Student profile
Ali Afshari

Ali Afshari

"I ultimately chose the University of Surrey due to its unique strengths and offerings that align seamlessly with the requirements of my research: specialised expertise, interdisciplinary environment, and PATS facilities make it the ideal institution."

Entry year


Research project

My PhD is practice-led research informed by analyses of Near-Eastern microtonal musical intervals, temperament methods and tuning systems. Central to its aims is the notion of cultural transmission through the craft of contemporary compositional practice. Through historio-musicological and theoretical study of Near-Eastern micro-intervals, I will propose methodologies to allow novel utilization of these materials in composition of new pieces, proposing new functions for these historical micro-intervals within a practical performance context.

Choosing us

The University of Surrey's academic excellence, supportive environment, cutting-edge facilities, it’s Doctoral college and global perspective make it the perfect institution to pursue my practice-led research on Near-Eastern musical intervals. My impression so far has been overwhelmingly positive, shaped by various aspects that align closely with my academic and research goals.

In 2023, I received full funding offers from a few universities in the UK. However, I ultimately chose the University of Surrey due to its unique strengths and offerings that align seamlessly with the requirements of my research: Specialized Expertise, Interdisciplinary Environment, and PATS Facilities make it the ideal institution for the pursuit of my PhD.

My decision to pursue my PhD at Surrey was also influenced by the extensive range of facilities and resources available (e.g. PATS studios and performing spaces).

Your studies

I possess a Master's degree in Music Performance from the Art University of Tehran, complemented by a Bachelor's degree in Architecture. This academic trajectory has set the stage for my current endeavor—a Ph.D. in Composition. My active involvement in global masterclasses and participation in international music festivals have not only expanded my artistic perspectives but have also resulted in premieres of my compositions, accompanied by several awards in composition.

My fascination with Near-Eastern musical intervals and their historical significance has been a driving force in my academic journey. Pursuing a PhD allows me to delve deeper into this passion, conducting rigorous research to contribute new insights to the field.

Passion for your subject

In essence, my passion for Near-Eastern historical micro-intervals is a fusion of my love for cultural exploration, which is a journey into the heart of rich cultural traditions. This passion drives me to delve deeply into my research, uncovering inherent features and psychoacoustic qualities of these musical means, contributing to the broader discourse in both academic and artistic realms.


"My supervisors (Dr Tom Hall and Dr Tom Armstrong) has already played a pivotal role in shaping the trajectory of my research and helping me navigate the initial phases of my doctoral journey. I am relishing the supportive atmosphere provided by the university".

I have also connected with fellow PhD students who share similar research subjects, and graduates who have worked on topics directly related to my PhD.

Currently, I am exploring the psychoacoustic aspects of musical intervals, which has proven to be the most captivating aspect of my research so far. I plan to apply these findings in the field of compositional practice.

Career support

Being able to engage with a diverse academic community and participate in relevant research activities will enhance my professional profile and, in turn, positively impact my employability in the field of composition and music academia.

My overarching goal is to leverage the knowledge and expertise gained during my doctoral research to make meaningful contributions to academia and the broader artistic community, in the fields of composition, and Near-Eastern music.