The University of Southampton
HumanitiesPostgraduate study

W300 PhD Music Research Programmes (4 years)

The Music doctoral programme offers excellent research facilities and expert supervision in a wide variety of subjects; our range of staff expertise is among the broadest in the country, embracing repertories from medieval music to the twentieth century.


Introducing your degree

Make a contribution to the world of music through an PhD Music Research Programme degree at the University of Southampton and make your mark on the music industry. The PhD research programme will enable you to select a research topic from a wide range, allowing you to specialise and become a top expert in that area of choice. You will be supervised by our leading professionals, from composition to musicology, ensuring you are given all the tools and knowledge to conduct your research to the best of your ability. Apply for the PhD Music Research Programme today and enhance your musical potential.


We have specialists in historical musicology, theory and analysis, music in popular culture, music and gender and a range of critical approaches; another major focus is the study of performance, ranging from historical performance practice to reception theory. Composition in a variety of idioms is another particular strength.

We particularly welcome postgraduate research proposals on music in the Middle Ages, Renaissance music, music and theatre in 17th-century England, music and musical thought in the long 18th century, 19th-century opera, 20th-century art music, contemporary musical culture (including pop and jazz), composition, film music, analysis, historical performance, arts management and cultural policy.

Admissions Tutor: Professor Thomas Irvine
Tel: +44 (0)23 8059 5064

To Apply

Application process and required supporting documents

  • University online application including a personal statement
  • research proposal
  • transcript
  • 2 references
  • English language (if relevant)
  • 1 sample of written work – either a master’s thesis, or a substantial essay (this can include current coursework) of approximately 5000 words, and/or published work i.e. Journal article, book chapter, CD liner notes
  • Performance PhD:   As above, but in addition a sample of recorded solo or accompanied performance totalling 20-25 minutes.

Candidates are advised to contact prospective supervisors with the subject of their proposed research prior to application.

Contact for postgraduate enquiries:
Tel: +44 (0)23 8059 8062

Programme Structure

We have an active research community with about 40 postgraduate students. There is a dedicated Music Postgraduate Room in the department, to which all postgraduates have 24-hour access. This provides study spaces for up to 20 students at any one time, networked computers with word processing and music processing software, microfilm and microfiche readers, printing and scanning facilities, bookshelves, storage space, and telephone. Our computing laboratory and electronic studios are also available for postgraduate use. Students find a supportive and friendly research environment, and we encourage you to take part in the academic community within the University and in the broader context of the discipline, both nationally and internationally.

Key Facts

Duration: Up to 4 years (full-time); up to 7 years (part-time)

Start date: Normally September and January each year

Closing date: 3 months before start date (also dependent on funding body deadlines); an application decision cannot be guaranteed in time for programme commencement unless a complete application is received in good time - students requiring a visa to study should also allow extra time for visa processes; informal enquiries welcome at any time

Entry Requirements

Typical entry requirements

Selection process

Academic entry requirements: First or upper second class honours degree and normally Masters at Merit* level, or an equivalent standard in other qualifications approved by the University in Music.

(*Merit 60%-69%, Distinction 70%+)

Equivalent Qualifications: We will also consider candidates who do not have a Masters degree if they can demonstrate; outstanding undergraduate performance including evidence of preparedness for research (e.g. first class honours and 75% or more in the dissertation in a relevant subject); or appropriate professional experience which may include performance and composition and be able to demonstrate advanced writing skills; or other appropriate qualifications.

English language entry requirements: IELTS 7.0 overall, with a minimum of 7.0 in writing, 6.5 in reading, listening and speaking, or an equivalent standard in other qualifications approved by the University.

Selection process: Online application and interview

Applications will be assessed under the following

  • Evidence of general academic aptitude
  • Preparedness or promise for doctoral research
  • Quality of the research project proposal
  • Fit with Southampton's research expertise

Applicant Quality: Your application will be judged against the following criteria: 

  • it provides evidence that you meet our entry requirements
  • it demonstrates your personal suitability and commitment to undertake Doctoral study
  • it provides supportive references that indicate your suitability to undertake a PhD
  • it presents a well-focused and high quality research proposal which indicates potential to contribute original research to the discipline
  • it demonstrates critical awareness of the scholarly field to which the research will contribute, and appropriate methods to carry out this work
  • it may strengthen your application if you can demonstrate genuine interest in working with a named academic in the department 

Personal Statement: Use your Personal Statement to provide additional information relevant to your application. This should include the following:

  • outline your reasons for wishing to conduct postgraduate research in your chosen area
  • explain how your proposed research matches the research environment and supervisory expertise offered by Music at Southampton
  • reflect on how your education, skills, and experience will equip you for PhD study and to undertake your planned research
  • indicate details of any other achievements/interests
  • indicate any special circumstances pertaining to the academic record
  • tell us what you hope to get from the programme

This page contains specific entry requirements for this course. Find out about equivalent entry requirements and qualifications for your country.


Typical course content

The PhD by Research programme has no modules per semester. Instead it is an entirely research-oriented programme in which studenst conduct original research under the guidance of their supervisors.

Year 1

Please note: This specification provides a concise summary of the main features of the programme and the learning outcomes that a typical student might reasonably be expected to achieve and demonstrate if s/he takes full advantage of the learning opportunities that are provided. More detailed information can be found in the programme handbook (or other appropriate guide or website).

Fees & funding

Tuition fees

Fees for postgraduate research degrees vary across the University. All fees are listed for UK, EU and international full-time and part-time students alphabetically by course name.

View the full list of course fees

Scholarships, bursaries, sponsorships or grants may be available to support you through your course. Funding opportunities available to you are linked to your subject area and/or your country of origin. These can be from the University of Southampton or other sources.

Explore funding opportunities

Costs associated with this course

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In some cases you'll be able to choose modules (which may have different costs associated with that module) which will change the overall cost of a programme to you. Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

Learning & Assessment

Study locations

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