Goldsmiths’ Department of Music has a lively and varied research base, large postgraduate community, active performing tradition, and offers proximity to London’s resources.
Staff research interests are correspondingly diverse and wide-ranging, and we offer research supervision in any of these areas of specialism.
Our MPhil/PhD pathways
You can register for any one of the following:
- Written thesis of up to 100,000 words (MPhil: 60,000 words). We offer supervision in many areas of music studies.
- Composition. Examined by portfolio of compositions, together with a 20,000 word commentary (MPhil: 12,000 words).
- Performance. Examined by a full-length recital, together with a related 50,000-word thesis (MPhil: 30,000 words).
- Sonic Arts: Examined by portfolio of practice, and a 40,000-60,000 word commentary (MPhil: 20,000-30,000 words). Portfolios may include recordings, documentation of installation work, or other sonic arts work.
- Practice-Based Research in Music: Examined by portfolio of practice, and a 30,000-60,000 word written element. Portfolios may include recordings of composition; documentation of performance; ethnographic film; web-based and digital humanities projects; documentation of installation; other practice-based research.
You are assigned members of staff qualified to supervise your research throughout your period of registration. Supervision involves regular meetings throughout the period of study, and involves the development of an intensive intellectual relationship between you and your supervisor.
You have access to Goldsmiths’ Graduate School, containing an open-access computer room, a student common room and seminar room for use by postgraduate research students.
Find out more about research degrees at Goldsmiths.
Contact the department
If you have specific questions about the degree, contact Dr Barley Norton
You can study full-time or part-time. The programme normally begins in September, but applications for entry in January and April may be considered.
Supervision is available in any of the areas of specialism outlined above or covered by staff research interests.
Research students are strongly encouraged to contribute to the Department’s research culture. You will have regular opportunities to present papers at seminars and conferences.
Composers can have pieces performed or recorded by Goldsmiths ensembles, including the Sinfonia, or by the Ensembles-in-Residence.
Performers are encouraged to take part in departmental concerts, and may audition for concerto appearances.
Registration and study
Initially, you register for a Master of Philosophy (MPhil) programme to train you in the research methods you will need to complete a PhD. You can apply to transfer to PhD registration when you have satisfactorily completed an agreed part of the research and training programme; this usually happens after approximately 18 months if you are studying full-time, or before 36 months if part-time.
You should aim to complete and submit your PhD thesis within an agreed period, usually three to four years for full-time students, and four to six years for part-time.
If you decide not to upgrade to PhD registration, you can submit your thesis for an MPhil after two years if you are studying full-time, or after three years if part-time. With the agreement of your supervisor, you can change your registration from full to part-time or vice versa.
North American applicants especially should note that the British system does not include preparatory taught classes or examinations as part of the MPhil/PhD programme, except for an initial course in research methods.
Music at Goldsmiths is ranked 12th in the UK for the quality of our research**
From opera to electronica, and from Errollyn Wallen to James Blake, music studies at Goldsmiths are unique and different. Firmly rooted in the 21st century, our programmes entwine academic with practice-based study, and historical with contemporary repertories.
We’re committed to high quality, ambitious and innovative performance, and we have a wide range of ensembles that you can join, including:
- Goldsmiths Sinfonia
- Chamber Choir
- Contemporary Music Ensemble
- Lunchtime and evening recitals
- Music Collective
- Studio Laptop Ensemble
- Goldsmiths Vocal Ensemble
- Plus student-led ensembles: Chamber Orchestra, New Music Ensemble, Big Band and Film Orchestra
These culminate in our end-of-year degree show and public music festival PureGold, which in recent years has launched at London’s Southbank Centre.
We have excellent rehearsal and performance facilities including:
- Goldsmiths Music Studios
- Electronic Music Studio
- Sonics Interactive Multimedia Laboratory
- Council Chamber (with its Steinway Model D)
- Two suites of practice rooms
Find out more about the Department of Music.
