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Study with us

At Oxford Brookes University we offer opportunities for the study of opera at all levels, but particularly at Masters and Doctoral level. Some general information about Music at Brookes can be found here.  Short profiles of some recent students can be found  here.

BA (Hons)MA students 1

Undergraduates studying for a BA (Hons) in Music have the opportunity to take the modules ‘Music and the dramatic arts’ (which includes a trip to the opera to see a live performance) and ‘Special Study in Musicology’ (which often has an operatic focus) as part of a broad-based degree in Music. Many of our students write dissertations on operatic topics. Undergraduate dissertations have investigated the impact of the French Revolution on opera; Puccini’s women; and musical characterisation in Mozart’s operas.

More information about our undergraduate programme can be found here.

MA in Music

Two of the pathways on the MA in Music at Oxford Brookes allow students to specialise in opera. The pathway ‘Music in 19th-Century Culture’ allows students to study opera within the context of a broader examination of 19th-century music and its role in society. Students following the pathway ‘Music on Stage and on Screen’ have the opportunity to explore correlations between opera and film music.

Students on both pathways explore recent critical thinking about the creation, performance and reception of opera and have the opportunity to write an extended dissertation on an opera-related topic of their choice. Recent MA dissertations have examined the use of opera in Pretty Woman and Fatal Attraction; contrasting approaches to the staging of Verdi’s Aida; and issues surrounding the broadcasting of opera on the BBC from the 1920s to the present.

Opera students have an opportunity to go on the annual opera trip (usually to hear ENO in London). They automatically become members of OBERTO and have the opportunity to attend a wide variety of extra-curricular talks and activities that complement their studies.

More information about our MA programme can be found here. There are sometimes opportunities for prospective students to apply for Oxford Brookes scholarships to help fund their studies.


OBERTO staff warmly welcome enquiries from applicants interested in studying for a PhD. Doctoral supervision is available in a wide variety of opera-related topics from the nineteenth century to the present day, with special emphasis on the German, Italian and British repertories, the reception of opera, and opera’s cultural and political contexts.

We currently have doctoral students working on the representation and reception of male opera singers in nineteenth-century Britain, on representations of masculinity in Johann Strauss’s Die Fledermaus, and on the music of Sir Arthur Sullivan. Some general information about postgraduate research in Music at Oxford Brookes can be found here.

For further enquiries about any of these opportunities, please contact Alexandra Wilson.

Profiles of a selection of our postgraduate students:


Hannah Snelling

Hannah Snelling

Follow Hannah on Twitter: @hsnelling94

After completing an undergraduate degree in Music and Japanese Studies at Oxford Brookes, Hannah Snelling was keen to continue her studies with our Music MA course. With a background as an operatic and classical soprano, the Opera Studies pathway was a natural choice for Hannah. This interdisciplinary course has enabled her to draw upon her background in Japanese Studies; she has worked on a range of projects concerning both orientalism and nineteenth-century opera.

As part of the Professional Experience module, Hannah is undertaking a work placement with OBERTO. She has been working as both a conference and research assistant, and is leading a project to complement OBERTO’s recent ‘Operatic Objects’ conference. This involves creating a database of operatic archives. Hannah hopes that this will aid further research for opera scholars and enthusiasts.

Taking a step away from her previous work, Hannah plans to write her dissertation on Ralph Vaughan Williams’ The Poisoned Kiss. This ‘forgotten opera’ (which Hannah has previously performed in) has been consigned to the back shelves of the English operatic repertoire. Using a range of primary sources, Hannah seeks to investigate the genesis and reception of this opera in an attempt to understand why it has been overlooked. She is particularly interested in Williams’ collaboration with the opera’s librettist, Evelyn Sharp – a writer and suffragette.



Anna Maria Barry

Follow Anna on Twitter: @AnnaMariaB87

Anna’s thesis is entitled The Dream of a Madman: Constructing the Male Opera Singer in Nineteenth-Century Britain. This interdisciplinary study focuses on male opera singers of the nineteenth century, and examines their status as important cultural figures of the period. Anna is supervised by Dr Alexandra Wilson.

Before joining Brookes, Anna completed a BA in English Literature at Roehampton University, where she explored her interests in Romantic and Victorian culture. She went on to complete an MA in Victorian Literature, Art and Culture at Royal Holloway, University of London. Her dissertation was on Dante Gabriel Rossetti and the Victorian restoration of Llandaff Cathedral.

Anna is currently working as a Lecturer in Musicology at Broookes, where she teaches various modules on the Music MA course. She also works as a freelance journalist, and has written about her research for a wide range of magazines including BBC Music Magazine, BBC History Magazine, Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine and Opera Magazine. Ann has also curated two operatic exhibitions. The first, Sir Charles Santley: A Victorian Celebrity was held at Liverpool Central Library in Spring 2016. The second, Opera in the East End, was shown at Queen Mary, University of London in March 2017. For further information, please see Anna’s website: www.annamariabarry.com


Andrew Holden

Follow Andrew on Twitter: @orlandowalden

In 2019, Andrew completed his PhD on the representation of religion and religious belief in opera from around 1870 to the First World War, focusing primarily on the Italian repertory. Andrew‘s research was supported by an Oxford Brookes 150th Anniversary Scholarship and he was supervised by Dr Barbara Eichner.

Elsewhere Andrew works as a consultant in business development and fundraising for arts and cultural organisations. He organised a work shop “Opera in the East End” at Queen Mary University of London in 2017. Previously his postgraduate research in history led to the publication of a book, ‘Makers and Manners: politics and morality in post-war Britain’ (Politicos, 2004).


  1. Hi, my name is Christianne Phillips. I’m a retired Soprano soloist. Do you all offer any free online operatic courses. Thanks.

  2. Hello Christianne, apologies for not getting back to you earlier; there was a problem with our website and I didn’t pick up your message. We don’t have any online courses at the moment, but we are planning a series of online panel discussions and seminars for the autumn. The best way to stay up-to-date with our activities is following us on Twitter, or keeping an eye on this website.
    With best wishes,

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