MA Ritual Chant and Song

The MA Ritual Chant and Song is a one-year programme which explores the voice and its use in ritual contexts. At the heart of the programme is an investigation of the voice (through vocal technique and somatic practices) as well as of specific ritual vocal repertoires. Western plainchant is the key repertoire studied and the programme has an association with Glenstal Abbey, a Benedictine monastery in the environs of the campus. Drawing on the expertise in Irish traditional music at the Academy, Irish traditional religious song is also studied as a key repertoire. Each year, guest tutors also introduce a number of additional ritual vocal repertoires, which have included a diversity of traditions from Shona ritual song to Georgian chant.

The MA Ritual Chant and Song marries together rigorous academic study with expert vocal practice, with the aim to develop performers and scholars of the highest calibre in the fields of chant and ritual song.  Vocal study is contextualised by seminars in performance practice, palaeography, semiotics, liturgy, medieval history, ethnomusicology, ritual studies and a variety of methodological approaches to the study of performance and ritual, including ritual ethnography and ritual composition.  Students may choose to work towards a final performance, a final dissertation, or both.

The current course director is Dr. Eleanor Giraud and the teaching team include Prof Helen Phelan, Dr. Oscar Mascarenas, Catherine Sergent and Dr. Noirin NiRiain.  The programme was originally designed by Helen Phelan (Irish World Academy), in consultation with Nicholas Sandon (Exeter, UK), David Hiley (Regensburg, Germany) and Ronald Grimes (Wilfrid Laurier, Canada). Scholars and performers that have been involved in the programme include Margot Fassler (USA), Marie-Noelle Colette (France), Anthony Ruff (USA), Katarina Livljanic (Croatia/France), Benjamin Bagby (USA/France), Malcolm Bothwell (UK/France), Lila Collamore (USA), Edward Foley (USA), Ronald Grimes (Canada), Michael Hawn (USA), Emma Hornby (UK), Carolina Magalhaes (France), Edward Nowacki (USA), Norbert Rodenkirchen (Germany), Wolodymyr Smishkewych (USA) and Leo Treitler (USA).

Programme of Study
Semester 1

MU5361 Ritual Chant and Song Practicum 1

MD6151 Materials, Methods and Context for Western Chant 1

MD6021 Introduction to Fieldwork Techniques

MD6041 Introduction to Ritual Studies

MD6o61 Introduction to Somatics


MD6051 Independent Study 1

MD6111 Colloquium 1

Semester 2

MU5362 Ritual Chant and Song Practicum 2

MD6142 Materials, Methods and Context for Western Chant 2

MD6132 Advanced Ritual Studies

MD6061 Introduction to Somatics 2


MD6052 Independent Study 2

MD6111 Colloquium 2

Semester 3 

MD5522 Final Presentation

Optional second year

The MA Ritual Chant & Song is a one year, full-time postgraduate programme of study. Students may be permitted to extend their study over a second full-time year subject to available places, the agreement of the course director and the director of the Irish World Academy.


Entrance Requirements:

A primary degree with first or second class honours
an approved equivalent qualification
an equivalent capability based on prior professional experience.

How to Apply


Please apply by filling out the online form on this page:

The online application system will open in November each year.

You will be asked to supply:

  • Your contact details
  • Details about your high school and university education
  • Details about employment (if relevant to ritual chant and song)
  • Contact details of two referees (preferably academic), who will be contacted directly by Dr Eleanor Giraud.
  • Supporting statement: a short paragraph indicating why you want to take the MA.

You will also be asked to upload:

  • Qualification transcripts and certificates
  • English language qualification if English is not your first language
  • Certified English translations of your transcripts/certificates
  • A copy of your birth certificate (long document)
  • A sample of writing (c. 2000-3000 words)
  • Videos of you singing 2 songs – one chant if possible, or if not then a capella.  These can be video files, or a link to youtube videos.  These can be sent directly to Dr Eleanor Giraud if there are any issues with uploading them with the application.

Once you have applied, your application will be reviewed by the Admissions Office and by the Course Director, Dr Eleanor Giraud.  If you are considered to be a potential candidate for the course, you will be invited for an interview (by phone/Skype or in person).


Click here for UL Academic Calendar


Click here for UL International  Office 


Click here for Postgraduate Fees


Click here for a list of scholarships available to prospective Irish World Academy of Music and Dance students.


Christine Rolin

Since Christine graduated from the M.A. in Ritual Chant & Song at the Irish World Academy in 2003, she has been part of St Michael Choir, Church St Michel, Dijon, France. Her research interests lie in the area of early harp music, chant and poetry, which she has been currently sharing with the HHSI (Historical Harp Society of Ireland), Kilkenny, which she joined in 2003. Presently and since 2012, Christine is developing research into clinical music therapy with A.M.B. (Atelier de Musicothérapie de Bourgogne) at the C.H.S. Hospital de La Chartreuse, Dijon.

Femke Van Der Kooij

“The MA in Ritual Chant and Song combines the academic and the practical really well. I became more proficient in chant and ritual song and honed my practical singing skills through the guidance of the fantastic tutors. I also learned a lot about the process involved in bringing the medieval sources to life through performance.” Femke currently teaches voice and sings with Cantoral and Sionna.




Applicants wishing to discuss elements of the MA programme may contact the course director:

Dr Eleanor Giraud
Room No: IW1.29
Irish World Academy of Music and Dance
University of Limerick,
Limerick, Ireland

Tel: +353-(0)61-234743

For queries relating to applications and the university more generally, please contact:

Postgraduate Admissions Office (for Irish/EU applicants)
Tel: +353 61 234377
Fax: +353 61 233287

International Office (for non-EU applicants)
Tel: +353 61 202304
Fax: +353 61 213062