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)

The Interdisciplinary Centre for Computer Music Research (ICCMR) develops research combining music, science and technology. Our research expertise ranges from musicology and composition, to biomedical applications of music and development of new technologies for musical creativity.

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


Grand prize of the European Commission for Innovation in Technology, Industry and Society stimulated by the Arts, ICCMR award

The composition Biocomputer Rhythms, by Eduardo Miranda, won an Honorary Mention at STARTS, an initiative of the European Commission to foster arts and sciences connections.

The sounds of Queen Canute

Former ICCMR PhD student, Nuria Bonet, now a Lecturer in Music at the University talks about her project on musification of data her composition Queen Canute, for seagulls and clarinet. 

Listen to Queen Canute

RadioMe

A £2.7 million project, RadioMe uses artificial intelligence to adapt and personalise live radio, with the aim of transforming lives for people living alone with dementia. Funded by The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), it addresses key causes of hospital admission for people with dementia, such as agitation and not taking medication correctly. Led by Professor Eduardo Miranda from the University and including other university partners, it will develop a way to remix live digital broadcast so that listeners will receive personal reminders, information and music to improve quality of life and allow people to remain living independently at home for longer.

Learn more about RadioMe.

EG Conference

EG is an annual gathering and a community of brilliant innovators driving our most creative industries. Professor Eduardo Miranda presented a talk at the EG Conference in California on developing bio-computing technology using components built with organic living material.

Watch Professor Eduardo's talk


Federico Visi

ICCMR PhD student, Federico Visi, receives Santander Universities Scholarship award for his innovative research on the impact of music and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).

Find out more about Federico

People