Read our Autumn 2014 PhD newsletter

Research at the Academy is centred on the interaction of performers, composers and scholars. We maintain a strongly collaborative environment, in which intellectual and creative curiosity is encouraged in both students and staff alike. An evolving dialogue between all members of our community aims to re-evaluate and build on our musical heritage and performance traditions, and to generate new types of creative practice.

Much of the research activity is ‘practicebased’, focused on the practical aspects of music in the areas of performance and composition. This encompasses the analysis and application of collection materials (including manuscripts, marked scores, historic instruments, and museum artefacts) as well as the critical and reflective study of practice itself. In addition, staff researchers have collaborative relationships with researchers from other disciplines, including instrument-making, the visual arts, architecture, art history, museum curatorship and computing.

Research by staff at the Academy informs and enhances all areas of teaching, whether through testing the boundaries of innovative professional practice, the exploration of performance traditions and key historical figures, or the currency of academic modules. The Academy’s regular research events are open to students, staff and members of the public. These include interviews with leading figures from the music profession, lecture recitals, academic papers and experimental workshops. The research events are filmed for archival purposes and make up the Academy’s Performance Research Collection.

The world-leading quality of research at the Academy was recognised in the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise, where the Academy was rated highest of the UK music conservatoires in terms of research quality. The Academy has a successful record in attracting research funding, and is unique among the conservatoire sector in having two AHRC Fellows in the Creative and Performing Arts.

The Academy’s research degrees are aimed at performers and composers who already have highly developed skills and focused career aspirations. Students work with an individual supervisor and a team of creative staff at the Academy to develop their work through engaging in a substantial research project. This will normally be directly connected to and driven by creative activity as a performer or composer but will also require a critical context and critical reflection.

The Academy aims to approach practice-based research in ways that are distinctive to the institution and its environment. These are encouraged through an ongoing series of research workshops and through educational developments on the taught degree programmes. Research degree students are thus invited to become part of an active community and to take a lead in furthering practice-based approaches to research questions and processes.

The Academy offers two-year MPhil and three-year PhD awards. Offered as awards of the University of London, both programmes ensure their distinctiveness by demanding the same high standards from our students, as with all other Academy degrees: of students reflecting the highest possible practical standards. The closing date for receipt of applications (MPhil in the first instance, with transfer to PhD usually taking place in the second year of study) is in our ‘Application Dates‘ list.


Research Culture

You can find out more about the Academy’s unique research culture by following this link.

Teaching Delivery

For both MPhil and PhD, you will be allocated 30 hours of supervision per year. You may apply for a further year to complete or ‘write up’ your portfolio or dissertation at a reduced rate. Supervision hours are divided between academic and practical supervision as negotiated with the Research Degrees Board and your principal supervisor.

The  Research Degrees Code of Practice contains more information about the practical operation of the programmes.

Please contact Neil Heyde on if you have any questions about the research degree programme.

Department Staff

Neil Heyde
BMus, MMus, PhD, LMusA, Hon RAM
Head of Postgraduate Programmes

Contact Details

Neil Heyde
Head of PG Programmes
Telephone: 020 7873 7452