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Conservatoire Research Degrees - PhD - 2016/17 Entry

Course Overview

The essential course information

How to apply
Course Code:
TBC
Award:
PhD
Attendance:
  • Full Time (3-4 years)
  • Part Time (4-7 years)
  • Distance Learning (4-7 years)
School:
Birmingham Conservatoire
Campus:
Birmingham Conservatoire
Conservatoire PhD Student Performance

STEAM Scholarships

We are currently offering fully funded PhD scholarships in music.

Find out more

Our Conservatoire PhD will help you create opportunities to develop research skills that support performance, composition or a scholarly career

Conservatoire research degrees can be pursued in a wide-range of interests in composition, music technology and musicology, including practice-based research.

Your research will be delivered over four years (full-time) or seven years (part-time).

We support a range of thesis submissions, including composition portfolio supported by written commentary or a combination of written and performance elements as well as a traditional written thesis.

PhD Supervisors and Specialisms

Conservatoire research degrees are overseen by Christopher Dingle (pictured right). They are supported by a team of supervisors (appointed from our Research Staff) who have a wide range of specialisms and expertise including:

  • Composition
  • Music technology
  • Performance studies
  • Musicology

PhD Research Interests

We particularly welcome your initial PhD enquiry for the Conservatoire PhD within the following research areas:

  • Performance Studies
  • Composition
  • Practice-led research
  • Jazz performance and composition
  • Electronic Music Composition and Performance 
  • Musician-centred Interaction Design
  • Music and Audio Software Development
  • Experimental Music
  • French Music, notably Charpentier, Lully, Rameau, Ravel, Milhaud and Messiaen (within our French Music Research Hub)
  • Contemporary Film and Television Music, Theory and Analysis
  • Late Medieval Music, Theory and Critical Editing
  • Italian Baroque Music
  • 20th-Century Music Theory and Analysis
  • Music Critics and Criticism
  • Jazz/Popular Music Practice and Cultural Theory (with Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Research)

Since our mission is to promote the highest standards of performance and composition, it follows that our Research Policy is sharply focused on these activities.

Applications relating to the practice and philosophy of musical performance and composition and other areas of particular interest in the conservatoire context are therefore encouraged.

Why Apply for a PhD at Birmingham Conservatoire?

When you join us you will become a member of the thriving research culture at Birmingham Conservatoire.

You will enjoy exclusive use of a dedicated workspace as well as access to the Conservatoire’s performance facilities and state of- the-art electronic music studios.

You may also take part in the full range of practical activities and lectures available within the Conservatoire.

You will have the opportunity to take advantage of strong links with professional ensembles such as CBSO and BCMG.

Your PhD research will be organised as a programme of professional and academic development.

You will receive individual support and guidance from our team of supervisors, meeting on a regular basis to review your progress and plan your next steps.

You will feel a strong sense of community amongst students and supervisors.

You can strengthen your PhD research and personal/professional development by participating in wider international research communities and conferences, and may have opportunities to teach within the Conservatoire.

What is a PhD?

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) is an internationally recognised doctoral-level qualification.

It is a ‘gold-standard’ qualification which certifies that your unique PhD research has made a significant contribution to theory and knowledge in a specific area of interest.

Holders of a PhD research degree are experts in their field of interest and are eligible to use the title ‘Doctor’.

Application Process

Before you apply, please send us an initial PhD enquiry containing a brief overview of your PhD research proposal. This gives us an opportunity to discuss and focus your PhD research before you make your final online application.

Send Initial PhD Enquiry

Entry Requirements

To apply for our Conservatoire PhD research degree you should have, or expect to be awarded, a Masters degree in a relevant subject area from a British or overseas university.

Exceptional candidates without a Masters degree, but holding a first class Bachelors degree in a relevant subject area, may be considered.

We also welcome enquiries from potential PhD researchers without formal academic qualifications but with appropriate levels of professional experience.

Interview and Audition Requirements

Musicology (including performance-related topics)

At interview you will normally be asked to bring along a recent essay demonstrating your academic writing skills.

Performers

If you intend to use performance as integral to the project you will also need to audition. We would like to hear you perform for about 30 minutes, with a programme relevant to your project if possible. The standard should be equivalent to post-Masters‘ level at a UK conservatoire.

Composers

You will need to present two recent scores together with recordings if available. The expected standard, in each case, is equivalent to that of a completed Masters' from a UK conservatoire. Feel free to consult our Research Department for further guidance.

