Music  PhD / MPhil


The Department of Music is one of City's top-rated research centres, being placed in the top 15 music research establishments in the UK in the 2008 Higher Education Funding Council's Research Assessment Exercise, and with an 'esteem indicator' of 100 per cent in the 4* (highest) category. This reflects research activities of the highest international quality.

The graduate community is one of the largest in the country, with around 40 students pursuing research or taught postgraduate degrees. In recent years the Department has been successful in securing several Research Fellowships and Studentships.

The Department of Music has a vibrant research culture and welcomes strong applicants with original research topics for its PhD Programme (see 'Research Areas' in the 'Structure and Awards' tab). Find out more about our current Research Students.

The Music Department is currently offering two full-time fee waivers (at Home/EU rates, worth £4,500 per year for 3 years ) for doctoral studies, commencing October 2016.

  • School of Arts and Social Sciences,
  • Department of Music
  • Start Date:

    City offers two registration points for research degree students, in September and February each year.

    Entry Requirements

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

    English Language 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:

    • A first degree from a UK university or from the CNAA.
    • A first degree from an overseas institution recognised by City as providing adequate evidence of proficiency in the English language, for example, from institutions in Australia, Canada or the United States of America.
    • GCE O-level/GCSE English language or English literature, grade C minimum.
    • An overall score of 6.5 in the English Language Testing System (IELTS) with a minimum of 6.0 for each subtest.
    • Other evidence of proficiency in the English language which satisfies the board of studies concerned.

    Please note that TOEFL and Cambridge Advanced/ Preliminary tests are no longer accepted.

    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:

    • Students on courses of more than six months
    • Students on courses of less than six months
    • Students on a pre-sessional English language course.

    If you require a Tier 4 student visa to study in the UK, you cannot undertake any City courses on a part-time basis.

    For more information see our main Visa page.

    Start Dates / Duration of Studies

    Start Date

    City offers two registration points for research degree students, in September and February each year.

    Duration of Studies

    Full-time students are permitted a maximum of four years' registration. Part-time students are permitted a maximum of seven years' registration. Students must submit a thesis and be examined within this period.

    As a full-time student, you will spend the majority of your working time in research at City. You are expected to dedicate yourself full-time to your research. As a part-time student, you are expected to spend the equivalent of two days per week on your research. This period shall not exceed 15 hours of organised daytime study per week.

    Research students follow individually supervised programmes leading either to the submission of a thesis (musicology; ethnomusicology), or a portfolio of compositions (instrumental and vocal composition and/or studio-based digital or electroacoustic work). Please note: the thesis for the composition is not a commentary on the student's works composed but a dissertation on an area of research related to the student's compositional 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; this can take place at the end of the first year of full-time study, the second year of part-time study, or later. The work completed at the time of transfer contributes to the PhD.

    The PhD will normally be completed after three years of full-time research (five years part-time), 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 only will normally carry out two years of full-time research (or three years part-time), plus the period of 'writing-up'.

    As a general guideline MPhil theses do not normally exceed 60,000 words, and PhD theses do not normally exceed 90,000 words. Audio and visual media may form part of the submission.

    In Composition, the MPhil portfolio will normally contain at least three, and the PhD at least five, substantial works, or negotiated equivalent, with a contextualising commentary. The portfolio is accompanied by a thesis, which will usually consider aesthetic and contextual issues related to the works but is not about them. Substantially fewer words are expected for composition-based theses.

    Research Areas


    • Biography
    • Byzantine and Modern Greek art music
    • Choral music of the Slavic Orthodox churches
    • Church music
    • Critical Musicology
    • Feminist, gay and lesbian musicology
    • Gender and sexuality in Popular music
    • Gender representation in music
    • Historiography and canonicity
    • Historical performance practice
    • Music and literature
    • Music and society
    • Music for film, television and video games
    • Music in the Third Reich
    • Music in cultural history
    • Music in 19th-century Russia and the Soviet Union
    • Music in 20th-century Germany
    • Music videos
    • Nineteenth-century music
    • Plainchant
    • Pop-Rock music
    • Popular music studies
    • Reception history
    • Studies of musical performance, both live and recorded
    • The Frankfurt School, Theodor Adorno and Marxist aesthetics
    • Twentieth-century and contemporary music
    • Women composers


