Students preparing for their graduation ceremony at Canterbury Cathedral

Music and Technology - PhD


Through the Music and Technology PhD programme you develop your work through an intensive period of study in an ambitious and challenging research environment.  You undertake a substantial research project resulting in a practice-based output and written thesis, guided by a core supervisory team who have expertise within the given research area.



Our programmes offer you the opportunity to mix with composers, sound designers, film-makers, technologists, theorists, visual artists and curators. During your time with us, you become part of our specialist community, exchanging ideas and developing your own creative and intellectual interests, informed by expert academic staff.

About the School of Music and Fine Art

The School of Music and Fine Art is situated on the University of Kent's Medway campus. Facilities include purpose-built recording studios, post-production rooms, rehearsal spaces, workstations and seminar rooms. There is a professionally designed 5.1 recording and compositional space and a spatial audio studio. In addition, there is a multi-loudspeaker sound diffusion system for the performance of sonic art and live electronics.

Our location on the Chatham Historic Dockyard provides interesting and unique spaces for concerts, performances and sound installations, with further venues on the other parts of the campus and in the surrounding area. Our students explore both the creative and technical aspects of music and its related technologies and also have the opportunity to work collaboratively with practitioners from other arts subjects.

You have regular meetings with your supervisor as well as tuition in research methodologies in the early stages of your research. Additionally, the School regularly invites academic and professional specialists for guest lectures, workshops and special events relevant to students’ research.

National ratings

In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, Arts at Kent was ranked 1st for research power and in the top 20 in the UK for research quality.

An impressive 98% of our research was judged to be of international quality. The School’s environment was judged to be conducive to supporting the development of world-leading research.

Study support

Postgraduate resources

We are part of a new multimillion-pound investment by the University of Kent in arts facilities on the Chatham Historic Dockyard. Our new specialist facilities include a large recording studio, a Foley recording space, surround-sound studio and postproduction rooms. All have been designed to the highest standard in order to provide an excellent environment for postgraduate work.

We have an array of loudspeakers for electroacoustic performance, live sound and collaborative arts projects. Students are encouraged to participate in these music concerts and interdisciplinary events, becoming part of the exciting artistic environment here at the University of Kent.

The University’s Drill Hall Library is well resourced in our subject area and houses special collections of CDs, DVDs and musical scores. Students also have access to specialist online and printed journals as well as other electronic resources.

Research-led musical culture

Members of staff have their work performed regularly. Recently performed works include: Northern Loop, an eighty-minute electroacoustic work in collaboration with Ambrose Field, released on the Sargasso label (Dr Paul Fretwell); Flags, audio-visual work in collaboration with Nick Cope, part of The Engine Room Exhibition (Professor Tim Howle); Promming, a commission from the BBC Proms 2012 Music Walk event (Dr Claudia Molitor); Diesis, for solo double bass and electronics performed by Enno Senft (Duncan MacLeod).

Researcher Development Programme

Kent's Graduate School co-ordinates the Researcher Development Programme for research students, which includes workshops focused on research, specialist and transferable skills. The programme is mapped to the national Researcher Development Framework and covers a diverse range of topics, including subject-specific research skills, research management, personal effectiveness, communication skills, networking and teamworking, and career management skills.

Entry requirements

An upper second-class honours degree or better, usually in a relevant humanities subject. In certain circumstances, the School will consider candidates who have not followed a conventional education path or who may have relevant experience in the industry. These cases are assessed individually by the Director of Graduate Studies.

All applicants are considered on an individual basis and additional qualifications, and professional qualifications and experience will also be taken into account when considering applications. 

International students

Please see our International Student website for entry requirements by country and other relevant information for your country. 

English language entry requirements

The University requires all non-native speakers of English to reach a minimum standard of proficiency in written and spoken English before beginning a postgraduate degree. Certain subjects require a higher level.

For detailed information see our English language requirements web pages. 

Need help with English?

Please note that if you are required to meet an English language condition, we offer a number of pre-sessional courses in English for Academic Purposes through Kent International Pathways.

Research areas

Individual staff research interests cover a wide range of aspects of music technology and composition, and supervision is available in all these areas.

Our research environment is fuelled by the work of our celebrated composers, performers and scholars: Dr Ben Curry (music semiotics, popular music, eighteenth century music), Prof Kevin Dawe (ethnomusicology, musical instrument research, popular music), Prof Tim Howle (electroacoustic music, acoustic music and visual music), Dr Paul Fretwell (instrumental and electronic music), Richard Lightman (popular music production, film music and cross-cultural collaborations) Duncan MacLeod (experimental music, temperament and spatialisation), and Dr Aki Pasoulas (electroacoustic music, spatial sound, soundscape and acoustic ecology).

