PhD, MMus, MPhil Music

The Department of Music is a centre of research excellence in both composition and musicology.

In composition, there is no particular house style, but we are well known for a number of areas, including:

  • acoustic music, ranging from solo to symphonic scale;
  • electro-acoustic, including acousmatic composition, live electronics, and mixed forms with instrument/voice;
  • composition exploring the interface of Western and non-Western traditions.

The department also provides access to a wide network of opportunities for professional and amateur performance.

In musicology, research strengths include not only the Western art music tradition, but also screen media, non-Western (Turkey) and popular music. We have particular depth of expertise in the early Middle Ages (especially Spain), and in the 19th and 20th centuries (including the music of France, Britain, Germany, and Soviet Russia). We also have strengths in Anglophone vernacular traditions, including jazz and hip hop; opera, film music and the history and philosophy of technology; music and migration; and cultural and reception history more generally.

Programme structure

MPhil (Composition, Musicology): a standalone, one-year (full-time) research degree. Students will undertake their own research project, concluding in the submission of a portfolio of 25–35 minutes of music and an analytical/contextual commentary (c.4,000–5,000 words), or a 25,000-word dissertation. Students may have the option to audit units from our taught master's programmes if they are relevant to their research.

MMus (Composition): a standalone, two-year (full-time) research degree. Students will undertake their own research project, concluding in the submission of a portfolio of 50–70 minutes of music and an analytical/contextual commentary (c.8,000–10,000 words). Students may have the option to audit units from our taught master's programmes if they are relevant to their research.

PhD (Composition, Musicology): a research project undertaken across three to four years, culminating in a portfolio of 75–120 minutes of music and an analytical/contextual commentary (c. 15,000 words), or an 80,000-word thesis, or a combination of musicological and compositional components as part of one coherent project (in flexible proportions, details to be discussed with the Department of Music). As well as having the option to audit taught units, there may be the potential for PhD students to assist on or teach units relevant to their research.

The PhD, MMus and MPhil can be studied via distance learning.

World-leading research

The University of Bristol is ranked fifth for research in the UK (Times Higher Education).

94% of our research assessed as world-leading or internationally excellent.

Entry requirements

MPhil (Musicology): An upper second-class degree or international equivalent. Please note, acceptance will also depend on evidence of your readiness to pursue a research degree.

MPhil (Composition): An upper second-class degree or international equivalent, plus a portfolio of representative compositions. Please note, acceptance will also depend on evidence of your readiness to pursue a research degree.

MMus (Composition): An upper second-class degree or international equivalent, plus a portfolio of representative compositions. Please note, acceptance will also depend on evidence of a suitable level of professional accomplishment.

PhD (Musicology): A master's qualification, or be working towards a master's qualification, or international equivalent. Applicants without a master's qualification may be considered on an exceptional basis provided they hold a first-class undergraduate degree (or international equivalent). Applicants with a non-traditional background may be considered provided they can demonstrate substantial equivalent and relevant experience that has prepared them to undertake their proposed course of study.

PhD (Composition or Musicology): A master's qualification, or be working towards a master's qualification, or international equivalent. Applicants without a master's qualification may be considered on an exceptional basis provided they hold a first-class undergraduate degree (or international equivalent) and/or can demonstrate evidence of a sustained and high level of professional accomplishment. Applicants with a non-traditional background may be considered provided they can demonstrate substantial equivalent and relevant experience that has prepared them to undertake their proposed course of study.

In all cases, applications must be supported by a portfolio of representative compositions. Please note: applicants may be registered on the MPhil or the MMus degree in the first instance.

See international equivalent qualifications on the International Office website.

Read the programme admissions statement for important information on entry requirements, the application process and supporting documents required.

If English is not your first language, you will need to reach the requirements outlined in our  profile level C.

Further information about  English language requirements and profile levels .

Fees and funding

Fees are subject to an annual review. For programmes that last longer than one year, please budget for up to an 8% increase in fees each year.

More about tuition fees, living costs and financial support .

Alumni discount

University of Bristol students and graduates can benefit from a 25% reduction in tuition fees for postgraduate study.  Check your eligibility for an alumni discount .

Funding for 2023/24

The University of Bristol is part of the South, West and Wales Doctoral Training Partnership (SWW DTP), which will be offering studentships for September 2023. For information on other funding opportunities, including University-funded studentships, please see the Faculty of Arts funding pages .

Further information on funding for prospective UK and international postgraduate students.

Career prospects

A significant number of graduates from this programme develop careers in higher education or work on high-level research projects in the field of music; others take up careers as composers and musicians.

Meet our supervisors

The following list shows potential supervisors for this programme. Visit their profiles for details of their research and expertise.

Research groups

Research is structured in several interlinked clusters :

How to apply

Apply via our online application system. For further information, please see the guidance for how to apply on our webpages.

January 2023 start: 1 December 2022 September 2023 start: 1 August 2023 January 2024 start: 1 December 2023

The deadlines for funding applications fall well in advance of these dates. Preliminary contact with staff from the department is welcome at any time of the year. We strongly encourage prospective applicants to contact us early, before submitting an application.

Faculty of Arts Admissions

Faculty of Arts

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Department of Music

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Course type

Qualification, university name, phd degrees in music studies.

62 degrees at 40 universities in the UK.

