Institution / Ulster University Coleraine
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Music - Research



Music, Drama, Dance and Performing Arts are research-intensive subjects at Ulster, with staff working in a wide range of areas within and across disciplines. In Ref 2014, nearly 60% of research outputs and 100% of the impact of our work on policy and creative practice was rated 4* (world- leading) and 3* (internationally excellent). The impact of our research was judged to be 90% 4*, one of only a handful of Units of Assessment to achieve this score across the whole Higher Education sector.

The University welcomes applicants interested in researching all areas of music composition, performance and music theatre.


The department is firmly committed to creative practice as an integral part of its research activity: recently submitted and ongoing doctoral studies include work on the music of Rachmaninov; on contemporary jazz piano and guitar performance and on drum kit and percussion techniques in musical theatre; on recent developments in ‘straight ahead’ jazz drumming, creative applications of technology in solo electric guitar performance, technology interfaces for disabled musicians, contemporary works for prepared piano, and Highland piping traditions; on rhythm perception in language-impaired children, music in film, the history of sound art, the history of show bands, issues of cultural heritage in opera; and analyses of tuning in traditional Irish fiddle music and of microtonality in jazz.

Entry requirements

Entry conditions

We recognise a range of qualifications for admission to our courses. In addition to the specific entry conditions for this course you must also meet the University’s General Entrance Requirements. For general entrance requirements go to:

Entry Requirements

You will need to hold a First of Upper Second Class Honours degree (or equivalent) in an area relevant to your chosen project to be able to apply.

If you have obtained an undergraduate degree from a non-UK institution, we can advise you on how it compares to the UK system.

English Language Requirements

English language requirements for international applicants

The minimum requirement for research degree programmes is Academic IELTS 6.0 with no band score less than 5.5. This is the only acceptable certificate for those requiring to obtain a Tier 4 visa.

Ulster recognises a number of other English language tests and comparable IELTS equivalent scores.


As a full time student, the expectation is that you will work on your project on a daily basis, either on or off campus as agreed with your supervisor. You will be entitled to 40 days holiday per annum.

Part time students are expected to meet with their supervisors on a regular basis, most usually this would be monthly but this is dependent on the project area.

Careers or further progression

Career options

Although academia is considered to be the most obvious path for any PhD holder, with around two thirds of our graduates remaining in the Higher Education or Research sectors, the degree also paves way for a career in industries centred on research and innovation.

PhD graduates are recognised by employers to hold valuable transferrable skills, as the nature of the degree trains candidates in creativity, critical inquiry, problem solving, negotiation skills, professionalism and confidence.

The most recent Ulster survey of PhD graduates found that 92% had secured employment within the first year since graduation (HESA Destination of Leavers Survey 2015).

Further enquiries

Prof. Frank Lyons
Tel: +44 (0)28 7167 5138

Research areas

Research facilities and groups

The physical resources of the Centre reflect the research interests of Music staff, focusing especially on composition, performance, and music theatre:

a media lab featuring 25 Apple iMac workstations supporting leading-edge music composition, audio processing and non-linear video editing;

software applications including Logic Pro, Reason, Ableton Live, Max, Sibelius and Final Cut Studio;

a traditional recording studio combining both analogue and digital, based around a Sony DMX R100 recording console, Genelec monitoring, Quad Core Apple Mac Pro, Logic Pro and a selection of processing tools from TC Electronic, Focusrite, TL Audio and Drawmer (the studio has full access to the School’s microphone complement which includes models from DPA, Neumann, AKG, Soundfield, Beyerdynamic, Sennheiser and Shure);

a second studio with an intermedia suite based around a Genelec 5.1 surround sound system, Quad Core Apple Mac Pro, Tascam FW1884 and a selection of software applications including Waves Gold and Maya;

a third studio with a pre-production suite based around Digidesign Pro Tools, Genelec monitoring and an Apple G5, supporting in addition Final Cut Pro;

a selection of professional mobile digital recording devices including digital still cameras, HD video cameras, portable monitoring and a range of audio recording equipment suitable for field recording; a recital room equipped with harpsichord, chamber organ and two grand pianos;

two black-box theatre studios.

Campus facilities include an extensive library stock (including a large CD and DVD collection) and a competitive range of electronic resources.

Enrolment and start dates

Start Date: September 2017

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