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  PhD Studentship (3 years): Investigating the untapped potential of music for improved community sustainability. A case study comparison


   College of Business and Social Sciences

  Dr Patrycja Rozbicka  Monday, June 03, 2024  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Applications are invited for a three-year PhD studentship, supported by the College of Business and Social Sciences to be undertaken within the Department of Politics, History and International Relations at Aston University.

The position is available to start in October 2024.

Department: College of Business and Social Sciences

Contract Type: Fixed Term

Basis: Full Time

Closing Date: Monday 3rd June at 23.59 (UK time)

Supervisor: Dr Patrycja Rozbicka

Background to the Project

A 2023 UN report found that progress on 50% of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) is inadequate, on another 30% progress reversed, and innovation’s potential to support the SDGs remains untapped. Meanwhile, music has been acknowledged to improve community sustainability, but this remains unexploited by policy (Shapiro,Medina, Mico, 2021).

Although music has benefits, cultural workforce homogeneity causes unequal distribution of music’s impacts. Workforce homogeny produces music representative of its producer; only people represented by this music will likely consume it. The correlation between music’s consumption, benefits, and the likelihood of future cultural production creates a closed-circuit imbedding workforce homogeny and cultural inequity (Brooke, O’Brien, Taylor, 2020).

This research will understand and identify policy initiatives that drive diversity in music’s production and engagement, aiming to improve community sustainability by equally distributing music’s benefits. This will be explored by investigating how the unequal distribution of music’s benefits stunts its positive influence on knowledge transfer and heritage dissonance. Music is evidenced to drive knowledge transfer, defined as information exchange between units spurring innovation and economic prosperity, and facilitate the reconciliation of community heritage dissonance caused by conflicting interpretations of the past; but little research investigates how policy can utilise music to support community sustainability (Throsby, 2008, Abebe, 2021).

The project will ask:

  • How does cultural policy affect cultural workforce homogeny and the unequal distribution of music’s benefits?
  • How does cultural workforce homogeny and the unequal distribution of music’s benefits stunt positive knowledge transfer effects and the reconciliation of heritage dissonance?
  • How can cultural policies be modified to positively affect local workforce diversity and improve the equitable distribution of music’s benefits for greater knowledge transfer, reduced heritage dissonance, and increased community sustainability?

Tentative selection of case studies: Bristol, UK and Vancouver, Canada. Locations align in area, population size, and possess workforce homogeny within music scenes that generate similar revenues (Sound Diplomacy, 2018, UK Music, 2016, Statistics Canada, 2021, Office for National Statistics, 2021). Locations’ cultural policies contain contrasting discussions about theme-related issues, signifying the basis for policy comparison (City of Vancouver, 2020, Fleming, 2017).

In each location, a mixed-methods case study will be used. Case studies will examine a phenomenon in a location over a determined time-period; comparison of case studies will deepen understanding of locations and studied phenomena (Swanborn, 2010). Semi-structured interviews will occur with local music producers to understand how the unequal distribution of music’s benefits, caused by cultural workforce homogeny, impacts community sustainability. Music consumers and producers will be surveyed at local cultural events; quantitatively analysed surveys will then be compared with local cultural policies to investigate associations between policy approaches, cultural workforce homogeny, and impacts on community sustainability. Policy analysis will compare local policies’ discourse with interview and survey data to understand how policy affects cultural workforce homogeny and the unequal distribution of music’s benefits (Fairclough, 2013). Both case studies will be synthesised to understand how policies can be modified to reduce workforce homogeny and improve the distribution of music’s benefits for greater community sustainability, producing insights to support future policymaking.

Person Specification

The successful candidate should hold a Masters degree in business, management, or the social sciences (or related disciplines) with a Merit overall (or equivalent) with a dissertation/research element, PLUS a First or Upper Second Class Honours degree (or an equivalent qualification from an overseas institution). The preferred subject areas are music or creative industries and master dissertation relevant to the topic of the PhD.

Contact information

For formal enquiries about this project please contact Dr Patrycja Rozbicka

Submitting an application

 As part of the application, you will need to supply:

  • A copy of your current CV
  • Copies of your academic qualifications for your Bachelor degree and Masters degree; this should include both certificates and transcripts, and must be translated in to English.
  • A research proposal statement*
  • A personal statement
  • Two academic references
  • Proof of your English Language proficiency

Details of how to submit your application, and the necessary supporting documents can be found here

*The application must be accompanied by a “research proposal” statement. An original proposal is not required as the initial scope of the project has been defined, candidates should take this opportunity to detail how their knowledge and experience will benefit the project.

Please include the supervisor’s name, project title and project reference in your Personal Statement.

If you require further information about the application process, please contact the Postgraduate Admissions team at


Business & Management (5) Creative Arts & Design (9) History & Archaeology (19)

Funding Notes

This studentship includes a fee bursary to cover the home or overseas fees rate, plus an annual maintenance allowance covering the full 3 years (£19,237 pa in 2024/25).