    • African-American music
    • Balkan traditions
    • Creative processes in music, with particular reference to the Middle East
    • Diaspora studies
    • Ethnicity, identity and music
    • Ethnomusicology of Western art music
    • European folk music traditions
    • Greek song
    • Japanese traditional music
    • Middle Eastern musics
    • Music and issues of globalisation
    • Music and the politics of cultural representation
    • Music in Middle Eastern cinema
    • Music, power and ideology
    • The study of musical instruments
    • Urban Ethnomusicology


    • Instrumental and vocal composition
    • Composition for film, television and videogames
    • Studio composition
    • Analysis and aesthetics of composition

    Performance-based research

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

    Research students follow individually supervised programmes leading either to the submission of a thesis (musicology, ethnomusicology); a portfolio of compositions (instrumental and vocal composition and/or studio-based digital or electroacoustic work); or a performance plus thesis (for performance-based research).

    Please note: the thesis for the composition is not a commentary on works that the student has composed but a dissertation on an area of research related to the student's compositional interests.


    • Full-time EU: £4,500 per year
    • Part-time EU: £2,250 per year
    • Full-time Non EU: £12,000 per year
    • Part-time Non EU: £6,000 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 City's website at:

    PhD Studentship

    The School of Arts and Social Sciences is delighted to offer a PhD Studentship for this programme. The Studentship will comprise a full tuition fee waiver and a maintenance grant of £16,057 per annum for three years, starting in October 2016.

    Full applications received by Thursday 31st March 2016 will be automatically considered for the Studentship and successful candidates will be informed in May 2016.


    School Funding

    The Department has been successful in securing or supporting research funding, and applicants for research degrees are encouraged to apply for Research Studentships where appropriate.

    In the past few years the Department has been awarded five two-year Research Fellowships, of which only two are awarded each year, in Film Studies, Composition, Music Therapy and Historical Musicology. Two three-year Studentships, in Musicology and Ethnomusicology have also been awarded.

    The Department has also been successful in gaining external funding for research, including various Research Council funds and a Leverhulme Trust grant for the City, University of London Sinfonietta composition project.

    Preliminary Enquiries

    To be considered for the MPhil/PhD programme, one of our staff must be willing to supervise your research. You are therefore encouraged to contact a staff member whose research interests accord with your own prior to making an application. Their profiles can be found on our website: Further information about research within the Department of Music can be found here:

    How to Apply

    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:

    • A full curriculum vitae specifying academic qualifications, and experience or achievements relevant to the application and the research proposal.
    • A research proposal, giving as much details as possible about the research area, and the reasons for carrying out the research.
    • An account of the ideal resources - hardware, software and supervisory support - needed to enable the work to be carried out.
    • An example of written work which demonstrates writing skills and intellectual ability.
    • Compositions: composers should submit a folio of recent compositions with recordings if possible. Electroacoustic composers should submit digital recordings.
    • Copies of your degree certificates and transcripts.
    • Official work e-mail addresses (not private ones) for two academic referees (or one academic and one professional referee where appropriate)
    • Proof of your English language proficiency (if applicable).

    When this information is received the application will be assessed by the relevant academic staff. Further information or an interview may be required. The applicant will be contacted if this is the case. The outcome will be reported to the applicant as soon as is practicable.


    MPhil/PhD in Music (full-time) starting in September 2016

    MPhil/PhD in Music (part-time) starting in September 2016

    Writing Your Research Proposal

    Please limit your proposal to no more than 3 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.

    Please note: Candidates for the Doctoral Studentships will have to provide an additional 400 word non-technical summary of their research proposal.


    Each student is assigned a supervisor whose role is to:

    • Ensure that the student develops a detailed research plan and has clear targets
    • Assess research training needs
    • Enable access to necessary resources
    • Encourage and support initiative and motivation
    • Provide regular feedback on work.

    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.

    Training Provision

    Find out more information on the central provision for doctoral students in our City graduate school section.

    Research Environment

    With strong links between research and postgraduate teaching, research students benefit from the Department of Music's 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.

    For instrumental and vocal composers, the Department's ongoing association with the London Sinfonietta allows composers to have works performed by the ensemble at LSO St Luke's. Composers and creative practitioners working in electroacoustic and electronic music can work in the Department's well-equipped studios, and regularly perform their work in the Department's purpose built performance space, which is fully equipped with multimedia and network facilities.