Music - PhD


Our research programme gives you the opportunity to mix with composers, sound designers, technologists, ethnomusicologists and theorists.

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 within the Centre for Music and Audio Technology.

Individual staff research interests cover a wide range of aspects of music composition, performance, ethnomusicology and music technology, and supervision is available in all of these areas. For these programmes, you have regular meetings with your supervisor as well as tuition in research methodologies in the early stages of your research. Additionally, we regularly invite academic and professional specialists for guest lectures, workshops and special events relevant to students’ research.

About the Centre for Music and Audio Technology

We are situated on the Medway campus of the University of Kent, within the Historic Dockyard Chatham. Our facilities include purpose-built recording studios, post-production rooms, rehearsal spaces, workstations and seminar rooms. We have a professionally designed 5.1 recording and compositional space and a spatial audio studio. In addition, we have a multi-loudspeaker sound diffusion system for the performance of sonic art and live electronics.

Our students explore both the creative and technical aspects of music and its related technologies and have the opportunity to work collaboratively with other music practitioners.

Entry requirements

A first or 2.1 honours degree, usually in a relevant humanities subject, plus a postgraduate qualification at Masters level.

Or, a substantial record of professional achievement as a music/audio arts practitioner, plus a postgraduate qualification at Masters level. 

In both cases, an acceptable research proposal will be needed.

In certain circumstances, the Centre will consider candidates who have not followed a conventional education path but 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, professional qualifications and relevant experience may also be taken into account when considering applications. 

International students

Please see our International website for entry requirements by country and other relevant information. Due to visa restrictions, international fee-paying students cannot study part-time unless undertaking a distance or blended-learning programme with no on-campus provision.

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.


A group of postgraduates sit outside the Kennedy Building on the Canterbury campus

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Course structure

Duration: 3 years full-time, 6 years part-time


The 2020/21 annual tuition fees for this programme are:

  • Home/EU full-time £4407
  • International full-time £19800
  • Home/EU part-time £2204
  • International part-time £9900

For details of when and how to pay fees and charges, please see our Student Finance Guide.

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

Additional costs

General additional costs

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


Search our scholarships finder for possible funding opportunities. You may find it helpful to look at both:

The Complete University Guide

In The Complete University Guide 2020, the University of Kent was ranked in the top 10 for research intensity. This is a measure of the proportion of staff involved in high-quality research in the university.

Please see the University League Tables 2020 for more information.

Independent rankings

In the most recent Research Excellence Framework, the University of Kent was ranked in the top 20 for research intensity in the Times Higher Education, outperforming 11 of the 24 Russell Group universities.

Research areas

Kent is a top 20 research-intensive university. All of our academic schools produce world-class research, and Kent is rated as internationally excellent, leading the way in many fields of study.

The Centre for Music and Audio Technology’s research can be grouped into three intersecting areas of activity:

  • Composition, Technology and Performance;
  • Psychology of Music, Music, Health and Wellbeing, Community Music and Education;
  • Popular Music Studied, Ethnomusicology.

In making, applying and valuing music as creative practice and cultural industry, the Centre is both publicly engaged and acknowledging of music’s benefits to society, health and wellbeing. 

Staff research interests

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

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

Professor Kevin Dawe : Professor of Ethnomusicology

Kevin’s research, teaching and performance experience in rock, blues, folk and classical guitar have taken him across the globe, providing the foundation for studies of a variety of instruments (such the mandolin, sitar, Turkish saz, and Cretan lyra), and leading on to graduate studies in ethnomusicology and the anthropology of music. He studied biology at Exeter and biological anthropology at UCL before going to Belfast and was captivated by John Blacking’s ideas and theories on ‘humanly organized sound’ and ‘soundly organized humanity’, and his work on music and the body. Such influences have surfaced in Kevin’s research in ecomusicology and interests in music, health and wellbeing. His current field of research is the popular music of the Mediterranean region, moving from Cretan lyra players to Turkish guitarists, with a focus on deep immersive ethnographic studies.

Kevin serves on editorial boards and acts as a peer reviewer for a number of journals and publishers.  He is also busy as a PhD supervisor.

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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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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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Study support

Postgraduate resources

The University of Kent has invested over £5 million in the Centre for Music and Audio Technology, to provide you with the best possible study and research environment. A number of historic buildings in the atmospheric Historic Dockyard Chatham have been renovated to provide a new range of professional standard facilities. 

Our new specialist facilities include a Neve recording studio, a Foley recording space, surround-sound studio and post-production 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 creative 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) and Flags, audio-visual work in collaboration with Nick Cope, part of The Engine Room exhibition (Professor Tim Howle).

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.

Apply now

Learn more about the applications process or begin your application by clicking on a link below.

Once started, you can save and return to your application at any time.

Apply for entry to:

Contact us


United Kingdom/EU enquiries

PhD at Medway

Admissions enquiries

T: +44 (0)1227 768896


Subject enquiries

Dr Ruth Herbert, Director of Research
+44 (0)1634 888476

International student enquiries

Enquire online

T: +44 (0)1227 823254