Why choose this programme
The Department of Music and Media is a respected authority in musical research and sound technology. Thanks to our renowned expertise in musicology, performance, and composition, and the prestige of the Institute of Sound Recording, we can count many household names in entertainment, audio technology and the recording industry among our partners, collaborators, and alumni.
Research in music brings together a broad range of interconnected subject areas, focussed in our internationally acclaimed research centres housed in state-of-the-art facilities:
- Digital World Research Centre
- Institute of Austrian and German Music Research
- Institute of Sound Recording
- International Guitar Research Centre.
The Department is highly collegiate, with a close-knit and supportive academic environment. Academic members of staff are well known internationally for their exceptionally strong research profiles.
We belong to TECHNE, an Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)-funded doctoral training partnership, which provides access to comprehensive academic and professional training programmes, as well as the possibility of funding for your studies.
100 per cent of our music and media postgraduate research students go on to employment or further study (Graduate Outcomes survey, 2023).
What you will study
Our research degrees prepare you for success at each stage of your PhD project development. The structure of our Music PhD is designed to provide intensive graduate preparation for a future career and is suitable for either part-time or full-time candidates.
As a postgraduate researcher within our Department, you will conduct a research project within one of our areas of research strengths. Completion of the programme entails submission of a thesis, the submission of practice if undertaking a practice-based PhD, and an oral viva with external examiners.
PhD students on all programmes in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences can expect three levels of research training: university-level, department-level and subject-specific.
University-level training is provided by the Postgraduate Skills Development Programme and the University Library including a PhD induction, workshops on writing skills and preparation for the confirmation and viva. There is also an annual student-led University postgraduate conference.
Department-level training is offered in the form of interdisciplinary seminars, reading groups, visiting speaker events and conferences.
You will also receive subject-specific training that will vary depending on your programme.
Your final assessment will be based on the presentation of your research in a written thesis, which will be discussed in a viva examination with at least two examiners. You have the option of preparing your thesis as a monograph (one large volume in chapter form) or in publication format (including chapters written for publication), subject to the approval of your supervisors.
The professional development of postgraduate researchers is supported by the Doctoral College, which provides training in essential skills through its Researcher Development Programme of workshops, mentoring and coaching. A dedicated postgraduate careers and employability team will help you prepare for a successful career after the completion of your PhD.
- 20th-century concert music, especially Mahler and 20th-century English composers
- Performance studies and techniques
- Guitar history, practice, and composition
- Popular music styles, particularly rock, jazz, electronic dance music
- Aesthetics of sound and music
- Contemporary music and its composition and performance
- Critical musicology
- Music for screen
Our academic staff
See a full list of all our academic staff within the Department of Music and Media.
Facilities include industry-specification sound-recording studios, music-practice rooms, edit suites, and venues for concert performance and musical theatre.
We have doubled the facilities space in the Department of Music and Media. Our Performing Arts Technology Studios have been upgraded and complemented by a £1.7m investment in state-of-the-art production and media suites.
All studios, edit rooms and acoustic rooms in the new space are linked by a new Dante digital audio network, providing audio interconnection between each room, plus video interconnects for flexible configurations of the recording spaces and studios.
Applicants are expected to hold a good honours degree and usually an MA in a relevant arts subject or appropriate professional experience.
International entry requirements by country
English language requirements
IELTS Academic: 6.5 or above (or equivalent) with 6.0 in each individual category.
View the other English language qualifications that we accept.
If you do not currently meet the level required for your programme, we offer intensive pre-sessional English language courses, designed to take you to the level of English ability and skill required for your studies here.
Before you submit your formal application form, please take a look at our list of Department of Music and Media supervisors. Once you have found an appropriate supervisor, please contact them to discuss your proposal.
Candidates submitting proposals that include practice-based research will be required to evidence appropriate experience and expertise.
Students are initially registered for a PhD with probationary status and, subject to satisfactory progress, subsequently confirmed as having PhD status.
Selection is based on applicants:
- Meeting the expected entry requirements
- Being shortlisted through the application screening process
- Completing a successful interview
- Providing suitable references.
Auditions will be held for entry to some programmes.
Start date: April 2024
Start date: July 2024
Start date: October 2024
- To be confirmed
- To be confirmed
Start date: January 2025
- To be confirmed
- To be confirmed
For fees payable in 2023/24, these will increase by 4 per cent, rounded up to the nearest £100 for subsequent years of study. Any start date other than September will attract a pro-rata fee for that year of entry (75 per cent for January, 50 per cent for April and 25 per cent for July).
Overseas students applying for 2023 entry should note that annual fees will rise by 4 per cent rounded up to the nearest £100.
View a complete list of all fees for our research programmes.
There are additional costs that you can expect to incur when studying at Surrey.
A Postgraduate Doctoral Loan can help with course fees and living costs while you study a postgraduate doctoral course.
If you are applying for a studentship to work on a particular project, you should enter the details of the specific project that you wish to apply for rather than your own research proposal.
Read our application guidance for further information on the application process.
Code of practice for research degrees
Surrey’s postgraduate research code of practice sets out the University's policy and procedural framework relating to research degrees. The code defines a set of standard procedures and specific responsibilities covering the academic supervision, administration and assessment of research degrees for all faculties within the University.
Download the code of practice for research degrees (PDF).
Terms and conditions
When you accept an offer of a place at the University of Surrey, you are agreeing to comply with our policies and procedures, and our terms and conditions. These terms and conditions are provided in two stages: first when we make an offer and second when students who have accepted their offers register to study at the University. View our offer terms and conditions and our registration terms and conditions (PDF) for the 2023/24 academic year, as a guide as to what to expect.
Please note: our offer terms and conditions will be available in the September of the calendar year prior to the year in which you begin your studies. Our registration terms and conditions will vary to take into account specifics of your course.
This online prospectus has been prepared and published in advance of the academic year to which it applies. The University of Surrey has used its reasonable efforts to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content or additional costs) may 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 a course with us. Read our full disclaimer.