Department of Music

Music research degrees (PhD and MPhil)

Why a research degree at Nottingham?

We offer a wide spectrum of musical activity in both academic and practical spheres. Our research strengths lie in four broad, overlapping areas: music, space and place; music-text-image; musical creativity and community; music, politics and identity.

In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, with 100% of staff submitted, the Department of Music achieved an overall grade point average (GPA) of 3.29. 49% of our publications were judged world-leading, with the remainder judged internationally excellent and internationally recognised. Our department was ranked 4th in the UK by the Guardian University Guide 2015.

Music students have access to traditional and technical facilities
The University of Nottingham is the lead institution in the AHRC-funded Midlands3Cities Doctoral Training Partnership

Supervision and research expertise

The department offers supervision for MPhil and PhD students in a wide range of areas.
  • Classical
  • Composition (including computer-aided and electroacoustic composition)
  • Contemporary performance practice
  • Early music
  • Ethnomusicology
  • Film music
  • History of music
  • Jazz 
  • Music and health
  • Music and history
  • Music and society
  • Music in contemporary culture
  • Musical performance
  • Musicology
  • Opera
  • Performance with electronics
  • Popular music
  • Traditional music

Research areas

Staff profiles, including supervision expertise publications

Research opportunities in the postgraduate online prospectus

You will therefore be able to identity a suitable supervisor for almost any doctoral project you intend to undertake. When a project requires expertise spanning two or more departments in the University, we may be able to offer co-supervision with colleagues in other disciplines.


Teaching and learning

The Department of Music offers excellent opportunities for research student supervised and independent learning.

The department's lively research culture includes regular research seminars, which offer the chance to hear visiting scholars from elsewhere in the UK and from overseas as well as opportunities for staff and postgraduates to present research in progress in a friendly and constructive environment. These occasions also allow postgraduate students to broaden their knowledge of the subject and gain a better sense of how research develops as part of an interactive process.

Students are also encouraged to participate in the department’s Centre for Music on Stage and Screen activities.

Additional research training is provided via the Graduate School, and AHRC-funded students can take advantage of training provided across the Midlands3Cities Doctoral Training Partnership.

Learn a language alongside your research degree


Dr Lonán Ó Briain discusses the Department of Music's Denis Arnold Library.

Facilities and resources

Nottingham has excellent facilities for doctoral students both in terms of formal seminars, symposia and conferences, and personal study space.

The Department of Music, part of the School of Humanities, is housed in modern, purpose-built accommodation within the Lakeside Arts Centre. The practical and technical facilities are excellent, including:

  • a well-stocked, on-site library with listening area, multimedia facilities and an audio-visual archive
  • a modern studio with first-rate equipment for electronic composition
  • a PC lab giving access to word-processing and music-notation software
  • a dedicated postgraduate study room with networked PCs and a wireless router
  • practice rooms with new pianos.

The Djanogly Recital Hall has recently been acclaimed as one of the country's top-10 venues for chamber music, where performances of all kinds take place, including a regular series of professional concerts, public recitals by students, and concerts including student compositions. Adjacent is a large, purpose-built rehearsal hall.

Other key spaces for Music students include the Graduate School and Social Sciences and Arts Graduate Centre.


James Cook, PhD Music, talks about the department's great resources

Funding for research students

The primary source of funding for our students is through the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

The University of Nottingham is the lead institution within the Midlands3Cities Doctoral Training Partnership (M3C DTP).

The partnership is a collaboration between the universities of Nottingham, Nottingham Trent, Leicester, De Montfort, Birmingham and Birmingham City, and is awarding 410 PhD studentships for study over a five year period commencing 2014.

The DTP provides UK/EU research candidates with cross-institutional mentoring, expert supervision including cross-institutional supervision where appropriate, subject-specific and generic training, and professional support in preparing for a career.

Applications for 2018 entry are now open. The deadline for applying is 15 January 2018. 

Find out more about Midlands3Cities

Register for more information by email


Whilst M3C DTP AHRC funding is only available to UK/EU students, this is by no means the only source of funding, and additional opportunities are listed on the department's funding page as they become available.

The University’s International Office has a wide range of scholarship opportunities for students an EU fee status, including a fee reduction for alumni, and EU and Accession State Scholarships. 

You may also search the University’s funding database, designed to give you an indication of University scholarships for which you may be eligible to apply. The University Graduate School operates funding schemes of its own to help support current postgraduate research.


Department of Music student fees and funding

New applicants: how to apply

Existing applicants login


Nottingham offers a range of opportunities to transform your subject specialisms into practical skills, and gain valuable experience sought after by employers. 

More information on careers 


Nottingham provides a wealth of on-campus and off-campus musical opportunities, plus a host of other activities to enhance your student experience.

More information on student life

Contact us


Dr Xenia Pestova
t: +44 (0)115 951 4702

Department of Music

The University of Nottingham
Lakeside Arts Centre
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

Admission enquiries
All other enquiries
Telephone: +44 (0)115 951 5841