PhD Musical Composition / PhD By Distance Learning / MA By Research

  • On Campus
  • 36 months
  • EUR14860 Year (Non-EEA)
  • English (IELTS accepted)
University of Birmingham | Birmingham, United Kingdom
Music as a creative art form in the 21st century can combine both tradition and innovation, bringing together instruments (some new, some with centuries of history) and the latest in high technology. As a composer today all of these resources are available to you, and our research degrees in composition aim to foster your skills as you navigate this exciting new world. On this programme you can create works which use electroacoustics and computer technology, traditional (and not so traditional) instrumental and vocal composition, or which combine these aspects. Works for interactive systems, multimedia, and sound installations are also welcome, and you are encouraged to find your own individual path.

Description of Musical Composition / PhD By Distance Learning / MA By Research


Both the PhD and MA by Research require you to attend a training programme as prescribed by the Department and both are assessed on the submission of a portfolio of compositions but these differ between the two programmes:

MA by Research – the portfolio should have a total duration of between 30 and 60 minutes, depending on the nature and size of the forces used, to be agreed with the supervisor.

For those following the MA by Research programme, it is possible to upgrade to a PhD.

PhD – this substantial portfolio (approximately 90 minutes in duration) should display a suitable range of genres and resources to be agreed by the supervisor, which is not derivative, and which satisfies the examiners that it contains original work which is worthy of performance at a professional level and also worthy of publication. You can study for a PhD on campus or by Distance Learning.

You will have access to outstanding facilities in the new £16 million Bramall Music building, including five electroacoustic studios (all of them multichannel; the largest 24 channel), an isolation room for recording, a dedicated control room which can record sound from around the building, and an 18 seat computer cluster. The Dome room is home to the 32 channel Mini-BEAST system, regularly used for listening sessions, rehearsals, and concerts. The Elgar Concert Hall – which has extremely flexible acoustics and technologically advanced AV systems designed by renowned acoustician and architect Nicolas Edwards (Symphony Hall Birmingham, Symphony Centre Dallas, Royal Shakespeare Theatre) – is arguably the best and most adaptable space of its kind in any University in the UK. Like the entire building it is wired for audio over Ethernet, and multi-projector video presentation.

You have the opportunity to write works for the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group (our ‘Ensemble in Association’) the Department’s New Music Ensemble, and for other workshops with visiting performers (e.g. Darragh Morgan, Carla Rees, and Joby Burgess in recent years). The internationally recognised (BEER) provides opportunities to explore advanced aspects of live electroacoustic performance such as controller integration, network music, and live coding.

Duration: PhD 3 years full-time; 6 years part-time; MPhil 1 year full-time; 2 years part-time

Detailed Course Facts

Application deadline None, but early application advised
Tuition fee
  • EUR 14860 Year (Non-EEA)
  • EUR 3830 Year (EEA)

Full time £3996, Part-time £1,998 for EU (and home) / £13855 -Overseas students

Start date Any time  2015
Duration full-time 36 months
  • English
Take an IELTS test
Delivery mode On Campus
Educational variant Part-time, Full-time
Project Type Open
Educational Form Academic

Course Content

Research interests of staff
  • Composition and acousmatic electroacoustic musicContact: Professor Jonty Harrison
    Director of the Electroacoustic Music Studios
    Tel: +44 (0)121 414 5787
  • Composition and live electroacoustic musicContact: Dr Scott Wilson
    Tel: +44 (0)121 414 5767
  • Instrumental/Vocal CompositionContact: Professor Michael Zev Gordon
    Tel: +44 (0)121 414 6743

Requirements for Musical Composition / PhD By Distance Learning / MA By Research

The usual entrance requirement is an upper second-class degree or higher in Music, or appropriate equivalent qualifications

Applying to a Doctoral Research programme at Birmingham is a simple four-step process -

Step 1 - Ensure your qualifications meet our entry requirements|

Step 2 - Find a potential supervisor(s) and identify your research area|

Step 3 - Develop and submit an initial research proposal|

Step 4 - Submit your formal application

In order to undertake a programme of study here at the University, you will need to demonstrate that you have a good level of written and spoken English. You can demonstrate your level of English with IELTS, TOEFL or alternative qualifications..

Work Experience for Musical Composition / PhD By Distance Learning / MA By Research

No work experience is required.

More Information

The Global Study Awards: get funded with up to £10,000 to study abroad

Together with the ISIC Association and British Council IELTS we offer you the chance to receive up to £10,000 to expand your horizon and study abroad. We want to ultimately encourage you to study abroad in order to experience and explore new countries, cultures and languages.