**Research Excellence Framework 2014, Times Higher Education research intensity subject rankings
Research pages and email contacts
Head of Department
Dr Berta Joncus
Senior Lecturer, BMus Music Joint Admissions Tutor, Departmental Careers Advisor
Dr Freida Abtan
Lecturer in Music/Computing, Programme Convenor for Music Computing
Dr Patricia Alessandrini
Lecturer in Studio Composition
Dr Tamsin Alexander
Lecturer in Music
Professor John Baily
Emeritus Professor of Ethnomusicology, Head of the Afghanistan Music Unit
Dr Lisa Busby
Lecturer, Pathway Leader and Admissions Tutor for MMus Creative Practice
Senior Lecturer, Director of Popular Music Performance, BMus Popular Music Admissions Tutor, Programme Convenor for MMus Popular Music
Professor John Levack Drever
Professor of Acoustic Ecology and Sound Art, Head of Unit for Sound Practice Research, Admissions Tutor for MMus Sonic Arts
Lecturer in Music (Performance), Programme Convenor for MMus Performance & Related Studies
Senior Lecturer, Programme Convenor for MMus Programme
Dr Stephen Graham
Professor Simon McVeigh
Professor of Music
Professor Keith Negus
Professor of Musicology, Co-Head of Popular Music Research Unit, Chair of Exams
Dr Barley Norton
Senior Lecturer, BMus Music Admissions Tutor, Head of Asian Music Unit
Dr Tom Perchard
Senior Lecturer, Programme Convenor for BMus Popular Music, Director of PGR Research, Co-Head of Popular Music Research Unit
Jeremy Peyton Jones
Deputy Head of Department, Senior Lecturer in Music, Director of Studies
Reader in Music, Admissions Tutor for MA Contemporary Music Studies
Lecturer, Senior Tutor, Programme Convenor for MA Programme, Pathway Leader and Admissions Tutor for MA Music and MA Historical Musicology
Professor Roger Redgate
Professor in Composition, Director of Research, Head of the Contemporary Music Research Unit
Head of the Electronic Music Studios
Visiting and Associate Tutors
Popular Music and Songwriting
Dr Panos Ghikas
Classical Performance, Programme Convenor Short Courses/Summer School
Dr Naomi Matsumoto
Programme Convenor for IFC & Graduate Diploma, International Admissions Tutor
Music Computing, Laptop Ensemble Director and EMS Technician
Veronica Doubleday attached to the Afghanistan Music Unit
Helen Frosi attached to the Sound Practice Research Unit
Lawrence Upton attached to the Sound Practice Research Unit
Visiting Research Staff
Professor Simon Morrison
University of Princeton
Dr Levon Hakobian
Head of the Russian State Institute of Art Studies, attached to the Centre for Russian Music
Librarian of the Gerald Coke Handel Collection, Foundling Museum
Assistant Business Manager
Music Technician Receptionist
Senior Music Technician (Piano Specialist)
Studio Engineer & Archivist
Studio Maintenance Engineer
Saxophone: Paul Bartholomew, Dave O'Higgins; Melanie Henry
Horn: Gillian Jones
Trumpet: Andrew Hendrie
Trombone: Leslie Lake
Tuba: Oren Marshall; Nick Newland
Violin/Viola: Devorina Gamalova (personal website)
Cello: Natalia Pavlutskaya (personal website); Léonie Adams; Rebecca Turner; Val Welbanks (Ligeti Quartet website)
Double Bass: Tony Hougham; Arnulf Lidner (Popular Music)
Piano: Simon Deacon; Nick Ramm; Sam Beste (Popular Music); Jakob Fichert; Maria Krivenski; Andrew Zolinsky (classical)
Percussion:Chris Brannick (Ensemble Bash); David Corkhill
Drum kit: Steve White; Dave Hattee; Tom Skinner
Director: Nan Christie
Voice (popular music): Laura Zakian; Sarah Stephenson; Rachel Bennett
Voice (classical music): Nan Christie; Caroline Lenton-Ward
Chamber Choir conductor: Caroline Lenton-Ward
The Department of Music welcomes most instruments and we will do our best to find a suitable teacher for your studies here. Please note, we cannot guarantee the availability of all tutors.
