Music (2015 entry)

Subject overview

  • The Department of Music is a major international centre for the study of contemporary music, contemporary musical thinking and music theatre, offering a unique range of inter-related research disciplines. 
  • We offer expertise in opera and music theatre, analysis and general musicology, studio composition and composition for film and media, allowing you to develop an integrated portfolio of work corresponding to your strengths and interests. 
  • Our electronic music and recording studios and student digital audio workstations are equipped with superb facilities, and we maintain a substantial library of scores, CDs, and DVDs with private listening facilities. These are in addition to the collections in the main University Library

Global perspective

55th in the world for international outlook

Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2013-2014

Academic quality

14th in the UK
43rd in Europe
111th in the world

Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2014-2015

  • 1,600 km2 of South Downs
    National Park area

  • 4,600
    students live on campus

  • 700,000 books and e-books, and
    30,000 journals in the library

  • 13,800
    students study at Sussex

  • Around 4,500 full- and
    part-time jobs advertised each year
    Over 900 paid internships
    advertised in the last 18 months
    300 careers events each year

  • £500-million future investment
    in campus buildings and facilities

  • Over 95 countries across the world
    are home to Sussex graduates

  • 956 academic staff
    1,214 professional services staff

  • 140 student societies and
    over 30 sports clubs

  • 28,000-seater American
    Express Community Stadium

  • £24.7-million
    research income

  • < 9 minutes to Brighton
    < 30 minutes to Gatwick Airport
    < 60 minutes to central London
    < 90 minutes to Heathrow Airport

Specialist facilities

Music library 

The specialist music library is in the School of Media, Film and Music’s Resources Centre and comprises numerous scores and recordings, especially of 19th- and 20th-century music. 

Music Mac lab

Available 24/7 for music students, this lab features workstations with fast Mac computers, midi keyboards and software including Logic, Sibelius, Ableton Live, Max, IRCAM applications and Pure Data. 

Electronic music studio

The Jonathan Harvey Electronic Music Studio features a control room and two live rooms; the mixing desk is an SSL Matrix console. It is bookable 24/7 for music students who have passed the appropriate induction. 

Recital room

This room provides a dedicated space for music seminars, performances and workshops with a Steinway B piano, wi-fi and 8-channel sound diffusion. 

Practice rooms

We have five practice rooms with Yamaha pianos bookable 24/7 for music students; two of the rooms additionally feature synthesis equipment and mixing workstations. 

Academic activities

Throughout your studies, as part of your intellectual training, you are expected to take part in the research culture of the School of Media, Film and Music and relevant research centres. This might include participation in reading and discussion groups, skills development training, research-in-progress seminars and performances. The School runs workshops on writing effectively, creative practice research and many other vital matters. These are supplemented by the Research Development Programme run by the Doctoral School. Music gives its doctoral students the chance to talk in depth about their work in progress through departmental seminars in the autumn term. 

Practitioners, including composers, often have their works performed and discussed by student ensembles and visiting artists. Recent speakers have included internationally renowned composer Steve Reich, composer/media artist Pamela Z, Opera Director Graham Vick and Film Composer Stephen Warbeck. 

You are expected to present your research both within the School and beyond. The School offers support for conference attendance and student-led symposia, and from Year 2 onwards, it encourages you to apply for teaching experience. There is a mentoring scheme within the School, and you join a lively interdisciplinary research community. 

Programmes

  • PhD in Music
  • PhD in Musical Composition
  • PhD in Music Theatre
  • MPhil in Music
  • MPhil in Musical Composition
  • MPhil in Music Theatre

Our PhD courses provide you with the support and resources necessary to complete an original and substantial piece of research. The main fields in which research supervision is available are composition, musicology and music theatre. It is also possible to study for an MPhil. 

Contact us in good time to discuss your research proposal so we can put you in touch with the best supervisors for your work and help you develop your application. Entry in September is normally recommended to enable you to get the benefit of the many research events that take place throughout the autumn and spring, and also to benefit from induction and research training opportunities. 

We offer a PhD in Music, assessed by a written thesis of 80,000 words, and an MPhil in Music, assessed by a written thesis of 40,000 words. 

