School of Humanities and Performing Arts

MRes Computer Music

The future of the music industry lies with computer technology – and what we can do with that technology. It affects how we create, perform and distribute music. Whether you’re a practising musician, a sound engineer or a professional looking to combine your background and passion for music, we’ll help you explore key concepts at the heart of music, science and technology. Immersed in a thriving research centre, our future-facing course will give you a wealth of new career opportunities.

This programme is also available as a Research Masters (ResM). Further details are available on these pages.

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Key features

  • Work as part of a global research centre – the Interdisciplinary Centre for Computer Music Research (ICCMR) – with staff, PhD students and post-doctoral researchers from all over the world. The latest Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) 2008 judged 100 per cent of our research to be internationally significant; 25 per cent of that was seen as world- leading, too.
  • Projects can range from innovative approaches to composition and performance using computers, and the design of assistive music technology, to studying how music is processed in the brain.
  • Take advantage of the ICCMR’s research collaborations with partners in Europe and USA, allowing you to visit renowned institutions such as IRCAM in Paris, NOTAM in Oslo and CalArts in the USA to develop your research project.
  • Gain the skills necessary to progress to more advanced research at PhD level.
  • Balance your work commitments and further education with the opportunity to study part-time for a masters-level qualification.
  • Take part in the Peninsula Arts Contemporary Music Festival. Showcase your work in public, stay on top of new developments in the industry and get key insights into where music is headed in the future. 
  • Benefit from the multi-disciplinary nature of our programme. Whether you’re a practising musician, music graduate, musicologist, music educator, music technologist or just a graduate with proven knowledge of music or music technology, our programme provides many fascinating opportunities for collaboration.
  • Focus on where you want to take your career, with the support you need to get there. An individual research project will enable you to explore what interests you most at the intersection of music, science and computing.

Course details

  • Programme overview
  • Over the course of our one-year programme, you’ll study three modules. In Advanced Topics in Computer Music Research you’ll be immersed in music programming techniques and software. Studying key contemporary composers working with technology in electronic and computer music, we’ll introduce you to current trends in computer music research, supplemented with course assignments and further reading. The Research in the Arts and Humanities module runs over five intensive days and focuses on interdisciplinary approaches to research into the arts, humanities and technology. You’ll also undertake a module that helps you manage your MRes project with your project supervisor. Your thesis can take the form of a written piece of theoretical work or a critical evaluation report, along with evidence of creative and/or professional practice.
    Core modules
    • MARE700 Research in the Arts and Humanities

      This module provides students with research skills training and a critical awareness of different methodological approaches in the arts, humanities, cultural industries and associated fields, to enable them to make appropriate choices in their own research. It is designed to complement and support individual research projects carried out by students.

    • MARE701 Masters Thesis in the Humanities and/or Performing Arts

      This module provides the opportunity to engage in autonomous research within the humanities, performing arts and related interdisciplinary fields. Students work closely with a supervisor in order to structure and present a substantial piece of research which has been informed by appropriate methodological and critical frameworks. It is delivered via independent study, supervisory tutorials and research group discussion.

    • MARE702 Advanced Topics in Computer Music

      This module explores advanced topics in the field of sound and music computing, and music technology in general, and offers an opportunity to expose the students to the research of the Interdisciplinary Centre for Computer Music Research (ICCMR). Students will be introduced to trends in music practices with new technologies and will have the opportunity to gain and/or hone their theoretical and technical skills through a negotiated project.

Every postgraduate taught course has a detailed programme specification document describing the programme aims, the programme structure, the teaching and learning methods, the learning outcomes and the rules of assessment.

The following programme specification represents the latest programme structure and may be subject to change:

MRes Computer Music 4039

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

For entry to postgraduate level, you should normally possess:

  • a first or upper second (2:1) degree with honours (in music, music technology or a related subject) or professional qualification, recognised as being equivalent to degree standard; or 
  • an ordinary degree, foundation degree, higher national diploma, or university diploma, accompanied by substantial experience in an appropriate field.

If you are an overseas applicant you can check the comparability of your qualifications with the UK equivalent through NARIC, who provide an advisory service.

English language requirement

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. 

English language requirements.

Fees, costs and funding

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Full time fees shown are per annum. Part time fees shown are per a number of credits. Fees are correct at the time of publication and may be subject to change.

Home/EU MRes Computer Music applicants who are proposing practice-as-research in the field of digital performance are also eligible to apply for a competitive 3D3 Research Masters Studentship.

How to apply

Proposal and application process

Application is by project proposal and evidence that you are prepared to successfully complete this project.

Your proposal must provide a suitable basis either for a written submission of 25,000 words, or creative and/or professional practice plus a contextual essay of at least 12,500 words.  Your proposal should be 500 words maximum and accompanied by a recent sample of critical writing (maximum 3,000 words), which may be from a previous course. Proposals for research that is practice-led must be accompanied by a DVD, portfolio of work or links to online documentation that indicate your readiness to pursue the project. It should take the admissions team no longer than 30 minutes to view all the visual material that you provide. These will be used to determine both your aptitude for the programme and the suitability of your proposed project, as well as the availability of an appropriate supervisor. We will also consider the ability of the department to support your research project with resources appropriate to your needs. Please attach your project proposal and sample of critical writing to your application form as separate documents. For section eight of the application form, please include a brief statement explaining why you have chosen this course. All applicants will be interviewed, either in person or by Skype/telephone, prior to being accepted onto either the MRes or ResM Computer Music programme.

Although they are very similar programmes with the same application forms and supplementary material required, the MRes and ResM Computer Music have slightly different application processes:

The MRes is a taught postgraduate programme and your application form must be sent to:
Our Admissions and Course Information team is on hand to offer help with your MRes application and can put you in touch with appropriate staff members  if you wish to discuss the programme in detail. 

The ResM is a postgraduate research programme and your application form must be sent to:
The Graduate School is available to answer any queries about our ResM programmes and any other postgraduate research degrees (such as MPhil/PhD).

Make sure that you clearly indicate at the top of your application form whether you are applying for ResM or MRes.

If you would like to discuss your application please contact the programme leader, Eduardo Miranda.

Programme Leader, Prof Eduardo Miranda - MRes Computer Music

The MRes Computer Music programme is something that I could only dream about when I was a student.

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.

Access our well-equipped studios, open plan lab and annual research seminar series.

Find out more about the centre and what we do

Student insight, Asad Malik - MRes Computer Music

Our students gain a significant amount of insight and expertise in the areas that interest them the most.

Asad Malik studied MRes Computer Music at Plymouth, earning a distinction in 2011.

Research project, Joel Eaton - MRes Computer Music

Watch a short documentary about 'Flex', a groundbreaking research project where Joel performs a composition with a brain-computer music interface using brainwaves to control music.

Facilities - MRes Computer Music

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.

ResM with the School of Humanities and Performing Arts - further details

You can also take this course as a Research Masters (ResM). With the ResM you'll have some taught elements and an extended research phase. There is the option to study full time or part time.

You may also have the opportunity to progress directly into a PhD programme.

Find out more about the ResM pathway