Sacred Music (MLitt) 2022 entry

The MLitt in Sacred Music offers a unique interdisciplinary formation in Sacred Music for musicians, scholars, and leaders in artistic ministry. It is taught jointly by the School of Divinity’s Institute for Theology, Imagination and the Arts and the University of St Andrews Music Centre.

Now available: £10,000 Scholarship for Masters in Sacred Music at St Andrews

We are delighted to announce the Cookie Matheson Scholarship in Sacred Music for the Masters in Sacred Music at the University of St Andrews (2022-2023).

Apply now Register your interest

Key information

Course type

Postgraduate, leading to a Master of Letters (MLitt)

Course dates

  • Start date: 5 September 2022
  • End date: 30 September 2023

Information about all programmes from previous years of entry can be found in the archive.

Course duration

One year full time or two years part time

Entry requirements

The qualifications listed are indicative minimum requirements for entry. Some academic Schools will ask applicants to achieve significantly higher marks than the minimum. Obtaining the listed entry requirements will not guarantee you a place, as the University considers all aspects of every application including, where applicable, the writing sample, personal statement, and supporting documents.

Apply now

Tuition fees

Home: £10,395
Overseas: £21,390

Application deadline

Thursday 11 August 2022. Applicants should apply as early as possible to be eligible for certain scholarships and for international visa purposes.

Application requirements

  • CV
  • personal statement (300 to 500 words)
  • sample of your own, single-authored academic work in English (2,000 words)
  • two original signed academic references
  • academic transcripts and degree certificates 
  • evidence of English language proficiency (required if English is not your first language).

For more guidance, see supporting documents and references for postgraduate taught programmes.

Course information

The MLitt in Sacred Music is a one year full-time or two years part-time taught programme and is run jointly by the School of Divinity's Institute for Theology, Imagination and the Arts (ITIA) and the University of St Andrews Music Centre.

The course is aimed at those intending to carry out church music performance and leadership roles, clergy, and those seeking a self-contained programme of study in sacred music or planning to pursue doctoral research in the field.

Students will deepen their understanding of the theological and artistic underpinnings of sacred music-making, and, where applicable, will develop their practical skills of sacred music performance and leadership.

The University of St Andrews has a range of unique music facilities for Sacred Music students, including the new state-of-the-art Laidlaw Music Centre. Students will be supported by ITIA and Music Centre staff who have research and practical expertise in sacred music.


  • Develop skills relevant to your area of specialism in music making (e.g. composition, choral directing, organ, instrumental music in worship) or in music journalism and lecturing.
  • Gain insights into the theological and philosophical underpinnings of music in worship, both in the past and in the present day.
  • Study at the School of Divinity, based in the ancient St Mary’s College Quad, and at the University of St Andrews Laidlaw Music Centre.
  • Receive expert tuition from musicians and scholars working actively in the field of sacred music, including Sir James MacMillan, composer and professor of Theology, Imagination and the Arts.
  • Benefit from excellent music resources, including cutting-edge electronic music studios, a purpose-built recital hall, four pipe organs, and the acclaimed St Salvator’s Chapel Choir.

Teaching format

The programme consists of four taught modules taken over two semesters followed by either a 12,000-word dissertation or a practical project undertaken during the summer.

Students will learn through a mixture of lectures, seminars, practical workshops and one-to-one supervision or teaching.

Assessment comprises a combination of practical and theoretical methods. Practical assessment methods may include the musical performance of sacred music repertoire, a performance of originally composed sacred music or a live lecture presentation on a topic researched during the course.

Outwith the core requirements of the course, students are encouraged to attend ITIA’s weekly research seminar and participate in the vibrant musical life of the University.

Further particulars regarding curriculum development.


Students are expected to take three core modules and one elective module followed by either a final dissertation or a practical project. Each module has varying teaching and assessment methods.

For more details of each module, including weekly contact hours, teaching methods and assessment, please see the latest module catalogue which is for the 2021–2022 academic year; some elements may be subject to change for 2022 entry.

  • Music and the Sacred in Theory and Practice: introduces students to the wide diversity of music in its relation to the sacred, in and outside different denominational church contexts. It addresses topics such as the sacred in pop music, music theatre, and opera, as well as in contemporary Christian music, Gregorian and contemporary chant, traditional Catholic and Anglican music, and the relationship between music and liturgy in different Christian denominations.

  • Making Music in a Church Context: invites students to reflect upon the practical role of a church musician in its different facets and contexts. In exploring roles such as choir director, organist, composer, and worship ensemble leader, students gain a better understanding of the technical, organisational, and interpersonal skills required for successful church music-making. Weekly seminars with specialist church music practitioners allow all students to engage critically with different types of church musicians. Specialist small group teaching allows theoretical insight to be developed alongside practice-based competency. 