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PhD/MPhil Music

City, university of london.

PhD in Music

Soas university of london.

Musicology PhD (On-Campus or by Distance Learning)

University of birmingham.

Music and Sound PhD

University of gloucestershire.

Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

Queen's university belfast.

University of Glasgow

Music MPhil, PhD

Newcastle university.

University of Nottingham

PhD Computer Music

University of plymouth.

University of Surrey

Bangor University

Music - PhD

University of kent, brunel university london.

PhD (Music & Sound)

University of south wales, canterbury christ church university.

PhD Postgraduate research in Music

University of wolverhampton, university of west london.

University of Chichester

PhD Music Research Programmes (W300)

University of southampton.

Musical Composition PhD (On-Campus or by Distance Learning)

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PhD Music (Musicology) / Overview

Year of entry: 2023

Full entry requirements

Apply online

Please ensure you include all required supporting documents at the time of submission, as incomplete applications may not be considered. A Personal Statement is NOT required to be submitted. You should select 'Supporting Statement is not required for this programme'.

Application Deadlines

Admission to studying for a PhD is highly competitive, so please allow as much time as possible to prepare your application, browse our research pages and academics' profiles, and familiarise yourself with the application process and any important deadlines.

To be considered for all funding sources, you need to apply far enough in advance of the relevant funding competition deadlines, which are usually much earlier than the programme deadline listed below. For studentships within the School of Arts, Languages and Cultures (including AHRC NWCDTP and ESRC NWSSDTP), you must submit your completed programme application by Friday 13 January 2023 unless specfied otherwise in the funding competition information at

If you are applying for or have secured external funding (for example, from an employer or government) or are self-funding, you must submit your application before the relevant deadline to be considered. You will not be able to apply after these deadlines have passed.

Programme options

Programme description.

Your supervised research will normally be related in some way to the research interests of a member of staff. These currently include but are not limited to:

* Early modern material culture and source studies * Early modern music theory and performing practices * Music and multimedia culture in early modern and Enlightenment England * Reception of early modern English music * Beethoven and his contemporaries * Music, politics and aesthetics in 19th-C Germany * Analysis and reception of 19th-C instrumental music * Music in 20th-century Russia and the Soviet Union * The 20th-century symphony * New music reception, historiography and methodology * Music in contemporary culture * Music of South Asia and the South Asian diaspora * Music of the Mediterranean, Balkans and Caucasus * Politics of world music * Music revivals in the 20th and 21st centuries * Theorising listening and listeners * Jazz performance and improvisation studies * Historical performance practice * Manuscript studies * Child composers

Our research across the department involves particular focus on eight core research areas , which are built around themes and topics that are of interest to a number of members of staff, who are able to bring contrasting perspectives and methodologies to solving shared problems within these themes because of their contrasting areas of specialism. These core research areas comprise:

* Creative and performing practices * Sound, space and interactive art * Politics, protest and power * Nationalism, mobility and identity * Historically and culturally informed analysis * Critical reception studies * Voice and vocality * Inter-cultural musicking

Musicologists and ethnomusicologists will produce an 80,000-word dissertation that presents independent and original research executed at a high standard.

You will be assigned a research panel consisting of your supervisor, a co-supervisor and advisor who will meet with you on a regular basis to monitor your progress.

Postgraduate students are expected to take part in the academic community of the department and the University by participating in seminars and presenting their research at regular intervals.

Find out more about our Music research , our staff and what our current PhD postgraduate research students are working on.

Find out what it's like to study at Manchester by visiting us on one of our  open days .

For entry in the academic year beginning September 2023, the tuition fees are as follows:

Further information for EU students can be found on our dedicated EU page.

Please note for the majority of projects where experimentation requires further resource: higher fee bands (where quoted) will be charged rather than the base rate for supervision, administration and computational costs. The fees quoted above will be fully inclusive and, therefore, you will not be required to pay any additional bench fees or administration costs.

All fees for entry will be subject to yearly review and incremental rises per annum are also likely over the duration of the course for UK/EU students (fees are typically fixed for International students, for the course duration at the year of entry). For general fees information please visit: postgraduate fees . Always contact the department if you are unsure which fee applies to your project.


We offer a limited number of bursaries and studentships on a competitive basis, details of which can be found via the links below.

Please note that while we do not have closing dates for programme applications, all funding competitions have a specified deadline for submitting the funding application form and a separate (earlier) deadline for submitting the online programme application form, both of which will be stated in the funding competition details below.

You may also be eligible for a postgraduate loan from the government. Find out more about this and other sources of funding on the funding opportunities page.

Contact details

See: About us

Programmes in related subject areas

Use the links below to view lists of programmes in related subject areas.

Regulated by the Office for Students

The University of Manchester is regulated by the Office for Students (OfS). The OfS aims to help students succeed in Higher Education by ensuring they receive excellent information and guidance, get high quality education that prepares them for the future and by protecting their interests. More information can be found at the OfS website .

You can find regulations and policies relating to student life at The University of Manchester, including our Degree Regulations and Complaints Procedure, on our regulations website .

phd music uk

MPhil/PhD Music

Course information.

3-4 years full-time or 4-6 years part-time

Course overview

Goldsmiths’ Department of Music has a lively and varied research base, large postgraduate community, active performing tradition, and offers proximity to London’s resources.