Below is a selection of MPhil/PhD projects currently underway.
John Drever (supervisor)
- James Bulley: Sound Art Trajectories and the Archival Impulse
- Marcus Leadley: Reconfiguring Acoustic Space: Soundscape and Perception
- Tommaso Perego: Sonic Choreography in 2D and 3D Surround Sound Environments
Ian Gardiner (supervisor)
- Alexis Bennett: British Film Music in the 1930s
- Jeff Spencer: Portfolio, Contemporary Jazz Composition
Keith Negus (supervisor)
- Richard Ekins: Aspects of Authenticity in New Orleans Jazz Revivalism
Barley Norton (supervisor)
- Jasmine Hornabrook: Transnational Networks, Musical Learning and Performance in London's Tamil Diaspora
Tom Perchard (supervisor)
- Jeremiah Spillane: Identity, Improvisation and Influence – the Stylistic Development and Enduring Legacy of Django Reinhardt
- Jasmin Taylor: Towards a Gendered Analysis of the Music of Billie Holiday
Keith Potter (supervisor)
- Paul Gilgunn: Rhys Chatham and American Postminimalism
- Paul Kean (Performance Pathway): American Minimalist and Postminimalist Music for Solo Piano and Two Pianos
Roger Redgate (supervisor)
- Mark Barden: Acoustic composition
- Richard Bolley: Acoustic composition
- Silvia Rosani: Acoustic composition
- Alistair Zaldua: Acoustic composition
You should normally have (or expect to be awarded) a high pass in a taught Masters degree. In exceptional circumstances we will also consider applicants with an undergraduate degree and professional experience equivalent to a Masters degree.
We accept a wide range of international qualifications. Find out more about the qualifications we accept from around the world.
English language requirements
If English isn’t your first language, you’ll need to meet our English language requirements to study with us.
For this programme we require:
IELTS 6.5 (with a minimum of 6.5 in the written test and no individual test lower than 6.0)
If you need assistance with your English language, we offer a range of courses that can help prepare you for postgraduate-level study.
How to apply
You apply directly to Goldsmiths using our online application system.
Normally, you should begin by contacting either the programme contact listed above, or a staff member active in the relevant field in order to discuss their research project. Staff biographies and specialisms can be seen on our staff pages.
Once you have discussed and shaped your project, and the staff member concerned has provisionally agreed to supervise you, you should draft a formal research proposal and personal statement. The former should be about 1,500 words long, and should outline your project, describing your research questions, methods, and context – this part comprising a literature review, and a statement as to how your work will seek to make an original contribution to knowledge. The personal statement should outline the reasons you want to carry out the project, your longer-term plans as a researcher, and the ways that you see your work as fitting into and being supported by our Department.
Before submitting your application you'll need to have:
- Details of your education history, including the dates of all exams/assessments
- The email address of your referee who we can request a reference from, or alternatively an electronic copy of your academic reference
- Contact details of a second referee
- A personal statement – this can either be uploaded as a Word Document or PDF, or completed online
- If available, an electronic copy of your educational transcript (this is particularly important if you have studied outside of the UK, but isn’t mandatory)
- Details of your research proposal
You'll be able to save your progress at any point and return to your application by logging in using your username/email and password.
When to apply
We accept applications from October for students wanting to start the following September.
We encourage you to complete your application as early as possible, even if you haven't finished your current programme of study. It's very common to be offered a place conditional on you achieving a particular qualification.
If you're applying for external funding from one of the Research Councils, make sure you submit your application by the deadline they've specified.
Admission to many programmes is by interview.
Find out more about applying.