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Three students playing in an orchestra together, one on cello and another on violin Image courtesy of Paul Dodds


Creative Music Practice - PhD



3 years (Full time); 6 years (Part time)
Full-time; Part-time


The PhD in Creative Music Practice is for composer-theorists, practitioners in musicological research; computer music composers working in hard/software systems, instrument builders and historians of period instruments to name a few.  A willingness to engage with primary-source material and to interpret this alongside existing literature in the field are essential attributes in those wishing to undertake this programme. The student’s aim will be to make an original and substantial contribution to knowledge in the chosen area of study.   

The PhD in Creative Music Practice provides an opportunity for candidates to pursue practice-led research in the field of music at the highest level. The research combines textual and musical outputs, for example:  

  • Composition  
  • Performance (either of original or pre-existing repertoire)  
  • Installation  
  • Sound design  
  • Interactive music software, etc.

The outputs take the form of a portfolio, performance, and/or recording, as well as theoretical work and documentation of the processes by which the music was made (e.g. video, photographs, recordings, sketches, studies, and web pages). 

The musical outputs are explicitly linked to the textual material. This linkage may take various forms: musical material might exemplify, contextualize, and/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.

Why you should choose this programme


You will have access to supervision from a range of world-class musicians, composers, and researchers.


We actively promote interdisciplinary approaches and encourage research that challenges conventional modes of practice and thought.


You will benefit from leading research training methodologies and seminar events, including distinguished visiting scholars and practitioners, all within a lively, research-driven environment.


You will have access to world-class music studios, instruments, archives and library and workshop facilities.


The programme provides exciting opportunities for cross-disciplinary exploration and research with the Schools of Art, Architecture, Design, and History of Art.

How to apply & entry requirements

If you'd like to study on a postgraduate research programme at Edinburgh College of Art, you must apply through EUCLID, our online application system. You can find out how to do this on the University of Edinburgh website, where you'll also be able to:

  • See detailed entrance requirements for each programme on the Degree Finder  
  • Get information on what to expect after you apply  
  • Find out about study modes, start dates and fees  
  • Find out if, and how, you need to submit a portfolio, showreel or research proposal  
  • Find out where to go for further advice and guidance.

Application process

Before you apply

Students are assigned two research supervisors, the second of which may be from another discipline within ECA, or from somewhere else within the College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences (CAHSS) or wider University. 

Please ensure that at least one member of staff (see below) maintains an active research programme that aligns with the themes of your proposed project.  

Prospective students are strongly encouraged to make contact with the relevant member(s) of staff via email to explain your research interests prior to submitting an application. Please note that we only accept applications and review application materials submitted through the official EUCLID application portal.

After you apply 

Once your application has been submitted for consideration, it will be sent to a team of academic reviewers for their attention. They will then make a decision about your application and research topic, and decide whether it is possible to make an offer of a place to study with us. You may be asked to attend a brief online interview but if this is the case, you will be notified in advance.

Get in touch

Edinburgh College of Art Postgraduate Admissions
+44 (0)131 651 5740

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