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

Musical Composition

Study in excellent facilities and join a vibrant community of faculty and research students.

Our expert faculty supervise and support you while you complete a portfolio of original compositions and critical writing.

Full-time and part-time study

You can choose to work on your research full time or part time. For details about part-time study, contact us at

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



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. 

  • 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

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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

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    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
    Professor of Performance Technologies

    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 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. Applicants must also produce evidence of compositional ability.

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.

Dr John Birch Music Scholarship (2017)

Four scholarships of £800 to reward talented musicians and encourage music performance whilst studying at Sussex.

Application deadline:

19 May 2017

Find out more about the Dr John Birch Music Scholarship

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