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Musicology (B.A.) (two subjects)


Whether a song by Lady Gaga, a fugue by Johann Sebastian Bach or a raga by Ravi Shankar - music in its various forms plays a major role in the lives of many people all over the world. Whether as a hobby or profession, as an identity-forming practice or as a companion in everyday life: music has many different meanings and functions for people. How does music do that and how can we understand it? The subject of musicology explores these and many other questions. In the B.A. Musicology at the University of Göttingen, you will learn to think scientifically about the musics of the world, past and present, to analyse and contextualise them critically and also to understand them in the light of higher-level debates in cultural studies.

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) (two subjects)
Standard period of study:
6 semesters
Only the winter semester
Language of the programme:
open (enrolment without previous application)
Orientation events:
Orientation events are offered

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Music is not just something people listen to or do: it is also something people study. Musicology is the science of music: it is about finding out what music actually is, how it works, and what it means to people. And it is about fundamentally thinking about what we can learn about people, their culture, their history(s) and their webs of relationships through music.

Musicology views music as a human practice that has a wide variety of forms and meanings through the diversity of the world's cultures and historical change. At the Göttingen Department of Musicology, we are convinced that there is not one music, but many musics. Music can be studied in many manifestations: as a communicative expression, as a system of knowledge, as part of cultural action and cultural identity. Music can be analysed as a work of art or as a function of a social network within a society. Music can be used as a medium for feelings, ideas and self-understandings, or as an instrument of (powerlessness) power.

This plurality is also reflected in the means of researching music. The focus here is on thinking about music as well as thinking through music and sound, for which we have the following repertoires of methods at our disposal:

  • Historical research (evaluation of written, sound and visual sources)
  • field research (participant observation of music practices)
  • Hearing analysis, musical text analysis
  • Analysis of sound as a mode of knowledge
  • Computer-assisted analysis (e.g. spectral or frequency analysis)

Cultural Musicology
Cultural musicology sees itself as an orientation of musicology inspired by cultural studies and cultural anthropology, which has emerged from critical reflection on the colonial-influenced subject history of musicology. It breaks with the classical division of musicology into independent sub-disciplines in order to develop new critical perspectives for research on music in the past and present. In doing so, it works towards the ideal of a de-colonised methodology that can devote itself to the music of the world on an equal footing. Cultural musicology in Göttingen is represented by the professorship of Prof. Dr. Birgit Abels. Her regional research focuses on the Pacific Islands, North India and Southeast Asia.

Historical Musicology
Understanding the music of the past and classifying it as part of historical contexts and development processes is the goal of historical musicology. In Göttingen, we understand the history of music not as a history of works of art, but as a history of cultural and social practices, beliefs and knowledge systems that are intertwined with music. In Göttingen, the field of historical musicology is represented by Prof. Dr. Andreas Waczkat. His particular foci in teaching and research are music in the cultural history of the 16th to 18th centuries, the music of the Baltic states, music theory and music in post-totalitarian contexts.

The choice of a second subject depends on the student's main interests. Combination with one of the subjects listed below can be recommended:

  • Egyptology and Coptic Studies,
  • General Linguistics,
  • Ancient Oriental Studies,
  • American Studies,
  • Arabic Studies/Islamic Studies,
  • Archaeology of the Greek, Roman and Byzantine World,
  • German Philology,
  • English Philology,
  • Ethnology,
  • Finno-Ugrian Philology,
  • French/Gallo-Romance Studies,
  • History,
  • Gender Studies,
  • Greek Philology,
  • Indology,
  • Iranian Studies,
  • Italian/Italian Studies,
  • Cultural Anthropology / European Ethnology,
  • Art History,
  • Latin Philology,
  • Latin Philology of the Middle Ages and the Modern Era,
  • Philosophy,
  • Portuguese/Portuguese Studies,
  • Law,
  • Religious Studies,
  • Scandinavian Studies,
  • Slavic Philology,
  • Sociology,
  • Spanish / Hispanic Studies,
  • Turkology/Turkish Studies,
  • Prehistory and Early History,
  • Economics,
  • Economic and Social History.

As an alternative to the dual-subject Bachelor's degree programme offered by the Faculty of Philosophy, Musicology can also be studied as a 42C modular package within the Bachelor's degree programme of Ethnology (major/minor B.A.) in the Faculty of Social Sciences.

Completion of a Bachelor's degree in Musicology will qualify you for a great variety of occupations in culture management and politics, in the area of the media and public relations, at theatres, in the library sector and related areas. The Bachelor's degree in the subject of Musicology can serve, in particular, as the basis for a Master's degree programme in Musicology or a related subject.

You should have sufficient basic knowledge of music (musical terminology, notation) and musical theory (intervals, keys, chords). Basic skills in playing instruments or singing will be of advantage. You should also be experienced in listening to a wide range of different styles of music.