  • Sacred Music in the West: History and Context: focuses on the history and development of sacred music-making in a variety of confessional traditions informed by Western musical practice. Students explore when, where, and why Christians have made music in their worship.

In Semester 2, students must pick an elective module. This elective module can either be from the Theology and the Arts MLitt or from another Divinity MLitt.

Examples of Theology and the Arts electives:

  • Religious Experience and Aesthetic Forms
  • Christian Doctrine and the Arts
  • Theological Engagements with the Arts: Methodologies and Critical Theories. 

Elective choices are subject to the approval of the course coordinator and subject to change each year. Some also may require a minimum number of participants or only allow limited numbers of students (see the University's position on curriculum development). 

The end-of-year assessment provides students the opportunity to draw together the theoretical, philosophical, and professional practice strands of the course. Students may choose from either a research or practical assessment.

Students choosing a research assessment must complete a 12,000-word dissertation on a topic in sacred music of their choice. Student dissertations will be supervised by members of the teaching staff who will advise students in their choice of subject and provide guidance throughout the research process.

Those choosing a practical project have the choice of either a recital of sacred music with a written exegesis of research on the programme (5,000 words) or a composition portfolio of sacred music with critical reflection (5,000 words).

If students choose not to complete the dissertation requirement for the MLitt, an exit award is available that allows suitably qualified candidates to receive a Postgraduate Diploma. By choosing an exit award, you will receive a PGDip instead of an MLitt.

The modules listed here are indicative, and there is no guarantee they will run for 2022 entry. Take a look at the most up-to-date modules in the module catalogue.

Meet us online

If you're interested in studying at St Andrews, join us on a virtual visiting day or daily information session to find out about our courses, how to apply, and to meet current students. 

Virtual events

Join our Admissions team for one of our upcoming virtual events. During these events, you can find out more about studying at St Andrews and what it will do for your future.

Online information events

Conferences and events

The Institute for Theology, Imagination and the Arts (ITIA) is a vibrant community of established scholars, post-docs, and graduate students. The weekly research seminar, at which internal and guest speakers discuss their ongoing work, is at the heart of the institute’s day-to-day life.

The quarterly ITIA research forum allows graduates to discuss ongoing research and provides professional training for graduates.


Recent Graduate Discount

The University of St Andrews offers a 10% discount in postgraduate tuition fees to students who are eligible to graduate or who have graduated from St Andrews within the last three academic years and are starting a postgraduate programme with the University of St Andrews.

Find out more about postgraduate scholarships.

Cookie Matheson Scholarship in Sacred Music

£10,000 Scholarship for Masters in Sacred Music at St Andrews

We are delighted to announce the Cookie Matheson Scholarship in Sacred Music for the Masters in Sacred Music at the University of St Andrews (2022-2023).

Any application to the MLitt in Sacred Music received by 1 July 2022 will be considered for this prestigious scholarship.

Those candidates who have already been offered a place on the MLitt in Sacred Music will be automatically considered for the scholarship as well.

The scholarship will be awarded on the basis of the candidate’s application materials.

After the MLitt

Research degrees

In addition to the MLitt, the School of Divinity offers a two-year residential Master of Philosophy (MPhil) degree option in Theology and the Arts.

Many graduates continue their education by enrolling in PhD programmes at St Andrews or elsewhere.

PhD in Divinity


The MLitt in Sacred Music will benefit those wishing to pursue a career as a church musician, or who are already active as church music makers.

Theology and Music, and Sacred Music, are growing fields of interdisciplinary scholarship, and this programme will also benefit those wishing to pursue doctoral study in the area.

The Careers Centre offers one-to-one advice to all students on a taught postgraduate course and offers a programme of events to assist students in building their employability skills.

"The best part has been meeting others who have similar interests but contrasting ideas regarding sacred music and being able to learn from them and their experiences and thoughts. I am confident that the skills I have learned both as a musician and researcher will make me a very competitive candidate for church music director positions."

- Massachusetts, USA


If you are interested in the programme or would like further information, please contact George Corbett ( or Michael Ferguson ( 

School of Divinity
University of St Andrews
St Mary's College
South Street
St Andrews
KY16 9JU

Phone: +44 (0)1334 46 2826

School of Divinity


Admission to the University of St Andrews is governed by our admissions policy.

Information about all programmes from previous years of entry can be found in the archive.

Curriculum development

As a research intensive institution, the University ensures that its teaching references the research interests of its staff, which may change from time to time. As a result, programmes are regularly reviewed with the aim of enhancing students' learning experience. Our approach to course revision is described online.

Tuition fees

The University will clarify compulsory fees and charges it requires any student to pay at the time of offer. The offer will also clarify conditions for any variation of fees. The University’s approach to fee setting is described online.

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