Postgraduate study

Traditional Arts Performance MSc

Awards: MSc

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding opportunities

Programme website: Traditional Arts Performance

New for 2020, this unique programme is aimed at traditional arts practitioners (musicians, dancers and storytellers) and facilitators who wish to reflect on their practice, and to contextualise and develop their creative work, in an academic context.

Drawing on world-class expertise at the University of Edinburgh, it will be of value to those who wish to immerse themselves in the traditional arts and / or work creatively within the field, for example as performers, curators, arts managers, producers and directors.

Our approach differs significantly from conservatoires and performing arts institutes in that we’ll provide the time, space, specialist knowledge and skills for you to develop your individual artistic voice.

We will add in-depth scholarly approaches to your knowledge base, and enable you to gain hands-on, collaborative project experience through creating and sharing your work in the cultural heart and capital of Scotland, a multi-cultural hub for artistic collaboration, and world-leading festival city with a lively traditional arts scene.

The programme takes one academic year (12 months) of full-time study, or two years (24 months) of part-time study*. Part-time options are only available for UK or EU students.

*(Revised 14 February 2020 to remove information about four-year part-time intermittent study option.)

Students will learn and employ a range of ethnological and artistic research skills and methods, make frequent and in-depth use of archival sources, collaborate with specialist professionals in the fields of traditional arts, performance and ethnology, and undertake task-based and experiential learning with frequent practice and reflection/feedback points.

You will take 140 credits of core courses in order to provide a comprehensive and consistent experience and provide a meaningful basis for exchange and collaboration with fellow students. These courses include research skills, specialist workshops, performance classes, archive projects, and a 60 credit self-directed project with specialist supervision/tuition. An additional 40 credits of free choice courses allow for individual interests and aspirations to be addressed and the roles of artist (musician/storyteller/dancer), producer and artist/producer to be well supported.

Core Courses

  • Traditional Arts Practice Project (60)
  • Archives and Interpretation (20)
  • Research and Methods (20)
  • Traditional Arts Workshops (20)
  • Trad Lab (20)

Option courses

A further 40 credits from a range of free choice courses, including options such as:

  • Traditional Music
  • Scots Song
  • Gaelic Song
  • Elementary Gaelic
  • Oral Narrative
  • Dance Pedagogy
  • Ethnological Fieldwork
  • Custom, Belief and Community
  • The Supernatural World,
  • Introduction to Community Arts,
  • Cultural Revivalism
  • Intangible Cultural Heritage

All of the above courses are 20 credits each.

On completion of this programme you will be able to:

  • Reflect on, develop and articulate your own traditional arts practice with a mature and individual artistic identity.
  • Communicate advanced contextual (historic, cultural, socio-political) knowledge of the traditional arts of music, storytelling and dance.
  • Research, interpret, create and examine traditional arts performance.
  • Critically evaluate recent scholarship and practice within your chosen field.
  • Develop advanced theoretical, conceptual and experiential knowledge and understanding and communicate this through written work and performance of traditional music, dance and storytelling.
  • Demonstrate a range of skills associated with deepening your traditional arts knowledge, prioritising ethnomusicological and artistic research methods, collaborative practice, creative skills, dissemination, and communication.

Throughout the programme your learning will be supported by specialist input such as guest workshops and instrumental tutors.

The arts, culture and creative industries sectors provide a wide range of career development opportunities in Scotland, the wider UK and internationally. Increasingly, the traditional arts are contributing significantly to these areas, and yet to date few academic programmes are designed to facilitate entry into them. This programme will fill this gap.

Whether an exponent of the traditional arts or someone seeking to develop a career in its management or curation, it is an ideal stepping stone towards securing an enhanced standing in the field.

For performers, exposure to a rich variety of academic resources will inspire increased confidence in their specialist area, new approaches to technique, the development of new repertoire and a more nuanced understanding of the place of their creative output in the wider context of the traditional arts, notably the inter-relatedness of different cultural forms.

For those seeking a professional career in arts management, the programme offers the opportunity to collaborate with performers in the planning and production of a wide range of event forms, and to develop a detailed understanding of the creative processes and artistic decisions involved in producing high quality work within the traditional arts environment.

Specifically we would expect our graduates to be competitive in the following areas:

  • Arts advocacy
  • Arts agency
  • Artistic collaborations
  • Artist residencies
  • Arts education (formal and informal, primary, secondary, life-long)
  • Arts marketing
  • Arts management
  • Arts officer
  • Audience Development
  • Broadcasting and Media
  • Cultural consultancy
  • Creative Industries posts (e.g. media production, games development, music industry, publishing, film, etc.)
  • Events administration and management
  • Events programming and curatorship
  • Festival organising and directing
  • Intangible Cultural Heritage posts
  • New work commissions
  • Tourism related posts
  • Youth arts development

A UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in a relevant discipline. We will also accept a 2:1 degree in an alternative discipline if you can demonstrate prior involvement in the traditional arts.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

You must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies, regardless of your nationality or country of residence.

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS: total 7.0 (at least 6.5 in each module)

  • TOEFL-iBT: total 100 (at least 23 in each module)

  • PTE Academic: total 67 (at least 61 in each of the "Communicative Skills" sections)

  • CAE and CPE: total 185 (at least 176 in each module)

  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with a pass in all four components

Your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the programme you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL, PTE Academic or Trinity ISE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

Degrees taught and assessed in English

We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree that has been taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country, as defined by UK Visas and Immigration:

We also accept a degree that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries.

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than three and a half years old at the beginning of your programme of study.

Find out more about our language requirements:

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
MScTraditional Arts Performance1 YearFull-timeTuition fees
MScTraditional Arts Performance2 YearsPart-timeTuition fees

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • Graduate School
  • School of Literatures, Languages & Cultures
  • Room 1.13, 50 George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9LH
Programme start date Application deadline
14 September 2020 31 July 2020

We encourage you to apply at least one month prior to entry so that we have enough time to process your application. If you are also applying for funding or will require a visa then we strongly recommend you apply as early as possible.

You must submit one reference with your application.

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Further information

  • Graduate School
  • School of Literatures, Languages & Cultures
  • Room 1.13, 50 George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9LH