Department of Art and Music


Music Studies at Unisa

Music study at Unisa began over 120 years ago with the examination of candidates in practical music and theory. Academic degree programmes have been offered since the early twentieth century, and Unisa alumni include many of South Africa’s foremost composers, performers, educators, scholars, and critics. The renowned choral composer Michael Moerane was South Africa’s first black BMus graduate in 1942. This was at a time when Unisa was the central examining body for the regional ‘University Colleges’ in South Africa.

The Department of Musicology was established after Unisa became a distance learning institution, and has played an important role in furthering the academic study of music in South Africa with the Journal Ars Nova, now Muziki and through the work of several generations of musicologists, researchers, and composers. Masters and doctoral students from Unisa have gone on to take leading positions at South African universities, and postgraduate studies remain central to the Department’s research focus. In 2002 the Department of Musicology amalgamated with Art History and Visual Arts to form a vibrant interdisciplinary unit.

Our sub-department is the home of academic music studies at Unisa. Here you can study musicology at all levels from undergraduate to doctoral. Musicology at Unisa encompasses two broad fields: Composition Studies (CST) and Music in History and Society (MHS). CST consists of modules in classical composition, contemporary popular music, music technology, African music and South African and American jazz. MHS explores an extensive range of Western, African and world music, including jazz, classical, folk, rock and popular music, as well as modules on musical entrepreneurship, to prepare students for work in the music industry. Musicology students have access to the Unisa library with its comprehensive body of scores, books on music, online resources, including e-books and music streaming sites, and over 17 000 CDs and DVDs. Unisa has the largest and most comprehensive music collection in South Africa. 


Undergraduate qualifications

Music Foundations Short Learning Programme
(3 modules, 36 credits)

This one-year Short Learning Programme (SLP) is the best option if you are an amateur musician or have limited background in music theory and performance. The programme focusses on music theory and history fundamentals. If you complete this programme you will be eligible to enrol for the Bachelor of Music. Registration for the SLP is open from January to February each year. Applications are completed online through the standard applications portal:

Bachelor of Music (360 credits)

This is the specialized music degree and it consists of two streams: composition studies and theory; and music history and society. The music entrance requirement is music theory Grade 6 from the Royal Schools of Music or Trinity College London; or Grade 5 Unisa; or a pass in music at NSC grade 12 level or equivalent. If you do not qualify then consider the Bachelor of Arts with major in music in history and society.

Bachelor of Arts (360 credits) with major in music in history and society

This degree includes modules in African music, history of Western music, music business, psychology of music, jazz and popular music. There is no music-specific entrance requirement.

Postgraduate qualifications

Bachelor of Musicology Honours

Master of Music in Musicology

Doctor of Philosophy in Music (PhD)

Contact us

Dr Gwen Miller
Coordinator of Higher Degrees
Tel: 012 481 2883
Lebo Mabitsela
Tel: 012 429 6459
Dr Annemie Behr
Music Programme Coordinator
Tel: 012 484 1058
Speak to our friendly consultants regarding issues with myUnisa; get information about modules, tuition fees, cancellations and registration dates.
Tel: 012 481 2799
Location and physical address
The Department of Art and Music is situated at the Sunnyside Campus of the University of South Africa (Unisa)
Building 12C 
Corner of Justice Mahomed and Steve Biko Streets
Sunnyside, Pretoria
South Africa
Postal address
University of South Africa (UNISA)
The Department of Art and Music
Sunnyside Campus, Building 12C
PO Box 392
Unisa 0003
South Africa

Last modified: 2021/06/04