School of Arts and Cultures

Staff Profiles

Dr Simon McKerrell

Associate Dean for Research & Innovation



Dr Simon McKerrell is interested in the social impact of music and the creative industries. His research largely focuses upon the communicative power of music and how this relate to cultural policy. Current research focuses upon music in the creative economy in rural areas, and taking a quantitative and mixed methods approach to questions of money, aesthetics and policy in Scottish music. He is the author of Focus: Scottish Traditional Music (Routledge), and the Co-Editor of both Music as Multimodal Discourse: Media, Power and Protest (Bloomsbury) and Understanding Scotland Musically: Folk, Tradition, Modernity (Routledge).

He is Associate Dean for Research & Innovation in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Science at Newcastle University, having previously held positions at the Universities of Sheffield, Glasgow and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, and The National Piping Centre in Glasgow. He is currently Co-I on the EU funded international research project Critical Heritages (CoHERE): performing and representing Identities in Europe (2.5€ million), in 2014-15 he was PI for the AHRC project Understanding Scotland Musically (£68,000) and was concurrently a Co-Investigator for a Scottish Government Social Research project entitled Community Experiences of Sectarianism (£73,000).

In 2016, along with Dr Simon Keegan-Phipps he was the founding Co-Editor of The International Journal of Traditional Arts ( In addition to this, Simon is an expert performer of Highland and Uilleann bagpiping, having recorded 11 commercial albums and taught throughout the world.

Previous Positions

  • Head of Music, Newcastle University (June 2015-September 2017)
  • Senior Lecturer in Music, Newcastle University (2015-)
  • Lecturer in Music, Newcastle University (2010-2015)
  • Knowledge Exchange Officer, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (2009-2010)
  • Research Assistant, Glasgow University (2008-2009)
  • Lecturer in Ethnomusicology fixed-term, University of Sheffield (2008-2009)
  • Head of Piping Studies for the BA (Scottish Music-Piping) degree, The National Piping Centre, Glasgow (2005-2008).
  • Lecturer in Music (part-time), Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, (2003-2008).


2012 Certificate of Advanced Studies in Academic Practice (HEA accredited)  

2005 PhD 'Scottish Competition Bagpipe Performance: Sound, Mode and Aesthetics' St. Andrews University

2000 BA (Scottish Music) Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama

Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

Google Scholar: Click here.


Research Interests
My research focuses upon the social impact and communicative power of music in relation to cultural policy. Current research focuses upon music in the creative economy in rural areas, and taking a quantitative and mixed methods approach to questions of money, aesthetics and policy in Scottish music. I have maintained an interest in music and social conflict, specifically around sectarianism in Scotland and how music and culture perform and combat social conflict.
I am currently a Co-I on the EU Horizon grant CoHere, which addresses an intensifying EU Crisis through a study of relations between identities and representations and performances of history, including music as intangible cultural heritage. I am also the lead academic on an AHRC postdoctoral fellowship with Dr Jasmine Hornabrook examining the rural creative economy in Argyll and Bute throughout 2018. In 2014-15 I completed an AHRC Early Career Fellowship entitled Understanding Scotland Musically and some of the research from this project has been published in a book for Routledge on Scottish traditional music employing various ethnomusicological, media and discourse analysis methods of analysis entitled Focus: Scottish Traditional Music.
I am the Arts & Cultures Theme lead for the Newcastle University Institute for Social Renewal
 which is an extremely productive and exciting cross-university role. My blog is available here
Other Expertise
Simon McKerrell is an expert performer of Highland-, Border- and Uilleann-pipes and has recorded 11 commercial albums. He has toured, taught and performed throughout the world and was a founding member of the band Back of the Moon, Rough Tides, The Sprit of Scotland Pipe Band ( and La Banda Europa ( For more information and discography see: Simon McKerrell's Discography
Postgraduate Supervision
I am currently part-supervising Niles Krieger's PhD entiteld ‘John Gaylord Jr. and His Milieu - A Social History of the Fiddle in Early National New England’ 
I supervised a PhD student-- Dr Matthew Ord whose doctoral thesis focuses on the philosophical and theoretical approaches to the recording and technology of folk music (graduated 2017).
I have examined doctoral theses at the Universities of Ulster, Sheffield, Durham and UHI, and served as the external undergraduate examiner at the University of the Highlands and Islands distance learning BA Applied Music and MA Music and the Environment programmes from 2012-2016.