For the PhD in Musical Composition, your final portfolio of compositions contains at least one, typically large-scale, work with the overall portfolio comprising at least 30 minutes’ duration. Equivalent-scale musical works, involving sonic and audiovisual work for digital media, are welcomed. A discursive and written critical component of between 20,000 and 40,000 words is also required. For the MPhil in Musical Composition, your final portfolio of compositions contains at least one, typically large-scale, work with the overall portfolio comprising at least 15 minutes’ duration. A discursive and written critical component of between 8,000 and 10,000 words is also required. 

For the PhD in Music Theatre, your thesis consists of either a substantial performance work or a performance work with a portfolio of compositions. A discursive and critical written component of between 20,000 and 40,000 words (or between 10,000 and 20,000 words for the MPhil) is also required. 

Supervision

You normally have two supervisors; they offer complementary perspectives on your work, perhaps reflecting a theory and practice balance, crucial for your development as a researcher. They help you devise a detailed programme of study tailored to the individual research project and offer regular guidance and feedback until completion. 

Research training and coursework 

All new research students are required to participate in a programme of research training and to take other postgraduate modules that may be recommended by their supervisors. The first term (or first two terms for part-time students) is devoted to developing the research plan. By the end of the first year (or second year for part-time students), you have completed and presented a draft chapter or report. Composition students would typically aim to produce a substantial composition work and related critical or theoretical writing within the same timescale. In the second year, a further sample of work is read by a thesis panel in order to assess progress and give you a small-scale mock viva experience. You are then ready to bring your project to fruition by the end of your final year. 

Recent and current PhD projects 

Musical alterity and embodied practice (theory/ practice) 

Sonification of the body (theory/practice) 

Sound scores for early avant-garde film (composition) 

Temporality in post-tonal music (composition) 

The representation of animals in music theatre (theory/practice) 

The impact of Stravinsky’s ballets on conducting techniques in the 20th century (historical musicology) 

Entry requirements

MPhil in Music

UK entrance requirements

Normally a Masters degree or equivalent professional experience in a subject related to your chosen area of research.

Overseas entrance requirements

If you are an international student and wish to find out if you have the necessary qualifications for this degree, please refer to Overseas qualifications.

English language requirements

IELTS 6.5, with not less than 6.0 in each section.

For more information, refer to What qualifications do I need?

MPhil in Music Theatre

UK entrance requirements

Normally a Masters degree or equivalent professional experience in a subject related to your chosen area of research.

Overseas entrance requirements

If you are an international student and wish to find out if you have the necessary qualifications for this degree, please refer to Overseas qualifications.

English language requirements

IELTS 6.5, with not less than 6.0 in each section.

For more information, refer to What qualifications do I need?

MPhil in Musical Composition

UK entrance requirements

Normally a Masters degree or equivalent professional experience in a subject related to your chosen area of research. Applicants must also produce evidence of compositional ability.

Overseas entrance requirements

If you are an international student and wish to find out if you have the necessary qualifications for this degree, please refer to Overseas qualifications.

English language requirements

IELTS 6.5, with not less than 6.0 in each section.

For more information, refer to What qualifications do I need?

PhD in Music

UK entrance requirements

Normally a Masters degree or equivalent professional experience in a subject related to your chosen area of research.

Overseas entrance requirements

If you are an international student and wish to find out if you have the necessary qualifications for this degree, please refer to Overseas qualifications.

English language requirements

IELTS 6.5, with not less than 6.0 in each section.

For more information, refer to What qualifications do I need?

PhD in Music Theatre

UK entrance requirements

Normally a Masters degree or equivalent professional experience in a subject related to your chosen area of research.

Overseas entrance requirements

If you are an international student and wish to find out if you have the necessary qualifications for this degree, please refer to Overseas qualifications.

English language requirements

IELTS 6.5, with not less than 6.0 in each section.

For more information, refer to What qualifications do I need?

PhD in Musical Composition

UK entrance requirements

Normally a Masters degree or equivalent professional experience in a subject related to your chosen area of research. Applicants must also produce evidence of compositional ability.

