Musicology PhD/MA by Research (On-Campus or by Distance Learning)

The Department of Music offers promising candidates the opportunity to carry out research in one of the most dynamic institutions in Britain, with supervision from world-leading academics and access to outstanding facilities.

Our staff include composers, performers and scholars. Our wide research expertise covers the Medieval, Baroque, Classical and Romantic periods, 20th and 21st Century music, popular music, music analysis, music psychology, critical theory, electronic music, British music, ethnomusicology and sound studies. Postgraduate students will experience the latest research in music via our regular seminar series featuring leading scholars, composers, and performers. They will also have the opportunity to present their own research to fellow students and staff in our informal 'research lunch' series.

Music scholarships available

The College of Arts and Law is offering a number of scholarships for postgraduate research students in Music. Open to students pursuing any of our Music PhD/MA by Research pathways, the awards vary in value and applications are now open.

Find out more and apply now

Peter Atkinson

Peter Atkinson

“While studying for my MA in Music at Birmingham I developed a real passion for original research, especially through working on my master’s dissertation. Because of this, and because three of the staff members in the music department have expertise in my own main area of interest (music in Britain in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries), I decided to stay on at the University to carry out doctoral research.”
Ask Peter a question

A PhD is awarded for the outcomes of intensive, independent study that demonstrates an original and significant contribution to knowledge in your chosen subject. You will be assessed at the end of the programme by a thesis of 80,000 words which will need to be deemed suitable for publication, in whole or in part in a learned journal or equivalent by your examiners. You will need to defend your thesis and demonstrate an in-depth knowledge of your subject at a viva voce (oral examination) before a panel of expert examiners.

An MA by Research is a research-based Masters programme assessed by a thesis of 40,000 words. An oral examination may be held at the discretion of the examiners.

Unlike our postgraduate taught programmes, there are no formal lectures or seminars in a PhD or MA by Research, and your work is not formally examined until after your thesis has been submitted. Instead, our postgraduate research programmes provide you with the opportunity to undertake research under the expert guidance of a primary supervisor, co-supervisor and mentor, supported by complementary research training.

Find out more about what to expect from a PhD/MA by Research.

Distance learning

You can study an MA by Research or PhD programme on campus or by distance learning. Please note that if you are studying with us by distance learning, the programme includes a fully-funded annual visit to campus for each full year of your programme (every two years for part-time students).

For more information on distance learning including answers to frequently asked questions, student experiences and funding opportunities, please see our distance learning website

At Birmingham you also have the option of studying languages, free of charge. Almost no other UK University offers you the opportunity to learn the intense graduate academic language skills which you may need to pursue your research.

Why study this course

  • World-leading research: The department celebrated excellent results in the latest Research Excellence Framework (REF), where 50% of research outputs (which measure the quality of published research produced by academics) for Music were top 4* rated as ‘world-leading'. This output score was one of the leading scores in the country.
  • Employability: Employers that graduates have gone on to work for include: Arts Council England; BBC; Birmingham Conservatoire; Birmingham Contemporary Music Group; Coventry City Council Performing Arts Service; Lancaster University; National Opera Studio; National Orchestra; Raffles Institution; and Royal Northern College of Music.
  • Wide research expertise: Our wide research expertise covers the whole of western music history.

Fees and funding

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2019/20 are as follows:

  • UK/EU: £4,320 full-time; £2,160 part-time*
  • International: £17,040 full-time; £8,520 part-time

The same fees apply to both campus-based and distance learning study. The distance learning programme fee also includes a fully-funded visit to campus for each full year of the programme.

The above fees quoted are for one year only; for those studying over two or more years, tuition fees will also be payable in subsequent years of your programme.

* For UK/EU postgraduate research students the University fee level is set at Research Council rates and as such is subject to change. The final fee will be announced by Research Councils UK in spring 2019.

Fee status

Eligibility for UK/EU or international fees can be verified with Admissions. Learn more about fees for international students.


For EU students applying for the 2020/21 academic year

The UK Government has confirmed that EU students will continue to be eligible for 'home fee status' for entry in September 2020, and will continue to have access to financial support available via student loans for the duration of their course. For more information take a look at the gov.uk website.

Paying your fees

Tuition fees can either be paid in full or by instalments. Learn more about postgraduate tuition fees and funding.

