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The University of Southampton
HumanitiesPostgraduate study

PhD Music Research Programmes (W300)

The Music doctoral programme offers excellent research facilities and expert supervision in a wide variety of subjects, including musicology, composition and performance. Our range of staff expertise is among the broadest in the country, embracing repertories from medieval music to the twenty-first century.

Introducing your degree

Make a contribution to the world of music through an PhD Music Research Programme degree at the University of Southampton. You can select your research topic from a wide range, allowing you to develop advanced expertise in your area of choice. You will be supervised by our leading professionals, ensuring you gain 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.

Our PhD supervisors are specialists in music history from the Middle Ages to the present, global music history, opera studies, theory and analysis, music and gender, music and heritage studies, arts and cultural management, music technology (including Web Science and artificial intelligence), and ethnomusicology. We welcome PhD applications in performance studies (including critical editing, performance practice and reception theory) and all kinds of composition, including film music, electronic music and music-based performance art. See our staff pages for more information about individual supervisors and their expertise.

Career opportunities are wide ranging and varied.  Opportunities exist as a member of a research team in academia, leading to future leadership positions within an academic context.  The nature of the generic and discipline-specific skills obtained during your study make your experience and skills attractive to a range of organisations post qualification.

Doctoral Programme Director: 

Dr Hettie Malcomson
Tel: +44 (023) 8059 4400

View the doctoral programme profile for this course

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 7433

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

Typical entry requirements

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: PhD in Musicology: IELTS 6.5 overall, with a minimum of 6.5 in all components, PhD in Composition or Performance: IELTS 6.5 overall with a minimum of 6.0 in each component., or an equivalent standard in other qualifications approved by the University.

Selection process

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

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 standard office and specialist music software, printing and scanning facilities, and storage space. 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.

The PhD by Research programme has no modules per semester. Instead, it is an entirely research-oriented programme in which students conduct original research under the guidance of their supervisors. We also supply a range of training programmes, aimed at helping you to complete your thesis or composition portfolio and developing skills for presenting and publishing your work. Our regular research seminars and presentations, including the Hartley Residency series, provide opportunities to meet other researchers and enrich your thinking.

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.

Please be aware that UK/EU column only apply to UK students.

List of tuition fees for this course and it's variations
Course TitleAwardYear of entryMode of studyUK/EUInternational
Music (distance learning)PhD2023Full-time£4,596£18,600
Music (distance learning)PhD2023Part-time£2,298£9,300
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

Study locations

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