The overriding aim of undertaking PhD and MPhil study is to make an original contribution to knowledge. The programmes do not follow a prescribed course of study but benefit from close supervision and a range of research training that is designed to support the project being undertaken, and provide wider opportunities for professional development as a researcher.

Our vibrant multidisciplinary environment includes performance and new work in dance, drama and music, performing arts education and policy, Scottish music, historically-informed performance, musicology, and a range of other specialist areas.

Following a historic agreement between RCS and the University of St Andrews, we offer research degrees leading to the awards of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) and Master of Philosophy (MPhil). These programmes are validated and awarded by the University of St Andrews.

The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland offers opportunities for suitably qualified students to work towards the achievement of research degrees in appropriate areas of enquiry. Applications will only be successful if it is clear that the proposed research can best be undertaken within a Conservatoire context, in which performance and/or creation is held central.

The specific areas for research degrees are:

- the processes and methodologies of developing new performance work (music/drama/music theatre), including collaborative and devised performance
- performance
- musical composition, in all genres, for live, electro-acoustic and mixed media
- Scottish music
- methodologies of specialist performance training, including the use of IT
- socio-cultural studies of performance
- performance education and pedagogy

Our research culture at Central is one of enquiry, innovation and experimentation where staff and students alike are engaged with new and pioneering ideas and practices, and seek to understand these within a wider field of performance and cultural production. A student’s eventual PhD submission may be a single and sustained written thesis, or it may feature practice-based projects alongside a written component to the thesis.
We believe that research into our disciplines often involves exploration in, and through, the media with which we are concerned. Central’s academic staff are expert in drawing connections between exploratory practice and advanced conceptualising, process and product, making and articulating. We also have a strong tradition of text-based academic scholarship in drama, theatre and performance.

The normal period of study for the degrees are as follows:

MSc: One year full-time or two years part-time

MPhil: Two years full-time or four years part-time

PhD: Three years full-time or six years part-time

For the MPhil and PhD in Composition degrees students are allocated principal and second supervisors who oversee and guide the development of their work.

Students submit a portfolio of original compositions in place of a thesis. The MPhil portfolio should include one work suitable to form the major item in a concert program.

For the PhD the portfolio should normally include one major work, the performance of which would occupy an entire evening (i.e. an opera). Part or all of the portfolio may consist of computer-based or electronic fixed-media works, interactive work or work involving new media.

There is no requirement for an additional thesis or commentary to accompany the portfolio, but students are required to develop an understanding of the cultural context of their work.

All research degrees require students to work closely with a supervision team. Please browse staff profiles to learn about the research specialisms and outputs of Music staff. If your research is interdisciplinary, look at staff profiles in other subject areas, too. We encourage you to approach staff directly to gauge their availability and suitability as a prospective supervisor.

When making first contact with either a prospective supervisor or the Programme Director, please introduce yourself and mention your research intentions as a composer. If you maintain a professional website or online portfolio, please include a link.

This helps potential supervisors to understand your vision of the scope of a PhD or MScR project, and your understanding of the type of practical - as well as intellectual - matters that postgraduate research entails. This early contact with staff should also be helpful to you, for decisions you will need to make about how to develop your proposal, and with whom you would like to work.

The PhD in Creative Music Practice provides an opportunity for candidates to pursue practice-led research in the field of music at the highest level.

The PhD in Creative Music Practice involves research that combines textual and musical outputs. For example:

Performance (either of original or pre-existing repertoire)
Sound design
Interactive music software, etc.
The outputs take the form of a portfolio, performance, and/or recording, as well as theoretical work and documentation of the processes by which the music was made (e.g. video, photographs, recordings, sketches, studies, web pages).

The musical outputs are explicitly linked to the textual material. This linkage may take various forms: musical material might exemplify, contextualize, and/or expand an idea elaborated in the text, and vice versa.

The programme requires candidates to critically evaluate and articulate the relationship of textual to extra-textual media in the formation of musical knowledge. The format of the PhD thesis consists of a text of not more than 50,000 words and a comprehensive record of the musical material (recordings, scores, software etc.) contained in a coherent and archive-able format (bound thesis and/or CD/DVD). In the case of theses relating to live musical performances, documentation in the form of high quality audio and video recordings is central to the submitted materials.

Read me aloud