Tom Wardman in Music Studio Landscape

Faculty of Arts, Cultures and Education

Music research degrees

Postgraduate - Research

MA by Thesis PhD

Looking for a funded PhD?

Check out our current PhD scholarship opportunities now

About our programmes

Music at Hull has a long-standing history of high quality research. Our internationally excellent and world-leading research in popular music, jazz studies, sonic arts, and music psychology was recognised by the Research Excellence Framework of 2014. We host up to 45 public performances every year and contribute regularly to musical events in the region, including Early Music festivals, jazz festivals and community projects as well as running the prestigious Newland Lectures in which renowned international academics, composers and music industry figures discuss their work in detail.

By studying here, you will be able to access some of the finest music facilities in the country following a major redevelopment of Middleton Hall - with rehearsal spaces and studios available 24/7.

Investment in the hall has brought some of the best facilities of their kind in the UK to the University of Hull. These include a concert hall, surround-sound cinema, ambisonic surround sound recording studio and industry-standard rehearsal facilities. The refurbishment includes a new entrance and café with a 400-plus seater concert hall forming the centre-piece of the development. The versatile space is ideal for classical and popular music concerts. With adaptable acoustics, it will also be used for music, theatre and cinema screenings- see here for more information about our facilities. 

These programmes have been designed to be flexible to enable you to pursue your chosen specialism in a supportive and productive environment with individual supervision for all specialist modules. Our staff are active researchers, so you can access wide-ranging expertise quickly and easily. These programmes are available full-time, part-time and, where appropriate, for distance learners.

Apply for research programmes in Music

MA by Thesis in Music

You’ll explore a topic in the field of musicology, composition or performance through the completion of a thesis of 40,000 words or equivalent, or the development of a practice-based portfolio. The topic might be developed into a larger thesis or portfolio through transfer onto a PhD programme.

Apply now

PhD in Music

Research and advance your knowledge in a chosen area of musicology that culminates in a thesis of 100,000 words or equivalent for the PhD.

Apply now

PhD in Music by Composition

Develop a portfolio of original compositions of up to 90 minutes for the PhD with supporting research documentation of 25,000 words, or equivalent.

Apply now

PhD in Music Performance

Focus on a research context related to your specialist instrument or voice, including conducting, and to demonstrate advanced solo or ensemble performance skills, culminating in a thesis of 50,000 words or equivalent for the PhD and portfolio of performances of 300 minutes.

Apply now




Open for admission in 2024/25

Qualification Full time Part time
MA by Thesis 1 year* 2 years*
PhD 3 years* 5 years*

* The length of programme registration will be longer as it includes the maximum writing-up phase.

Start in January, May or September


We consider students for research degrees in any area in which we can provide adequate staff supervision and library or other relevant resources. You are welcome to contact the Postgraduate Music Admissions Tutor, Dr Alexander Binns ( in advance of your application to check the suitability of your chosen subject area.

We welcome proposals related to any of the following research areas:


  • British music
  • Film music
  • Historical and critical musicology
  • Theory and analysis
  • Philosophy, aesthetics and semiotics
  • Jazz studies
  • Popular music
  • Psychology of music (including performance, perception and cognition)


  • Acoustic (instrumental, vocal, film)
  • Electroacoustic
  • Computer-aided composition and virtual instrumentation
  • Multimedia
  • Sonic art


  • Instrumental and vocal studies
  • Conducting
  • Jazz and improvisation
  • Music theatre and opera
  • Performance studies

Music Technology

  • Studio production
  • Pedagogy

Fees and funding


Full time:
£4,712 per year

Part time: £2,356 per year


Full time:
£16,250 per year

These fees are for all research degree programmes on this page. For courses lasting more than one year, annual increases apply. For more information, please visit the fees and funding page. 

Postgraduate research programme structures


  • Full-time: 3 years of research, with up to 12 months writing up if required
  • Part-time: 5 years of research, with up to 20 months of writing up if required


  • Full-time: one year of research, with up to 12 months writing up if required
  • Part-time: 2 years of research, with up to 24 months of writing up if required

Writing-up and thesis submission

A standard full-time PhD programme comprised three years of research plus up to 12 months of writing-up. Part-time is five years plus up to 20 months writing-up if needed. Full-time standard Masters programmes are comprised one year of research plus up to 12 months of writing-up if needed; and part time Masters programmes have two years of research with up to two years of writing-up.

