Summary

Music at Ulster is firmly committed to creative practice as an integral part of its research activity.

Proposals are sought within our areas of research expertise, which include composition, performance, music technology and scoring for screen.

Practice–based PhDs will include both practice–based and written elements to submissions (the length of which will be determined in relation to given projects in accordance with Ulster University regulations, broadly on the basis of practice–based or practice–led models, depending on whether the written component is a major or supporting part of the PhD).

Indicative topics are summarised below, but interested parties are advised to make contact with potential supervisors in advance of making an application to discuss the feasibility of their proposed topic.

If in doubt as to who to address your query to, please contact Dr Brian Bridges (Research Director).

Music Composition

Projects which address the broad field of composition via practice-based and/or practice led methodologies are welcome.

(Topic contacts: Prof. Brian Irvine, Prof. Frank Lyons, Dr Adam Melvin, Dr Rob Casey)

Improvised Performance and Improvisation in Composition

Proposals may consider the development of original improvisatory concepts and/or innovative technical approaches in jazz and/or improvised instrumental or vocal contemporary music performance.

(Topic contacts: Dr Linley Hamilton, Dr Rob Casey, Prof. Brian Irvine)

Music Composition for Instruments and Live Electronics, and/or Electroacoustic Composition/Electronic Music

Projects may focus on the investigation of solo and/or ensemble interaction with a wide range of compositional methodologies using live electronics in the production of a portfolio of original music.

(Topic contacts: Prof. Frank Lyons, Dr Brian Bridges)

Microtonal Music: Theories and Practices

Proposals are sought which address the broad field of microtonal music, particularly in relation to composition/performance, technologies and theory.

(Topic contacts: Dr Brian Bridges, Dr Adam Melvin)

Music and the Visual

Proposals are sought for practice-based (composition, performance) or musicological projects that investigate the relationship between music and the visual world e.g. visual arts, visual media, visual/visualized objects and environments.

Of particular interest are project proposals exploring interdisciplinarity and collaborative practice, music and moving image, site-specificity and music and architecture.

(Topic contacts: Dr Adam Melvin, Dr Rob Casey)

Music and Embodied Models

Proposals are sought for practice-based or contextual studies projects which investigate the relationship between music, sound, and embodied concepts and structures.

(Topic contacts: Dr Brian Bridges, Dr Adam Melvin, Dr Rob Casey)


Essential criteria

Applicants should hold, or expect to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class Honours Degree in a subject relevant to the proposed area of study.

We may also consider applications from those who hold equivalent qualifications, for example, a Lower Second Class Honours Degree plus a Master’s Degree with Distinction.

In exceptional circumstances, the University may consider a portfolio of evidence from applicants who have appropriate professional experience which is equivalent to the learning outcomes of an Honours degree in lieu of academic qualifications.

  • Experience using research methods or other approaches relevant to the subject domain
  • Sound understanding of subject area as evidenced by a comprehensive research proposal
  • A comprehensive and articulate personal statement
  • Clearly defined research proposal detailing background, research questions, aims and methodology

Desirable Criteria

If the University receives a large number of applicants for the project, the following desirable criteria may be applied to shortlist applicants for interview.

  • First Class Honours (1st) Degree
  • Completion of Masters at a level equivalent to commendation or distinction at Ulster
  • Research project completion within taught Masters degree or MRES
  • Practice-based research experience and/or dissemination
  • Experience using research methods or other approaches relevant to the subject domain
  • Work experience relevant to the proposed project
  • Experience of presentation of research findings

Funding and eligibility

The University offers the following levels of support:

Vice Chancellors Research Studentship (VCRS)

Full award (full-time PhD fees + DfE level of maintenance grant + RTSG for 3 years).

This scholarship will cover full-time PhD tuition fees and provide the recipient with £16,062 (tbc) maintenance grant per annum for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

Applicants who already hold a doctoral degree or who have been registered on a programme of research leading to the award of a doctoral degree on a full-time basis for more than one year (or part-time equivalent) are NOT eligible to apply for an award.

Vice-Chancellor’s Research Bursary (VCRB)

Part award (full-time PhD fees + 50% DfE level of maintenance grant + RTSG for 3 years).

This scholarship will cover full-time PhD tuition fees and provide the recipient with £8,000 maintenance grant per annum for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

Applicants who already hold a doctoral degree or who have been registered on a programme of research leading to the award of a doctoral degree on a full-time basis for more than one year (or part-time equivalent) are NOT eligible to apply for an award.

Vice-Chancellor’s Research Fees Bursary (VCRFB)

Fees only award (PhD fees + RTSG for 3 years).

This scholarship will cover full-time PhD tuition fees for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

Applicants who already hold a doctoral degree or who have been registered on a programme of research leading to the award of a doctoral degree on a full-time basis for more than one year (or part-time equivalent) are NOT eligible to apply for an award.

Department for the Economy (DFE)

The scholarship will cover tuition fees at the Home rate and a maintenance allowance of £16,062 (tbc) per annum for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

  • Candidates with pre-settled or settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme, who also satisfy a three year residency requirement in the UK prior to the start of the course for which a Studentship is held MAY receive a Studentship covering fees and maintenance.
  • Republic of Ireland (ROI) nationals who satisfy three years’ residency in the UK prior to the start of the course MAY receive a Studentship covering fees and maintenance (ROI nationals don’t need to have pre-settled or settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme to qualify).
  • Other non-ROI EU applicants are ‘International’ are not eligible for this source of funding.
  • Applicants who already hold a doctoral degree or who have been registered on a programme of research leading to the award of a doctoral degree on a full-time basis for more than one year (or part-time equivalent) are NOT eligible to apply for an award.

Due consideration should be given to financing your studies. Further information on cost of living


The Doctoral College at Ulster University