Research overview

Through an agreed programme of original research you will:

  • deepen critical engagement with, and understanding of, performance practice
  • explore specific aspects of technique or repertoire.

There are many opportunities to perform both individually and as part of ensembles, on-campus and as part of the wider Nottingham musical scene.

Research areas

Our research strengths are grouped into four themes.

Music, space and place

  • Music and musical culture in a specific time and place
  • Transnational and transcultural exchange
  • Urban geographies and mobility


  • How music interacts with other art forms
  • Applying and developing methodologies from other disciplines

Musical creativity and community

  • Musical creativity
  • Development of communities and networks

Music, politics and identity

  • How music has contributed to local, national and international political change
  • How music shapes individual identities

Explore all our research themes and projects in detail


Housed in a purpose-built building our facilities provide an ideal environment for you to rehearse, record and perform.

Your department

  • Department of Music website
  • The department was ranked 7th among the Russell Group universities for research outputs in the Research Excellence Framework 2021.
  • The department offers exceptional research-led teaching, with inspiring facilities for performance, composition, music technology, and musicology. The department benefits currently from a partnership with the BBC Concert Orchestra, through which world-class performance, composition, and production experiences are offered. The Music Department enjoys a close relationship with Lakeside Arts, the University of Nottingham’s public arts programme.

"I uncover real historical practices and ask how they might inform and enhance music tuition and performance today. This has resulted in a shift in core performance practices of a new generation of musicians and music teachers."

Nicholas Baragwanath, Professor of Music

Course content

Normally taken full-time over three years or part-time over six years (with additional year(s) often taken for final writing up, submission and viva).

There are two main assessment options.

Option one

One full-length public recital or lecture-recital of approximately 90 minutes, which can also be presented as a “minor” recital of 30 minutes at the end of year two and a “major” recital of 60 minutes at the end of year three.

The recital must be accompanied by a dissertation of approximately 50,000 words on a related area or equivalent, to be followed by a viva.

The recital performance should:

  • display an original and imaginative stance on the art of performance
  • show an advanced level of creative ability and outstanding technical and interpretative mastery
  • be worthy of a professional standard of performance

Option two

Normally two public recitals or lecture-recitals of approximately 60 minutes each, the first at the end of year two and the second at the end of year three.

The recitals must be accompanied by a 20,000-word commentary or equivalent, to be followed by a viva.

The recital or lecture-recital performances should:

  • display an original and imaginative stance on the art of performance
  • show an advanced level of creative ability and outstanding technical and interpretative mastery
  • be worthy of a professional standard of performance

Example recent theses in the department

Their Dreams and Ours: Britten, Film, and 'The Turn of the Screw' - Peter Auker

Intermezzo under Hapsburg rule (1707-1734): new theories of composition and musical meaning - Eric Boaro

Changing the record: reassessing effectiveness and value in prison music projects - Sarah Doxat-Pratt

A critical and reflective commentary on a portfolio of compositions (audio) - Angela Slater

Entry requirements

All candidates are considered on an individual basis and we accept a broad range of qualifications. The entrance requirements below apply to 2025 entry.


Masters degree in a relevant subject or equivalent research experience.

If your masters is in a subject other than music you must demonstrate a suitable level of aptitude.


Provide approximately 45 minutes of contrasting repertoire, submitted as a recent unedited video performance (provided online or on DVD).


Masters degree in a relevant subject or equivalent research experience.

If your masters is in a subject other than music you must demonstrate a suitable level of aptitude.

International and EU equivalents

We accept a wide range of qualifications from all over the world.

For information on entry requirements from your country, see our country pages.


Provide approximately 45 minutes of contrasting repertoire, submitted as a recent unedited video performance (provided online or on DVD).

IELTS7.0 (no less than 6.0 in any element)
English language requirements

As well as IELTS (listed above), we also accept other English language qualifications.

This includes TOEFL iBT, Pearson PTE, GCSE, IB and O level English.

Meeting our English language requirements

If you need support to meet the required level, you may be able to attend a presessional English course. Presessional courses teach you academic skills in addition to English language. Our Centre for English Language Education is accredited by the British Council for the teaching of English in the UK.

If you successfully complete your presessional course to the required level, you can then progress to your degree course. This means that you won't need to retake IELTS or equivalent.

For on-campus presessional English courses, you must take IELTS for UKVI to meet visa regulations. For online presessional courses, see our CELE webpages for guidance.

Visa restrictions

International students must have valid UK immigration permissions for any courses or study period where teaching takes place in the UK. Student route visas can be issued for eligible students studying full-time courses. The University of Nottingham does not sponsor a student visa for students studying part-time courses. The Standard Visitor visa route is not appropriate in all cases. Please contact the university’s Visa and Immigration team if you need advice about your visa options.

We recognise that applicants have a variety of experiences and follow different pathways to postgraduate study.

We treat all applicants with alternative qualifications on an individual basis. We may also consider relevant work experience.

If you are unsure whether your qualifications or work experience are relevant, contact us.


We encourage you to get in touch with PGR admissions officer Dr Rebecca Thumpston-Gallagher or Director of Performance Dr László Rózsa about your research proposal before submitting an application. They may be able to help you with your proposal and offer support in finding funding.


You will have a minimum of two supervisors who will offer expert guidance, support and feedback throughout your research.

Joint supervision and collaboration is available from partner universities and organisations for Midlands4Cities funded students.

Supervisors and research specialisms

Our step-by-step guide contains everything you need to know about applying for postgraduate research.

