School of Humanities and Performing Arts

MPhil/PhD Music

Studying PhD Music at the University of Plymouth will immerse you in a world of cutting-edge research under the umbrella of the Interdisciplinary Centre for Computer Music Research. Our research expertise ranges from musicology and composition to biomedical applications of music and development of new music technologies.

Musical research at the University of Plymouth is truly interdisciplinary: we actively publish our research outcomes in learned journals and conferences in the fields of music, digital arts, computing, engineering, psychology, neurosciences and medicine.

Course details

  • Overview
  • The University of Plymouth is a world-leader on musical research at the crossroads of arts and science, in particular computing, biology and psychology. This full time or part time doctoral programme is suitable for candidates interested musical research question or topic in mind, and wish to explore this through independent study in order to produce an original contribution to the subject.

    You will be guided by a small supervisory team of academic experts under the direction of a Director of Studies. Even if you already have a masters degree, you will normally be registered as a ‘MPhil/PhD’ candidate and may apply to transfer to ‘PhD’ status around 10–22 months after registration, based on your progress to date. 

    You will be expected to fully engage with skills development and training and to present your research in a range of scholarly contexts.

    Your PhD will be assessed via submission of either a written thesis (approximately 80,000 words), or one that combines critical writing with artistic, creative and/or professional practice, and a viva voce (an oral examination).

    For full details of what doing a PhD entails at the University of Plymouth, please visit our Postgraduate Research Degrees pages

    Core modules
    • GSRMUS1 Research Music

  • Year 2
  • Core modules
    • GSRMUS2 Research Music

  • Year 3
  • Core modules
    • GSRMUS3 Research Music

  • Final year
  • Core modules
    • GSRMUS4 Research Music

The modules shown for this course or programme are those being studied by current students, or expected new modules. Modules are subject to change depending on year of entry.

Entry requirements

Although candidates are expected to be conversant with music theory and/or practice and demonstrable experience on the topic of the envisaged research project, they are not required to have a music degree to join this programme. Applicants are expected to have completed a masters level qualification to a high standard as well as either a good 2:1 or first class honours undergraduate degree.

If you do not have a masters level qualification, we recommend you consider applying for our ResM Computer Music. Students who are making exceptional progress in a ResM programme, may progress directly into our PhD programme without having to complete the masters.

If English is not your first language, you must have proficiency in written and spoken English (normally a minimum test score of 6.5 for IELTS, or equivalent). Given the nature of the programme, you’ll be expected to read and engage with complex theoretical texts and debates for which fluency in English is essential.

For more general guidelines and application requirements, please visit the research degrees applicants page.

Fees, costs and funding

EU applicants should refer to our dedicated Brexit webpage for details of the implications of the UK’s plans to leave the European Union.

Please visit tuition fees for postgraduate research for information about fees. PhD Performing Arts is in Band 2 for fees purposes.

If you are a full time student, you will pay full time fees for three years. If you have not submitted your thesis by the end of this period, then you may pay for an optional one year writing up period.

If you are a part time student, you will pay part time fees for four years. If you have not submitted your thesis by the end of this period, then you may pay for an optional 'writing up' period of up to two years.

You are responsible for meeting all of the costs related to your own research project, beyond the resources available in the department.

Please visit our postgraduate research money matters page to find out more about issues related to fees, funding, loans and paying for your programme of study.

How to apply

In addition to completing the online application form (which includes space for a personal statement), you must also upload a research project proposal of no more than 1000 words in total. Your research proposal should outline your general topic, your key aims and the research question/problem you are addressing, your proposed methodology, key definitions/thinkers/discourses/practitioners you are drawing upon and an explanation of why this topic is significant or important.

Your personal statement should briefly explain why you have chosen to apply to our programme and what you feel you can offer our research community. 

It is recommended that you contact a member of staff (see people below) to briefly discuss your research idea before you submit an application.

For more general guidelines and application requirements, please visit the research degrees applicants page.

Interdisciplinary Centre for Computer Music Research (ICCMR)

Cutting-edge research in topics including the interface between music, computers, and the brain within a vibrant contemporary music community. Professor Eduardo Miranda explains more about his research in computer music.  Access our well-equipped studios, open plan lab and annual research seminar series.

In this short video Professor Eduardo Miranda introduces ICCMR


You’ll have access to ICCMR’s well-resourced research lab and music studios. ICCMR is located in the newly completed multi-million pound building, The House, where you’ll mix with other staff and students from across the arts faculty.

This creates opportunities for interdisciplinary and practice-based research.

Find out more about The House

Music of the mind

The ICCMR team developed a musical system which enables people with severe motor-impairments to play music with signals detected directly from their brain, which was featured in a documentary for Volvo and Sky Atlantic. 

Film credit: Volvo and Sky Atlantic

Contemporary Music Festival

The prestigious Contemporary Music Festival provides an unparalleled opportunity for post-graduate students to showcase their work in a professional setting.

More information can be found on the Contemporary Music festival website.

Research project, Edward Braund

Watch this short documentary about 'Biocomputer Music', a groundbreaking research project developed by ResM students and staff, investigating the development of bio-processors for interactive computer music and Artificial Intelligence.