Overseas entrance requirements

If you are an international student and wish to find out if you have the necessary qualifications for this degree, please refer to Overseas qualifications.

English language requirements

IELTS 6.5, with not less than 6.0 in each section.

For more information, refer to What qualifications do I need?

Visas and immigration

Find out more about Visas and immigration.

For more information about the admissions process at Sussex

For pre-application enquiries:

Student Recruitment Services
T +44 (0)1273 876787
E pg.enquiries@sussex.ac.uk

For post-application enquiries:

Postgraduate Admissions,
University of Sussex,
Sussex House, Falmer,
Brighton BN1 9RH, UK
T +44 (0)1273 877773
F +44 (0)1273 678545
E pg.applicants@sussex.ac.uk 

Fees and funding

Fees

MPhil in Music

Home UK/EU students: £4,0521
Channel Island and Isle of Man students: £4,0522
Overseas students: £14,4503

1 The fee shown is for the academic year 2015.
2 The fee shown is for the academic year 2015.
3 The fee shown is for the academic year 2015.

PhD in Music

Home UK/EU students: £4,0521
Channel Island and Isle of Man students: £4,0522
Overseas students: £14,4503

1 The fee shown is for the academic year 2015.
2 The fee shown is for the academic year 2015.
3 The fee shown is for the academic year 2015.

MPhil in Music Theatre

Home UK/EU students: £4,0521
Channel Island and Isle of Man students: £4,0522
Overseas students: £14,4503

1 The fee shown is for the academic year 2015.
2 The fee shown is for the academic year 2015.
3 The fee shown is for the academic year 2015.

PhD in Music Theatre

Home UK/EU students: £4,0521
Channel Island and Isle of Man students: £4,0522
Overseas students: £14,4503

1 The fee shown is for the academic year 2015.
2 The fee shown is for the academic year 2015.
3 The fee shown is for the academic year 2015.

MPhil in Musical Composition

Home UK/EU students: £4,0521
Channel Island and Isle of Man students: £4,0522
Overseas students: £14,4503

1 The fee shown is for the academic year 2015.
2 The fee shown is for the academic year 2015.
3 The fee shown is for the academic year 2015.

PhD in Musical Composition

Home UK/EU students: £4,0521
Channel Island and Isle of Man students: £4,0522
Overseas students: £14,4503

1 The fee shown is for the academic year 2015.
2 The fee shown is for the academic year 2015.
3 The fee shown is for the academic year 2015.

Visit Postgraduate fees 2015

Visit Living costs

Scholarships

The sources of financial support listed below are for the subject area you are viewing and may not apply to all degrees listed within it. Please check the description of the individual source of financial support to make sure it is relevant to your chosen degree.

Visit Postgraduate research scholarships 2015

Visit Career development and part-time work

We are in the process of updating funding sources for postgraduate study in the academic year 2015/16. For general information, visit Postgraduate research scholarships 2015.

For more information on scholarships go to the Scholarships web pages.

Faculty interests

Much of our research is interdisciplinary, involving collaboration between our three main areas of research, described below, as well as with other subject areas at Sussex (in particular media theory and practice, film theory and practice, drama and informatics). Our research groups are well funded from a variety of sources and have specialist facilities and resources. 

Visit School of Media, Film and Music

Prof Martin Butler
Professor of Music
M.C.Butler@sussex.ac.uk

Research interests: Musical Performance

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Dr Richard Elliott
Lecturer in Popular Music
R.Elliott@sussex.ac.uk

Research interests: Cultural Studies & Pop Culture, Cultural Theory, Memory, Music, musical materialities, Popular Music, sound recording

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Dr Evelyn Ficarra
Lecturer in Music Theatre
E.J.Ficarra@sussex.ac.uk

Research interests: Collaborative Projects, Composition, experimental film music, Installation, Music, Music Technology, Music Theatre, Sound Art

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Mr Tim Hopkins
Research Fellow
T.Hopkins@sussex.ac.uk

Research interests: Intermedia, lyric theatre, Making New Works, Opera Production

