Music composition MPhil/PhD

Music composition MPhil/PhD Qualification name
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Fact file

MPhil/PhD Music composition

Full-time: 2 years, Part-time: 4 years

Full-time: 3 years, Part-time: 6 years

Entry requirements

Masters degree in a relevant subject or equivalent research experience. Applicants with degrees in subjects other than music must demonstrate a suitable level of aptitude.

3 scores with recordings, if available. At least one work must be for large ensemble.

7.0 (6.0) If these grades are not met, English preparatory courses are available
Start date
1 October, 1 December, 1 February, 1 April, 1 July
University Park
Other requirements



The Department of Music has a national reputation for excellence in composition. There are many opportunities for you to have your compositions played and recorded by ensembles and orchestras and to benefit from Nottingham’s rich and diverse musical life. Individual supervision is supplemented by a programme of workshops and events. The MPhil is normally taken full-time over two years or part-time over four years, and is assessed by a portfolio of compositions lasting around 40 minutes and an accompanying commentary of 12,000 words. The PhD is normally taken full-time over three years or part-time over six years, and is assessed by a portfolio of compositions lasting around 60 minutes and an accompanying commentary of 20,000 words.



The Department of Music, part of the School of Humanities, is housed in modern, purpose-built accommodation adjacent to the Nottingham Lakeside Arts. Our excellent practical and technical facilities include:

  • a well-stocked, on-site library with listening area, multimedia facilities and an audio-visual archive;
  • a studio with first-rate equipment for electronic composition and sound recording;
  • a PC lab giving access to word-processing and music-notation software;
  • a dedicated postgraduate study room with networked PCs;
  • 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 NottFAR (Nottingham Forum for Artistic Research) new music concerts, the Lakeside Arts concert series featuring top professional classical and jazz performers, student ensemble concerts, including student ensemble concerts featuring student compositions and public recitals by students. Adjacent is a large purpose-built rehearsal hall.

There are also numerous performance opportunities


Research support

The department's lively research culture includes the NottFAR (Nottingham Forum for Artistic Research) series featuring top new music performers and 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 you to broaden your knowledge of the subject and gain a better sense of how research develops as part of an interactive process.

The Arts Graduate Centre offers a comprehensive range of research training courses. You are also eligible to take the Research Techniques module that forms a part of the MA in Music, and may elect to audit other courses in the University.

A number of University support services exist to assist you during your time at Nottingham and beyond. The Graduate School is a particularly important source of support.


Find a supervisor

We encourage you to get in touch with Director of Composition Dr Elizabeth Kelly about your research proposal before submitting an application. She may be able to help you with your proposal and offer support in finding funding opportunities. 

Details of research supervisors can be found on the Department website.


Fees and funding

UK/EU Students

Competitive scholarships available include:

  • MA Scholarships
  • PhD Scholarships
  • Department MA Studentships
  • School Overseas Research Scholarship

Midlands4Cities funding

The Midlands4Cities Doctoral Training Partnership supports the personal and professional development of the next generation of arts and humanities doctoral researchers. Studentships are available to UK/EU students.

How to apply to the University of Nottingham through Midlands4Cities

This is by no means a complete list. For up-to-date information and application forms on these and other funding opportunities, please visit the funding section of the Department’s website.

The University’s International Office has a wide range of scholarship opportunities for students with 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.

For a detailed list of external funding schemes, please visit the School of Humanities funding page.

Government loans for doctoral study

Doctoral student loans of up to £25,700 are available for PhDs and equivalent research programmes. Applicants must ordinarily live in England or Wales.

Funded routes to PhD

Apply for a studentship

A studentship is a fully funded research place in a specific area. The process is similar to applying for a job and the advert will give specific details of how to do this.

Explore doctoral training programmes

If you choose a doctoral training programme, you will benefit from high-level research and skills training, with places often funded by research councils or charitable trusts. Each opportunity has a different application process and deadlines.

International and EU students

Research scholarships are available for outstanding international and EU students. You must already have an offer to study at Nottingham to apply. Please note closing dates to ensure you apply for your course with enough time.

We also provide information and advice on funding your degree, living costs and working while you study, as well as country-specific resources.



Visit the Department page for additional opportunities

Average starting salary and career progression

In 2016, 96% of postgraduates from the School of Humanities who were available for employment had secured work or further study within six months of graduation. The average starting salary was £22,370 with the highest being £30,000.*

*Known destinations of full-time home postgraduates 2015/16. Salaries are calculated based on the median of those in full-time paid employment within the UK.

Career Prospects and Employability

The University of Nottingham is consistently named as one of the most targeted universities by Britain’s leading graduate employers* and can offer you a head-start when it comes to your career.

Our Careers and Employability Service offers a range of services including advice sessions, employer events, recruitment fairs and skills workshops – and once you have graduated, you will have access to the service for life.

* The Graduate Market 2013-2016, High Fliers Research.


This online prospectus has been drafted in advance of the academic year to which it applies. Every effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content) are likely to occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for the course where there has been an interval between you reading this website and applying.

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Department of Music
University of Nottingham
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