Music PhD

Why choose this course?

Surrey is a respected authority in sound technology and musical research. Thanks to our renowned expertise in musicology 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 and collaborators. 

Research in music and sound brings together a broad range of interconnected subject areas, including dance, digital arts, film, music, theatre and sound recording. Facilities include industry-specification sound-recording studios, music-practice rooms and venues for concert performance and musical theatre. 

The School is highly collegiate, with a close-knit and supportive academic environment. It is home to the Institute of Sound Recording, one of the world’s leading centres for research in psychoacoustic engineering and sound perception. 

Our musical research and composition achieves wide international circulation through established scholarly channels and broadcast media. We are also principal organisers of the Guildford International Music Festival. 

Our undergraduate music programmes were ranked second in the UK by the Guardian University Guide 2018. Academic members of staff are well known internationally for their exceptionally strong research profiles.

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 PhD student within our Department of Music and Media you will conduct a research project within one of our areas of research strength. 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 in all programmes in the School of Arts can expect three levels of research training: University-level, School-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. School-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. You may participate in research “intensives” featuring formal presentations of work by students, keynote seminars, study groups on current themes in arts research, and research skills training sessions. You may meet regularly for debate and discussion and participate in annual formal presentations of research.

Course facts

Qualification Study mode Course length Start date
PhD Full-time 48 months January
PhD Full-time 48 months April
PhD Full-time 48 months July
PhD Full-time 48 months October
PhD Part-time 96 months January
PhD Part-time 96 months April
PhD Part-time 96 months July
PhD Part-time 96 months October
Stag Hill

Supervisors

Before you submit your formal application form, please take a look at our list of School of Arts PhD supervisors.

Once you have found an appropriate supervisor, please make contact with them to discuss your proposal. You should then proceed to completing and submitting your formal application form.

Additional costs

There are additional costs that you can expect to incur when studying at Surrey. Find out more.

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).

Our students

  • Alex Fletcher, BMus Music

    "Living and studying in another country has been the best experience of my life."

    Read more

  • Bill Bruford, PhD Music

    "It’s a privilege to be able to put down the sticks, step back and examine drummers’ motivations, intentions and behaviours from a calmer perspective."

    Read more

Discover

  • Find out how our Doctoral College can support your research career

    Read more

  • Stay up to date with our latest research news

    Read more

  • Explore how our research is making a difference to the world

    Read more

Research themes

  • Analysis
  • 20th-century concert music, especially Bartok, Stravinsky, Mahler, Elgar, Britten
  • Popular musics, particularly rock, jazz, electronic dance music
  • Aesthetics of sound and music
  • Contemporary music and its composition and performance
  • Critical musicology
  • Music for screen
  • Folk music studies
  • Composition
  • Psychoacoustic engineering
  • Acoustic-perception modelling
  • Performance studies and techniques
  • Improvisation
  • Acoustics
  • Digital signal processing
  • Psychoacoustics (theoretical and experimental)
  • Statistical analysis and user-interface design
  • Spatial audio: perception and reproduction

Our academic staff

See a full list of all our academic staff within the Department of Music and Media.

Research facilities

Facilities include industry-specification sound-recording studios, music-practice rooms and venues for concert performance and musical theatre.

Entry requirements

Applicants are expected to hold a good honours degree and usually an MA in a relevant arts subject or appropriate professional experience.

View entry requirements by country

English language requirements

IELTS Academic: 6.5 or above (or equivalent) with 6.0 in each individual category.

We offer intensive English language pre-sessional courses, designed to take you to the level of English ability and skill required for your studies here.

Selection process

Candidates submitting proposals that include practice-based research will be required to evidence appropriate experience and expertise.

Selection is based on applicants meeting the expected entry requirements, assessment of application, successful interview and suitable references where required.

Fees

Study mode Start date UK/EU fees Overseas fees
Full-time January £4,195 £16,000
Full-time April £4,195 £16,000
Full-time July £4,195 £16,000
Full-time October £4,260 £16,000
Part-time January £2,100 £8,000
Part-time April £2,100 £8,000
Part-time July £2,100 £8,000
Part-time October £2,130 £8,000

For fees payable in 2018/19, these will increase by 4 per cent, rounded up to the nearest £100 for subsequent years of study. Any start date other than October 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 2018 entry should note that annual fees will rise by 4% rounded up to the nearest £100.

View a complete list of all fees for our research programmes.

Funding and studentships

Doctoral College Studentship Award

Supervisor(s) To be confirmed
Application deadline 17 April 2018

Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Studentship

Supervisor(s) To be confirmed
Application deadline 18 March 2018
Opportunities across all subjects

January applications for 2018 entry now closed

All applications made for a January start date are for 2019 entry exclusively.

Contact us

Admissions enquiries

+44 (0)1483 682 222

admissions@surrey.ac.uk

  • Register for a Postgraduate Research Webinar

    Register