Phd in Music and Sound

Research environment Research in music and sound takes place within the School of Arts, which brings together a broad range of interconnected subject areas, including dance, digital arts, film, music, theatre and sound recording.

The School is highly collegiate, with a close-knit and supportive academic environment. It is home to the Institute of Sound Recording, one of the world’s leading centres for research in psychoacoustic engineering and sound perception. Our musical research and composition achieves wide international circulation through established scholarly channels and broadcast media. We are principal organisers of the Guildford International Music Festival. Facilities include industry-specification sound-recording studios, music-practice rooms and venues for concert performance and musical theatre.


Key research areas include:


    • Analysis
    • 20th-century concert music, especially Bartok, Stravinsky, Mahler, Elgar, Britten
    • Popular musics, particularly rock, jazz, electronic dance music
    • Aesthetics of sound and music
    • Contemporary music and its composition and performance
    • Critical musicology
    • Music for screen
    • Folk music studies
    • Composition
    • Psychoacoustic engineering
    • Acoustic-perception modelling
    • Performance studies and techniques
    • Improvisation
    • Acoustics
    • Digital signal processing
    • Psychoacoustics (theoretical and experimental)
    • Statistical analysis and user-interface design
    • Spatial audio: perception and reproduction

Research programmes:

    • PhD in Music
    • PhD in Sound
    • PhD in Sound Recording

Research degrees overview
Our research degrees prepare you for success at each stage of your PhD project development. The structure is designed to provide intensive graduate preparation for a future career and is suitable for either part-time or full-time candidates. Completion of the programme entails submission of a thesis, the submission of practice if undertaking a practice-based PhD, and an oral viva with external examiners.

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PhD students in all programmes in the School of Arts can expect three levels of research training:

1) University-level training is provided by the Postgraduate Skills Development Programme and the University Library including a PhD induction, workshops on writing skills and preparation for the confirmation and viva. There is also an annual student-led University Postgraduate conference.

2)School-level training is offered in the form of interdisciplinary seminars, reading groups, visiting speaker events and conferences.

3)You will also receive subject-specific training that will vary depending on your programme. You may participate in research “intensives”, featuring formal presentations of work by students, keynote seminars, study groups on current themes in Arts research, and research skills training sessions. You may meet regularly for debate and discussion and participate in annual formal presentations of research.

Entry requirements For all programmes (apart from Sound Recording), entry is on the basis of a good honours degree and usually an MA in a relevant arts subject or appropriate professional experience. Candidates submitting proposals that include practice-based research will be required to evidence appropriate experience and expertise. For Sound Recording, a high level of academic achievement in relevant science/engineering subject areas and a clear aptitude for research are required. Typically this will mean a first or high upper second-class Bachelors degree with a significant final-year project or dissertation, or a Masters degree achieving or approaching distinction, with a significant research project element. Non-fluent speakers of English are required to have IELTS 6.5 or above. Auditions will be held for entry to some programmes. Please see online for further details.

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Studentship opportunities  Faculty studentships are available for top-quality students, covering tuition fees at the Home/EU rate and maintenance at current research-council rates for full-time or part-time study. University or Research Council funded studentships may be available. Please enquire with the Director of Postgraduate Research.


Further information
For full programme information and information on how to apply, please visit the school website


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