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 as heritage, social conflict and multimodality, and how these relate to policy. 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 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 of music and the creative industries, particularly in relation to cultural heritage; sectarianism; and multimodal communication, and how these relate to policy. Methodologically this relies upon critical discourse analysis, ethnography, survey data and multimodal analysis. I am currently working on issues surrounding music as intangible cultural heritage and the multimodal relationships between musical sound, image and text. I am the Co-Editor of The International Journal of Traditional Arts ( launched in November 2016. 

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. 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 maintain broad interests in the theorization and performance of music and social prejudice, see Performing Prejudice Symposium.

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 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.

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.

Grants & Esteem 

·      Co-I EU funded international research project Critical Heritages (CoHERE): performing and representing Identities in Europe (2.5€ million).

·      PI on AHRC Early Career Fellowship 2014 Understanding Scotland Musically (£68,682)

·      Scottish Government Research Grant (as Co-Investigator), Community experiences of sectarianism, (c. £80,000)

·       Newcastle University Strategic Innovation Fund 2015 Open Educational Resources in a blended approach to teaching popular music culture (£10,000), see

·      Newcastle University Faculty Research Grant 2012 Hearing Sectarianism (£2,192)

·      Newcastle University School Strategic Research Fund 2013 Challenging Sectarianism Bid Preparation (£2,227)

·      Member of the AHRC Peer Review College 2014-17.

·      Registered expert for the European Parliament’s Committee on Culture and Education (CULT) 2015-19.

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



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. 
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

School Roles and Responsibilities
• 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
• Appointed external doctoral examiner at the Universities of Ulster, Sheffield, Glasgow, Durham and UHI.
• External examiner at the University of the Highlands and Islands distance learning BA Applied Music and MA Music and the Environment programmes from 2012-2016.

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.