Staff research interests are correspondingly diverse and wide-ranging, and we offer research supervision in many different areas, from composition to performance, sonic arts to popular music.

Our MPhil/PhD programmes

Research supervision

You are assigned members of staff qualified to supervise your research throughout your period of registration. Supervision involves regular meetings throughout the period of study and involves the development of an intensive intellectual relationship between you and your supervisor.

You can get in touch with potential supervisors via the contact on the relevant staff page below. It is recommended you do this as a first step towards securing your place.

You have access to Goldsmiths Graduate School, containing an open-access computer room, a student common room and seminar room for use by postgraduate research students. 

Find out more about research degrees at Goldsmiths .

Contact the department

If you have specific questions about the degree, contact Keith Negus .

You can study full-time or part-time. The programme normally begins in September, but applications for entry in January and April may be considered.

Supervision is available in any of the areas of specialism outlined above or covered by staff research interests .

Research students are strongly encouraged to contribute to the Department’s research culture. You will have regular opportunities to present papers at seminars and conferences.

Composers can have pieces performed or recorded by Goldsmiths ensembles, including the Sinfonia, or by the Ensembles-in-Residence.

Performers are encouraged to take part in departmental concerts, and may audition for concerto appearances.

Registration and study

Initially, you register for a Master of Philosophy (MPhil) programme to train you in the research methods you will need to complete a PhD. You can apply to transfer to PhD registration when you have satisfactorily completed an agreed part of the research and training programme; this usually happens after approximately 18 months if you are studying full-time, or before 36 months if part-time. 

You should aim to complete and submit your PhD thesis within an agreed period, usually three to four years for full-time students, and four to six years for part-time.

If you decide not to upgrade to PhD registration, you can submit your thesis for an MPhil after two years if you are studying full-time, or after three years if part-time. With the agreement of your supervisor, you can change your registration from full to part-time or vice versa.

North American applicants especially should note that the British system does not include preparatory taught classes or examinations as part of the MPhil/PhD programme, except for an initial course in research methods.

For 2021-22 and 2020–21, we have made some changes to how the teaching and assessment of certain programmes are delivered. To check what changes affect this programme, please visit the programme changes page .

Entry requirements

You should normally have (or expect to be awarded) a high pass in a taught Masters degree. In exceptional circumstances we will also consider applicants with an undergraduate degree and professional experience equivalent to a Masters degree.

International qualifications

We accept a wide range of international qualifications. Find out more about the qualifications we accept from around the world.

If English isn’t your first language, you will need an IELTS score (or equivalent English language qualification ) of 7.0 with a 7.0 in writing and no element lower than 6.5 to study this programme. If you need assistance with your English language, we offer a range of courses that can help prepare you for postgraduate-level study .

Fees, funding & scholarships

Annual tuition fees.

These are the fees for students starting their programme in the 2023/2024 academic year.

If your fees are not listed here, please check our postgraduate fees guidance or contact the Fees Office , who can also advise you about how to pay your fees.

It’s not currently possible for international students to study part-time under a student visa. If you think you might be eligible to study part-time while being on another visa type, please contact our Admissions Team for more information.

If you are looking to pay your fees please see our guide to making a payment .

Additional costs

In addition to your tuition fees, you'll be responsible for any additional costs associated with your course, such as buying stationery and paying for photocopying. You can find out more about what you need to budget for on our study costs page .

There may also be specific additional costs associated with your programme. This can include things like paying for field trips or specialist materials for your assignments.

Funding opportunities

Find out more about postgraduate fees and explore funding opportunities . If you're applying for funding, you may be subject to an application deadline.

How to apply

You apply directly to Goldsmiths using our online application system. 

Normally, you should begin by contacting either the programme contact listed above, or a staff member active in the relevant field in order to discuss their research project. Staff biographies and specialisms can be seen on our  staff pages .

Once you have discussed and shaped your project, and the staff member concerned has provisionally agreed to supervise you, you should draft a formal research proposal and personal statement. The former should be about 1,500 words long, and should outline your project, describing your research questions, methods, and context – this part comprising a literature review, and a statement as to how your work will seek to make an original contribution to knowledge. The personal statement should outline the reasons you want to carry out the project, your longer-term plans as a researcher, and the ways that you see your work as fitting into and being supported by our Department.

Before submitting your application you'll need to have: 

            Please see our guidance on writing a postgraduate statement

You'll be able to save your progress at any point and return to your application by logging in using your username/email and password.

When to apply  

We accept applications from October for students wanting to start the following September. 

We encourage you to complete your application as early as possible, even if you haven't finished your current programme of study. It's very common to be offered a place conditional on you achieving a particular qualification.  

If you're applying for external funding from one of the Research Councils, make sure you submit your application by the deadline they've specified. 

Selection process 

Admission to many programmes is by interview.

Find out more about applying .

Please visit our Staff pages to find out more about who teaches in the Department .

Find out more about the  MPhil/PhD projects that are currently taking place within the department .

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Postgraduate study

Awards: PhD

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding opportunities

Programme website: Music

Upcoming live online events

Postgraduate Discovery Day

(29 March, 09:00 - 18:00 BST)

Research profile

The Reid School of Music offers an exciting research environment that combines the theory, history, composition and practice of music with the scientific study of sound.

