates within the music and media industries that inform our understanding of music as a cultural practice. We pay particular attention to conflicts between the idea of music as culture and music as commerce.
Online Enterprise and Innovation
This module delivers against the programme aims to provide applied theoretical and professional knowledge and work in interactive and online media professional environments by exploring the techniques, processes and practices of online innovation and enterprise.
Popular Music As Commerce
This theory into practice module explores the changing nature of the music industries and the implications of those changes for the commercial activities that are built around musical expression, performance, composition, distribution and promotion.
Production Lab or Research Methods
Here you choose between one of two modules, depending on whether you plan to complete your MA by conducting a practical project or by writing a dissertation. Both draw upon and develop ideas from other taught modules which either mapped out the current state of academic knowledge in the field, or established professional conventions and explored current industry challenges.
And then you do your major project:
MA by Practice or MA by Dissertation
Depending upon the focus of your studies you will complete your award with either an original contribution to scholarship in the MA by Dissertation or originate, execute and deliver an individual and extended practice-based professional project at the forefront of your field.
Online delivery and distance learning
Naturally, given that it’s a distance learning MA, a significant proportion of this course will be delivered online. There’ll be Skype tutorials, online discussion groups, recorded and streamed content, blogging and social media elements that you’ll be expected to engage in.
It’ll be interesting, it’ll be challenging, and it’ll be a lot of fun.
If this sounds like something you’d be interested in, I’d be keen to hear from you.