MPhil/PhD by Composition 

(Acoustic and electroacoustic)

Contact: Prof. Roger Marsh

Programme outline

Composers work independently, under the guidance of an academic supervisor. There are currently seven members of staff at York supervising composition. There are weekly Composition seminars (Tuesdays 4.00-5.30pm) throughout the academic year. Some of these are presented by visiting composers, others by staff or postgraduate students of the department.

The student run Chimera Ensemble provides a regular public platform for high quality performance of student compositions, and other performance opportunities are ofen provided by the resident ensembles, University Chamber Orchestra, and professional orchestras and ensembles in the region.

Submission requirements

A folio of compositions (scores/tapes/CDs), accompanied by a brief commentary on the pieces submitted. The exact quantity of works to be submitted is not strictly prescribed, but as a guide it is anticipated that the PhD folio should contain about eight works, of which at least one should be substantial, the MPhil folio about six. A folio may consist entirely of acoustic works, entirely of electro-acoustic works, or contain a combination of both. All students register for the MPhil in the first instance, upgrading to PhD taking place during the second year if work is progressing at a suitable level.

Entry requirements

Normally a good honours degree in music and an MA in composition. In some instances composers may be accepted for MPhil/PhD directly from a first degree. The chief criterion for acceptance is evidence of a high level of ability and originality in composition.

Composition Seminars

These seminars normally run every Tuesday from 4.00-5.30pm. Some are given by visiting speakers and others are given by (usually postgraduate) students. They provide the main forum for group discussion, and often continue in less formal surroundings into the evening. Undergraduate composers who would like to attend these postgraduate seminars are very welcome. A presentation within this series is a requirement for upgrade to PhD level.

Research Seminars

Normally held on Wednesdays 4.30-6.00 pm in the Autumn and Spring Terms.

All MPhil and PhD research students are required to attend these sessions which aim to encourage an exchange of ideas amongst a range of disciplines and approaches. Whilst 'research' fosters the idea of specialisation, this should not be at the expense of working in isolation; the broader context is always to be encouraged. It is important that research students retain an awareness of areas of study outside of their chosen specialism, especially those who intend to teach within Higher Education, if they are to be effective in their work. During the academic year, all members of the group should be prepared to lead a seminar discussion based on their particular specialism with a view to engaging with those working outside that area.

Start your application now

The Music Department at York has such a wide range of opportunities for composers it was the obvious place to do a PhD. The Chimera Ensemble provides great opportunities to have my music played and to get involved playing other student's pieces. Not to mention having my string quartet premiered by the Kreutzer Quartet!

Benjamin Gait
(PhD in Composition)