Doctor of Philosophy - Music

  • CRICOS Code: 056960M

Course overview

  • 4 years full time / 8 years part time
  • Parkville campus located in the heart of Melbourne city
  • Available to domestic students and international students



Course Description

The Melbourne Conservatorium of Music offers the PhD with expert supervision in music therapy, music performance, composition, music psychology and performance science, jazz & improvisation, interactive composition, musicology and ethnomusicology.

In the case of composition and music performance, the PhD thesis takes the form of a performance or composition folio as well as a dissertation of 20,000-25,000 words that addresses, elucidates and contextualises the creative work of the folio.

Musicology, ethnomusicology, music psychology and performance science, and music therapy PhDs take the form of a more traditional scholarly investigation leading to a thesis of approximately 80,000 words.

For the disciplines of Jazz & Improvisation and Interactive Composition a PhD thesis may take the form of performance and/or corpus of creative work, plus a dissertation of 40,000 - 50,000 words which aims to address, elucidate and contextualise the work. The creative work may be in the form of performance, multimedia, CD Rom or other new media technologies and modes of presentation.

Common pathways into doctoral studies at the Conservatorium are either the prior completion of a Masters degree in Music, or an Honours degree leading into a research candidature that is converted to PhD status after one year if probationary requirements are met.

Candidates are selected into the PhD after consideration of the merit of the research proposal and support material relevant to the field of research: for example, applicants for the PhD (Composition) and PhD (Interactive Composition) must submit a folio and there is an audition for applicants for the PhD (Music Performance) and PhD (Jazz & Improvisation).

The PhD requires three years full-time study (six years part-time). PhD applicants are eligible to apply for the competitive APA scholarships and the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music has numerous endowments that support graduate researchers for fieldwork, archival research, attendance at conferences and international travel as required by their research.

PhD graduate researchers become part of an active research culture. Regular graduate seminars, research symposia and conferences provide opportunities for our graduates to present their emerging ideas in a supportive environment that includes contact and networking with visiting international scholars.

The PhD is taught and administered within the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music.

Course Search:

In music (including composition and performance), a PhD thesis may take the form of performance and/or corpus of creative work plus a dissertation that aims to address, elucidate and contextualise the work.

The PhD requires a minimum of three years full-time study (six years part-time). PhD graduate researchers become part of an active research culture which includes school based seminars, Faculty research symposia and opportunities for funding to attend national and international conferences, symposia, performances, exhibitions, and other events at which they present research or creative work.

The PhD is taught and administered within the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music and is overseen by the Melbourne School of Graduate Research at the University of Melbourne.


The degree of Doctor of Philosophy signifies that the holder has undertaken a substantial piece of original research, which has been conducted and reported by the holder under proper academic supervision and in a research environment for a prescribed period.

The PhD thesis demonstrates authority in the candidate's field and shows evidence of command of knowledge in relevant fields. It shows that the candidate has a thorough grasp of the appropriate methodological techniques and an awareness of their limitations. The thesis also makes a distinct contribution to knowledge. Its contribution to knowledge rests on originality of approach and / or interpretation of the findings and, in some cases, the discovery of new facts. The thesis demonstrates an ability to communicate research findings effectively in the professional arena and in an international context. It is a careful, rigorous and sustained piece of work demonstrating that a research 'apprenticeship' is complete and the holder is admitted to the community of scholars in the discipline.

In scope, the PhD thesis differs from a research Masters thesis chiefly by its deeper and more comprehensive treatment of the chosen subject. It is written succinctly, in English, unless approval has been given for the thesis to be written in a language other than English. The normal length of a PhD thesis is 80,000 words, exclusive of words in tables, maps, bibliographies and appendices OR equivalent to 80,000 words in the case of the PhD (Composition), the PhD (Music Performance), the PhD (Jazz & Improvisation) and the PhD (Interactive Composition) – see Confirmed Candidature, below. Footnotes are included as part of the word limit. The thesis should not exceed 100,000 words (or equivalent) without special approval from the Research Higher Degrees Committee.