A prerequisite is the command of written German. Moreover, a good knowledge of English is strongly recommended. In-depth knowledge of at least one additional foreign language will also be of advantage.

A good knowledge of history and geography will be of advantage.

Consecutive/graduate programmes

Consecutive/graduate programmes


In the two-subject Bachelor's programme, two subjects are studied on equal terms.

A total of 180 credits are earned for the Bachelor's degree Bachelor of Arts (B.A.).

The two subjects each account for 66 credits. The area of professionalisation accounts for 36 credits.

The following credits must be earned for the subject Musicology:

  1. Compulsory modules

    Seven compulsory modules totalling 60 C must be successfully completed

    • Basic course in musicology
      What are the central questions, theories and methods of the subject of musicology? The course deals with basic terms and concepts relevant to the subject, as well as the development of the subject and its relationship to other disciplines in the cultural sciences. In addition, general methods and techniques of (music-)scientific work are learned.
    • Musics of the World
      The module provides insights into selected examples of different musics of the world: written down as well as orally handed down, present as well as past.
    • Structure, Cognition and Analysis
      The focus is on the goal of making well-founded qualitative statements about basic parameters, structures and structuring rules of music from different cultural and historical contexts on the basis of imparted theoretical knowledge.
    • Popular music
      A basic understanding of historical, social and spatial dimensions of popular music is conveyed on the basis of a wide variety of music that has been and is being negotiated as popular music in the past and present in a wide variety of places and in diverse cultural contexts.
    • Musical instrument studies in the museum
      Using the musical instrument collection of the Musicology Department, insights into different classification systems for musical instruments and their terminology as well as into the global diversity of instruments are provided. In addition, the ability to scientifically explore objects or groups of objects in depth is practised using the example of concrete museum holdings.
    • Music in its cultural environment
      In this module, musical processes are located and analysed in their historical-spatial as well as social contexts and preconditions, because music arises and works in a wide variety of social and cultural-historical dynamics.
    • Sound Studies
      Music is formed to a significant extent in the medium of sound: sound can store and order knowledge. On the one hand, this module deals with sound(lity) as a mode of knowledge in concrete musical practices of the world; on the other hand, knowledge is acquired about the European cultural history of sound and hearing.
  2. Elective modules

    One module from the following five offerings of the compulsory elective area "Musical Practice" must be successfully completed during the course of study.

    • Orchestral music-making with a musicological foundation
      Making music with an orchestral instrument in the University Orchestra Göttingen, combined with reflection on the musicological background of the respective repertoire. Under certain conditions, it is possible to receive credit for active participation in other orchestras.
    • Choir singing with a musicological foundation
      Singing in the University Choir Göttingen, combined with reflection on the musicological background of the respective repertoire. Under certain conditions, it is possible to receive credit for active participation in other choirs
    • Aural training
      In ear training, the listening approach to music is specifically trained: the grasping and re-singing of intervals within an octave, simple melody and rhythm dictations, listening structuring of simple musical forms.
    • Historical theory of movement
      Elementary rules of counterpoint (modes, melody formation, voice leading) and harmony (chord formation, main functions, cadences, modulation) are taught
    • Bimusicality and Alterity Experience - Theory and Practice of Mbira Music of Northeast Zimbabwe
      On the basis of the instrument mbira, insight is gained into the cognitive inner perspective and communicative implications of an African musical idiom on the path of active music-making as well as theoretical reflection.
  3. Area of professionalisation

    In the study profile Subject-specific specialisation, the professionalisation area of the B.A. can be taken with musicological modules. In addition to the core curriculum and compulsory elective area, three further in-depth modules are taken:

    • Cultural Musicology
      Selected objects of Cultural Musicology provide the occasion to question and examine them in detail
    • Historical Musicology
      Selected objects of Historical Musicology give the occasion to interrogate and examine them in detail.

Regulations and module directory


Winter semester only
1st subject semester:
open admission (enrolment without previous application)
2nd to 6th subject semester:
open admission (enrolment without previous application)

Non-German citizens without a German educational qualification

Citizen from a non-EU country (or stateless person)

Instruments collection

Cultural Studies Centre


Study and examination advice Faculty of Humanities

Tina Seufer and Eva Wolff

Humboldtallee 17
DE-37073 Göttingen

Phone: +49 (0)551 39 21888 (Seufer)
Phone: +49 (0)551 39 26713 (Wolff)



Academic Advising

Lennart Ritz, M.A.

Heinrich-Düker-Weg 14
37073 Göttingen

Phone: +49-551 39 24930

Consulting hours:
by appointment

Academic Advising B.A.

Adele Jakumeit, M.A.

Musicology Seminar
Cultural Studies Centre

Heinrich-Düker-Weg 14
Room: 0.827
37073 Göttingen

Phone: +49-(0)551/39-25071


Consultation hours:
by arrangement