Music - PhD/MPhil/MSc by Research

MSc by Research

For students interested in undertaking a small, independent research project in Music, the MSc is ideal.

The programme is a one-year full time, or two-year part time, degree offered in any area in which a Reid School of Music staff member is able to supervise.

In consultation with their supervisor, students develop an individual programme of coursework and research training over the two teaching semesters, culminating with the submission of a dissertation or portfolio of projects.

PhD and MPhil by Research

Students interested in undertaking a large piece of independent research in Music have a wealth of opportunities available to them.

Candidates are normally admitted as probationary students for their first year of study; on satisfactory completion of this first year, candidates are approved for continued registration for MPhil or PhD.

Students submit a dissertation of 60,000 words for the MPhil, or 80,000-100,000 words for the PhD.

They may also submit an edition of a work or works with a shorter commentary.

Members of staff have a wide range of research interests, and students may propose projects in any area for consideration.

Each student will have two supervisors with whom he/she will work closely throughout the research period, at least one of whom will be from the relevant subject area.

Research towards a PhD requires 36 months full-time work under the guidance of two supervisors, and for the MPhil degree 24 months work. It is also possible to pursue postgraduate research part time.

View the programme handbook (login required) >


Dr Nikki Moran, Programme Director, Music - PhD/MPhil/MScR by Research | View staff profile >

All research degrees require students to work closely with a supervision team. Please browse staff profiles to learn about the research specialisms and outputs of Music staff. If your research is interdisciplinary, look at staff profiles in other subject areas, too. We encourage you to approach staff directly to gauge their availability and suitability as a prospective supervisor.

When making first contact, prepare a couple of sentences which describe the topic (research area, research questions) and the approach that you would intend to use (e.g. archival study, fieldwork, practice-led - what sort of 'data' do you imagine working with, and what type of analysis might you use?).

This is not a commitment to carrying out a precise project of work, it simply allows potential supervisors to understand how clearly you can envisage the scope of a PhD or MScR project, and the type of practical - as well as intellectual - matters that postgraduate research entails. This early contact with staff should also be helpful to you, for decisions you will need to make about how to develop your proposal, and with whom you would like to work.

If you are uncertain and wish to seek advice, please do get in touch, either with Dr Nikki Moran or Sophie Ramette (ECA PGT office).

Dr Stefan Bilbao, Acoustics and Audio Research Group; Research Project Director NESS | View staff profile >

Acoustics and audio, Computational, Instrument research, Technology

Dr Matt Brennan, Course Organiser for MMus Musicology | View staff profile >

Contemporary, Cultural history, Empirical, Instrument research, Music industries, Politics, Popular music, Social history, Sociology, Twentieth century, Twenty-first century

Dr Annette Davison, Director of Research, Reid School of Music; Course Organiser for MMus Musicology | View staff profile >

Aesthetics, Archival study, Contemporary, Cultural history, Music for screen (TV/Film/Game), Music industries, Opera/Theatre, Philosophy, Politics, Reception, Social history, Sociology, Theory and analysis, Twentieth century

Dr Dr Anne Desler, Director of Performance, teaching on MMus Musicology | View staff profile >

Aesthetics, Archival study, Classicism, Cultural history, Historical musicology, Historiography, Improvisation, Music industries, Opera/Theatre, Pedagogy, Performance, Philosophy, Popular music, Reception, Renaissance/Baroque, Sacred music, Social history

Yati Durant, Programme Director, MSc in Composition for Screen | View staff profile >

Composition, Contemporary, Electroacoustic, Empirical, Improvisation, Music for screen (TV/Film/Game), Performance, Philosophy, Sonic art, Technology, Twentieth century, Twenty-first century

Dr Michael Edwards, Programme Director, PhD in Creative Music Practice, MSc in Digital Composition and Performance | View staff profile >

Algorithmic composition, Composition, Computational, Contemporary, Electroacoustic, Improvisation, Performance, Technology

Dee Isaacs, Course Organiser, 'Introduction to Community Arts Practice' | View staff profile >

Community, Composition, Ethnomusicology, Sonic art

Dr Elaine Kelly, Teaching on MMus Musicology | View staff profile >

Aesthetics, C19th Romanticism, Cultural history, Historical musicology, Historiography, Opera/Theatre, Philosophy, Politics, Social history, Twentieth century

Prof. Raymond MacDonald, Teaching on MMus Musicology | View staff profile >

Cognitive sciences, Community, Composition, Contemporary, Empirical, Ethnomusicology, Improvisation, Instrument research, Music and health, Music for screen (TV/Film/Game), Musical development, Performance, Psychology, Sonic art, Twenty-first century

Dr Nikki Moran, Programme Director, Music - PhD/MPhil/MScR by Research | View staff profile >

Cognitive sciences, Community, Empirical, Ethnomusicology, Improvisation, Pedagogy, Performance, Psychology, Reception

Prof. Peter Nelson, Programme Director PhD Composition in Music, MMus Composition | View staff profile >

Cognitive sciences, Composition, Computational, Contemporary, Electroacoustic, Philosophy, Sonic art, Technology, Twentieth century, Twenty-first century

