The PhD in Music is available as a full-time programme lasting three years, or a part-time programme lasting five years. It is currently available in all areas in which we can offer supervision, including composition and practice-based research (recorded performances may now be included within a doctoral submission).
Doctoral research in the Faculty of Music is centred on individual scholarly activity in fields such as historical musicology, analysis, performance studies, composition, ethnomusicology and music cognition. The overwhelming majority of graduate students in the Faculty are undertaking research that is directly connected with the particular research interests of specific members of the Faculty, and for this reason the best starting point for an application is often to get in touch with whoever’s interests seem most in line with yours.
Our list of Graduate Supervisors will give you an idea of some specific areas in which Faculty members are happy to supervise, and our Research area gives an overview of the principal areas of the Faculty’s research. You may also want to explore the publication lists of individual Faculty members, who are listed under Academic Staff.
Because of the diversity of research topics pursued, the Ph.D. programme in music at Cambridge does not involve a core taught component: there is a variety of training in a range of skills, and some incoming research students audit courses offered within our M.Phil. programme, but in general you will be working mainly with your individual supervisor. Your formal studies will be complemented by attendance at Faculty colloquia and seminars, where you will meet other graduate students and members of the wider community centred round the Faculty, while membership of a college will enable you to socialise with students and others from a wide variety of disciplines. As you will quickly realise as you explore this website, studying for a Ph.D. at Cambridge gives you access to facilities and a range of Research Resources that compare favorably with anywhere in the world.
We realise that for many potential applicants, funding is a major issue; see Funding Graduate Studyfor information on costs and funding options, with links to the University’s graduate funding pages. Applicants whose proposals involve fieldwork or other substantial expenses should include an indication of approximate total costs as part of their application. While small grants may be available for research and travel purposes, these should not be expected to cover funding for your case studies or fieldwork expenses. You can make your application online, and details on How to Apply are available here. Please include with your application an outline (approximately 750 words) of your proposed research, and one or two samples of your recent work. Candidates for the PhD in Composition are asked to submit:
- a minimum of three and a maximum of five original scores which demonstrate the breadth of their work and which should normally be accompanied by a live recording of at least one of these works. (Composers whose work is primarily electroacoustic may submit recordings of their works in place of scores).
- a written proposal of around 750 words outlining a proposed programme of work and its end results and clarifying their artistic intentions in terms of both their technical and poetic aspects. (Candidates are also encouraged to consider how the opportunity presented by the PhD may deepen their artistic self-awareness)
- a list of works and details of previous studies in composition.
If you live in UK you will probably be invited to an interview; if you live elsewhere we can usually conduct the interview using SKYPE or by phone if necessary.
We can accept applications to work towards a PhD on a part-time basis over five years instead of full-time over three. This is not a distance degree: although you won’t need to live in Cambridge, you will be expected to attend supervisions in person and participate in some Faculty activities. If you come from outside the EU, please note that it is not possible to obtain a student visa for part-time study. See the University’s Graduate Admissions pages for further details on Part-time Study.
Further details of graduate life at Cambridge may be found on the University’s Student Registry website.