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Guildhall School Doctoral Programme


About the Programme

Guildhall School invites applications to its doctoral programme, which has a distinct focus on research in, through and for the performing arts. Ranked among the UK's top three conservatoires in the Guardian University Guide 2020 for both Music and Drama, the School is a global leader of creative and professional practice which promotes innovation, experiment and research.

Our doctoral programme advocates for the value of performing arts and of its research, encouraging early career researchers to explore the personal, social, ethical and political impact and implications of music, theatre and related artforms. Many of our doctoral students are established practitioners (for example composers, performers, designers, educators), drawing on this perspective to address questions arising from their practice. We are well placed to support practice-research (especially through our DMus programmes), but also invite investigations of the performing arts in specific historical and cultural contexts.  We support research that contributes meaningfully to performing arts scholarship (for example musicology; opera studies; theatre and performance studies) as well as advancing understanding of how the performing arts were, are, or might be, practiced. Ultimately, we aim to rethink who makes performance, how, why and for whom.

In 2021 we particularly welcome proposals in the following areas:

Creating performing arts in the twenty-first century through: the composition of new music (acoustic and electronic); song-production and musicking; theatre-making (especially devised, scenographic and/or digital forms); opera and other work that combines music and theatre; participatory and socially-engaged practices. Topics might include:

  • participation in the performing arts as a way of addressing social inequities and marginalisation; cross-cultural, post-colonial and de-hierarchised approaches to making work for performance
  • collaboration, authorship and interdisciplinarity in creative processes
  • temporality, materiality and/or embodiment in relation to sound, voice, technology and/or bodies
  • the relation between page and stage: notation, transcription, arrangement, scripts and texts

The performer’s perspective in the context of: concert and chamber music (especially piano and art song); jazz and other music of the black Atlantic; theatre and acting. Topics might include:

  • the performer as collaborative artist eg the role of the accompanist in art song or approaches to group improvisation in Cuban music
  • strategies for memorisation, interpretation, improvisation or rhythm and tempo in relation to specific music genres or repertoire
  • pedagogies for performers including piano pedagogy in 19th century Russia and its legacy; psychological implications of performance eg coping with performance anxiety; rethinking the role of the music conservatoire
  • historically-informed music performance and experimenting with standard repertoire

Our doctoral researchers are expected to complement their expertise in the performing arts, with methodological and theoretical skills perspectives drawn from arts, humanities and/or social science research as is pertinent to their project. For 2021, we especially encourage projects that engage with identity politics and social justice (including post-colonial theory; feminist and gender theory); post-Marxism, new materialism and posthumanism; critical theories and philosophies of music, sound, voice, embodiment, technology and aesthetics.

Fee Scholarships

Successful applicants to our doctoral programme are eligible to apply for fee scholarship, which are awarded on the basis of merit and/or financial need. Typically, a fee scholarship for a full-time home student would be £1,200 per academic year, but more substantial scholarships may be offered.

The School is committed to diversifying its doctoral student population and welcomes applications for scholarship from under-represented groups.


Funding Notes

Successful applicants to our doctoral programme are eligible to apply for fee scholarship, which are awarded on the basis of merit and/or financial need. Typically, a fee scholarship for a full-time home student would be £1,200 per academic year, but more substantial scholarships may be offered. The School is committed to diversifying its doctoral student population and welcomes applications for scholarship from under-represented groups.

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