Postgraduate study

Creative Music Practice

Awards: PhD

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding available

Programme website: Creative Music Practice

The PhD in Creative Music Practice is an opportunity for you to pursue practice-led research in the field of music at the highest level. This will involve research that combines textual and musical outputs. For example, composition, performance (either of original or pre-existing repertoire), installation, sound design, and interactive music software.

The outputs take the form of a portfolio, performance or recording, as well as theoretical work and documentation of the processes by which the music was made (video, photographs, recordings, sketches, studies, web pages, etc). The musical outputs are explicitly linked to the textual material. This link may take various forms: musical material might exemplify, contextualise or expand an idea elaborated in the text, and vice versa. The programme requires candidates to critically evaluate and articulate the relationship of textual to extra-textual media in the formation of musical knowledge.

The format of the PhD thesis consists of a text of not more than 50,000 words, as well as the documentation of the process, contained in a coherent and archivable format (bound thesis plus electronic documents (PDF, webpages, etc.) submitted in memory stick/CD/DVD). Where a thesis relates to live musical performances, documentation in the form of high-quality audio and video recordings is central to the submitted materials.

Typical applicants to this programme include:

  • composer-theorists who wish to carry out research into and practice of particular compositional models
  • performers who wish to deepen their practice through musicological research
  • computer music composers who wish to develop documented hardware/software systems for their music
  • performers with a need to study the techniques and organology of period instruments
  • instrument builders/researchers seeking historical techniques found in evidence from the original instruments

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.

All research students undertake a research-methods training course at the beginning of their programme.

Regular individual meetings with the supervisor provide guidance and focus for the course of research undertaken.

All students also have access to the University's Postgraduate Skills Training courses.

The University offers one of Britain's largest and oldest-established music centres, with two international collections of historical instruments, state-of-the-art electronic and computer studios, and a special commitment to composition at an advanced level.

A UK 2:1 honours degree or its international equivalent.

You must submit a portfolio as part of your application. Your portfolio should contain either 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:

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