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University College Cork
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University College Cork 

National University of Ireland

Type of Program and Degrees Offered

University College Cork offers a full set of undergraduate and postgraduate programs in Music: 

  • BA Music-Arts (3-4 years full-time)
  • BMus (4 years full-time)
  • Diploma in Irish Traditional Music (1 year full-time or 2 years part-time)
  • Higher Diploma in Music (1 year full-time or 2 years part-time)
  • MA (1 year full-time or 2 years part-time)
  • PhD (3-4 years full-time or 6+ years part-time)

Each of these programs can be taken with a specialization in ethnomusicology or Irish traditional music. Tuition on these programs is delivered by faculty in the Department of Music, and additional courses can be taken, as appropriate, from other departments and programs across the university. University College Cork is also host for numerous visiting students, most typically from Europe and North America, many of whom focus on Irish traditional music during their semester or year in Cork.

Program Statement

Music has been taught at University College Cork for over a hundred years, and we are now well established as Ireland’s leading Department of Music in research terms as well as in breadth and depth of educational outlook. University College Cork pioneered the introduction of university-level study of the Irish tradition nationally and internationally. Courses are taught in English, but some instruction is additionally available through the medium of Irish, for instance in sean-nós song performance.

We have internationally recognized strengths in the following areas: composition, ethnomusicology, Irish traditional music, musicology, and performance (including that in jazz and popular music).

All our programs rest on the ethnomusicological principle that all musics are equally worthy of respect and study. We apply this idea structurally, at all levels, requiring students of Music to build a personal pathway through the wider world of music via performance, composing, recording, and various forms of written scholarship, including the use of new digital media. Each student moves across and between various musical traditions and genres: from pop to classical and from traditional Irish music to world music and sound art. She/he selects areas for concentrated study from across a wide range, and so can build a distinctive personal focus on, say, song writing, film music, and gamelan composition, or traditional Irish fiddle, music education, and piano performance, to give just two possibilities. BA students combine the study of music with up to two other subjects from across the arts and social sciences, or they can transfer in Year 2 to the BMus program and focus on music alone for the rest of their degree. Many students choose to spend a year abroad as part of their degree program, mostly in Europe for those studying European languages and culture, with some further taking places in North America and China.

The Diploma in Irish Traditional Music is special program offering tuition across the spectrum of Irish traditions. Most students who take this qualification study two or three performance options from a wide selection of music and dance options, and the Diploma is completed with theoretical and practical work in such areas as the history of Irish traditional music, ethnomusicological principles and methods, and studies in music education.

Students who hold a degree in another subject and who want to “convert” to music take the one-year Higher Diploma in the Arts (Music) program, which broadly equates the final year of undergraduate studies plus some additional foundational music theory. This is excellent preparation both for future graduate studies and for teacher training as a music specialist.

UCC offers several MA programs, of which those in Ethnomusicology, Performance, and Music and Cultural History are the most relevant in this guide. These MAs follow an intensive, one-year model involving twelve months of full-time study. The MA in Ethnomusicology combines a taught component with modules in Research Skills, Ethnography, History and Theory of Ethnomusicology, Performance Studies, Interdisciplinary Debates, and Performance Practice. Students with a cross-disciplinary research plan may be allowed to substitute one of these modules for a course from another area of studies. There is finally an individually negotiated research component leading to a dissertation, performance, or a project. The latter may involve work in applied ethnomusicology, music education, film, or development studies, to name just a few recent examples. The other two MAs are broadly similar in design, combining research training, modules specific to the subject of specialization (e.g., in Disability Studies, Hiphop, and Film Music), space for interdisciplinary study, and a final focus on the student’s own new contribution via performance or research.

UCC offers a PhD in ethnomusicology. The PhD begins with an amount of research training, identified through a personal training needs analysis. There is no formal coursework requirement (although PhD students may sit in on essential graduate and undergraduate courses), such that qualified students can immediately begin their dissertation or work on a practice-based project of equivalent scale. PhD students are co-supervised by two tutors, with a fully independent examining team appointed when the work is finally submitted, and a strong pastoral support team in place throughout. At least one of the examiners will be a subject expert from another university, helping us ensure that the research satisfies the highest international standards.

Special Resources

The Department is host to two archives, one dedicated to traditional music, the other to traditional dance. Further materials are held in the main library collections. Among these, material from the O'Neill/Henebry digitisation project is now available online.

On-site resources for music students include a computer lab, a composition and music technology lab, practice rooms, and a student common room/canteen. Recording gear (and training in its use) is available for the Departmental Technician. A number of musical instruments are also available for student use or hire, including many Irish traditional instruments, some early music instruments, keyboard, percussion, bass. There are numerous further facilities on the University’s main campus.

Numerous ensembles are offered for credit, including Irish traditional music ensemble, jazz ensemble, pop ensemble, early music ensemble, Renaissance vocal ensemble, chamber music ensemble, songwriting group, Javanese and Balinese gamelan, choir, Byzantine chant choir, and laptop ensemble. Other groupings may be available to suitably qualified applicants on a non-credit basis, including a community gamelan, sound art group, orchestras, and a musical society.

Certain instruments are also taught in a group context, among them: sitar, Irish harp, fiddle, bodhran, sean-nós, concertina, tin whistle, Uillean pipes, piano skills, step dance, set dance, guqin, and carillon. Individual instruction is available for many other instruments and vocal styles.

