Music - Research

Composers, performers, musicologists and computer musicians work together within a strong interdisciplinary culture. The academic staff comprises four composers (including two computer musicians) and nine musicologists; several also have professional performing backgrounds. Students in the PhD and MLitt programmes benefit from regular interaction with visiting scholars and musicians via our seminars, concerts and conferences. With a combination of specialist expertise and broad exposure to the discipline, graduates are well prepared for entry into a range of careers in creative and academic fields, including arts and media organisations.

Supervision is offered in any of the following areas:

PhD in Music (Composition):

Students in the PhD in Composition develop a varied portfolio of works totaling ninety minutes in duration. Variations on this format (e.g. single large-scale work submissions) are possible but need to be approved in writing by the supervisor and Head of Department. Portfolios should be accompanied by a written commentary on the works of at least 12,000 words (but not exceeding 30,000 words). Where possible, and as appropriate, submissions should be supported by recorded performances. The final examination is via a viva voce examination with two examiners (one internal and one external) and an independent chair.

PhD in Music (Musicology)

Students in the PhD in Musicology submit an original research thesis on any topic in musicology for which supervision is available in the Department of Music. Applicants should consult the Department of Music webpages for details of staff expertise. The thesis takes the form of a written text of 80–100K words, subject to a viva voce examination with two examiners (one internal and one external) and an independent chair.

PhD in Music (Computer Music)

The Computer Music programme allows students to choose between two forms of Thesis submission:

(1) by dissertation: a 40-50,000 word thesis together with the proof-of-concept of the technologies developed/discussed, which might include an original composition component together with the technical documentation (e.g. hardware designs, software sources); (2) by publication: 6 – 8 papers, published (or fully accepted for publication) in international peer-reviewed conference proceedings and recognized journals in the field, with at least two journal items, plus a 15,000-18,000 introductory essay binding the published work. One of the published items might be an original composition work. In both options, the final examination is via a viva voce examination with two examiners (one internal and one external) and an independent chair.

PhD in Music (Performance)

The PhD in/by Performance will appeal to performers interested in developing innovative projects in which performance forms an integral part of scholarly research. By developing an appropriate critical and theoretical framework the project will contribute to the advancement of knowledge in the field. The format of the PhD includes a 40/50k-word dissertation and a 90-minute final concert. The final examination is via a viva voce examination with an independent chair and two examiners (one internal and one external), and a public concert which will be attended by the examiners and the independent chair.

Students will typically take the required and optional modules while also developing their individual investigative work. The department holds an annual Postgraduate Conference, where students have the opportunity of presenting elements of their research. The programme also offers opportunities to study abroad, as the Music Department maintains a number of agreements with institutions in various European countries.

MLitt students must take a minimum of 10 credits in taught modules (at least 5 in generic/transferable modules and at least 5 in subject specific/advanced specialist modules) from the Structured PhD programme.

Entry requirements

Normally a 2.1 or equivalent first degree in Music or in a related discipline; a 2.1 or equivalent Master's degree in Music or in a related discipline. Further to application via PAC, an interview will be conducted, where students are expected to present a research plan to the department. Prospective applicants are encouraged to contact members of staff in their projected area of research.

Language Requirements
In the case of Musicological research, students are expected to have some knowledge of the language of the composer(s) or author(s) whose work they intend to research. It is strongly recommended that they build up such knowledge to proficiency level during their studies.


MHT02 PhD 4 years Full-time
MHT03 PhD 6 years Part-time
MHT04 MLitt 2 years Full-time
MHT05 MLitt 3 years Part-time

PhD normally four years full-time (6 years part-time)

MLitt normally two years full-time (3 years part-time)

Further enquiries

Programme Director Dr Antonio Cascelli
Tel +353 (0)1 708 6716
Address Department of Music, Maynooth University, Maynooth, Co. Kildare


The Department of Music at Maynooth University is renowned for its long and proud tradition of composition, musicology, performance and music technology, immersing students in a vibrant, challenging and creative educational environment. Students will encounter multiple ways of engaging with music: in rehearsals, in concerts, in seminars and in the music studios. Performance experience is offered in a range of professionally directed music ensembles, including the Maynooth University Orchestra, the Guitar Ensemble, the Traditional Group, the Choral Society and the Chamber Choir. Students with a passion for the creation and performance of a whole range of music styles will find the space and the academic support to build their professional skills as musicians and music creators. Composers will find a stimulating and supportive environment amidst the vibrant performance and academic activities in the Department. The focus here is on individual tuition from internationally recognised composers with access to opportunities for collaboration with other musicians in the Department. Musicologists, too, will find a supportive environment; seminars bring leading researchers from around the world, and in the university library, students have access to one of the best-stocked music collections in Ireland. With a combination of expert staff and tailor-made resources, the Department of Music offers a learning experience that builds confidence and develops the techniques and experience needed for careers in research, scholarship, the performance and creation of music, the music industry, the arts and culture sector and many other fields.

Application date

All applications should be made through the PAC system.

Research areas

Research Interests
The Department of Music is a dynamic centre for research clustered around the main areas of Composition, Musicology and Music Technology. These research areas draw together multifaceted perspectives on music including its cultural, social and historical significance, creation, recreation and media and technology interfaces.

Course fee

In general, there are two levels of fees payable. EU students from EU countries including Ireland pay a subsidised level of fees for both taught courses and research programmes. Tuition fees for students from outside the EU are not subsidised and are thus somewhat higher than for EU students.

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