Vera van Buren is a Musicology student

Profile picture Vera van Buren

“My choice for a Master's programme was an easy one to make. I was interested in a two-year Master, and I knew that I wanted one that strengthened my research skills. In the Netherlands, it came down to the Musicology programme in Utrecht. I had already graduated from the Bachelor's at Utrecht University, so I was familiar the qualities of the teachers and the strengths of the programmes. The option of going abroad, which is highlighted in the Musicology programme, convinced me that I was in the right programme."

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"This programme is internationally oriented, in their curriculum, their professors, students, as in their willingness to assist you in pursuing ambitions you have for going abroad, either to study or to find a research internship. While some masters focus more on the professional side of the music industry, specifically, I felt this programme taught me how to gather my visions, and how I would be able to communicate those visions to the outside world.

The Musicology programme really changed my entire view on academia. The programme has a critical, self-reflective aspect that I felt was missing in the Bachelor's programme. Because of the smaller classes (our classes consisted out of an average of five people), the programme provided me with a safe environment to fine-tune my arguments, while the peer reviews prepared me for giving and receiving feedback; an indispensable skill, in my experience. The open environment and community built around the Master further provided me with professional and personal support from staff and students alike.

The Musicology programme is highly demanding, and highly rewarding. As long as you have a curious mind and you want to hone your presentation, research, and collaboration skills (among many others), this Master offers exactly the fertile ground for doing so.

I am confident that whichever direction I will take in the next few months, I have the skills to adapt and perform on a high level in whatever job I will find. My ambitions are to contribute to a more diverse and inclusive music(al) world. To do so, I want to incorporate the research skills I acquired in a more practical matter; to apply my way of thinking to problems of inclusivity in the music industry. If I achieve this through research, or through other means, is not really that important to me, because I know I have a solid background and enough knowledge to achieve at least part of this goal.”

Sonja Hamhuis found employment in cultural and public policy soon after graduation

Profile picture Sonja Hamhuis

"The rMA Musicology will offer you tools, support, and an encouraging environment to discover and develop your strengths. In my cohort, graduates left the programme with distinctive skill sets and career ambitions. I often describe my own takeaways along three lines. First, I acquired fundamental skills and knowledge for conducting research in musicology and the humanities more broadly. Second, I developed transferable skills that I can use in various organisations and fields. Third, I became more conscious of my positionality as a professional and citizen, and of the necessity to use my potential appropriately."

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"The rMA Musicology offers countless opportunities for development in these areas. That said, it is up to students themselves to explore and shape the programme in a way that fits their interests and career ambitions. The excellent musicology faculty is always eager to help throughout this process. Faculty and students form a wonderful community dedicated to personal development and furthering musicological research. I enjoyed meeting my professors and fellow students frequently for classes, colloquia, research fora, late-night study sessions in the University Library, and social events. The faculty also encouraged me to seek opportunities outside of the RMA Musicology community. For example, I presented my own research at conferences in New Orleans and Amsterdam, studied at Washington University in St. Louis, and took part in an extracurricular honours programme.

I found the rMA Musicology highly demanding but at least as rewarding: I left the programme with valuable research and transferable skills as well as new perspectives on academia and society at large. Programme Coordinator Dr Rebekah Ahrendt always emphasises that graduates can put their skills to use in many environments, also outside of musicology or even academia. In my case, my graduate studies inspired me to support the creation of well-suited policy for societal change. I found employment in cultural and public policy soon after graduation: I had a wonderful time with KEA European Affairs as their research & communications trainee and I am currently a research officer at Bureau Algemene Bestuursdienst."

Renée Vulto is currently a lecturer in the Department of History, Utrecht University

Profile picture Renée Vulto

"After my Bachelor's in Musicology I worked for two years as an organiser for classical music events. Even though these jobs were really cool, I missed thinking about content. The rMA Musicology is really focused on preparing you for an academic career. You are challenged to work hard to achieve the best possible results. There are a lot of extra things to do, such as the masterclasses by renowned professors from all over the world and the possibility to do research abroad and participate in conferences."

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"Besides the knowledge of research methods, the master’s programme stressed the importance of networking. We were always stimulated to look across our own borders and the borders of the discipline.

Next to doing research and taking interesting courses, I spent a semester at the Humboldt Universität in Berlin. Studying abroad was in many ways a valuable contribution to my academic and personal development. I learned how to make a start in a new country and city, how to position myself as a student and researcher in an academic tradition and how to handle all these new impressions. I would recommend everyone to take the opportunity to look across the border and explore new places.

I was lucky to receive several job offers even before I graduated. They were not all in the academic field, which shows that you can go several ways after graduation. In the end I chose a PhD position – an interdisciplinary PhD at the department of literary studies at Ghent University – as I really want to continue doing research. This was something I discovered thanks to this master’s programme. I received my PhD in 2021.

Besides my PhD I am involved as a freelancer in smaller projects in the cultural field. I am often approached for new projects, which I am happy to do if they are fun and fit in my schedule. I’m confident that my education and working experience so far has provided me with a set of skills that has opened up a range of professional opportunities for the future."

Gabriele Giacosa is a PhD student in Systematic Musicology at the University of Cologne

Profile picture Gabriele Giacosa

"After my Bachelor’s in Turin, I found myself craving to do a Master’s, with a clear desire to explore medieval theories and conceptions of music. Willing to test myself by going abroad, Utrecht University was a perfect match, with its focus on medieval music and high-quality standards."

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"Coming from what turned out to be a radically different academic tradition, I did not know what to expect from such a research-oriented Master’s. In just a few days, I found myself rushing to adapt to the expected standards and intense rhythms of the course. On the other hand, I could finally enjoy being allowed (and required) to participate actively in research and discussions, instead of 'just' learning.

Thanks to the small-group seminar context, all of us were encouraged to develop our own ideas and views, with a direct and helpful approach by supervisors and professors. Moreover, we were often engaged in great opportunities, such as international workshops and masterclasses.

Gradually, I was allowed to shape my own interests and disciplinary niche, doing research on personally chosen topics, even when I touched on other fields. Being able to take a tutorial in Amsterdam, and during my experience abroad in Bologna, I could clearly evaluate the tools and 'extra drive' I had acquired in Utrecht.

Under the guidance of my supervisors, I was able to move amongst diverse interests, finalising a thesis that attempted to connect the humanities and natural sciences. Thanks to their support, I am now a PhD student in Systematic Musicology at the University of Cologne, with a deeply interdisciplinary approach, with co-supervisors from Lund University (in Cognitive Semiotics) and Hokkaido University (in Phenomenology).

All in all, it was a highly demanding experience, but just as much a rewarding, instructive and formative one. It truly pushed me towards being involved and responsible, revealing what it means to approach the academia and strengthening my desire to take a further step with a PhD."