English Language Requirements

Please refer to our English Language Requirements.

Application Process

Before you apply, please send us an initial PhD enquiry containing a brief overview of your PhD research proposal. This gives us an opportunity to discuss and focus your PhD research before you make your final online application, and talk through your professional experience if you are without formal academic qualifications.

Send Initial PhD Enquiry

How to Apply

To apply for a Conservatoire PhD please follow the application process below, starting with your Initial PhD Enquiry.

Application Process

1. Initial PhD enquiry

Please send us an initial PhD enquiry containing your brief PhD research proposal (max. 500 words), and/or any questions or queries you may have.

Send Initial PhD Enquiry

2. Review enquiry

We will review your initial enquiry to ensure your research proposal compliments one of our PhD research interests and if so we will ask you to make a full application.

3. Complete full PhD online application form

Once we have received your full application it will be reviewed and potential students will be invited to attend an interview/audition (either face to face or Skype).

If you're unable to use the online form for any reason, you can complete our pdf application form instead.

4. Successful applications

Following the interview/audition a decision will be made on your application and those who have been successful will receive a written formal offer from the university.

Start Dates and Enquiry Submissions

Our Conservatoire PhD research degrees start in September, February and May each year.

Please send us your initial PHD enquiry at least three months prior to your preferred start date to allow enough time for you to progress through the PhD application process.

Need Help?

If you are unable to use the Initial PhD Enquiry or Online Application forms or require help or advice, please contact our Research Officer Shelley Fray

Midlands3Cities Doctoral Training Partnership

AHRC funding for UK/EU doctoral students

Birmingham City University is part of the Midlands 3 Cities Doctoral Training Partnership. As part of the programme, postgraduate research studentships are available to arts and humanities doctoral researchers across six institutions, including fully funded PhDs. Find out more about Midlands3Cities.

Fees and Finance

Fees for students from the UK or EU countries?
Start Mode Duration Award Fees
Feb 2017 FT 3-4 years PhD £4,120 per year
Feb 2017 PT 4-7 years PhD £2,060 per year
Sep 2017 FT 3-4 years PhD TBC
Sep 2017 PT 4-7 years PhD TBC
Sep 2017 DL 4-7 years PhD TBC
Feb 2018 FT 3-4 years PhD TBC
Feb 2018 PT 4-7 years PhD TBC
Feb 2018 DL 4-7 years PhD TBC
Fees for students from non-EU countries (International)?
Start Mode Duration Award Fees
Feb 2017 FT 3-4 years PhD £12,000 per year
Feb 2017 PT 4-7 years PhD £6,000 per year
Sep 2017 FT 3-4 years PhD £12,000 per year
Sep 2017 PT 4-7 years PhD £6,000 per year
Feb 2018 FT 3-4 years PhD £12,000 per year
Feb 2018 PT 4-7 years PhD £6,000 per year

The University reserves the right to increase fees broadly in line with increases in inflation, or to reflect changes in government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament.

Distance learning options are available. Please contact Shelley Fray for details.

Fully funded PhD studentships

You could get a fully funded PhD, plus get extra money for living expenses through the Midlands3Cities Arts and Humanities scholarships.

Find out more

International Students

International Students at BCU

Birmingham City University is a vibrant and multicultural university in the heart of a modern and diverse city. We welcome many international students every year – there are currently students from more than 80 countries among our student community.

The University is conveniently placed, with Birmingham International Airport nearby and first-rate transport connections to London and the rest of the UK. Our reputation for excellence is soaring globally, thanks to the superb links we forge with industry, our international alliances, and our focus on practical, vocational learning.

Our international pages contain a wealth of information for international students who are considering applying to study here, including:

Postgraduate Open Event

Our next Postgraduate Open Day will be in Autumn 2016. The date will be confirmed soon and registration will open shortly.

PG Open Evening

Our postgraduate open event offers you the chance to:

  • Meet with lecturers and other prospective students to discuss study options
  • Meet and chat with our current students
  • Obtain advice on fees and funding opportunities.

93 per cent of our graduates find work or further study within six months (DLHE). Explore your potential at our open evening.

Who is it for?

Whether you are coming to the end of your undergraduate studies, or have been in your job for a while and want to progress in your career or change direction, a postgraduate qualification gives you the opportunity to stand out from the crowd in a competitive market.

Our graduates are already shaping the world in a variety of high-profile roles – and you could be next. Read some of our inspiring case studies.