We engage with a broad range of genres and traditions, including:

Our research is highly interdisciplinary, with centres and groups spanning other Colleges and Departments within the University of Edinburgh, from Physics and Neuroscience to Informatics, the Humanities, Divinity and the Social Sciences.

We have a large community of postgraduate students undertaking independent research in music.

If you are interested in undertaking a small independent research project in music, the 12-month MSc by Research is ideal. This programme is offered in any area served by the expertise of our music staff. In consultation with your supervisor, you will develop an individual programme of coursework and research training over two semesters. You will submit a dissertation or portfolio of projects equivalent to 30,000 words.

Candidates for larger-scale, doctoral research are normally admitted as probationary students for the first year of study, and on satisfactory completion of this first year are approved for registration for PhD (maximum four years full-time, dissertation of 80,000–100,000 words).

Our research degrees can be studied part-time (for example, MSc by Research can be studied part-time over two years).

Staff have a wide range of research interests, engaging in research clustered around four main themes:

Some of our current hubs of research activity include:

Please consult our staff profiles on the programme website to see interests and availability; you may propose projects in any area for consideration.

Training and support

All of our research students benefit from ECA ’s interdisciplinary approach and all are assigned two research supervisors.

Your second supervisor may be from another discipline within ECA , or from somewhere else within the College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences or elsewhere within the University, according to the expertise required.

On occasion, more than two supervisors will be assigned, particularly where the degree brings together multiple disciplines.

PhD by Distance option

The PhD by Distance is available to suitably qualified applicants in all the same areas as our on-campus programmes:

The PhD by Distance allows students who do not wish to commit to basing themselves in Edinburgh to study for a PhD in an ECA subject area from their home country or city.

There is no expectation that students studying for an ECA PhD by Distance study mode should visit Edinburgh during their period of study. However, short-term visits for particular activities could be considered on a case-by-case basis.

For further information on the PhD by Distance please see the ECA website:

Entry requirements

These entry requirements are for the 2023/24 academic year and requirements for future academic years may differ. Entry requirements for the 2024/25 academic year will be published on 2 October 2023.

Normally a UK masters degree or its international equivalent. If you are applying for a research degree within Music that involves Composition or Creative Music Practice you must submit a portfolio containing three pieces of composition or examples of work related to your proposed field of study. If you do not meet the academic entry requirements, we may still consider your application on the basis of your portfolio and/or relevant professional experience.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

You must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies, regardless of your nationality or country of residence.

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

Your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the programme you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS , TOEFL, Trinity ISE or PTE , in which case it must be no more than two years old.

Degrees taught and assessed in English

We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree that has been taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country, as defined by UK Visas and Immigration:

We also accept a degree that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries (non-MESC).

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than three and a half years old at the beginning of your programme of study.

Find out more about our language requirements:

Fees and costs

Additional programme costs.

No additional costs

Tuition fees

Scholarships and funding, featured funding.

UK government postgraduate loans

If you live in the UK, you may be able to apply for a postgraduate loan from one of the UK's governments.

The type and amount of financial support you are eligible for will depend on:

Programmes studied on a part-time intermittent basis are not eligible.

Other funding opportunities

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

Further information

Select your programme and preferred start date to begin your application.

PhD Music - 3 Years (Full-time)

Phd music - 6 years (part-time), phd music by distance - 3 years (full-time), phd music by distance - 6 years (part-time), application deadlines.

We encourage you to apply at least one month prior to entry so that we have enough time to process your application. If you are also applying for funding or will require a visa then we strongly recommend you apply as early as possible.

You must submit two references with your application.

You should submit a research proposal that outlines your project's aims, context, process and product/outcome. Read the application guidance before you apply:

If you are applying for a research degree within Music that involves Composition or Creative Music Practice, you must submit a portfolio as part of your application. You won't be able to submit your portfolio immediately, but you'll receive an email prompt within a few days of submitting your application that will explain how to upload your portfolio.

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Students singing together playing the piano

PhD/MPhil Music

Postgraduate research degree

The Music PhD/MPhil gives you the opportunity to develop advanced knowledge in your chosen field. The submission requirements for our highly regarded PhD are flexible, as are the final submission regulations

Research centres and groups

Key information

Music postgraduate research degrees phd/mphil course overview.

You will shape your own experience of the Music PhD/MPhil with excellent support along the way. You will be allocated a principal supervisor who is a world-leading researcher.

Supervision will involve regular meetings for feedback on your work, methodological and theoretical guidance and the opportunity to explore deep research questions in the subject of Music .

The Department of Performing Arts has a vibrant research culture, and you will benefit from weekly research seminars and seminars by distinguished guest academics as well as concerts and a postgraduate conference.

For instrumental and vocal composers the Department has three ensembles in residence. EXAUDI vocal ensemble, Plus Minus and the City Pierrot Ensemble play an integral part of the wider performance culture, allowing composers to have works performed by our own and visiting ensembles.

Research students follow individually supervised programmes leading either to the submission of a thesis (musicology, ethnomusicology), or a portfolio of practice-based work (instrumental and vocal composition, studio-based digital or electroacoustic work, performances, recordings, software, etc.). This is accompanied by a smaller component of written work.

Please note: the thesis for the latter option is not a commentary on the student's practical work but a dissertation on an area of research related to the student's practice-based interests.

