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Research degrees
Research areas
Sheet music


The OU hosts a thriving music research culture encompassing historical, theoretical, ethnographic, social scientific and empirical approaches to musicology, as well as interdisciplinary fields including music computing and musical acoustics. Music research is developed through high-profile individual and collaborative projects, many of which have attracted substantial grants from research councils and other funding bodies. Our individual researchers are internationally renowned in their own right, but our strength in collaborative work is just as important to us. A number of our researchers work with colleagues in different departments and faculties, and one of our most distinctive features is our strength in interdisciplinary research.

We accept applications for our PhD programme in January (for an October start) and August (for a February start). Students are encouraged to submit early.

Key facts

  • We were rated first in the UK for music research in The Guardian’s analysis of the REF 2014 results and 8th by Times Higher Education. The 2014 REF judged 94 per cent of our music research as ‘internationally excellent’ or ‘world leading’.
  • Between 2014 and 2018 six of our PhD students were awarded AHRC-funded studentships.
  • Our research facilities on campus include music computing and acoustics laboratories.
  • Recent AHRC-funded projects include ‘G. F. Handel: Collected Documents’, ‘Military Sponsorship of Music in Britain in the Nineteenth Century’ and ‘The Listening Experience Database’.
  • We host a wide range of research conferences, international symposia and seminars in music.


In addition to the expertise of academic members of the Music discipline, the University boasts a range of services and facilities to support individual projects. These include the facilities of the Acoustics Research Group: two anechoic chambers, a laser laboratory, an ultra-high-speed camera, a scanning Laser Doppler Vibrometer, professional quality microphones, as well as a wide range of measuring apparatus, recording equipment and high-performance computing hardware.

The Music Computing Research Group hosts a Music Computing Laboratory stocked with a range of music computing software, electronic musical instruments, motion trackers, pitch trackers, sensors and diverse technologies for gestural control and data capture. In close collaboration with the Pervasive Interaction Group, the group constructs and evaluates new musical interfaces using a variety of multi-touch, gestural and whole-body tracking systems. It also carries out experiments to cast light on how music works.



Research topics

Explore specific areas of research, current and prospective projects, entry requirements, available supervisors and contact details for advice.


Film music

Historical musicology

Music computing

Music technology


Related topics

Consider linked topics from other research areas.

Musical acoustics

Visual and sonic cultures: theory and method