Interested in graduate study at the Faculty of Music? Come to our open day, happening both in-person and online on Thursday 8th December. Find out more here.
The Faculty of Music has one of the largest and liveliest communities of graduate students in the United Kingdom. Usually about 40 new students enter every year, coming from countries all around the world. Graduate students have the benefit of a team of international experts to supervise their research, access to outstanding libraries, and the stimulus of a committed group of like-minded students and scholars in many subject areas. The University, the colleges and the city of Oxford provide a lively, supportive and diverse musical, academic and cultural atmosphere.
Subject areas, approaches and modes of study are very varied. Students may concentrate on any aspect of music history, source studies, music theory, analysis, criticism, aesthetics, psychology, anthropology, ethnomusicology, sociology, organology, composition, musical performance and interpretation. Many individual research projects are unique in their blend of approaches; frequently they extend into other academic disciplines within the Humanities and beyond (especially Social Sciences and Psychology).
The application deadline to begin in October 2023 is Friday 6 January 2023.
All applicants are required to submit written work. In addition, composers should include a portfolio of compositions (scores + recordings), and performers should include a recording of their performances – preferably filmed.
For further details, please visit the “How to apply” page of your chosen course.
While graduate study is largely based in the Faculty students are required to be a member of a college. On your application you will be invited to make your first choice of college. If you have no preferences, you could alternatively ask for an ‘open college place’; in this case, the college will be allocated to you by Graduate Admissions Office).
If you are offered an academic place you are guaranteed a college place, but not necessarily at your first-choice college.
It is important to keep in mind that funding is not contingent on your college preference. If scholarships and stipends are linked with a specific college, successful candidates will be automatically transferred to the college in question.
DPhil applicants will be invited to attend an interview on MS Teams, where they will be interviewed by the Faculty’s admissions panel and their prospective supervisor. Offers are made on the basis of the application and the interview.
As a rule, the Faculty does not interview applicants for taught graduate degrees (MSt, MPhil). Applicants may be invited to interview, if they are under consideration for funding.
Interviews usually take place in mid-February. Candidates will be notified at least one week in advance. In most cases, the Faculty of Music can do no more than nominate candidates for funding. These nominations subject to confirmation by the Humanities Division or the funding college. The nomination is therefore no guarantee of funding.
MSt in Music
The MSt in Music is a one-year course (9 months) which offers an introduction to the broad range of current methodologies and approaches in music scholarship. Students choose on application to specialise in either:
Find out more from our overview of postgraduate programmes.
MPhil in Music
The MPhil in Music is a two-year programme that is offered in the same three areas as the MSt: Musicology, Composition and Performance. It is a two-year course whose first year, and assessment, is identical to that of the MSt course. Students may apply directly for entry to the MPhil, or MSt students who successfully complete their course at a high level may apply to proceed directly into the second year of the MPhil.
The second year of the MPhil allows students to research more thoroughly their chosen field.
Find out more from our overview of postgraduate programmes.
The Oxford 1+1 MBA
The Oxford 1+1 MBA is a unique opportunity for talented individuals to combine the Master of Studies in Music with a one-year MBA at Oxford’s Said Business School. As a 1+1 MBA student, you will spend your first year completing the MSt in Music before joining the MBA in your second year. Find out more about the 1+1 MBA here
Click here to view entry requirements and to apply
The degree of DPhil, with specialisation in Musicology or Composition, are awarded upon successful completion of a significant and substantial original contribution to these fields prepared over the course of usually three or four years. Students embarking on these degree courses are expected to have a Master’s degree with a good pass or distinction grade in Music or related fields. Relevant professional experience may be considered as a substitute for academic attainment.
All students will be initially admitted as Probationer Research Student (PRS). They will be upgraded to full DPhil student status upon completion of their Transfer of Status (after a maximum of four terms). This is the first of two milestone examinations that punctuated the journey towards the final submission of the thesis. The second examination, called Confirmation of Status, takes place completed in the second or third year of the programme. In both cases, students are assessed by two internal examiners (outside their supervisory team). It is also possible to apply for transfer to DPhil status while enrolled in the MPhil course (see below); this transfer is dependent upon successful completion of the MPhil.
Degrees are awarded on the basis of a research thesis in Musicology (maximum length: 100,000 words for DPhil), or of a portfolio of at least three compositions and a dissertation or a group of essays relevant to the intellectual and artistic concerns of the candidate in Composition. Submission is required within twelve terms from admission.
The Music Faculty has a few places for part-time study towards a DPhil. Part-time students are fully integrated into the research culture of the Faculty and afforded all the same opportunities and support as full-time students. They are expected to attend regularly for supervision, skills training, and the weekly research colloquia, although the Faculty appreciates that part-time research students will have non-standard attendance and work patterns. A candidate’s supervisor should be able available to advise part-time students on how to access research and training provision.
Although there will be no requirement to reside in Oxford, part-time research students should attend the University regularly (particularly in term-time) for supervision, study, and skills training, and for a minimum of 30 days a year. Research degrees are not available by distance learning.
It is generally not possible for a candidate to register for a part-time degree if he or she requires a student visa for study in the United Kingdom, as current visa policy only allows registration for full-time study. (However, a candidate who is classified as ‘overseas’ by virtue of nationality and visa status, but who is employed in the UK with a work permit, may be able to register for a part-time degree, providing the extent of their current visa is greater than the minimum duration of the programme which is six years.)