Initially students are registered for the MPhil degree. Transfer to PhD status occurs once good progress has been made on the initial stages of the research.

The PhD will normally be completed after three years of full-time research (five years part-time). Then followed by a one-year period of 'writing-up' during which the final preparation of the thesis or portfolio takes place.

Students intending to complete the MPhil will carry out two years of full-time research (or three years part-time), plus the period of 'writing-up'.


For full details about the City PhD programme structure, please see the Guide for Research Students .


Applicants should normally hold a Masters-level degree in music or an area cognate to their area of research.

English requirements

For students whose first language is not English, the following qualifications will meet the English language requirement for entry to a postgraduate course of study:

For more information see our main entry requirements page.

Visa requirements

If you are not from the European Economic Area / Switzerland and you are coming to study in the UK, you may need to apply for a visa or entry clearance to come to the UK to study.

The way that you apply may vary depending on the length of your course. There are different rules for:

For more information see our main Visa page .

Fees and funding

Full-time UK: £4,770 per year

Part-time UK: £2,390 per year

Full-time Overseas/EU: £12,730 per year

Part-time Overseas/EU: £6,360 per year

Fees for doctoral candidates are charged annually and cover registration, supervision and examination. Fees are subject to review each year and may vary during your period of registration. You pay the above fees (which usually increase each year in line with inflation) annually until you are ready to go into 'writing up' status, whereby you are no longer researching your research topic and are solely writing up your thesis for examination.

You will not be required to pay further tuition fees but you will be charged the writing-up fee of £300 which will cover you for the duration of the writing-up period (a maximum of 12 months for full-time and 18 months for part-time students). If a student fails to submit their thesis within the maximum writing-up period, they will be reverted to full registration (full-time or part-time depending on their status before moving to writing up) and will be required to pay the full fees.

Students will only be expected to pay for the time taken to complete the thesis and once the thesis has been submitted the remaining proportional fees will be refunded to the student. Fees are payable upon registration. Details of methods of the payment of tuition fees can be found on our fees and funding pages .

Support for PhD study

Prospective students are encouraged to explore doctoral Grants and funding opportunities such as:

Our bursaries are non-repayable sums of money granted by the University, usually based on need.

Our loans are repayable sums of money granted by the University or other body.

Our scholarships are when the University pays towards your Study fees. You may also be eligible for further funding.

Postgraduate Doctoral Loans

The Government has introduced a new Postgraduate Doctoral Loans scheme which can provide a loan of up to £25,000.

This will be over three years to support study for a doctoral degree.

A Postgraduate Doctoral Loan can help with course fees and living costs while you study. It can be used alongside any other forms of support you may be able to receive.

For more information, please see our Postgraduate Doctoral Loans page .

Additional expenses

Some of our degrees may involve additional expenses which are not covered by your tuition fees.  Find out more about additional expenses .

Academic support

City has a well-established structure and processes to support your research .


Each student is assigned a supervisor whose role is to:

City runs an induction programme, covering training in research methods, computer and library facilities, and discussion of research students' needs.

All research students present their work in progress in the Department's annual Research Seminar Series which acts as a regular meeting point for research students. There are also occasional postgraduate seminars in specialist areas, including a postgraduate composers' listening group.

Find out more information on the central provision for doctoral students in the City Doctoral College .

Research Environment

We have strong links between research and postgraduate teaching. Research students benefit from the Department of Performing Arts' integration of Western and non-Western music, and an interdisciplinary approach that encourages studies related to popular culture and contemporary creative practice, performance, technology, aural culture and world music.

Research students are studying areas as diverse as London-based Klezmer music, 18th-century publishing practices and the nature of collaboration in live electroacoustic performance.

All students benefit from participation in a weekly research seminar series, attended by both staff and student researchers across the Department. Other events held throughout each term include public concert series, specialist seminars and student performances.

Research Excellence Framework (REF)

The Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 rated 87% of our research as either 'world leading' (4*) or 'internationally excellent' (3*).

This included 100% of our research impact being considered 'outstanding' (4*) or 'very considerable' (3*) and a research environment that was similarly assessed at 100% in being 'world leading' (4*) or 'internationally excellent' (3*) for its vitality and sustainability.

The department was placed 11th out of 84 submissions for the proportion of 4*+3* activity and is in the top 25% of all submissions nationally for Grade Point Average (GPA).

How to apply

Preliminary enquiries.

To be considered for the MPhil/PhD programme, one of our staff must be willing to supervise your research.

Students are encouraged to contact a staff member from the School of Communication & Creativity whose research interests accord with your own prior to making an application. Their profiles can be found here .

See here for more information on Sound Practice and Research at City .

We accept applications on an ongoing basis for entry in late September and early February. There is no formal application deadline, but it is advisable to apply as early as possible due to the limited availability of supervisors.

To apply online, you will need to submit the following supporting documents:

When this information is received the application will be assessed by the relevant academic staff.

Further information or an interview may be required. The outcome will be reported to the applicant as soon as is practicable.

Please contact Newton Armstrong or  Richard Thornbury for further information

Writing Your Research Proposal

Please limit your proposal to no more than 4 sides of A4 (excluding bibliography).

Your research proposal should include an abstract setting out the central questions of the proposed research and situating it within a broader context of existing work in the area.

