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Faculty of Music


Applications are invited for a 3-year funded PhD studentship as part of the Leverhulme-funded project 'Score designs for the facilitation of music reading: Cognitive and artistic perspectives.'.

In preliminary experiments, we have found that systematic modifications to the appearance of conventional musical notation make it significantly easier to read at first sight. These modifications are based on transferring to the music domain legibility cues and text-design strategies commonly used in the linguistic domain. We shall test the generalisability of these results with students and teachers in conservatoires in the UK and in Belgium.

The project will be conducted in three strands. In the first, we shall compare reading fluency and accuracy on standard and modified scores using voice and piano, exploring whether modifications already found to be effective can be enhanced in their efficacy. In the second, eye-tracking will be used to investigate the temporal relations between visuo-physiological processes and the cognitive demands of reading standard and modified scores. Finally, the project will evaluate how advanced performance students and professional musicians might be equipped to manipulate scores so as to optimise them for a range of artistic purposes.

The specific topic constituting the focus of the student's dissertation will be determined over the first few months of their studies. It will be closely connected to the topic of music reading and the ways in which musical scores are used as tools by students, musicians and educators; it is highly likely to centre around one or more of the planned series of experiments.

Applicants must have (or expect to obtain) a Master's degree in musicology with a specialisation in music & science. Ideally, applicants will have knowledge of empirical methods (qualitative and/or quantitative) and/or computational approaches applicable to the study of music and music performance. Applicant should be familiar with one or more of the standard software packages for score production (ideally, Sibelius); a background in score preparation and use (e.g., in performance, composition, arranging or music directing) and an interest in score design are both likely to be extremely helpful. Applicants would be expected to be familiar with at least some of the research literature surrounding sight-reading and the uses of musical notation.

The studentship will provide a stipend covering maintenance and fee costs at the current "Home" rate. Non-EU students and those from EU countries who do not meet the residency requirements may be eligible for a partial stipend to the equivalent value of the UK student fees and maintenance.

Applications should be submitted for the PhD in Music via the Applicant Portal by 23:59pm (midnight) UK time on 13 January 2023. Alongside standard application materials, you must select '17 April 2023' as the course start, state that you are applying for this Studentship in your 'Summary of proposed research project' and upload a cover letter (max: two pages) as your 'Research proposal' outlining your suitability for this project. Professor Ian Cross should be identified as your preferred supervisor.

Informal enquiries are directed to Professor Cross (

The University actively supports equality, diversity and inclusion and encourages applications from all sections of society.