Research Degrees in Performance Practice or Composition

The Academy’s research degrees are aimed at performers and composers who already have highly developed skills and focused career aspirations, including those with a well-established career. You will work with an individual supervisor and a team of creative staff at the Academy to develop your work through engaging in a substantial research project. This will normally be directly connected to and driven by your creative activity as a performer or composer but will also require you to establish a research context and undertake a process of investigation and critical reflection.

The format of your submission is flexible but normally includes a portfolio of compositions or recorded performances accompanied by a written commentary. The balance between text and portfolio is flexible and a fully written submission is also possible. We expect that the outcomes of your research will be reflected in the artistic insight demonstrated in your portfolio, and/or in the development of professional knowledge you reveal, as well as though the usual doctoral requirement to exercise independent critical power.

The Academy offers a PhD degree over three or four years, although students can exit with an MPhil after two years. Students begin on MPhil status and apply for an upgrade to PhD after two years of study. During your studies you will be allocated 30 hours of supervision per year, which can be divided between academic and practical supervision as negotiated with the Postgraduate Programmes Board and your supervisor. The fourth year of study is a writing up year and is charged at a lower rate.

Students on the programme also attend seminars (about once every two weeks) which involve presentations by staff and students, as well as by visiting speakers engaged in practice-driven projects. These seminars provide a creative space for the testing and discussion of ideas amongst the supervisory team and fellow students; they offer an environment for exploring both the artistic output of the project as well as shaping the critical context in which you are working.

Your application will require a detailed proposal and we recommend that you get in touch to discuss your ideas with one of the supervisory team prior to applying. Initial enquiries should be sent to Oliver Till, Postgraduate and Research Administrator []. Please include a brief description of your project so that Oliver can direct your enquiry to the right member of staff.

How to apply

Application Deadline: 18:00 on 15 January 2020

After submitting your UCAS Conservatoires application (course code 950F), upload the following supporting items into the Acceptd portal [Programme group: Research degree] by 31 January 2020:

  • Curriculum Vitae in PDF or Word format, including your education and academic background from age 11 (name of education institution, start and finish dates (month/year) and awards gained, details of your experience as a performer or composer;
  • Personal Statement giving your reasons and purposes for pursuing a research degree, your career aspirations, and details of how you plan to finance your fees and living expenses for the duration of the study programme;
  • Any relevant recordings;
  • Two examples of your recent academic written work;
  • Composition candidates: PDF scores of at least four pieces for a variety of forces, with recordings if available;
  • Thesis Proposal: a synopsis of your proposed thesis (around 2000 words) with an account of the aims of your research project and the methodologies with which you plan support it, including the proposed methods of linking conceptual and practical outcomes. Composition candidates are not required to upload their thesis proposal by 31 January. Instead, candidates who pass the initial selection stage should prepare a thesis proposal before the formal interview in March (see notes below) and should submit the proposal by email to one week before their interview date.

You should input the names of your referees when completing your UCAS Conservatoires application but please do not ask them to send paper references. Instead, please use the Acceptd portal to request electronic references, you will need the name and email address of each referee. Current Academy students only need provide one academic reference, usually from their current Programme Tutor whose details can be put into both of the referee fields in Acceptd.

Assessment and Interview: Competition for places at the Academy is intense, and applications for the Research Degree are processed in two stages. The files listed above are subject to an initial assessment by the entry panel via the Acceptd portal; if your application passes this stage, you will be invited to attend for interview in London. The interviews will be during the week commencing 2 March 2020. If you have any queries, please contact Oliver Till, Postgraduate and Research Administrator.