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Dr Ed Hughes
Professor of Composition in Music
E.D.Hughes@sussex.ac.uk

Research interests: Composition, Music, Orchestra

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Dr Thor Magnusson
Senior Lecturer in Music
T.Magnusson@sussex.ac.uk

Research interests: Composition, Computational Creativity, Computer Music, Creative Coding, History Of Music, Human computer interaction, Live Coding, Music, Music Technology, Notations and visualisations, Performance, Performance And Live Art, Philosophy, Philosophy of Technology, Software Engineering

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Prof Sally-Jane Norman
Professor of Performance Technologies
S.J.Norman@sussex.ac.uk

Research interests: Embodiment and Technologies, Performing Arts, Practice-based research, Scenography, Sonic Arts, Theatre History

View profile

Prof Nicholas Till
Professor of Opera & Music Theatre
N.Till@sussex.ac.uk

Research interests: Cultural History

View profile

Composition

This group engages in research through practical composition in acoustic, electro-acoustic, electronic/computer and film music media. Works are regularly performed and produced at a variety of prestigious international venues from major opera houses and concert platforms to state-of-the-art electronic venues such as IRCAM, contemporary music festivals and international film festivals. 

Critical musicology

Critical theory and interdisciplinary research methods underpin the critical thinking about music undertaken at Sussex, which focuses in particular on the sociology and aesthetics of 20th- and 21st-century contemporary music and popular music cultures, and may also engage with the historical interpretation of music in other centuries. 

Opera and music theatre

The Centre for Research in Opera and Music Theatre (CROMT) focuses on issues of music theatre (eg theories and practices of opera, experimental music theatre and related multimedia forms). The Centre’s activities involve historical research into opera and music theatre, and both critical thinking about, and practice-based research in, these forms, often in collaboration with partner institutions in the Sussex region (eg Glyndebourne Opera) and elsewhere in the UK and Europe. CROMT also organises seminars, and conferences on opera and music theatre. 

Careers and perspectives

Our graduates have gone on to pursue careers in teaching, publishing, professional composition, performance, music management and digital media. 

To find out more, visit Careers and alumni

Research training

The University’s Doctoral School runs a wide range of training courses covering the needs of students throughout all phases of their studies.

Visit the Doctoral School website

Visit Stages of doctoral study

School and contacts

Contact us

Sarah Maddox,
Research and Enterprise Co-ordinator,
School of Media, Film and Music,
University of Sussex, Falmer,
Brighton BN1 9RG, UK 
T +44 (0)1273 873525 
E s.maddox@sussex.ac.uk

Visit the School of Media, Film and Music

Discover Postgraduate Study information sessions

If you cannot make it to our Postgraduate Open Day, you are welcome to attend one of our Discover Postgraduate Study information sessions. These are held in autumn, spring and early summer and enable you to find out more about postgraduate study and the opportunities Sussex has to offer.

Book your place on one of our Discover Postgraduate Study information sessions

Other ways to visit Sussex

We run weekly guided campus tours year round.

Book your place on one of our guided campus tours

You are also welcome to visit the University independently without any pre-arrangement.

Our online campus tour can also give you an excellent introduction to the University.

Take our online campus tour

Overseas visits

Meet with Sussex staff in your country at exhibitions, visits to schools and universities, and at a wide range of other events. Forthcoming visits are planned all over the world:

Bahrain • Brazil • Brunei • Canada • China • Colombia • France • Germany • Ghana • Greece • Hong Kong • India • Indonesia • Iraq • Italy • Japan • Kenya • Kuwait • Malaysia • Mexico • Nigeria • Norway • Pakistan • Qatar • Saudi Arabia • Singapore • South Korea • Spain • Sri Lanka • Taiwan • Thailand • Turkey • UAE • USA • Vietnam.

In-country representatives

In the International Office, we manage a network of overseas representatives who have been trained to support international students with their application to study at the University. Services representatives provide can include pre-departure information, support in submitting your housing application and advice regarding applying for a UK Student Visa.

Find out more about our overseas visits and in-country representatives

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