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Course content

Research profile

The Reid School of Music offers an exciting research environment that combines the theory, history, composition and practice of music with the scientific study of sound. We engage with a broad range of genres and traditions, including classical and popular music, Western and non-Western music, professional and amateur music making and music for screen. Our research is highly interdisciplinary, with centres and groups spanning other Colleges and Departments within the University of Edinburgh, from Physics and Neuroscience to Informatics, the Humanities, Divinity and the Social Sciences.

We have a large community of postgraduate students undertaking independent research in music.

If you are interested in undertaking a small independent research project in music, the 12-month MSc by Research is ideal. This programme is offered in any area served by the expertise of our music staff. In consultation with your supervisor you will develop an individual programme of coursework and research training over two semesters. You will submit a dissertation, or portfolio of projects equivalent to 30,000 words.

Candidates for larger-scale, doctoral research are normally admitted as probationary students for the first year of study, and on satisfactory completion of this first year are approved for registration for either MPhil (normally two years full-time, dissertation of 60,000 words) or PhD (maximum four years full-time, dissertation of 80,000–100,000 words).

All our research degrees may be studied part-time (for example, MSc by Research may be studied part-time over two years).

Staff have a wide range of research interests, engaging in research clustered around four main themes:

  • Music, Sound and Technology, including musical acoustics and organology
  • Musical Practice, including composition (electroacoustic, algorithmic, computer music and music for screen), and historical and contemporary performance research
  • Music and the Human Sciences, including music psychology and cognition, and music in the community
  • Music and Social Institutions, including 19th and 20th century musicology, popular music, and music sociology

Some of our current hubs of research activity include:

  • Acoustics and Audio Group
  • ECA Digitals
  • Edinburgh University Collection of Historic Musical Instruments
  • Institute for Music in Human and Social Development
  • Live Music Exchange

Please consult our staff profile pages to see our interests and availability; you may propose projects in any area for consideration.

Training and support

All of our research students benefit from ECA’s interdisciplinary approach and all are assigned two research supervisors. Your second supervisor may be from another discipline within ECA, or from somewhere else within the College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences or elsewhere within the University, according to the expertise required. On occasion more than two supervisors will be assigned, particularly where the degree brings together multiple disciplines.


Visit the Music (MScR) page on the University of Edinburgh website for more details!

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