Students preparing for their graduation ceremony at Canterbury Cathedral

Music (Research, Composition or Performance) - PhD

2018

Our research programme gives you the opportunity to mix with composers, sound designers, film-makers, technologists, ethnomusicologists, theorists, visual artists and curators.

2018

Overview

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 School of Music and Fine Art.

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 School of Music and Fine Art

We are situated on the Medway campus of the University of Kent and 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.

The School is also home to the Sound-Image-Space Research Centre which promotes practice-led research underpinned by theory and scholarship within the broad domain of image, sound and the spatial arts. The focus is on new collaborative relationships that generate research outputs through multiple modalities; these include the production of new creative work, performance, publication, and exhibition and curation.

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.

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.

Careers

A postgraduate degree in the area of music and audio arts is a valuable and flexible qualification, which can lead to career opportunities within the creative industries, music recording and production, audio software development, sound for film, composition and academic careers.

These possibilities are augmented by work in video games, the Internet, live sound for theatres and festivals, audio installations for museums, sonic arts and computer music. Postgraduates interested in a research career are supported by the University’s Graduate School Research Development Programme. The University’s Employability Weeks can also provide valuable support in terms of planning future careers.

Study support

Postgraduate resources

The University of Kent has invested over £5 million in the School of Music and Fine Art, to provide you with the best possible study and research environment. A number of historic buildings in the atmospheric Chatham Historic Dockyard have been renovated to provide a new range of professional standard facilities. Our new specialist facilities include a large 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 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); 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

A first or 2.1 honours degree, usually in a relevant humanities subject. In certain circumstances, the School 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, 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

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.

Sound-Image-Space Research Centre

The School of Music and Fine Art is home to the Sound-Image-Space Research Centre which promotes practice-led research underpinned by theory and scholarship within the broad domain of image, sound and the spatial arts. The focus is on new collaborative relationships that generate research outputs through multiple modalities; these include the production of new creative work, performance, publication, and exhibition and curation.

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.

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.

View Profile

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.

View Profile

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.

View Profile

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.

View Profile

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.

View Profile

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.

View Profile

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.

View Profile

Fees

The 2018/19 annual tuition fees for Home/EU PG Research programmes have not yet been set by the Research Councils UK.  This is ordinarily announced in March. 

General additional costs

Find out more about accommodation and living costs, plus general additional costs that you may pay when studying at Kent.

Funding

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