You should include discussion of relevant literature and the ways in which your research will contribute to knowledge in the field.

The proposal should include a section on methodology and an initial plan and timeline to indicate how you will complete the research within the period of study.

See here for guidance on how to prepare your research proposal .

Potential PhD projects

Sonic tehran.

Sonic Tehran is an interdisciplinary project exploring Tehran as a sounded space and funded by the Leverhulme Trust. The project asks how sound shapes, and is shaped by, the urban environment.

Research centre: Sound Practice and Research at City

Academic: Professor Laudan Nooshin

Status: Ongoing project

View case study site

Find a supervisor

See our full list of academic staff and potential supervisors in Department of Performing Arts.

Professor Laudan Nooshin

Professor Laudan Nooshin

Professor of Music

Dr Aaron Einbond

Dr Aaron Einbond

Reader in Music

Dr Claudia Molitor

Dr Claudia Molitor

Senior Lecturer in Music

Professor Ian Pace

Useful links.

Contact details

School of communication & creativity.

[email protected]

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Research overview

Invest your time and follow your passion to create original research. We know the commitment you will making so you'll get expert supervision from our internationally recognised researchers. We encourage you to identify a potential supervisor to discuss your proposal with as early as possible.

Research areas

We have particular strengths in four core areas.

Music, space and place


Musical creativity and community

Music, politics and identity

Explore all our research themes and projects in detail

Performance opportunities

There's plenty of opportunities to play and perform :

Your department

" The music I grew up with and enjoy listening to was not part of the music history I was studying. So when I did a PhD, I decided to move away from opera (which I also like) and focus on musicals. "

Hannah Robbins, Assistant Professor in Popular Music and Director of Black Studies

Course content

Normally taken full-time over three years or part-time over six years (with an optional extra year for writing up, submission and viva).

Example recent theses in the department

Their Dreams and Ours: Britten, Film, and 'The Turn of the Screw' - Peter Auker

Intermezzo under Hapsburg rule (1707-1734): new theories of composition and musical meaning - Eric Boaro

Changing the record: reassessing effectiveness and value in prison music projects - Sarah Doxat-Pratt

A critical and reflective commentary on a portfolio of compositions (audio) - Angela Slater

A range of optional music modules are available in consultation with your supervisory team. Examples include:

Explore a range of musical cultures beyond the traditional canon of Western art music.

Introduce the fields of ethnomusicology and popular music studies. You'll look at different:

from a diverse range of cultures and communities.

We delve into musical traditions and popular culture from around the world, including case studies from Asia, the Americas, Africa, the Middle East, Europe, and the Pacific.

As well as ethnomusicological theory and method you'll get an overview of key issues and debates in Anglophone popular music. You will also develop critical skills for the analysis of musical practice in diverse contexts.

This module is worth 10 credits.

This module centres on participation in primary school music teaching in partnership with the Nottingham Music Hub. Students attend weekly in-school sessions throughout the autumn and spring semesters, assisting with Nottingham First Access mentoring (In Harmony and/or Whole Class Ensemble) or contributing to the direction of post-first-access ensembles. In the spring semester, fortnightly classes will supplement the in-school experience with sessions on topics such as: the national music plan and music hubs; different teaching and learning styles; Musical Futures; musical inclusion and teaching in inner-city schools; and special educational needs.

See our BA Music year two and three modules for more examples of modules available to you.

Entry requirements

All candidates are considered on an individual basis and we accept a broad range of qualifications. The entrance requirements below apply to 2023 entry.

Meeting our English language requirements

If you need support to meet the required level, you may be able to attend a presessional English course. Presessional courses teach you academic skills in addition to English language. Our  Centre for English Language Education is accredited by the British Council for the teaching of English in the UK.

If you successfully complete your presessional course to the required level, you can then progress to your degree course. This means that you won't need to retake IELTS or equivalent.

For on-campus presessional English courses, you must take IELTS for UKVI to meet visa regulations. For online presessional courses, see our CELE webpages for guidance.

Visa restrictions

International students must have valid UK immigration permissions for any courses or study period where teaching takes place in the UK. Student route visas can be issued for eligible students studying full-time courses. The University of Nottingham does not sponsor a student visa for students studying part-time courses. The Standard Visitor visa route is not appropriate in all cases. Please contact the university’s Visa and Immigration team if you need advice about your visa options.

We recognise that applicants have a variety of experiences and follow different pathways to postgraduate study.

We treat all applicants with alternative qualifications on an individual basis. We may also consider relevant work experience.

If you are unsure whether your qualifications or work experience are relevant, contact us .

Your application should include a 1000-3000 word research proposal , containing a proposed title, an aim, objectives, methods, summary of content and outline bibliography.

We encourage you to get in touch with  Dr Nick Baragwanath  about your research proposal before submitting an application. They may be able to help you with your proposal and offer support in finding funding.


You will have a minimum of two supervisors who will offer expert guidance, support and feedback throughout your research. 

Joint supervision and collaboration may be available from partner universities for Midlands4Cities funded students.

Our step-by-step guide contains everything you need to know about applying for postgraduate research.

Additional information for UK/Home students

For UK postgraduate research students, the university fee level of £4,850 is set at Research Council rates and as such is subject to change. The final fee will be announced by Research Councils UK in spring 2023. We will let you know the fee as soon as we have been made aware however given the current global economic crisis the fee is likely to increase.

