What’s it like studying Music at Durham?

Amanda Botelho

Studying Music at Durham has been a wonderful, if occasionally hectic, experience. Being an international student from Goa (India), I applied to Durham based on the UK university league tables and the wide-ranging course structure the university promised. At the end of my degree, I can say with certainty that I’ve not been disappointed!

So what’s so good about Music at Durham?

It enables students to follow their academic interests while also having a strong base in all the pathways they could pursue. Compulsory introductory modules in the first year ensure that we get the same base knowledge during our degree, it introduces us to new pathways we might not have previously considered. I came to Durham intending to study performance, but after less than a term here, I fell in love with Ethnomusicology – a pathway I thought I would find interesting but never seriously considered pursuing before I started studying it at Durham. I then went on to take Ethnomusicology modules in my second and third years at Durham, as well as doing my third-year dissertation in the same.

What about the lecturers?

I’ve found they’re some of the best academics in their field, and often teach using their own, current research. Research-led teaching has helped me improve my own research skills – from developing research questions to literature reviews, transcriptions, analyses and drawing conclusions. The support I received from my lecturers, and in particular, my dissertation supervisor, has enabled me to deviate from traditional research questions and choose topics that resonated with me on a personal level. A number of my essays in my second and third years were based on musical traditions from my hometown, which have never before been studied. This has been possible due to the innovative course design which helps students to expand theoretical knowledge while also allowing a high degree of freedom and flexibility. The department is also the ideal size – it is large enough to encompass a wide variety of musicians while also being small enough to easily interact with your peers!

Studying Music at Durham has equipped me with multifaceted everyday skills. The diverse types of assessments – from performance to oral presentations, to report writing and data analysis – have armed me with technical skills like video and audio recording and editing, as well as introducing me to software useful for data analysis. This has, in turn, enabled me to present my work better.

Music Durham

This is the student-led umbrella organisation for all of Durham’s music-related societies. I first read about Music Durham on the university website prior to coming to Durham and have been involved in it for all three of my years here through societies like Durham University Choral Society, and St. Chad’s Chapel Choir. I have also been a part of Durham Opera Ensemble (DOE – a Durham Student Theatre group) in all three years of my degree and have participated in several operas including Gilbert and Sullivan’s Iolanthe and Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, which has helped me grow as a performer. In my third year, I had the chance to Co-Musical Direct DOE’s first term show, ‘An Introduction to Opera’, which was released virtually. I’m currently the Assistant Producer for DOE’s third-term show, which means I deal with sourcing and altering costumes and props.

Music Durham has presented me with several interesting opportunities such as singing as a deputy with the Royal Northern Sinfonia Chorus. Additionally, I ventured into the administrative side of music as I was Music Durham’s Concert Manager in my second year and was responsible for organising and promoting Music Durham’s weekly Lunchtime Concerts. Thus, my involvement with Music Durham and Durham Student Theatre together with my all-rounded academic experience has equipped me well to face the transition to life after university.

Discover more

About studying Music at Durham.

Student led organisations – Music Durham and Durham Student Theatre.

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Amanda Botelho

Hello! My name is Amanda and I am a final year Music student at University College. I sing and play the piano (and occasionally venture into percussion and anything else that I temporarily fancy!)

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