Postgraduate Programmes in Music

postgraduate studies in music

On this page you will find the following information:

Northern Bridge Doctoral Training Partnership

We are pleased to belong to the Northern Bridge Doctoral Training Partnership through which the Arts & Humanities Research Council offers fully-funded studentships to outstanding postgraduate researchers across the full range of Arts and Humanities subjects, including Creative Practice disciplines. The members of the consortium are Newcastle University, University of Durham and The Queen's University of Befast.

For information on the studentships and how to apply please see the partnership's studentships web pages. Please note the timescale for applications in 2016-17: the competition is now open, and applications must be submitted by 11 January 2017.

If you wish to apply for a studentship to study at ICMuS, you are strongly advised to discuss your intentions with us at the earliest possible opportunity; you will need to be crafting your application in consultation with a likely supervisor (and first referee) during November and December. In the first instance, please contact Dr Kirsten Gibson (; 0191 208 5247).

Please note that the Northern Bridge studentships are for doctoral study only.



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Areas of Postgraduate Study at ICMuS

The International Centre for Music Studies (ICMuS) offers postgraduate opportunities in a wide range of areas:

  • musicology
    • ethnomusicology including: field recordings; folk and popular musics; global and world jazz; music and literature; organology; Celtitude; diaspora and identity; cultural memory; mode; music and prejudice; mediatization; ethnomusicologies of the West
    • music history including medieval music, early modern music, nineteenth-century and twentieth-century music
    • philosophical and 'critical' approaches to the study of music
    • music analysis; notation; editing; source studies
    • world music
    • popular music studies
  • composition
    • notated composition
    • studio-based work
    • improvisation
    • mixed-media
  • performance
    • early music; performance practice
    • classical music
    • folk music

To find out more about the areas in which we have teaching and research expertise, click here to see a list of staff specialisms or here to read about staff research at ICMuS.

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Which Degree is Right for Me?

All our Masters-level degrees (MMus, MLitt and MPhil) are designed both as a qualification in their own right and as training for study at PhD level. They can be taken in one year's full-time study or two years' part-time study. The PhD can be taken in three years' full-time study or six years' part-time study. If you value being part of a learning community, then a Research Masters with a taught component is probably right for you (MMus). If you prefer to work on a topic on your own with supervision from academic staff, then a research degree (MLitt, MPhil) is probably right for you. We would not normally accept anyone onto the PhD without their having completed, or be about to complete, a Masters in an appropriate field (music, or related area). The PhD is the highest level qualification available in Higher Education and is the gold standard for a career in academia.

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Research Masters

The MMus, MLitt and the MPhil are Masters-level research degrees. They are designed for students who have a strongly-defined idea of what they want to study, and want to be given the freedom to pursue that idea throughout their programme. They are designed to give students a taste of what research at PhD level might be like. If you are a highly self-reliant student and you enjoy working on your own for much of your time, then either the MLitt or the MPhil might be right for you. If you want to be part of a larger community, working in groups with a taught component to your masters, then you are probably best-suited to the MMus.

  • The MMus is primarily a research programme with taught elements; on the MMus you can study a range of musicological topics, and/or topics in creative practice
  • The MLitt is a modular research programme (180 credits). This means that you will complete a research training programme (20 credits), a number of discrete research projects (each usually in the form of a written assignment, 80 credits in total) and a dissertation (80 credits). The projects are designed with your supervisors and are structured in such a way as to prepare you for the writing of the dissertation.
  • The MPhil is entirely based on research leading to the completion of a thesis and is not a modular degree like the MLitt. You will be given integrated research training; the thesis, which will normally be about 40,000, will be supervised by two members of academic staff.

Please see the areas of study in which staff at ICMuS are able to supervise.

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The PhD in Music

A PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) is the gold standard of all research degrees and is normally the minimum requirement for entry into an academic career. The PhD can be taken by thesis (musicology, music education) or by portfolio (composition or performance) or can include elements of both academic and creative work. As part of your programme of study, you will be assessed for your research training needs and, once these have been ascertained and agreed with you, these will be met by a research training programme delivered in your first year both at faculty level and within ICMuS. Look at the areas of study in which staff at ICMuS are able to supervise or read more about the research undertaken by staff at ICMuS.

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We have a range of funding options available for postgraduate students. See our funding pages for more.

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Contact for Further Information

If you have any queries about how to apply for a postgraduate degree in music at Newcastle, or would like to talk through your options, please contact the postgraduate admissions secretary (

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CETL for Music and Inclusivity

ICMuS was the lead partner in the Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL): Music and Inclusivity. This was a £5 million consortium project, funded by Hefce (Higher Education Funding Council of England) and had five other university members from across the North East of England. The CETL comprised 12 innovative curriculum development projects all of which addressed inclusivity by both broadening music education to encompass students of diverse backgrounds and promoting all musical practices that stake a claim to a place in contemporary culture - classical, popular, folk and traditional, jazz, new or avant-garde, and world musics. The CETL impacted directly on student life at ICMuS providing enhanced facilities, curriculum development and a range of new provision across the undergraduate curriculum Click here to read more.

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