How to apply


Home / UK£5,350

Additional information for international students

If you are a student from the EU, EEA or Switzerland, you may be asked to complete a fee status questionnaire and your answers will be assessed using guidance issued by the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA).

These fees are for full-time study. If you are studying part-time, you will be charged a proportion of this fee each year (subject to inflation).


There are funding opportunities which are only open to students within the Faculty of Arts.

Postgraduate funding for Faculty of Arts students

Thanks to the generosity of our alumni and partners we sometimes have specific funding available for Music postgraduate students.

Funding for Music postgraduate students

There are many ways to fund your research degree, from scholarships to government loans.

Check our guide to find out more about funding your postgraduate degree.

Postgraduate funding


The department's lively research culture offers the chance to hear visiting scholars and practitioners from elsewhere in the UK and from overseas. Events include:

  • regular research seminars
  • professional concerts
  • colloquia
  • conferences

Research in progress

These sessions for staff and postgraduates give you the space to present your developing work in a friendly and constructive environment. They also allow you to broaden your knowledge of the subject and gain a better sense of how research develops as part of an interactive process.

Performance opportunities

There are numerous opportunities to get involved in performing for both players and singers including:

  • University-wide orchestra and choir
  • Over 20 dedicated ensembles covering all types of music
  • A lively and wide-ranging musical culture in the city of Nottingham.

Find out more about performance opportunities.

Research centres

The department hosts two research centres that you are encouraged to get involved in. They offer opportunities for research, performance and event support.

Nottingham Forum for Artistic Research (NottFAR)

NottFAR features performances and composers from our staff and high profile guests from around the UK and abroad. Performances take part both on-campus and at major venues in Nottingham such as the Royal Concert Hall and Rough Trade.

Centre for Music on Stage and Screen (MOSS)

Promotes the interaction of history, theory and practice in the study of opera, ballet, melodrama, film, video and other multi-media performance genres. It encourages multi-disciplinary and inter-institutional collaboration.

Midlands4Cities students

If you are funded through the Midlands4Cities Doctoral Training Partnership you will complete a portfolio of research training, devised in consultation with your supervisors and Head of Postgraduate Studies.

Language learning

You can make full use of the Language Centre facilities for both research-specific learning and personal interest. 

Find out more about our postgraduate support and community.

Researcher training and development

The Researcher Academy is the network for researchers, and staff who support them. We work together to promote a healthy research culture, to cultivate researcher excellence, and develop creative partnerships that enable researchers to flourish.

Postgraduate researchers at Nottingham have access to our online Members’ area, which includes a wealth of resources, access to training courses and award-winning postgraduate placements.

Graduate centres

Our graduate centres are dedicated community spaces on campus for postgraduates.

Each space has areas for:

  • studying
  • socialising
  • computer work
  • seminars
  • kitchen facilities

Student support

You will have access to a range of support services, including:

  • academic and disability support
  • childcare services
  • counselling service
  • faith support
  • financial support
  • mental health and wellbeing support
  • visa and immigration advice
  • welfare support

Students' Union

Our Students' Union represents all students. You can join the Postgraduate Students’ Network or contact the dedicated Postgraduate Officer.

There are also a range of support networks, including groups for:

  • international students
  • black and minority ethnic students
  • students who identify as women
  • students with disabilities
  • LGBT+ students

SU Advice provides free, independent and confidential advice on issues such as accommodation, financial and academic difficulties.

Where you will learn

Record, compose, research and experiment

We also have strong links with venues and spaces in the rest of Nottingham.


Whether you are considering a career in academia, industry or haven't yet decided, we’re here to support you every step of the way.

Expert staff will work with you to explore PhD career options and apply for vacancies, develop your interview skills and meet employers. You can book a one-to-one appointment, take an online course or attend a workshop.

International students who complete an eligible degree programme in the UK on a student visa can apply to stay and work in the UK after their course under the Graduate immigration route. Eligible courses at the University of Nottingham include bachelors, masters and research degrees, and PGCE courses.

Our graduates go on to many different careers. Examples include:

  • Music management
  • Programme controller
  • Composer
  • Civil Service Fast Stream
  • Marketing
  • Law
  • Accountancy
  • Airline pilot

Our recent PhD students have gone on to academic positions at the following universities:

  • Cambridge
  • Edinburgh
  • Manchester
  • Nottingham
  • Pavia (Italy)
  • Sheffield
  • Open University
  • Maastricht

50% of postgraduates from SCHOOL/COURSE NAME secured graduate level employment or further study within 15 months of graduation. The average annual salary for these graduates was £25,000.*

*HESA Graduate Outcomes 2019/20 data published in 2022. The Graduate Outcomes % is derived using The Guardian University Guide methodology. The average annual salary is based on data from graduates who completed a full-time postgraduate degree with home fee status and are working full-time within the UK.

The department enjoys a close relationship with a number of performance venues in the local area, providing opportunities for public engagement and real world experience. 

Related courses

Research Excellence Framework

The University of Nottingham is ranked 7th in the UK for research power, according to analysis by Times Higher Education. The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is a national assessment of the quality of research in UK higher education institutions.

  • 7th among the Russell Group universities for research outputs
  • 80% of our publications, compositions and recordings rated as 'world leading' or 'internationally excellent'
  • 90%* of our research is classed as 'world-leading' (4*) or 'internationally excellent' (3*)
  • 100%* of our research is recognised internationally
  • 51% of our research is assessed as 'world-leading' (4*) for its impact**

*According to analysis by Times Higher Education ** According to our own analysis.

This content was last updated on 01 July 2024. Every effort has been made to ensure that this information is accurate, but changes are likely to occur between the date of publishing and course start date. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply.