Degree timelines

The normal period of study for the degrees are as follows:

  • MSc: One year full-time or two years part-time
  • MPhil: Two years full-time or four years part-time
  • PhD: Three years full-time or six years part-time

For the MPhil and PhD in Composition degrees students are allocated principal and second supervisors who oversee and guide the development of their work. 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 portfolio of original compositions in place of a thesis. The MPhil portfolio should include one work suitable to form the major item in a concert program.

For the PhD the portfolio should normally include one major work, the performance of which would occupy an entire evening (i.e. an opera). Part or all of the portfolio may consist of computer-based or electronic fixed-media works, interactive work or work involving new media.

There is no requirement for an additional thesis or commentary to accompany the portfolio, but students are required to develop an understanding of the cultural context of their work.

View the programme handbook (login required) >


Professor Peter Nelson, 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 with either a prospective supervisor or the Programme Director, please introduce yourself and mention your research intentions as a composer. If you maintain a professional website or online portfolio, please include a link.

This helps potential supervisors to understand your vision of the scope of a PhD or MScR project, and your understanding of 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 Prof Peter Nelson or Sophie Ramette (ECA PG Office).

Yati Durant, Programme Director, MSc in Composition for Screen

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

Dr Michael Edwards, Programme Director, PhD in Creative Music Practice, MSc in Digital Composition and Performance

Algorithmic composition, Composition, Computational, Contemporary, Electroacoustic, Improvisation, Performance, TechnologyView staff profile >

Dr Martin Parker, Programme Director MSc Sound Design/MScR Sound Design

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

Dr Gareth Williams, Teaching on MMus Composition

Community, Composition, Contemporary, Music and health, Opera/Theatre, Twentieth centuryView staff profile >

How to apply and entrance requirements

If you'd like to study on a postgraduate 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

Take me to the University of Edinburgh website on how to apply for postgraduate study

Preparing your application

Common to all research programmes are a set of research aims, a research context, a research process and a research product/outcome. The research proposal should include reference to all of these elements. All applicants for postgraduate research programmes must submit a research proposal.

Portfolios or writing samples are also required for some research degrees.

View the Music guidelines (PDF)


Prof Peter Nelson

Professor (Personal Chair of Music and Technology)

Email: Peter.Nelson@ed.ac.uk

Tel: +44 (0)131 650 2428

Facilities and resources

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

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

On occasion the Reid School of Music loans audio equipment to outside organisations.

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

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

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.

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

The oldest purpose-built concert hall in Scotland, home to one of the most important historic musical instrument collections in the world.

Scholarships and bursaries

AHRC PhD Doctoral Studentships

  • Deadline:
  • Eligibility: For research interests aligning with, or cutting across, ECA's five Schools.

Carnegie / Caledonian PhD Scholarships

  • Value: Covers tuition fees, and maintenance, research and travel allowances
  • Deadline:
  • Eligibility: For graduates of a Scottish university with a first-class honours degree, or final year students of an undergraduate degree in Scotland expected to obtain a first-class honours (withdrawing if they fail to do so).

College Research Awards

  • Value: £16,000 per year for three years full-time study
  • Deadline:
  • Eligibility: Applications are invited for research projects that take advantage of ECA's interdisciplinary nature.

ECA PhD Scholarship

  • Value: £16,000 per year for three years full-time study (or £8,000 per year part-time)
  • Deadline:
  • Eligibility: Applications are invited for research projects that take advantage of ECA's interdisciplinary nature, drawing on the leading research expertise across the ECA Schools.

Edinburgh Global Research Scholarships

  • Value: Covers the difference between the tuition fee for a UK/EU postgraduate student and that chargeable to an overseas postgraduate student
  • Deadline: Deadline passed
  • Eligibility: Open to overseas students commencing a PhD in any field of study.

Helen Doig Bursary

  • Value: £1,000
  • Deadline:
  • Eligibility: Open to postgraduate research stuents pursuing research in the area of Scottish Music in either Reid School of Music or the Celtic and Scottish Studies department.

Michael Tilmouth Research Scholarships

  • Value: £500 per annum
  • Deadline:
  • Eligibility: Open to new and continuing full-time and part-time postgraduate research students in Music working in the field of Musicology.


Edinburgh College of Art Postgraduate Admissions

Email: ecaresearchdegrees@ed.ac.uk
Tel: +44 (0)131 650 4086