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Musical notes on a page

The OU hosts a thriving music research culture encompassing historical, theoretical, ethnographic, social scientific and empirical approaches to musicology, as well as interdisciplinary fields including music computing and musical acoustics. Music research is developed through high-profile individual and collaborative projects, many of which have attracted substantial grants from the Research Councils and other funding bodies. Several of our individual researchers are internationally renowned in their own right, but our strength in collaborative work is just as important to us. Researchers across several different faculties work together closely, and one of our most distinctive features is our strength in interdisciplinary research.

The Music Department accepts applications for the PhD programme each year from December until the final day of March. Students are encouraged to submit early. Please note that applications for studentships have independent deadlines that may precede or follow the normal March cut-off; these will be given in the advertisements for each studentship.

Key facts

  • Three dedicated research facilities on campus: music computing and acoustics laboratories and an audio-visual recording studio and interdisciplinary research facility.
  • One fully-funded AHRC studentship awarded in 2014 through CHASE: Consortium for the Humanities and the Arts Southeast England.
  • An AHRC-funded project began in 2007: ‘G. F. Handel: The Collected Documents’.
  • An AHRC-funded project began in 2009: ‘What is Black British Jazz?’
  • An AHRC-funded project began in 2010: ‘Military Sponsorship of Music in Britain in the Nineteenth Century and its Relationship with the Musical Mainstream’.
  • An AHRC-funded project began in 2012: ‘Atlantic Sounds: Ships and Sailortowns’.
  • An AHRC-funded project began in 2013: ‘The Listening Experience Database’.
  • We host a wide range of research conferences, international symposia and seminars in music.
  • The 2008 RAE judged 45 per cent of our music research as ‘internationally excellent’ or better.


In addition to the expertise of the academic members of the music department, the University boasts a range of services and facilities to support individual projects. There are also facilities specific to music research: a flexible 60m2 performance space fully equipped for audio and video recording, with an associated research laboratory including video editing (Avid), audio editing (ProTools), and observational analysis workstations.

The Acoustics Research Group’s facilities include two anechoic chambers, a laser laboratory, an ultra high speed camera, a scanning Laser Doppler Vibrometer, professional quality microphones, as well as a wide range of measuring apparatus, recording equipment and high-performance computing hardware.

The Music Computing Research Group hosts a Music Computing Laboratory stocked with a range of music-computing software, electronic musical instruments, motion trackers, pitch trackers, sensors and diverse technologies for gestural control and data capture. In close collaboration with the Pervasive Interaction Group, we construct and evaluate new musical interfaces using a variety of multi-touch, gestural and whole-body tracking systems. We also carry out experiments to cast light on how music works.

Further information

If you have an enquiry specific to this research area please contact:

Dr Catherine Tackley, Director of Research, Music
01908 653280

For general enquiries please contact the Research Degrees Team via the link under 'Your Questions' on the right of the page.