Research Grants


AHRC Creative Economy Northern Bridge Postdoctoral Fellowship (as academic lead/mentor) £178,794


Co-I on major EU research grant on heritage, culture and Europeanization CoHere 2.5€ million


PI on AHRC Early Career Fellowship Understanding Scotland Musically, £68,682


Co-I for Scottish Government funded social research entitled ‘Community experiences of sectarianism’, c. £86,000, major policy report published and disseminated in 2015.


John Renbourn Archive School Strategic Fund Grant (£3,709).


Newcastle University Faculty Bid Preparation Fund, Transdisciplinary perspectives on music and efficacy in the prison context (£4,953)


Newcastle University Strategic Innovation Fund Grant, Musiwiki for Digital Open Educational Resources (£10,000)


Newcastle University School Strategic Research Fund, Challenging Sectarianism Bid Preparation (£2,227)


Newcastle University Faculty Research Grant, Hearing Sectarianism (£2,192)

External Roles and Peer Reviewing


Carnegie Trust Research Assessor


British Forum for Ethnomusicology Annual Conference 2018 host/organiser


AHRC Peer-Review College & Peer Review Knowledge Transfer College 2014-2021


AHRC Panel Member for Collaborative Doctoral Awards


Invited panel member HEFCE Open-Access consultation


International Editorial Advisory Board for Popular Musics Matter: Social, Political and Cultural Interventions series (Rowman and Littlefield)


Chair British Forum for Ethnomusicology


Executive Committee British Forum for Ethnomusicology


Co-Editor and founder of The International Journal of Traditional Arts (Gold Open Access—distributed open access via LOCKSS network)


Registered expert for the European Parliament’s Committee on Culture and Education (CULT)


Panel member for Scots Trad Music Awards nominations and accepted an invitation to sit on the panel of adjudicators for the BBC Young Traditional Musician of the Year Award

 various Peer Reviewer for the following journals: Popular Music, Popular Music and Society, Critical Discourse Studies, Social Semiotics, Ethnomusicology, Ethnomusicology Forum, Ethnomusicology Ireland, Scottish Music Review, Participations, Radical Musicology, Journal of Open Cultural Studies 


Simon McKerrell has interests in open educational resources and has been pursuing a number of open, online educational initiatives at Newcastle University including the open wiki for the course Issues in Popular Music Culture, assisted by Dr Matthew Ord. 
Modules taught include: Issues in Popular Music Culture; Advanced Studies in the Sociology of Music; Introduction to World Music; Transcription & Analysis; Advanced Studies in Ethnomusicology; Folk Music Studies; Studying Vernacular Music. 
He also maintains various resources online for teaching and dissemination of other projects see for instance:
Personal Website and Blog
The Joseph Hornsby Collection of Northumbrian-Scottish fiddle
Book support website for Focus: Scottish Traditional Music (Routledge, 2015)
AHRC project on Scottish Music

University Roles and Responsibilities
• Associate Dean for Research & Innovation, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Newcastle University 
• Arts and Cultures Theme Champion for The Newcastle University Institute for Social Renewal (HASS Faculty role) 
• Head of Music, Newcastle University 
• Member of University-wide Alcohol Awareness Committee
• Chair of Board of Examiners in Music (2015-2017)
• Degree Programme Director (2012-13) for the BMus Folk and Traditional Music degree
• MUS2065 Issues in Popular Music Culture, Module Leader
• MUS2088 Folk Music Studies: Resources and Research Materials, Module Leader
• Web Editor in Music 2011-2013

Postgraduate Teaching
• Advanced Studies in the Sociology of Music
• Advanced Studies in Ethnomusicology and Traditional Music
• First instrument tutor for Highland pipes and Uilleann pipes.