Research course

The historical and contemporary study of music

Open University · Department of Music

Entry requirements

Minimum 2:1 (or equivalent)

Months of entry


Course content

OU academics investigate an array of musical practices in a variety of contexts, both historically and in the present day. Topics include:

  • performance (and performance techniques) from the 15th to the 21st century
  • musical and textual sources
  • film music and recordings.

We specialise in:

  • composers, including Handel, Clementi, Mahler and Ireland
  • the social history of music
  • music in Scotland, England and Wales
  • Australian music
  • North American indigenous music
  • music and/as public culture
  • musical migrations
  • music and film
  • the history of music in theatrical contexts.

Work on vernacular music, especially brass bands, devotional music and dance music, is also an important focus.

We welcome applications in areas that correspond to current staff research interests. We look for detailed and well thought-out proposals, which set out specific research questions and outline the originality of your topic or approach.

Potential research projects

We welcome enquiries relating to any of our current areas of expertise. If appropriate, students may be attached to one of our ongoing funded projects:

  • G. F. Handel: Collected Documents
  • Cultures of Brass
  • The Listening Experience Database.

Current/recent research projects

  • Reception history of William Byrd’s Latin-texted music in Britain
  • AMM and the development of free improvisation as musical practice
  • Understanding and interpreting the six suites for violoncello by J.S. Bach
  • Peter Maxwell Davies’s Revelation and Fall: Influence Study and Analysis

Potential supervisors

Department specialisms

- G. F. Handel: The Collected Documents - Cultures of Brass - The Listening Experience Database.

Fees and funding

Please see The Open University website

Qualification and course duration


part time
72 months
full time
36 months
distance learning
variable months


full time
15 months
distance learning
variable months
part time
24 months

Course contact details

Dr Helen Coffey
+44 (0)1908 653280