For more information, visit our Open Days page or call our Course Enquiries Team on +44 (0)121 331 5595.

Sign up for open day info

Registration hasn't opened yet for our next Open Day. If you're interested in attending, fill in the form below and we'll let you know when registration opens.

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University Approach to Employability

Birmingham City University is committed to preparing students for successful employability and professional careers. We have an innovative approach to employability that will help you obtain an interesting and well-paid graduate job.

Read our Employability Statement to find out more.

Career Progression

Our Conservatoire PhD will help you create opportunities to develop research skills that support performance, composition or a scholarly career.

Course Structure

The following research areas are particularly suitable for our research environment:

  • Performance Studies
  • Composition
  • Practice-led research
  • Jazz performance and composition
  • Electronic Music Composition and Performance 
  • Musician-centred Interaction Design
  • Music and Audio Software Development
  • Experimental Music
  • French Music, notably Charpentier, Lully, Rameau, Ravel, Milhaud and Messiaen (within our French Music Research Hub)
  • Contemporary Film and Television Music, Theory and Analysis
  • Late Medieval Music, Theory and Critical Editing
  • Italian Baroque Music
  • 20th-Century Music Theory and Analysis
  • Music Critics and Criticism
  • Jazz/Popular Music Practice and Cultural Theory (with Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Research)

Projects are sometimes directly associated with either performance or composition or both, and often include the actual practice of these arts. Research in these areas can include: performance that is genuinely original, either in repertoire or interpretation; composition that is genuinely original, either in style or in ways of using existing styles; and musicological and related studies which directly or indirectly inform the practice of music.

Cross-disciplinary projects where, for example, a performer and composer may be working closely together, or where the study of some ethnic tradition informs original composition, are also encouraged.

Research students enjoy exclusive use of a dedicated studio equipped with four computers, internet access and acoustic-analysis software, as well as access to the Conservatoire’s state of- the-art electronic music studios. Students may also take part in the full range of practical activities and lectures available within the Conservatoire.

The expected length of a PhD thesis is 80,000 words, but substantial musical text (e.g. an edition, performance or composition) can be included. Performers may include justified and integral performance (live or recorded) as up to 50 per cent of the thesis.

Composers may submit a folio of compositions as their ‘thesis’, accompanied only by a short essay (6,000 words minimum for PhD).

Research studies may, in principle, commence at any time of the year, but it is most convenient to enrol at the start of the academic year in September.

For details of our research strategy, staff publications, PhD completions and other information about our research, please visit our Research pages.

A day in the life of a PhD student

If you're considering doing a PhD there's probably a lot of questions going through your mind: how am I going to pay for it? Should I quit my job? Will I cope with the workload? But most importantly, what is it really like? Karen Patel, a full time PhD student, shares her experiences of juggling life, a part time job and her studies. Read more in Karen's blog.

Assessment Methods

We support a range of thesis submissions, including composition portfolio supported by written commentary or a combination of written and performance elements as well as a traditional written thesis.

Christopher Dingle

Professor of Music/Co-ordinator, Research Degrees

Christopher Dingle is Reader in Music and Research Degrees Co-ordinator. He is a specialist in French Music, notably Messiaen, music criticism and early recordings. He has written several books on Messiaen and is editor of 'The Cambridge History of Music Criticism'. However, his interests extend far beyond these research areas, ranging from plainchant to contemporary music.

Chris writes for 'BBC Music Magazine' and occasionally appears on BBC Radio 3. He plays piano, percussion and bass guitar, is rumoured to be a lapsed oboist and spent several years in his teens failing to master playing the organ.

Professor Ronald Woodley

Research Professor of Music

After graduating with first-class honours from the University of Manchester, specializing in Musical Palaeography and Performance, and with Distinction in clarinet from the Royal Northern College of Music, Professor Ronald Woodley completed his DPhil in 15th-century music theory from Keble College, Oxford.

After holding academic lecturing appointments at Christ Church, Oxford, followed by the Universities of Liverpool, Newcastle and Lancaster, he moved into the conservatoire sector as Head of Postgraduate Studies & Research at the RNCM in 2001. He joined the Research Department of Birmingham Conservatoire in 2004 and served as Director of Research from 2010 to 2015. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, and of the Society of Antiquaries of London.

Enquiries

Birmingham Conservatoire PhD

Prospectus

For an overview of our postgraduate courses and a range of other information please download our Postgraduate Prospectus (10Mb).