University Global Partnership Awards (UGPN) – PhD Studentship. Spatial microtonality: compositional strategies and tools

Spatial microtonality: compositional strategies and tools.

Fully-funded joint PhD programme of study between University of Surrey and University Global Partnership Network (UGPN) partner University of Wollongong will investigate the intersection between spatial audio technologies and microtonal systems.

Start date

1 October 2023


36 months

Application deadline

Funding source

University of Surrey

Funding information

Full tuition fee cover, stipend of c £17,000 p.a. and a £3,000 Research Training Support Grant.


This timely project draws on expertise in musical composition, spatial audio and notational systems within the Department of Music and Media (Surrey), and specialist research in microtonal theory, composition and performance within the School of the Arts, English and Media (Wollongong).

We capitalise on the recent and ongoing development of advanced specialist spatial audio facilities within DMM at Surrey, which respond to current industry formats and outputs. Our project identifies a strong yet under-researched synergy between these areas of ‘aural architecture’, which can broadly be understood in the context of current spatial audio sound design trends in commercial cinema. Our project aims to bridge this identified research gap through the creation of software tools and musical works which utilise expertise in spatial audio and microtonality. Project outputs will include software tools and creative microtonal works for immersive spatial audio presentation using electronic and acoustic instrumental means.

We seek an exceptional candidate who is ready to work in the areas of emerging developments in scene and object-based spatial audio, audio music programming and microtonality. Using relevant research-led methodologies, the student will create modular software ‘toolkits’ at the intersection of these areas for creative investigation using Max and/or SuperCollider audio programming environments or equivalent. The student will also create spatial microtonal electronic environments using these tools in combination with acoustic instruments as needed.

The applicant will work between both institutions in the UK and Australia, and have access to a superb professional and specialist set of resources and facilities, including purpose-built 24 channel studio and performance space, and a Dolby Atmos studio with a channel configuration of 9.4.4. You will be working with supervisors whose world-class expertise is in the areas of music and music technology relevant to this exciting project.


Related links

Department of Music and Media School of the Arts, English and Media Ambisonics Dolby Atmos Xen Harmonikon SuperCollider Cycling '74

Please note that this studentship award is part of a wider studentship competition. Those successful in being shortlisted will be put forward to a central panel consisting of University of Surrey and University of Wollongong staff who will then assess the applications and select four of the nominated candidates for funding.

Eligibility criteria

Open to UK and international candidates.

A good honours degree and usually an MA in Music / MMus or appropriate professional experience. Applicants should have compositional experience in spatial audio and / or audio music programming. Knowledge of microtonal systems desirable.

IELTS minimum 6.5 overall with 6.0 in Writing, or equivalent.

How to apply

Applications should be submitted via the Music PhD programme page on the "Apply" tab. Please clearly state the studentship title and supervisor on your application. In place of a research proposal you should upload a document stating the title of the project that you wish to apply for, the name of the relevant supervisor and a personal statement. The statement should explain how your previous experience has prepared you for doctoral research and this project in particular. Explain how this PhD will support your career aspirations (maximum 500 words).

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Application deadline

Contact details

Tom Hall
35 PA 01
Telephone: +44 (0)1483 688822

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