Frequently answered questions on applications for graduate courses in music
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Q1 Does the Faculty of Music offer any part-time, on-line, or distance learning graduate courses?
The University has certain requirements concerning residency in Oxford, but part-time study for the DPhil is now available; see the Research students page. There are no opportunities for online or distance learning.
Q2 How are the graduate studies courses at the Faculty delivered?
The MSt in Music course consists of taught seminars by the teaching staff of the Faculty, and individual supervision (e.g. for the dissertation). The MPhil in Music is identical to the MSt in the first year, and is taught by supervision in the second. The DPhil degree is taught by individual supervision.
Q3 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, mostly at the London conservatories, but guidance is given on securing such teaching. This tuition is funded by the Faculty.
Q4 My undergraduate degree is not in Music, but I sing in a choir and play several instruments. Am I eligible to apply for the MSt?
The entry requirement for the MSt in Music is normally a first-class or good upper-second-class degree in Music. Applications may still be considered 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. If you wish to discuss this, please contact the Director of Graduate Studies.
Q5. I am interested in applying for a DPhil and corresponding to a possible supervisor. How can I arrange to do this?
First look at the Faculty profiles on this website. Please then email a possible supervisor directly if you wish to discuss a possible project. However, since Oxford terms are short but intensive, it is unlikely that members of the academic staff will be able to meet with potential supervisees. We will not review potential applications, or look at CVs or written materials in advance of application. There is a graduate open day each year – usually in November – which is an opportunity for applicants to meet with the Director of Graduate Studies and possibly other academics too.
Q6 Does the University accept doctoral students transferring from other academic institutions?
Usually only when a doctoral supervisor moves from another university to Oxford.
Q7 What scholarships are available 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.
Q8 Are there any other sources of funding for graduate study?
Yes. UK and EU students may apply for funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council. At Oxford, this funding is managed by the Open-Oxford-Cambridge Doctoral Training Partnership. See the OOC DTP website for further information about the scheme and on the application process. All candidates are automatically considered for Clarendon Fund Scholarships. For further information about these awards, and funding for graduate study in general, see the University’s webpages at: http://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/graduate/fees-and-funding/graduate-scholarships
MSt in Music
The MSt in Music is a one-year course 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 MSt Overview in Oxford
MPhil in Music
The MPhil in Music 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 MPhil overview in Oxford
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. This powerful combination allows you to gain deep knowledge and expertise in your specialist fields, as well as developing a comprehensive understanding of business, exceptional leadership skills and practical experience.
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.
You will play a pivotal role in Oxford’s commitment to equipping future leaders with the tools to engage with a wide range of ideas and disciplines. Along with other 1+1 MBA students you will be one of many connections between the business school and the rest of the University of Oxford: you will integrate your disciplinary knowledge from the Master into the MBA, and share information about the research and projects taking place around the University with your peers on the MBA.
Find out more more about the 1+1 MBA here
The degree of DPhil, with specialisation in Musicology or Composition, are awarded upon successful completion of a substantial original contribution to these fields prepared over the course of usually three or four years. Students embarking on these degree courses are normally expected to have a Master’s degree in music or equivalent, or they may first take the MSt in Music at Oxford (see below).
During the first year students hold the status of PRS (Probationer Research Student). Besides initial work on their research project, they may undertake some graduate coursework, depending on their experience and interests, to prepare themselves for independent research. At the end of this period, students’ fitness to continue is assessed through an examination called ‘transfer of status’, for which they submit a research proposal accompanied by a draft chapter and an annotated bibliography in the case of Musicology, and a portfolio of compositions and critical writings in the case of Composition. 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. A further examination, called ‘confirmation of status’ and involving discussion of further submitted materials (thesis chapters and compositions), usually takes place in the third year of the DPhil.
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 is now able to accept a number of students 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.)
The application deadline to begin in October 2021 is in early January.
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 (or you can ask for an open college place – which will be allocated by the Graduate Admissions Office).
If you are offered an academic place you are guaranteed a college place, but not necessarily at your first-choice college.
DPhil applicants will be invited to attend an interview, for those who are overseas this will be by telephone or video call. Places are awarded first and foremost by the Faculty.
Master's applicants will only be invited to interview if you are being considered for funding. You will not be called to interview if you are not considered for funding.
Interviews usually take place in mid-February. You will be notified at least 1 week in advance. Subsequent to the interviews, the Faculty of Music will nominate a small number of candidates for funding. All nominations are subject to confirmation by the Humanities Division, so a nomination is no guarantee of funding.
There are over 1,000 full graduate scholarships available across the University, and these cover course fees and provide a grant for living costs. If you apply by the relevant January deadline and fulfil the eligibility criteria, you will be automatically considered. Over two-thirds of Oxford scholarships require nothing more than the standard course application.
Applicants to Music programmes may also be eligible to apply for additional scholarship and funding opportunities, including the Ertegun Scholarship Programme. In order to be considered for this award you will need to complete the scholarships section of the course application form and submit additional supporting material. Use the Fees, funding and scholarship search to find out which other scholarships you are eligible for and if they require an additional application, full details of which are provided.
Two Ralph Leavis scholarships 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, up to two scholarships are awarded for students on the MSt in Music.
In recognition of Mr Leavis’ archival and library-based interests, the awards will be made to successful applicants whose MSt work is centred on library and archival research.
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.
Candidates who would like to be considered should send an additional statement of purpose (of up to 350 words) to Ms Avalon Floyd, Academic Administrator in the Faculty of Music (firstname.lastname@example.org) by Friday, 7 January.
The Faculty’s Graduate Admissions Panel will oversee the selection of the successful candidates.
Please note that this is one of the few funding schemes, for which a separate application is necessary. Unless stated otherwise on the University’s admissions pages, all candidates are automatically considered for any funding they are eligible for. This includes the Black Academic Future doctoral scholarships.
More information on funding and scholarships can be found here: