Research Students

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.

Part-time study

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.)


Click here to view entry requirements and to apply