Research course


University of Sussex · School of Media, Film and Music

Entry requirements

Normally a Masters degree or equivalent professional experience in a subject related to your chosen area of research. Applicants wishing to take the Composition option must produce evidence of compositional ability.

Months of entry

January, October, April

Course content

  • PhD in Music
  • PhD in Musical Composition
  • PhD in Music Theatre
  • MPhil in Music
  • MPhil in Musical Composition
  • MPhil in Music Theatre
  • Our PhD courses provide you with the support and resources necessary to complete an original and substantial piece of research. The main fields in which research supervision is available are composition, musicology and music theatre. It is also possible to study for an MPhil.

    Contact us in good time to discuss your research proposal so we can put you in touch with the best supervisors for your work and help you develop your application. Entry in September is normally recommended to enable you to get the benefit of the many research events that take place throughout the autumn and spring, and also to benefit from induction and research training opportunities.

    We offer a PhD in Music, assessed by a written thesis of 80,000 words, and an MPhil in Music, assessed by a written thesis of 40,000 words. For the PhD in Musical Composition, your final portfolio of compositions contains at least one, typically large-scale, work with the overall portfolio comprising at least 30 minutes’ duration. Equivalent-scale musical works, involving sonic and audiovisual work for digital media, are welcomed. A discursive and written critical component of between 20,000 and 40,000 words is also required. For the MPhil in Musical Composition, your final portfolio of compositions contains at least one, typically large-scale, work with the overall portfolio comprising at least 15 minutes’ duration. A discursive and written critical component of between 8,000 and 10,000 words is also required.

    For the PhD in Music Theatre, your thesis consists of either a substantial performance work or a performance work with a portfolio of compositions. A discursive and critical written component of between 20,000 and 40,000 words (or between 10,000 and 20,000 words for the MPhil) is also required.


    You normally have two supervisors; they offer complementary perspectives on your work, perhaps reflecting a theory and practice balance, crucial for your development as a researcher. They help you devise a detailed programme of study tailored to the individual research project and offer regular guidance and feedback until completion.

    Research training and coursework

    All new research students are required to participate in a programme of research training and to take other postgraduate modules that may be recommended by their supervisors. The first term (or first two terms for part-time students) is devoted to developing the research plan. By the end of the first year (or second year for part-time students), you have completed and presented a draft chapter or report. Composition students would typically aim to produce a substantial composition work and related critical or theoretical writing within the same timescale. In the second year, a further sample of work is read by a thesis panel in order to assess progress and give you a small-scale mock viva experience. You are then ready to bring your project to fruition by the end of your final year.

    The University’s Doctoral School runs a wide range of training courses covering the needs of students throughout all phases of their studies.

    Recent and current PhD projects

    Musical alterity and embodied practice (theory/practice)

    Sonification of the body (theory/practice)

    Sound scores for early avant-garde film (composition)

    Temporality in post-tonal music (composition)

    The representation of animals in music theatre (theory/practice)

    The impact of Stravinsky’s ballets on conducting techniques in the 20th century (historical musicology)

Department specialisms

For further information, visit the webpage below.

Information for international students

Please see link for information on international students' entry requirements:

Fees and funding

UK students
International students

The University of Sussex aims to attract the most talented students to postgraduate study and offers one of the most generous scholarship programmes of any UK university. For full details of our scholarships please

Qualification and course duration


part time
36-72 months
full time
24-48 months


part time
24-48 months
full time
12-36 months

Course contact details

Student Recruitment Services
+44 (0)1273 873525