Additional information for international students

If you are a student from the EU, EEA or Switzerland, you may be asked to complete a fee status questionnaire and your answers will be assessed using guidance issued by the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) .

These fees are for full-time study. If you are studying part-time, you will be charged a proportion of this fee each year (subject to inflation).

Midlands4Cities Doctoral Training Programme

Midlands4Cities (M4C) PhD students benefit from a high quality package of:

You must apply for a place at Nottingham before submitting your M4C application.

Thanks to the generosity of our alumni and partners we sometimes have specific funding available for Music postgraduate students.

There are many ways to fund your research degree, from scholarships to government loans.

Check our guide to find out more about funding your postgraduate degree.

The department's lively research culture offers the chance to hear visiting scholars from elsewhere in the UK and from overseas. Events include:

Research in progress

These sessions for staff and postgraduates give you the space to present your developing work in a friendly and constructive environment. They also allow you to broaden your knowledge of the subject and gain a better sense of how research develops as part of an interactive process.

There are numerous opportunities to play and perform for both players and singers including:

Find out more about performance opportunities

Research centres

The department hosts two research centres that you are encouraged to get involved in. They offer opportunities for research, performance and event support.

Nottingham Forum for Artistic Research (NottFAR)

NottFAR features performances and composers from our staff and high profile guests from around the UK and abroad. Performances take part both on-campus and at major venues in Nottingham such as the  Royal Concert Hall and Rough Trade . 

Centre for Music on Stage and Screen (MOSS)

Promotes the interaction of history, theory and practice in the study of opera, ballet, melodrama, film, video and other multi-media performance genres. It encourages multi-disciplinary and inter-institutional collaboration.

Midlands4Cities students

If you are funded through the Midlands4Cities Doctoral Training Partnership you will complete a portfolio of research training, devised in consultation with your supervisors and Head of Postgraduate Studies.

Language learning

You can make full use of the  Language Centre  facilities for both research-specific learning and personal interest.

Find out more about our  postgraduate support and community .

Researcher training and development

The Researcher Academy is the network for researchers, and staff who support them. We work together to promote a healthy research culture, to cultivate researcher excellence, and develop creative partnerships that enable researchers to flourish.

Postgraduate researchers at Nottingham have access to our online Members’ area, which includes a wealth of resources, access to training courses and award-winning postgraduate placements.

Graduate centres

Our graduate centres are dedicated community spaces on campus for postgraduates.

Each space has areas for:

Student support

You will have access to a range of support services , including:

Students' Union

Our Students' Union represents all students. You can join the Postgraduate Students’ Network or contact the dedicated Postgraduate Officer .

There are also a range of support networks, including groups for:

SU Advice provides free, independent and confidential advice on issues such as accommodation, financial and academic difficulties.

Where you will learn

University park campus.

University Park Campus  covers 300 acres, with green spaces, wildlife, period buildings and modern facilities. It is one of the UK's most beautiful and sustainable campuses, winning a national Green Flag award every year since 2003.

Most schools and departments are based here. You will have access to libraries, shops, cafes, the Students’ Union, sports village and a health centre.

You can walk or cycle around campus. Free hopper buses connect you to our other campuses. Nottingham city centre is 15 minutes away by public bus or tram.

phd music uk

Record, compose, research and experiment

We also have strong links with  venues and spaces  in the rest of Nottingham.

phd music uk

Lakeside Arts

The on-campus Lakeside Arts Centre has an exciting and diverse programme of performances including classical, choral, jazz, folk, 'global', dance, and many other excursions into sound!

Discount tickets available to all students along with work experience and volunteering opportunities.

Whether you are considering a career in academia, industry or haven't yet decided, we’re here to support you every step of the way.

Expert staff will work with you to explore PhD career options and apply for vacancies, develop your interview skills and meet employers. You can book a one-to-one appointment, take an online course or attend a workshop.

International students who complete an eligible degree programme in the UK on a student visa can apply to stay and work in the UK after their course under the Graduate immigration route . Eligible courses at the University of Nottingham include bachelors, masters and research degrees, and PGCE courses.

Our graduates go on to many different careers. Examples include:

Our recent PhD students have gone on to academic positions at the following universities:

50% of postgraduates from SCHOOL/COURSE NAME secured graduate level employment or further study within 15 months of graduation. The average annual salary for these graduates was £25,000.*

*HESA Graduate Outcomes 2019/20 data published in 2022 . The Graduate Outcomes % is derived using The Guardian University Guide methodology. The average annual salary is based on data from graduates who completed a full-time postgraduate degree with home fee status and are working full-time within the UK.

The Department enjoys a close relationship with a number of performance venues in the local area, providing opportunities for public engagement and real world experience.

Portrait of Nick Baragwanath smiling at camera with sheet music and metronome

Related courses

Music composition phd, music performance phd, research excellence framework.

We are ranked 7th in the UK for research power (2021), according to analysis by Times Higher Education. The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is a national assessment of the quality of research in UK higher education institutions.

*According to analysis by Times Higher Education ** According to our own analysis.

This content was last updated on 03 November 2022 . Every effort has been made to ensure that this information is accurate, but changes are likely to occur between the date of publishing and course start date. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply.

New website!

