Postgraduate study

Music

Awards: PhD, MPhil, MScR

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding available

Programme website: Music

The Reid School of Music offers an exciting research environment that combines the theory, history, composition and practice of music with the scientific study of sound. We engage with a broad range of genres and traditions, including classical and popular music, Western and non-Western music, professional and amateur music making and music for screen. Our research is highly interdisciplinary, with centres and groups spanning other Colleges and Departments within the University of Edinburgh, from Physics and Neuroscience to Informatics, the Humanities, Divinity and the Social Sciences.

We have a large community of postgraduate students undertaking independent research in music.

If you are interested in undertaking a small independent research project in music, the 12-month MSc by Research is ideal. This programme is offered in any area served by the expertise of our music staff. In consultation with your supervisor you will develop an individual programme of coursework and research training over two semesters. You will submit a dissertation, or portfolio of projects equivalent to 30,000 words.

Candidates for larger-scale, doctoral research are normally admitted as probationary students for the first year of study, and on satisfactory completion of this first year are approved for registration for either MPhil (normally two years full-time, dissertation of 60,000 words) or PhD (maximum four years full-time, dissertation of 80,000–100,000 words).

All our research degrees may be studied part-time (for example, MSc by Research may be studied part-time over two years).

Staff have a wide range of research interests, engaging in research clustered around four main themes:

  • Music, Sound and Technology, including musical acoustics and organology
  • Musical Practice, including composition (electroacoustic, algorithmic, computer music and music for screen), and historical and contemporary performance research
  • Music and the Human Sciences, including music psychology and cognition, and music in the community
  • Music and Social Institutions, including 19th and 20th century musicology, popular music, and music sociology

Some of our current hubs of research activity include:

  • Acoustics and Audio Group
  • ECA Digitals
  • Edinburgh University Collection of Historic Musical Instruments
  • Institute for Music in Human and Social Development
  • Live Music Exchange

Please consult our staff profile pages to see our interests and availability; you may propose projects in any area for consideration.

All of our research students benefit from ECA’s interdisciplinary approach and all are assigned two research supervisors. Your second supervisor may be from another discipline within ECA, or from somewhere else within the College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences or elsewhere within the University, according to the expertise required. On occasion more than two supervisors will be assigned, particularly where the degree brings together multiple disciplines.

MScR: Normally a UK 2:1 honours degree or its international equivalent. If you are applying for a research degree within Music that involves Composition or Creative Music Practice you must submit a portfolio containing three pieces of composition or examples of work related to your proposed field of study. If you do not meet the academic entry requirements, we may still consider your application on the basis of your portfolio and/or relevant professional experience.

MPhil and PhD: Normally a UK masters degree or its international equivalent. If you are applying for a research degree within Music that involves Composition or Creative Music Practice you must submit a portfolio containing three pieces of composition or examples of work related to your proposed field of study. If you do not meet the academic entry requirements, we may still consider your application on the basis of your portfolio and/or relevant professional experience.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

All applicants must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of their English language ability:

  • an undergraduate or masters degree, that was taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country as defined by UK Visas and Immigration

  • IELTS: total 7.0 (at least 6.0 in each module)
  • TOEFL-iBT: total 100 (at least 20 in each module)
  • PTE(A): total 67 (at least 56 in each of the "Communicative Skills" sections)
  • CAE and CPE: total 185 (at least 169 in each module)
  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with a pass in all four components

Degrees taught and assessed in English must be no more than two and a half years old at the beginning of your degree programme. Language tests must be no more than two years old at the beginning of your degree programme.

Find out more about our language requirements:

For detailed information on fee status, policies and payment see:

Additional programme costs (APCs) are used by programmes in Edinburgh College of Art to cover associated costs such as: basic consumables; equipment purchase, hire and maintenance; computing hardware and software; field trip and excursion expenses; and programme specific events. More detail will be available in programme handbooks.

  • Edinburgh College of Art Postgraduate Office
  • The University of Edinburgh
  • Evolution House, Grassmarket
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH1 2LE

We encourage you to apply at least one month prior to entry so that we have enough time to process your application. If you are also applying for funding or will require a visa then we strongly recommend you apply as early as possible. We may consider late applications if we have places available, but you should contact the relevant Admissions Office for advice first.

You must submit two references with your application.

You should submit a research proposal that outlines your project's aims, context, process and product/outcome. Read the application guidance before you apply:

If you are applying for a research degree within Music that involves Composition or Creative Music Practice You must submit a portfolio as part of your application. You won't be able to submit your portfolio immediately, but you'll receive an email prompt within a few days of submitting your application that will explain how to upload your portfolio.

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Further information

  • Edinburgh College of Art Postgraduate Office
  • The University of Edinburgh
  • Evolution House, Grassmarket
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH1 2LE