4 years full time, 6 years part time
Choose to start in September 2017, January 2018 or May 2018


Engage with current critical and theoretical thinking to produce original research for your Music dissertation. 

You’ll work with scholars specialising in music theatre, composition, performance, computer music, music philosophy and other areas. You’ll join a vibrant community of faculty and research students. 


Areas of study

PhD or MPhil?

You can choose to study for a PhD or an MPhil. PhD and MPhil degrees differ in the length of the course and therefore in the extent of the research work you can undertake and incorporate in your thesis.

  • An MPhil typically takes three years full time and four years part time. You’ll conduct an independent piece of research but in less depth than for a PhD. You will graduate with the degree title Master of Philosophy.
  • A PhD typically takes four years full time and six years part time. You will undertake a piece of research that makes a substantial original contribution to knowledge or understanding in your chosen field.

If you choose an MPhil, you might be able to change to a PhD during the course of your studies.

How to apply

If you’d like to join us as a research student, there are two main routes:

Find out how to apply for a PhD at Sussex

Full-time and part-time study

Choose to work on your research full time or part time, to fit around your work and family life. For details about part-time study, contact us at



We engage in research through practical composition in acoustic, electro-acoustic and electronic/computer music, in composition for screen-based media, and performance-based composition, and reflect critically on all forms of music composition.

Works are regularly performed at a variety of international venues from major opera houses and concert platforms to state-of-the-art electronic venues such as IRCAM, and contemporary music and film festivals. 

Critical musicology

Critical theory and interdisciplinary research methods underpin the critical thinking about music undertaken at Sussex. 

Critical musicology at Sussex focuses on the social meanings and aesthetics of 20th- and 21st-century art music, and popular and non-western music cultures, but our research may also look at the interpretation of music from other centuries.

Opera and music theatre

The Centre for Research in Opera and Music Theatre (CROMT) focuses on issues of music theatre such as:

  • theories and practices of opera
  • experimental music theatre
  • related multimedia forms.

The Centre’s activities involve critical and theoretical enquiry into opera and music theatre, historical research, and practice-based research, often in collaboration with partner institutions in the Sussex region (e.g. Glyndebourne Opera) and elsewhere in the UK and Europe. CROMT also organises seminars and conferences on opera and music theatre, and creative projects and events. 

  • Faculty profiles

    Prof Martin Butler
    Professor of Music

    Research interests: Musical Performance

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    Dr Evelyn Ficarra
    Lecturer in Music

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

    View profile

    Mr Tim Hopkins
    Research Fellow

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

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    Prof Ed Hughes
    Professor of Composition in Music

    Research interests: Composition, ensemble music-making, ensemble performance with technology, music and silent film, the orchestra

    View profile

    Dr Thor Magnusson
    Senior Lecturer in Music

    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

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

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    Prof Nicholas Till
    Professor of Opera & Music Theatre

    Research interests: art practice, Critical Theory and Marxism, Cultural History, experimental art, historical materialism, historical musicology, opera and music theatre, Opera Production, practice as research, Scenography, Sound Art

    View profile

Entry requirements

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

English language requirements

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

Find out about other English language qualifications we accept.

English language support

Don’t have the English language level for your course? Find out more about our pre-sessional courses.

Additional information for international students

We welcome applications from all over the world. Find out about international qualifications suitable for our PhD degrees.

Visas and immigration

Find out how to apply for a student visa

Scholarships and fees

How can I fund my course?

Postgraduate Masters Loan

MPhil students might be eligible for a Postgraduate Masters Loan. This is not available for students registering for a PhD.


Our aim is to ensure that every student who wants to study with us is able to despite financial barriers, so that we continue to attract talented and unique individuals.

Part-time work

We advertise around 2,500 part-time jobs a year so you can make money and gain work experience. We have a special scheme to employ students on campus, wherever possible.

Find out more about careers and employability

How much does it cost?

Fees for self-funding students

Home: £4,195 per year

EU: £4,195 per year

Channel Islands and Isle of Man: £4,195 per year

Overseas: £15,100 per year

Our fees follow the indicative fee level set nationally by Research Council UK and may be subject to change.

Contact us