Find out more

AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership

Research at the RCM

Students in the RCM Library

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) research degree focuses on musicological and scientific approaches to performance and composition.

'The cohort of PhD students comprises music practitioners from all corners of the world. Our conversations and camaraderie, both in the classroom and outside, made me feel part of a community.'

Sureshkumar P. Sekar, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

'I am incredibly fortunate to have supervisors who are fonts of knowledge, and are genuinely interested in my doctoral research.'

Sasha Kaye, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

'The multicultural background and the variety of research topics of the RCM research community has significantly enriched my perspective of musical research.'

Arianna Rigamonti, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

The RCM research community currently includes approximately 50 doctoral students working in all of its key areas. The RCM’s doctoral awards are specialist research degrees that particularly encourage research in the areas of performance, composition, musicology and performance science.

Find out about staff and students in our research community

As a doctoral student, you will work with at least two supervisors in addition to attending group tutorials and seminars relevant to your particular area of research. In addition, you will be expected to take an active role within the research life of the Royal College of Music.

The RCM’s doctoral programme offers both a DMus and PhD pathway, and it is possible during the degree to move between pathways depending on how your individual research project evolves.

PhD students submit a written dissertation of between 80,000 and 100,000 words, which may include supporting practical work if appropriate to the topic.

Royal College of Music courses are internationally recognised as full degree courses with successful students awarded their qualifications under the RCM's Royal Charter.

Performance opportunities

With a busy events calendar of more than 500 events every year, the RCM offers a vibrant performance and composition environment. A wide variety of performance opportunities including orchestral and choral projects, chamber music and solo opportunities, performance in jazz and historical instrument ensembles form a regular part of the taught Undergraduate and Postgraduate Programmes.

Doctoral students are encouraged to engage with students and staff in performances as much as possible by sitting in on faculty-based performance activities. These activities include chamber music and duo performance coaching, orchestral training, performance classes, acting and language classes (for singers), music technology (for composers), reed making (for double reed players) and improvisation (for organists). Active participation in formal classes is at the Head of Faculty’s discretion and there is much opportunity for self-directed performance activity which may be supported through our extensive chamber music coaching scheme.

Composition at the RCM fosters partnerships with the College's large body of gifted instrumentalists. Composers will hear performances of their own works in a variety of contexts and have the opportunity to benefit from a range of collaborations, which we host regularly with artistic organisations in London and beyond.

Find out more about performance opportunities

The Royal College of Music is proud to offer its students fantastic practice and performance facilities with resources to support teaching and learning. We continually improve our facilities to ensure RCM students have the best opportunities.

Explore our facilities with a video tour of the RCM

Key facilities at the RCM include:

Find out more about RCM facilities

Career development

The RCM’s Creative Careers Centre, which is recognised internationally for its innovative approach to supporting young musicians, provides an unparalleled service to current students and recent alumni. The dedicated team partners with leading consultants, reputable arts organisations and local communities, delivering unique career-building opportunities and a direct route to the music industry.

The work of the Creative Careers Centre allows students to discover their professional identity, gain hands-on experience and new skills, develop an entrepreneurial mind-set and build a fulfilling professional portfolio.

Extensive performance and teaching opportunities are available, as well as valuable guidance on CV and biography writing, concert programming, communication skills, project management, marketing and publicity, online promotion, financial matters and how to develop a business idea.

Find out more about the Creative Careers Centre

Entry requirements

To be admitted onto the programme, you will normally need to have a good Masters degree, the ability to demonstrate a close familiarity with existing theoretical and practical aspects of your topic area, a developed awareness of fundamental research skills, and some ability to design and define a viable project.

There should also be a good match between your intended project and expertise of staff at the RCM.

The RCM welcomes applicants from all backgrounds and alternative qualifications may be considered. If your qualifications are not listed here, please contact our Admissions team , who will be happy to discuss your suitability for the programme.

English language requirements

All applicants must be able to demonstrate that their level of English language ability meets the Royal College of Music’s minimum requirements in order for their application to be accepted.

If you require a visa to study at the RCM, you must meet the English language requirements before the RCM is permitted to sponsor your visa application.

How to apply

The application deadline for 2023 has now passed but late applications may still be considered. Please contact [email protected] to enquire before applying. 

You must complete all four steps below by the deadline for your application to be considered.

How to submit your application

Applications are made via the RCM’s online portal. Please note, there is one application form for both the PhD and DMus programmes.

There are four steps to submitting your application:

Next stages

Shortlisted applicants will be invited to interview. Interviews normally take place in person at the Royal College of Music, and are usually held in November. All applicants will be notified of the outcome in mid-December.

RCM Blomfield Building illuminated at night

The RCM is the only conservatoire in London to be part of an AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership, with full studentships awarded to exceptional applicants through the London Arts and Humanities Partnership.

If you are interested in pursuing your research interests at the RCM please contact our Head of Research for a discussion about your project ideas.

If you have any questions about the admissions process please contact our Admissions team, who will be happy to help you.

Professor Robert Adlington

Head of Research

[email protected]

Admissions and general audition enquiries

+44 (0)20 7591 4362

[email protected]

phd music uk

Fees & funding

The QAA diamond logo and 'QAA' are registered trademarks of the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education.

Read the Royal College of Music's latest QAA review report

Royal College of Music

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