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Awards available PhD, MPhil, MMus
Programme length MPhil: one year full-time; two years part-time
MMus (Composition only): two years full-time; four years part-time
PhD: three years full-time; six years part-time
Location of programme Clifton campus
Part-time study available Yes
Open to international students Yes
Start date January 2017 (2016/17 fees apply)
September 2017
January 2018

Programme overview

The Department of Music is a centre of research excellence in both composition and musicology.

In composition, there is no particular house style, but we are well known for a number of areas including:

  • acoustic work, ranging from solo to symphonic scale;
  • electro-acoustic, including acousmatic composition;
  • composition exploring the interface of Western and non-Western traditions.

The department also provides access to a wide network of opportunities for professional and amateur performance.

In musicology, research strengths include not only the Western art music tradition, but screen media, non-Western and popular music. We have particular depth of expertise in the early Middle Ages and the Renaissance (especially in France and Spain), and in the 19th and 20th centuries (including the music of France, Britain and Soviet Russia). We also have expertise in Anglophone vernacular traditions including jazz and hip hop; in opera, film, music and the history and philosophy of technology, music and migration, and cultural and reception history more generally.

Several musicology students are co-supervised between the Department of Music and a related department, such as Russian, English or History.

NB For students starting in January 2017, fees for 2016/17 will apply (Full-time: UK £4,121, overseas £14,200; Part-time: UK £2,061. Fees are per annum and subject to annual increase.)

Fees for 2017/18

Full-time fees


Part-time fees


Fees quoted are provisional, per annum and subject to annual increase.

Alumni scholarship

University of Bristol students and graduates can benefit from a ten per cent reduction in tuition fees for postgraduate study. Check your eligibility for an alumni scholarship.

Funding for 2017/18

The University of Bristol is part of the South, West and Wales Doctoral Training Partnership (SWW DTP), which will be offering studentships for September 2017. For information on other funding opportunities, please see the Faculty of Arts funding pages.

Further information on funding for prospective UK, EU and international postgraduate students.

Entry requirements

MPhil: An upper second-class degree (or international equivalent). Please note, acceptance will also depend on evidence of your readiness to pursue a research degree.

MPhil/MMus/PhD: A pass at Master's level (or international equivalent).

See international equivalent qualifications on the International Office website.

Application method Online application form
English language requirements Profile C
Further information about English language requirements
Admissions statement Read the programme admissions statement for important information on entry requirements, the application process and supporting documents required.

Research groups

Research is structured in several interlinked clusters:


Contemporary vocal, instrumental and orchestral music; electro-acoustic music and live electronics; music with film and mixed media; cultural transfer through composition; traditional media, such as brass band and choral work.
Group members: Dr Michael Ellison, Dr Neal Farwell, Professor John Pickard.

Music and society

Music and politics; cultural history of French music; film, musicals and music for television; cultural transfer, migration and diasporas (especially British and Russian music); medieval liturgical chant and orality.
Group members: Professor Katharine Ellis, Dr Michael Ellison, Dr Pauline Fairclough, Dr Guido Heldt, Dr Emma Hornby, Professor John Pickard, Dr Stephen Rice, Dr Florian Scheding, Dr Justin Williams.


An emerging cluster exploring the place of music in multi-medial cultural artefacts and practice.
Group members: Dr Michael Ellison, Dr Neal Farwell, Dr Guido Heldt, Dr Emma Hornby, Dr Justin Williams.

Music as performance

Historical performance practice; medieval oral transmission.
Group members: Dr Emma Hornby, Dr Stephen Rice.

British music

A cluster focused on the Centre for the History of Music in Britain, the Empire and the Commonwealth (CHOMBEC, co-directors Dr Guido Heldt and Dr Florian Scheding).
Group members: Dr Annika Forkert (Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow), Dr Guido Heldt, Dr Florian Scheding, Professor John Pickard, Dr Justin Williams.

Old Hispanic Office Research Project

Old Hispanic chant; liturgy; theology; creative engagement with contemporary composition. Funded by the European Research Council.
Project members: Dr Emma Hornby, Dr Elsa de Luca (postdoctoral Fellow), Dr Kati Ihnat (postdoctoral Fellow). 

Beyond East and West Research Project

Composition for western and traditional Turkish musicians; developing and documenting an evolving transcultural musical practice. Funded by the European Research Council.
Project members: Dr Michael Ellison, Dr Simon Jones (Theatre), Dr Argun Çakır (postdoctoral fellow)


A large number of graduates from this programme develop careers in higher education or work on high-level research projects in the field of music; some graduates take up careers as composers and musicians.

Staff profiles

Professor Katharine Ellis, (The Stanley Hugh Badock Chair in Music), Music criticism and press history; social and cultural history of music in 19th-century Paris and metropolitan France.

Dr Michael Ellison, (Senior Lecturer), Analysis; composition; contemporary opera; new music; Turkish music.

Dr Pauline Fairclough, (Senior Lecturer), Cold War cultural exchanges; music and politics; music in Eastern Europe; Shostakovich; Socialist Realism; Soviet and Russian music; Soviet performance practice.

Dr Neal Farwell, (Senior Lecturer), Composition; electro-acoustic composition; live electronics and interactivity; semiotics.

Dr Guido Heldt, (Senior Lecturer), British 20th-century art music; film music and narratology; music and television; musical films; the representation of music in film.

Dr Emma Hornby, (Reader), Compositional grammar; medieval music, particularly Western liturgical chant; orality and transmission; text/music relations.

Professor John Pickard, (Professor of Composition & Applied Musicology), 20th-century British music; composition; editing the music of Elgar; the 20th-century symphonic tradition.

Dr Stephen Rice, (Lecturer), Director of the award-winning Brabant Ensemble; history, editing and performance of the vocal music of 16th-century France and Spain.

Dr Florian Scheding, (Lecturer), Music and migration, especially the displacement of European musics and musicians caused by the political upheavals of the 20th century.

Dr Justin Williams, (Lecturer), Film music; geography and mobility; hip hop; musical borrowing; popular music; the analysis of record production.

How to apply
Application deadline:

September 2017 start: 1 August 2017
January 2018 start: 1 December 2017

International students

Find out more about becoming a student at Bristol, and the support we offer to international students.

I chose Bristol because of its outstanding academic reputation. It's reassuring to be taught by people who truly love their subject - their passion becomes contagious.


REF 2014 results

  • 35% of research is world-leading (4 star)
  • 39% of research is internationally excellent (3 star)
  • 26% of research is recognised internationally (2 star)
  • 0% of research is recognised nationally (1 star)

Results are from the most recent UK-wide assessment of research quality, conducted by HEFCE. More about REF 2014 results.

Bristol Doctoral College

The Bristol Doctoral College facilitates and supports doctoral training and researcher development across the University.

Get in touch

Postgraduate Admissions Phone: +44 (0) 117 331 8458 Email:

Faculty of Arts
University of Bristol
3-5 Woodland Road
Bristol BS8 1TB


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