Scholarships and studentships

Scholarships to cover fees and/or maintenance costs may be available. To discover whether you are eligible for any award across the University, and to start your funding application, please visit the University's Postgraduate funding database.

International students can often gain funding through overseas research scholarships, Commonwealth scholarships or their home government.

Entry requirements

Our requirements for postgraduate research are dependent on the type of programme you are applying for:

  • For MA by Research programmes, entry to our programmes usually requires a good (normally a 2:1 or above) Honours degree in Music or a related subject, or an equivalent qualification if you were educated outside the UK.
  • If you are applying for a PhD then you will usually also need to hold a good Masters qualification in Music or a related subject.

Any academic and professional qualifications or relevant professional experience you may have are normally taken into account, and in some cases, form an integral part of the entrance requirements.

If you are applying for distance learning research programmes, you will also be required to demonstrate that you have the time, commitment, facilities and experience to study by distance learning.

If your qualifications are non-standard or different from the entry requirements stated here, please contact the admissions tutor.

How to apply

Application deadlines

Postgraduate research can start at any time during the year, but it is important to allow time for us to review your application and communicate a decision. If you wish to start in September, we would recommend that you aim to submit your application and supporting documents by 1 July 2019.

Distance learning students will attend a residential visit in September or January, and those students wishing to attend the September residential are also encouraged to apply by 1 July 2019. The visit will take place at the end of September/beginning of October and you will receive further details once you have accepted your offer.

Additional guidance for applicants to the PhD Distance Learning study mode.

Before you make your application

Please refer to our six step process on applying for PhD, MA by Research and MRes opportunities for Arts subject areas, which includes detailed advice on research proposals and how to write them.

You may also wish to register your interest with us to receive regular news and updates on postgraduate life within this Department and the wider University.

Making your application

When clicking on the Apply Now button you will be directed to an application specifically designed for the programme you wish to apply for where you will create an account with the University application system and submit your application and supporting documents online. Further information regarding how to apply online can be found on the How to apply pages

Apply now

Please contact a staff member working in your area of interest in the first instance. A summary of our key research areas, and staff working within those, can be found below.

Your degree will provide excellent preparation for employment and this will be further enhanced by a range of employability support services offered by the University.

The University's Careers Network provides advice and information specifically for postgraduates that will help you to develop an effective career and skills development strategy, and to make the most of your time with us at the University. The College of Arts and Law also has a dedicated careers and employability team to deliver tailored programmes of careers events and local support.

You will have opportunities to: meet employers face-to-face at on-campus recruitment fairs; attend employer presentations and skills workshops; receive individual guidance on your job applications, writing your CV and improving your interview technique; and access to comprehensive listings of hundreds of graduate jobs and work experience opportunities.

You will also be able to access our full range of careers support for up to two years after graduation.

Postgraduate employability: Music

Birmingham's Music postgraduates work in a wide range of careers within and beyond the music world. A postgraduate degree in Music develops a broad base of skills including general skills such as communication, problem solving and research, and also specific skills developed by practice and performance such as self-management, team work and presentation.

Over the past five years, around 90% of Music postgraduates were in work and/or further study six months after graduation. Whilst some graduates pursue music-related careers, or go on to teaching and lecturing roles, others choose to use their transferable skills to follow career paths in fields including finance, advertising and public relations.

Music postgraduate alumni profiles

Birmingham has been transformed into one of Europe's most exciting cities. It is more than somewhere to study; it is somewhere to build a successful future.

Get involved

The Guild of Students hosts over 250 student groups and societies to suit a wide range of interests. These include the Postgraduate and Mature Students Association which runs a regular and varied programme of events specifically tailored to postgraduate students.

In addition, you will find that each Department runs its own social activities, research fora and student groups.

Accommodation

We offer accommodation for postgraduates on or near to campus, although many of our students also choose to live privately in student accommodation, shared houses or flats. If you do choose to live in private accommodation, the University has dedicated support services to help you to find properties from accredited landlords.

The City of Birmingham

One of Europe's most exciting destinations, Birmingham is brimming with life and cultures, making it a wonderful place to live, study and work. Our students fall in love with the city - around 40% of our graduates choose to make Birmingham their home.