MPhil & PhD in Music

  • Length
    3-4 years full-time or 4-6 years part-time
  • Department

Course overview

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.

Research supervision

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.

Performance opportunities

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

Academic staff

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

Simon Deacon 
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

Danny Driver
Lecturer in Music (Performance), Programme Convenor for MMus Performance & Related Studies

James Ewers

Ian Gardiner 
Senior Lecturer, Programme Convenor for MMus Programme

Dr Stephen Graham

John Harries

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

Keith Potter 
Reader in Music, Admissions Tutor for MA Contemporary Music Studies

Anthony Pryer 
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

Ian Stonehouse 
Head of the Electronic Music Studios

Visiting and Associate Tutors

Pete Astor
Popular Music and Songwriting

Alexis Bennett
Music and Film

Dr Dimitris Exarchos 
Theory & Analysis, Contemporary Music Studies

Dr Panos Ghikas 

Daniel Jones
Music Computing

Maria Krivenski 
Classical Performance, Programme Convenor Short Courses/Summer School

Dr Naomi Matsumoto 
Programme Convenor for IFC & Graduate Diploma, International Admissions Tutor

Tom Mudd
Music Computing, Laptop Ensemble Director and EMS Technician

John Reid
Classical Performance

Dmitri Smirnov 

Alistair Zaldua

Visiting Fellows 

Sarah Anglissattached to the Sound Practice Research Unit

Maria Chavez, attached to the Sound Practice Research Unit

Dr Gavin Dixon attached to the Centre for Russian Music 

Veronica Doubleday attached to the Afghanistan Music Unit

Helen Frosi attached to the Sound Practice Research Unit

Prof Peter Kivy, Rutgers University

Dr Simon Maguire,
Southeby's, London

Dr Ivana Medic, University of Manchester, attached to the Centre for Russian Music

Gilbert Nouno attached to the Sound Practice Research Unit

Ashley Paul attached to the Popular Music Research Unit and Contemporary Music Research Unit

Lawrence Upton attached to the Sound Practice Research Unit

Visiting Research Staff 

Professor Simon Morrison
Visiting Professor
University of Princeton

Dr Levon Hakobian
Head of the Russian State Institute of Art Studies, attached to the Centre for Russian Music
Visiting Fellow

Katharine Hogg
Librarian of the Gerald Coke Handel Collection, Foundling Museum
Visiting Fellow


Imogen Burman
Events Manager

Anja Jeczalik
Clerical Officer

Ms Mains
Clerical Assistant

Kim Mulhall
Business Manager

Jon Fletcher
Assistant Business Manager

Harry Goodsman
Clerical Officer

Music Technicians

Rick Campion 
Technical Manager

Sophie Ellison
Music Technician Receptionist

Alex Horkey
Music Technician 

Mariano Nunez-West 
Senior Music Technician (Piano Specialist)

Goldsmiths Music Studios

Mikko Gordon
Head of Goldsmiths Music Studios

Winther Robinson 
Studio Engineer & Archivist

Sean Woodlock
Studio Maintenance Engineer

Harri Chambers
Assistant Engineer

Instrumental Tutors

Flute: Sarah O'Flynn; Finn Peters (Popular Music)
Oboe: Joseph Sanders
Clarinet: Victoria Soames Samek
Bassoon: Julie Andrews

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 AdamsRebecca TurnerVal Welbanks (Ligeti Quartet website)
Double Bass: Tony Hougham; Arnulf Lidner (Popular Music)

Harp: Gabriella D'Allolio
Bass (popular music): Tom Herbert ( The Invisible website); Matt Round

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 ZakianSarah Stephenson; Rachel Bennett
Voice (classical music): Nan Christie;  Caroline Lenton-Ward

Guitar: Graham Devine
Guitar (popular music): Arthur Dick; Nicholas Meier; David Okumu  (The Invisible websitePete Roth

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



"Studying at Goldsmiths has been deeply rewarding."

Jeremiah’s research focuses on the jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt, and aims to develop a clearer picture of his stylistic development. To do so, Jeremiah’s work examines Reinhardt via a critical engagement of his socio-cultural milieux, and within the frame of his geo-historical contexts. 

Jeremiah says: "studying at Goldsmiths has been deeply rewarding, and I have been inspired by the diversity of thought and richness of ideas that I have encountered at the University."


"At Goldsmiths I found a versatile music research community which allowed me to combine performance and academia as a creative and informative process."

"Academic supervision expertise, the Centre for Russian Music, research events and Graduate Festivals and a vibrant concert life, have made my study experience scholarly rich and musically interdisciplinary. At Goldsmiths I found a versatile music research community which allowed me to combine performance and academia as a creative and informative process. I studied musicology at the University of Athens followed by music performance studies at the Royal Academy of Music and thus a doctorate degree in Performance Practice enables me to continue developing in both directions."


"Studying music and sound at Goldsmiths affords incredible opportunities for interdisciplinary work and collaboration."

James is an artist and composer whose work focuses upon exploring sound composition through site-specific installation and and autonomous systems art. His practice-based doctoral research at Goldsmiths includes explorations into documenting site-specific sound work and the archival impulse.

James says:

"Studying music and sound at Goldsmiths affords incredible opportunities for interdisciplinary work and collaboration, great resources (the Electronic Music Studios, Goldsmiths Music Studios, the Daphne Oram archive), and provides a thriving community within one of the most innovative centres for artistic research in the world."

Entry requirements

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.

Equivalent qualifications
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
  • 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. 

Selection process 

Admission to many programmes is by interview.

Find out more about applying.

Fees & funding

Find out more about funding opportunities for home/EU applicants, or funding for international applicants. If you're applying for funding, you may be subject to an application deadline.

AHRC studentships.

Find out more about tuition fees.

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