For full-time students, the writing-up phase typically takes about three months but may be extended to one year without further paperwork. For part-time students, writing-up typically takes one year, but may be extended to two years without further paperwork. The maximum writing-up period is included in your overall programme length, which means that international PGRs will not need to apply for an additional visa to cover the writing-up phase.

If you need to move into the writing-up period of your research degree, you must enrol for this phase and you will be liable to pay a continuation fee.

The fees for the writing-up period for 2023/24 are:

Full time

  • Writing-up fee £345
  • Rebate for submission within first 3 months of the research period end date 100%
  • Rebate for submission between 4- 6 months of the research period end date 50%
  • Rebate for submission between 7-9 months of the research period end date 25%

Part time

  • Continuation Fee £170
  • Rebate for submission within first 3 months of the research period end date 100%
  • Rebate for submission between 4- 6 months of the research period end date 50%
  • Rebate for submission between 7-9 months of the research period end date 25%

Thesis submission timelines

It is expected that you will submit your thesis within the timeframes outlined below:

Masters degrees

  • Submission by one year and 3 months full-time.
  • Submission by 2 years and 6 months part-time.

Doctoral degrees

  • Submission by 3 years and 3 months full-time.
  • Submission by 5 years and 6 months for part-time.

Doctoral Loan

UK students who haven’t secured a scholarship can take out a Doctoral Loan to help with tuition fees and living costs. They provide up to £29,390 for full-time and part-time PhDs in all subject areas.

EU students starting a course on or after 1 August 2021 must have settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme to get student finance. Irish citizens do not need to apply for a visa or to the EU Settlement Scheme.

Additional costs

There are some extra costs that you may have to pay, or choose to pay, depending on your programme of study and the decisions you make. The list below has some examples, and any extra costs will vary:

  • Student visas (international students).
  • Books (you’ll have access to many books through the University library, but you may want to buy your own copies).
  • Optional conference/field/archive/library trips (Faculties support some travel and conference attendance financially. Details vary. Please check with the Department/School to which you are applying).
  • Laptop (you’ll have access to laptops and PCs on campus, but you may want to buy your own).
  • Printing and photocopying (There is a printing allowance in place for all students, currently £20 a year. Some Faculties grant PGR students access to printing and photocopying as staff. Please check with the Department/School to which you are applying).
  • Professional-body membership.
  • Graduation (gown hire and photography).

Remember, you’ll still need to take into account your living costs. This could include accommodation, travel and food – to name just a few.

For information about bursaries and how to fund your studies see our money page, or take a look at our PhD scholarships page for specific funded PhD opportunities.

Watch: find out more about postgraduate study at the University of Hull.

Watch the video

The University’s Postgraduate Training Scheme (PGTS) provides a range of generic and discipline-specific modules to support research students through their programme.

Find out more

The library has an exclusive lounge for postgraduate research students and a dedicated Skills Team to provide a wide range of study and research skills help.

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The Doctoral College provides support to postgraduate research students. Offering skills development opportunities and dedicated facilities, the school is here to help you achieve your potential.

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Research at Hull tackles big challenges and makes an impact on lives globally, every day. Our current research portfolio spans everything from health to habitats, food to flooding and supply chain to slavery.

Find out more

Entry requirements

You should normally have, or expect to obtain, at least a 2:1 Honours degree (or international equivalent) in a related subject appropriate to your intended research.

You should submit a sample of your written work in musicology or composition of at least 4000 words (for MA by Research) and at least 10,000 word (for PhD applicants), or, if performance is your chosen specialism, you will be expected to attend for an audition.

With your application, you should also submit a research proposal that should be tailored to your research area and should include the following:

  • project title,
  • project synopsis (of c. 500 words),
  • series of research questions,
  • discussion of research context,
  • consideration of the research methods and methodology to be employed,
  • bibliography

Research proposals should not exceed 1500 words in length (excluding bibliography). 

International students

If you require a student visa to study or if your first language is not English you will be required to provide acceptable evidence of your English language proficiency level.

  • For 2024 entry, this course requires IELTS 6.0 overall, with no less than 5.5 in each competency.
  • For 2025 entry, this course requires IELTS 6.5 overall with no less than 6.0 in each competency.

See other English language proficiency qualifications accepted by this University.

If your English currently does not reach the University's required standard for this programme, you may be interested in one of our English language courses.

Visit your country page to find out more about our entry requirements.