Click here to view entry requirements and to apply
The University of Oxford and its constituent colleges are devoted to fund as many candidates as possible. In addition to external funding (e.g. through the AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership with the University of Cambridge and the Open University), we devote internal funds and administer a range of philanthropic schemes to graduate scholarships. While the selection process is competitive, a substantial proportion of graduate students benefit from scholarships and stipends.
Over 1,000 full graduate scholarships available every year across the university. These typically cover course fees (in some cases only up to the national level) and/or stipends for living costs. With the exception of a small number of scholarships that are indicated as such on the application form (e.g. Ertegun Scholarship Programme and the Open-Oxford-Cambridge AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership), candidates will be automatically considered for any scholarship for which they meet the eligibility criteria. Applicants wanting to be considered for doctoral funding from the AHRC, Ertegun House, etc. for which they are eligible, must tick the relevant box on the application form. The vast majority of Oxford scholarships require nothing more than the standard course application.
The University’s graduate funding pages provide a comprehensive list of funding opportunities, with detailed information on individual schemes.
The Faculty will advertise its own music-specific scholarships and stipends nearer the application deadline. Please consult this site for updates in late November/early December.
Ralph Leavis Scholarship/Bursary for the MSt in Music
Thanks to a generous donation in memory of Mr Ralph Leavis (Lincoln 1951), who was a daily visitor to the Music Faculty Library for much of his life, a scholarship can be awarded for students on the MSt in Music (co-funded by a college).
The scholarship covers full fees for home students (UK, Republic of Ireland, Channel Islands & Isle of Man). Overseas students (including those from the EU) would receive a sum equivalent to the home fee as a partial fees bursary.
In recognition of Mr Leavis’ archival and library-based interests, the awards will be made to successful applicants whose MSt work focusses on library and archival research.
Candidates who would like to be considered should send an additional statement of purpose (of up to 350 words) to Ms Jade Murphy, Academic Administrator in the Faculty of Music (email@example.com) by Friday, 6 January. The Faculty’s Graduate Admissions Panel will oversee the selection of the successful candidates.
Frequently answered questions on applications for graduate courses in music
Q1 Does the Faculty of Music offer any part-time, on-line, or distance-learning graduate courses?
Part-time study is available for PhD students, but not for taught graduate programmes (MSt and MPhil). All full-time programmes are residential.
For further information see the Music Graduate Admissions page.
Q2 How are the graduate studies courses at the Faculty delivered?
The MSt in Music course blends taught seminars by the teaching staff of the Faculty with individual supervision (e.g. for the dissertation). MPhil students follow the MSt curriculum in their first year; in the second year they pursue independent project, supported through individual supervision. As a research degree, the DPhil course is taught exclusively by individual supervision.
Q3 What are the opportunities of obtaining funding for graduate study?
The University of Oxford and its constituent colleges are devoted to fund as many candidates as possible. Thanks to internal funds and philanthropic schemes, a substantial number of graduate students benefit from scholarships and stipends every year.
With the exception of a few awards (especially the AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership and the Ertegun Graduate Scholarship in the Humanities), we automatically consider applicants for all the different scholarships that they are eligible for. The general application form will make it clear, if a specific application is required.
For further information consult the Funding [INSERT HYPERLINK for Tab #5] section of this page or the University’s graduate funding pages.
Q4 What financial support is available to on-course graduate students at the Faculty of Music?
The Faculty administers several small funds to assist students with travel, conference attendance, and so on. The sums awarded are not large, and applications are restricted to current students. They are not intended, and are not sufficient, to assist with fees or subsistence.
Q5 I have an undergraduate degree from a conservatoire, but would like to continue to develop my performance skills in an academic environment. Do you have instrumental or vocal teachers on the Faculty staff?
The Faculty of Music is an academic department and does not employ instrumental or vocal teachers. Instrumental and vocal tuition for those students on the MSt and MPhil courses specialising in performance is provided by teachers outside the Faculty (including those active at the London conservatories). This tuition is funded by the Faculty. The Faculty’s Director of Performance co-ordinates instrumental and vocal tuition and runs workshops for graduate performers.
Q6 My undergraduate degree is not in Music. Am I eligible to apply for the MSt?
The default entry requirement for the MSt in Music is a first-class or good upper-second-class degree in Music. We consider also applications from candidates with a first degree in another discipline, but they will need to be able to demonstrate that they are sufficiently prepared to follow the academic and musical demands of the course. This also applies to other postgraduate degrees in music. You are welcome to discuss this with the Director of Graduate Studies or with the Academic Administrator.
Q7. I am interested in applying for a DPhil and wish to establish contact with a possible supervisor. How can I arrange this?
The Faculty website provides a list of its doctoral supervisors. If you identify somebody with matching expertise and interests in your proposed area of research, you may email them directly. Most prospective supervisors will be happy to offer you general advice on your project, but we cannot review specific applications, or look at CVs or written materials in advance of application.
The Faculty’s Graduate Open Day in November provides an opportunity for applicants to meet with the Director of Graduate Studies, the MSt Convenor and possibly other academics.
Q8 Does the University accept doctoral students transferring from other academic institutions?
Usually only when a doctoral supervisor moves from another university to Oxford.