Dr Michael Newton, Programme Director MSc Acoustics and Music Technology | View staff profile >

Acoustics and audio, Computational, Instrument research, Technology

Dr Katie Overy, Director, Institute for Music in Human and Social Development (IMHSD) | View staff profile >

Cognitive sciences, Empirical, Music and health, Musical development, Neurosciences, Pedagogy, Psychology

Dr Martin Parker, Programme Director MSc Sound Design/MScR Sound Design | View staff profile >

Acoustics and audio, Composition, Computational, Contemporary, Electroacoustic, Improvisation, Instrument research, Music for screen (TV/Film/Game), Performance, Sonic art, Technology, Twenty-first century

Dr Benedict Taylor, Course Organiser for MMus Musicology | View staff profile >

Aesthetics, C19th Romanticism, Classicism, Cultural history, Historical musicology, Opera/Theatre, Philosophy, Reception, Theory and analysis, Twentieth century

Dr Gareth Williams, Teaching on MMus Composition | View staff profile >

Community, Composition, Contemporary, Music and health, Opera/Theatre, Twentieth century


Everything you need to know about finding perfect student accommodation.

Six purpose-built, acoustically-treated music studios, with tie-lines to a shared recording space.

A fully operational, entirely student-run 90-seat theatre housed in a neo-gothic church.

Recording equipment is available to students through BookIt, the online booking system.

Get information, advice and guidance about your career options.

The Centre for Research Collections (CRC) is the main space for anyone using the University of Edinburgh’s historic collections.

Work spaces are available across the University. ECA's computers include software tailored to the disciplines studied here.

At the heart of the Evolution House Learning and Research Zone, the ECA Library provides an innovative environment for learning, teaching and research resources in art and design.

ECAfé provides a full catering service to all staff, students and visitors to Edinburgh College of Art.

Edinburgh Global's mission is to encourage internationalisation, enhance the student experience, create and develop partnerships.

EUSA represent the student voice. They provide services, run events, and facilitate student societies.

Information and guidance on financial matters for all students of the University of Edinburgh.

A Georgian garden that doubles as a venue for performances in the centre of the city.

The primary collection of books, periodicals, manuscripts, and research material.

Edinburgh is home to a number of musical societies, bands, orchestras and dance troupes.

17 practice rooms equipped with pianos, ideal for students requiring a private place for music practice.

A technical support team is on hand to help you with any studio or equipment queries.

Information on the equipment available to students in the music studios and editing suites.

Nearly 1,000 items including stringed, woodwind, brass and percussion instruments.

Includes organs, harpsichords, and instruments from the Musical Instruments Museum.

By day, a café, bar and study space, and by night a club venue. Potterrow’s dome is also home to the Advice Place and the Potter Shop.

A 218-seat Victorian venue built in 1859. Used for regular orchestral and choral rehearsals and performances.

Located beneath Reid Concert Hall, this studio is built to record live performances in the venue.

The neo-classical Sculpture Court in the ECA Main Building is home to the many pieces from the Edinburgh Cast Collection, and is regularly used for student exhibitions.

Studio equipment and software tailored for music students to be able to record, edit, and experiment with their work.

Caters to a diverse range of users from occasional exercisers to international athletes.

The oldest purpose-built concert hall in Scotland. Used for concerts and part of the Musical Instruments Museum.

Offering counselling services for students, workshops, consultation and training for staff.

Supporting students with dyslexia, mental health issues and students on the autistic spectrum, as well as those who have physical and sensory impairments.

Talbot Rice Gallery is the public art Gallery for the University of Edinburgh.

Home to six distinctive bars, Teviot is the oldest purpose built students' union in the world.

A hub for the University Societies and setting regular live music, comedy, spoken word and poetry nights.

A bar at the Lauriston Campus which hosts regular events including club nights and gigs.

Scholarships & bursaries

Successful applicants will have a research interest aligning with, or cutting across, ECA's five Schools.

The scholarships cover tuition fees, maintenance allowance, research and travel allowance.

Designed to attract high quality students applying for PhD research.

Funding for PhD students undertaking interdisciplinary research at ECA. (£16,000 per year)

Open to overseas students starting a PhD at University of Edinburgh.

Open to current students pursuing research in the area of Scottish Music. (£1,000)

Open to new and current postgraduate Musicology students. (£500)

News & events

conversation piece 960 x 610.jpg

Photo of an artist during a performance piece
Daphne de Sonneville, centre, in 'Conversation piece'
Daphne's week-long residency will be at Cove Park
Image courtesy of the artist

Two of the three 2017 residencies have been awarded to ECA students: Daphne de Sonneville (Art); and Katerina Talianni (Music).

Music Alumni Day 2016.jpg

The participants for the Music Alumni Day
Clockwise from top left: Vicky Arlidge, Isobel Waller-Bridge, Christopher Bell, Peter Nelson, organiser Katie Overy and Suzanne Parry

Alumni talked about their careers, lives and approach to work since they graduated.


Sophie Ramette, ECA Postgraduate Research Office

Phone: +44 (0)131 651 5739