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Doctoral Research Music PhD



What will I learn?

About the programme

This programme is validated by City, University of London.

Research degrees are awarded for an independent research project that contributes to existing knowledge in a given area. Guildhall School’s research programme has a distinctive focus on research in, through and for the performing arts. As a world-leading conservatoire, we are well equipped to support research projects that integrate creative practice with scholarly enquiry.

Our DMus award is for world-leading music composers and performers whose own practice forms an integral part of their research. The PhD award may also encompasses research by creative practice as well as historical, ethnographic, musicological and other modes of enquiry.

Our doctoral researchers are expected to complement their expertise in the performing arts, with methodological and theoretical skills perspectives drawn from arts, humanities and/or social science research as is pertinent to their project.

The School is committed to diversifying its doctoral student population and welcomes applications from under-represented groups.

Research environment

Our research students investigate a wide range of topics in music, theatre and related artistic and pedagogic practices, including composition, instrumental performance, historical performance, opera-making, theatre-making, performing arts pedagogies, institutions and cultures. Their research tends to fall within these three broad themes:

21st century creative processes in new music composition, theatre, opera, participatory and socially-engaged practices
The performer’s perspective in the context of: concert and chamber music, jazz and other music of the black Atlantic; theatre and acting.
Training and professional development of performing arts practitioners - including pedagogic approaches and conservatoire culture.

Students across these disciplines and subject areas study together on our specialist research training programme which creates opportunities for fruitful exchange and mutual support. What also unites our doctoral research at the Guildhall School is a commitment to exploring the role of the performing arts practitioner in society, and the personal, social, ethical and political impact and implications of performing arts practices.

A research degree can offer a substantial period of reflection and renewal for artists and pedagogues exploring their own practice. It is also a preparation for a research career. It is a significant undertaking, demanding a high level of self-motivation, intellectual curiosity, resilience and commitment. A PhD or DMus is usually undertaken over 3-4 years (full time) or 6-7 years (part time) and an MPhil is 2 year (full time) or 4 year (part time). Minimum admission requirements include a masters degree or equivalent professional experience. Prospective candidates are encouraged to contact possible supervisors or the doctoral programme as far in advance of application as possible.

A PhD award is open to students pursuing research about a range of performance arts practices and allows a wider range of options in terms of methodologies and submission format. A traditional PhD culminates in a written thesis of 80,000 words but many of our students also include practice elements (in which case the written element will be at least 30,000 words).

As a PhD is not necessarily structured around performing arts practice, there are no pre-set minimum requirements in terms of the student’s prior training or professional experience (though this must be appropriate to the proposed research).

Which department am I in?

Guildhall School of Music and Drama

Study options

Full Time (3 years)

Tuition fees
£15,465.00 (US$ 18,656) per year
This is a fixed fee
Start date

18 September 2023


Guildhall School of Music & Drama

Silk Street,

City of London,

EC2Y 8DT, England

Entry requirements

For international students

The minimum admission requirements for admission onto the doctoral programme are: A BA (hons) degree (upper 2nd or 1st class) and Master’s degree in a relevant subject area (equivalent professional or academic experience occasionally considered); For projects involving artistic or pedagogic practice, demonstrated expertise and experience. Applicants who do not speak English as their first language and who do not hold a degree from a majority English-speaking country should have achieved a minimum overall score of 7.0 in the IELTS Academic Training examination with no individual component score below 6.0 (or equivalent).

*There may be different IELTS requirements depending on your chosen course.


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