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Project 2: Points of Contact: Researching new resources and strategies for teaching and learning music notation in tactile form for blind children using the Sounds of Intent Framework of Musical Development

   Department of Education

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  Prof Adam Ockelford, Prof Wolfgang Mann  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Blind children in the UK are currently unable to access music education in schools in the same way that their sighted peers do, due to a lack of resources, teaching and learning strategies, and expertise among teachers. In particular, there is currently no tactile equivalent for the way that music is represented in primary music curricula, using symbols and letters, and no developmentally-informed strategies for teaching the system of braille music that does exist for more advanced students. Working with The Amber Trust, the sole UK-wide charity that supports visually impaired children and young people in their pursuit of music, the School of Education at the University of Roehampton invites applications for a collaborative studentship to research this area for the first time, working with teachers, pupils and blind musicians to create new resources, test new strategies and evaluate the results. This is research that will have an enormous impact on blind children and young people studying within and outside school. It will inform the content and design of new materials that The Amber Trust will make freely available blind pupils, students and their teachers. The studentship would particularly (though not exclusively) suit a braille user, and applications are welcome from blind candidates, for whom all reasonable adjustments will be made in the process of recruitment and throughout their potential studies.

Project aims and objectives: The aim of the project is to improve the quality of music education in the UK (and beyond) for blind children and young people. It will do this by achieving the following objectives. First, researching how music and sound may most effectively be represented in tactile form at different stages in a child’s education (using the Sounds of Intent Framework of Musical Development). Second, by generating and testing resources and teaching strategies that are informed by the findings of this research. And third, following the research project, by disseminating the findings and materials to blind pupils and students and their teachers through The Amber Trust.

Collaborative Partner: The Amber Trust

Training Opportunities

A comprehensive package of training will be agreed in consultation with the supervisors. Elements of training will be provided by the supervisors, the University of Roehampton, and The Amber Trust.

Where necessary, training will be given in the pedagogy of teaching music to blind children, in tactile communication systems, and in the braille code.

Applicants: essential and/or desirable attributes/skills


Candidates must:

  • understand how stave notation functions
  • have a willingness and the capacity to engage with blind learners across the spectrum of ability and of age (from 5–18) and their teachers
  • have a high degree of organisational skills in relation to managing large volumes of information
  • be able to express their thinking clearly in writing and speaking
  • be able to work independently as well as part of a team
  • show resilience
  • have excellent time management skills and be able to work to deadlines


  • have a first degree and a Masters degree in music education, music psychology or a related area
  • be fluent braillists (including having a knowledge of the braille music code)
  •  be experienced in working with children and young people with special needs
  • have undertaken musical or social research in the past

Studentship Details:

  • This studentship may be taken as either a 1+3 year award (a one-year MSc followed by a three-year PhD), a +3 award (a three-year PhD)
  • It may be taken full-time or part-time

Residential eligibility

  • To be eligible for a full award you must be a Home or International student who satisfies the criteria below:

To be a home student, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Be a UK national (meeting residency requirements), or
  • Have settled status, or
  • Have pre-settled status (meeting residency requirements), or
  • Have indefinite leave to remain or enter.

If you do not meet any of the criteria above, you are classed as an international student.

How to apply for this studentship

In order to be considered for this SeNSS studentship, you must first apply for a place to study at the University of Roehampton, noting that you are applying for the collaborative studentship. Please go to for information on how to make your application.

The deadline applying to University of Roehampton for a place is 23:59 GMT on 9 February 2022

You will then need to make a separate application to SeNSS for this collaborative studentship. Please read the SeNSS Collaborative Studentship Application Guidance Notes before completing our online application form. The Guidance Notes are available at the bottom of the following webpage: Applying for a SeNSS collaborative studentship

For further enquiries:

For enquiries related to the studentship topic, please email Prof Adam Ockelford, [Email Address Removed]

For enquiries related to your eligibility for this studentship, and the application process, please email: [Email Address Removed]

Funding Notes

The studentship award covers your university fees and provides you with a stipend of £15,609 per year. You will also be able to apply for small amounts of additional funding via the SeNSS Research Training Support Grant.
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