MusicFind a programme
|Run by||Faculty of Arts|
|Awards available||PhD, MPhil, MMus|
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||
Part-time study requires daytime weekday attendance. Attendance at weekly Tuesday afternoon research seminars is strongly recommended.
The PhD can be studied via distance learning. The MPhil will be offered via distance learning from September 2021.
MPhil: a standalone, one-year (full-time) research degree. Students will undertake their own research project, concluding in the submission of a 25,000 word dissertation or a portfolio of 25–35 minutes of music and an analytical/contextual commentary (c.4,000–5,000 words). Students may have the option to audit units from our taught master's programmes if they are relevant to their research.
MMus: a standalone, two-year (full-time) research degree. Students will undertake their own research project, concluding in the submission of a 25,000 word dissertation or a portfolio of 50–70 minutes of music and an analytical/contextual commentary (c.8,000–10,000 words). Students may have the option to audit units from our taught master's programmes if they are relevant to their research.
PhD: a research project undertaken across three years (full-time, plus a writing up period), culminating in an 80,000 word thesis or a portfolio of 75–120 minutes of music and an analytical/contextual commentary (c. 15,000 words). As well as having the option to audit taught units, there may be the potential for PhD students to teach units themselves from their second year of study onwards.
Expertise: 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 music, ranging from solo to symphonic scale;
- electro-acoustic, including acousmatic composition, live electronics, and mixed forms with instrument/voice;
- 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 also screen media, non-Western and popular music. We have particular depth of expertise in the early Middle Ages (especially Spain), and in the 19th and 20th centuries (including the music of France, Britain, Germany 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.
Fees for 2021/22
We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2021/22 are as follows:
- UK: full-time
- UK: part-time
- Overseas (including EU): full-time
- Channel Islands/Isle of Man: full-time
Fees are subject to an annual review. For programmes that last longer than one year, please budget for up to a five per cent increase in fees each year. Find out more about tuition fees.
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 2021/22
The University of Bristol is part of the South, West and Wales Doctoral Training Partnership (SWW DTP), which will be offering studentships for September 2020. 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.
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.
MMus (Composition): An upper second-class degree or international equivalent, plus a portfolio of representative compositions. Please note, acceptance will also depend on evidence of a suitable level of professional accomplishment.
PhD: A master's qualification, or be working towards a master's qualification, or international equivalent. Applicants without a master's qualification may be considered on an exceptional basis provided they hold a first-class undergraduate degree (or international equivalent). Applicants with a non-traditional background may be considered provided they can demonstrate substantial equivalent and relevant experience that has prepared them to undertake their proposed course of study.
PhD (Composition): A master's qualification, or be working towards a master's qualification, or international equivalent. Applicants without a master's qualification may be considered on an exceptional basis provided they hold a first-class undergraduate degree (or international equivalent) and/or can demonstrate evidence of a sustained and high level of professional accomplishment. Applicants with a non-traditional background may be considered provided they can demonstrate substantial equivalent and relevant experience that has prepared them to undertake their proposed course of study. In all cases, applications must be supported by a portfolio of representative compositions. Please note: applicants may be registered on the MPhil or the MMus degree in the first instance.
See international equivalent qualifications on the International Office website.
English language requirements
If English is not your first language, you need to meet this profile level:
Further information about English language requirements and profile levels.
Read the programme admissions statement for important information on entry requirements, the application process and supporting documents required.
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: Professor Michael Ellison, Professor Neal Farwell, Professor John Pickard.
Music, politics and society
Music and cultural transfer; transnationality and colonialism; migration and diasporas; reception studies; music, revolution and totalitarianism; medieval liturgical chant and orality.
Group members: Professor Michael Ellison, Professor Pauline Fairclough, Dr Guido Heldt, Professor Sarah Hibberd, Professor Emma Hornby, Professor John Pickard, Dr Florian Scheding, Dr Justin Williams.
Music in multi-medial cultural artefacts and practice, including: popular music, especially hip hop; opera, musicals; music for film and television; medieval music.
Group members: Professor Michael Ellison, Professor Neal Farwell, Dr Guido Heldt, Professor Sarah Hibberd, Professor Emma Hornby, Dr Justin Williams.
Music as performance
Historical performance practice; medieval oral transmission.
Group members: Professor Emma Hornby.
Medieval liturgical chant (primarily Western European); liturgy; theology; computer-assisted chant analysis; veneration of saints; processions. This research group is funded by the Leverhulme Trust (until 2021), the Arts and Humanities Research Council (until 2022) and the British Academy (until 2022).
Project members: Professor Emma Hornby, Maeve O'Donnell (postdoctoral research fellow), Paul Rouse (IT Specialist), Dianne Scullin (Leverhulme Network Facilitator), Laura Lanceley (AHRC project administrator).
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: Professor Michael Ellison, Professor Simon Jones (Theatre), Dr Argun Çakır (post-doctoral fellow).
Regional Rap in Post-Devolution Britain Project
Hip-hop music and culture in the UK, focusing on three substantial music scenes: Bristol (and the South West), Birmingham (and the West Midlands), and Edinburgh (and Scotland). Fuses musicology with geography, linguistics, postcolonial theory and gender studies.
Project members: Dr Justin Williams, Dr James McNally (post-doctoral fellow).
A significant 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.
Professor Michael Ellison, (Senior Lecturer), Analysis; composition; contemporary opera; new music; Turkish music.
Professor Pauline Fairclough, (Professor), Cold War cultural exchanges; music and politics; music in Eastern Europe; Shostakovich; Socialist Realism; Soviet and Russian music; Soviet performance practice.
Professor Neal Farwell, (Professor), Composition; electro-acoustic composition; live electronics and interactivity; semiotics.
Dr Kate Guthrie, (Lecturer), music and technological change; social, political and cultural history of music in mid-twentieth-century Britain
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.
Professor Sarah Hibberd, (Stanley Hugh Badock Chair of Music), music and science in the nineteenth century; music and visual cultures; nineteenth-century music; nineteenth-century opera; opera and musical culture in France, 1789–1850; opera and politics
Professor Emma Hornby, (Professor), 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 ; Havergal Brian; the 20th-century symphonic tradition.
Dr Florian Scheding, (Senior Lecturer), Music and migration, especially the displacement of European music and musicians caused by the political upheavals of the 20th century.
Dr Justin Williams, (Senior Lecturer), Film music; geography and mobility; hip hop; musical borrowing; popular music; the analysis of record production.
January 2021 start: 2 December 2020
September 2021 start: 2 August 2021
January 2022 start: 1 December 2021
Get in touch
Faculty of Arts Postgraduate Research Admissions Phone: +44 (0) 117 428 2296 Email: email@example.com
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REF 2014 results
- Music, Drama, Dance and Performing Arts (Music):
- 35% of research is world-leading (4*)
- 39% of research is internationally excellent (3*)
- 26% of research is recognised internationally (2*)
- 0% of research is recognised nationally (1*)
Results are from the most recent UK-wide assessment of research quality, conducted by HEFCE. More about REF 2014 results.