The Department of Music regularly hosts conferences, having recently been the site for meetings of the Society for Musicology Ireland and the UK & Ireland chapter of the International Association for Popular Music Studies. We are hosts of the annual Sean Ó Riada Lecture, dedicated to traditional music. We also host an Arts Council of Ireland funded traditional performer in residence each year.

The Marginalised and Endangered Worldviews Study Centre (MEWSC) (https://mewsc.wordpress.com/) as well as the India Study Centre at Study of Religions, School of Asian Studies, regularly organizes workshops from an anthropological perspective related to cultural expressions using sound and music as a crucial form of collective identity formation. A first MEWSC winter school took place in January 2018 at the Indira Gandhi National Tribal University in Amarkantak, India.

Full-Time Faculty in Ethnomusicology

Alexander Khalil; PhD (University of California, San Diego); Lecturer in Music; Department of Music; Byzantine chant; cognitive ethnomusicology; voice studies; neuroscience of music

Tríona Ní Shíocháin; PhD (University College Cork); Lecturer in Music; Department of Music; oral theory, performance theory, liminality and ritual, Irish traditional music, Irish traditional song

Lijuan Qian; PhD (University of Sheffield); Irish Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow; Department of Music; China, applied ethnomusicology, sustainable development, popular music, women

Jonathan Stock; PhD (Queen’s University of Belfast); Professor of Music; Department of Music; China, Taiwan, English folk music, biography, history and theory of ethnomusicology

Affiliated Faculty

Kelly Boyle; MA (Wesleyan University); Lecturer in Music, Department of Music; Central Javanese gamelan, South Indian karnatak music, popular musics in Ireland, ethnography of music, cultural tourism

Jessica Cawley; PhD (University College Cork); Irish traditional music; music education; enculturation; informal and non-formal learning; identity; communities of practice

Michelle Finnerty; PhD (University College Cork/Dublin); Lecturer in Music, Department of Music; music education, children’s musical learning

Lidia Guzy; (Habilitation, École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris and Freie Universität Berlin); Head, Study of Religions Department; anthropology of music, India, religion, marginalized and endangered worldviews

Colin McGuire; PhD (York University, Canada); music and martial arts, Hong Kong, Cantonese diaspora, embodiment, transmission, music production, DJ culture, electroacoustic music

Mary Mitchell-Ingoldsby; MA (University of Limerick); Lecturer in Music, Department of Music; Irish traditional music, Uillean piping

Dara O'Brien; PhD (University College Cork); Part-time Lecturer in Music, Department of Music; India, improvisation, spirituality, performance studies

Michalis Poupazis; PhD (University College Cork); Part-time Lecturer in Music; Department of Music; Mediterranean, European, and American popular musics and cultures; diasporic musics and cultures; history, social, and cultural theory of ethnomusicology.

J. Griffith Rollefson; PhD (University of Wisconsin-Madison); Lecturer in Popular Music Studies; Department of Music; African American music, hip hop studies, jazz studies, postcolonial studies, media studies

Traditional Musician in Residence: the University appoints a traditional musician to a residency in University College Cork on an annual basis.

Financial Support

Applicants can apply for a range of University College Cork and external scholarships. Information is kept up-to-date at the following links: https://www.ucc.ie/en/study/postgrad/cost/ and https://www.ucc.ie/en/cacsss/grads/scholarships_and_funding/pro_students/ - note particularly the Excellence Scholarships listed on the latter page.

PhD students have established priority in the award of a small number of annual teaching assistantships within the Department of Music, normally each equating a number of hours per week assisting undergraduate learning (such as tutorials in study skills or support work in music theory). Occasionally, advanced PhD students may also be offered the chance to teach a whole undergraduate course of their own design (for which full planning support is given) or to contribute to sickness or sabbatical cover. Graduate students with appropriate skills and experience can also offer instrumental and vocal tuition to undergraduates. Small amounts of paid work is also available to MA and HDip students, such as representing the Department at Open Days, assisting with the interview process for incoming undergraduates, or, at University level, providing support for students who face challenges such as dyslexia or impaired vision.

Further Information

Jonathan Stock, Professor, Department of Music, University College Cork, Sunday’s Well Road, Cork, Ireland. +353 21 4904535, j.stock@ucc.ie

Program Website

BA Hons / BMus http://www.ucc.ie/en/ck104/  

Diploma in Irish Traditional Music https://www.ucc.ie/en/music-theatre/music/undergrad/ 

Higher Diploma in Arts (Music) https://www.ucc.ie/en/music-theatre/music/undergrad/         

MA Ethnomusicology http://www.ucc.ie/en/cke68/  

PhD https://www.ucc.ie/en/music-theatre/music/postgrad/mphilphd/       

Visiting Students https://www.ucc.ie/en/international/

Related Websites

Departmental homepage https://www.ucc.ie/en/music-theatre/music/

Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/musicucc/          

Graduate Admissions https://www.ucc.ie/en/study/postgrad/how/  

Department YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCU3JEor-B6u4nDQPf7mJmuQ         

Henebry O’Neill Digitisation Project site http://epu.ucc.ie/henebry/project/       

Twitter https://twitter.com/musicucc        

The content for University College Cork was last updated December 11, 2019.

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