Qualifications Duration Start dates Application period
(MPhil also available)
Full time: 3–4 years
Part time: 6–8 years
October January
PhD (MPhil also available)
Full time: 3–4 years
Part time: 6–8 years
Start dates
Application period

The Open University welcomes applications for PhD study in ethnomusicology and ethnographic studies of music more broadly. Study typically incorporates a year of sustained participant observation focusing on a particular community or practice, although other research methods are possible. Students are welcome to propose ethnographic research on any musical community or practice. Staff expertise centres on:

  • North American Indigenous music and dance
  • Music of central Cameroon
  • Music analysis
  • Popular musics
  • Intercultural collaboration

Entry requirements

Most successful applicants to the PhD programme have a masters degree in music or a related discipline. If you are not a UK citizen, you may need to prove your knowledge of English.

Potential research projects

We welcome detailed and well thought-out proposals that set out specific research questions and outline the originality of the topic or approach. If you would like to discuss your ideas informally before submitting an application, please contact us.

Current/recent research projects

  • SoundCloud, sampling and sonic experimentation: knowledge transmission in hip-hop’s underground
  • The listening practices of secondary school students during study (interdisciplinary project based in the Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies)
  • Drone metal and mysticism (interdisciplinary project co-supervised in Religious Studies)
  • Music and the negotiation of identity at the International Festival of the Sahara in Douz, Tunisia
  • Groove in cuban dance music: an analysis of son and salsa

Potential supervisors

Fees and funding

UK fee International fee
Full time: £4,786 per year Full time: £12,146 per year
Part time: £2,393 per year Part time: £6,073 per year

Some of our research students are funded via the Open-Oxford-Cambridge AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership; others are self-funded.

For detailed information about fees and funding, visit Fees and studentships.

To see current funded studentship vacancies across all research areas, see Current studentships.


Rustic instrument

How to apply

Get in touch

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

Dr Helen Barlow
Phone: +44 (0)1908 653280

Apply now

If you’re interested in applying for this research topic, please take a look at the application process.