Our research culture is enhanced by the presence of a wide range of visiting colleagues (honorary professors, associate and assistant lecturers), as well as regular seminars and master-classes. Our Graduate Teaching Assistants and PhD students have scholarly pursuits in a wide range of topics. Recent topics have included: progressive rock, the Memphis music scene, Cretan music, Czerny's piano transcriptions, computer-based interactive instruments and microtonality in music composition.

The School of Music and Fine Art is also home to the Sound-Image-Space Research Centre, which promotes practice-led research underpinned by scholarship within the broad domain of image, sound and the spatial arts.

Staff research interests

Kent’s world-class academics provide research students with excellent supervision. The academic staff in this school and their research interests are shown below. You are strongly encouraged to contact the school to discuss your proposed research and potential supervision prior to making an application. Please note, it is possible for students to be supervised by a member of academic staff from any of Kent’s schools, providing their expertise matches your research interests. Use our ‘find a supervisor’ search to search by staff member or keyword.

Full details of staff research interests can be found on the School's website.

Dr Ben Curry: Lecturer in Music

Ben Curry is a musicologist specializing in the field of music and meaning, particularly semiotic approaches to the field. His musical interests stretch from the eighteenth century to the present day

Further areas of interest include music analysis, film music, classical music of the twentieth century, sonic art and the role of twentieth-century technologies in the production and reception of music.

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Dr Paul Fretwell: Senior Lecturer in Music

Paul’s research focuses on music composition.  His current work explores the tensions and oppositions between the instrumental and electronic approaches to composition and performance.  These divisions are often cultural, rather than specifically musical (for example, performance venue, audience, etiquette).  Historical styles and previous musical traditions are also an important factor.  He enjoys creating works that play with musical references from different musical eras, as well as works that blur the boundaries between formal concert, club environment and background music.

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Professor Tim Howle: Professor of Contemporary Music

Tim’s interests include developing composition, primarily sonic art, acoustic music and music for experimental video.

His academic career has focused on composing sonic art, acoustic music, and the relationship that these areas have with other arts subjects.

Tim currently supervises PhDs in sonic art and composition and has recently examined PhDs at Keele and York.

He has performed over 1,000 gigs in a post-punk experimental band, gained an independent recording contract and had music selected for the John Peel Show.

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Richard Lightman: Lecturer in Popular Music

Hailing from Montreal, Canada, Richard has produced over 35 albums covering a wide spectrum of music, and contributing to the sound design of a number of Hollywood films. He was also the former CEO of the Music Producers Guild.

Richard’s research examines the evolution of the South Asian diaspora-based Bhangra music brought to the UK and its ultimate hybridity and appropriation by diverse cultures seeking new identities. The resultant product being a wholly indigenous music that then has been exported globally. The focus of the research is based on Lightman’s experience as a Bhangra record producer in the early 1990s and the negotiation and translation of musical form and cultural expectations, and the mediation between South Asian and Western sensibilities. It is this discourse of mediation and the key questions of cultural capital that drive his research.

His other interests include copyright issues and negotiations with the government alongside UK Music with reference to the Digital Economy Act.

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Duncan MacLeod: Lecturer in Music

Duncan is a composer whose compositional output encompasses concert music, cross-arts collaboration computer music and electro-acoustic composition.

Duncan’s creative practice and research is primarily centred on the creative application of spatialisation, temperament and manipulation of timbre. A specific area of focus for this research involves concepts of spectator immersion and the blurring of spatial boundaries between performance platform and audience alongside challenging the traditional distinctions of high/low culture. This has led him to explore and develop approaches to reinterpreting formal environments such as the concert hall, as well as the utilisation of unconventional and unique performance spaces, such as clubs or museums. These strands reflect a broader compositional interest in the exploration and creative manipulation of music perception and cognition. New technology is therefore a key aspect of his research methodology. As such, he has research interests in the application of real-time digital signal processing/live electronics as an extension of acoustic instrumental technique, alongside exploring the interface between performer and computer.

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Dr Aki Pasoulas: Lecturer in Music

Aki is an electroacoustic composer, interested particularly in acousmatic music, sonic art, sound perception and spatial sound. His works are continually performed worldwide. He originally studied and worked as a graphic designer, before embarking on music studies.

Aki was a Society for the Promotion of New music (SPNM) shortlisted composer for 2008-11.

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The 2018/19 annual tuition fees for this programme are:

Music and Technology - PhD at Medway:
UK/EU Overseas
Full-time £4260 £15200
Part-time £2130 £7600

For students continuing on this programme fees will increase year on year by no more than RPI + 3% in each academic year of study except where regulated.* If you are uncertain about your fee status please contact

General additional costs

Find out more about general additional costs that you may pay when studying at Kent. 


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