Music computing

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

Music computing research at the OU is focused on empowering musicians, illuminating musical activities, and modelling music perception and cognition. Our work is informed by musicology, psychology, ethnography, embodied cognition, pervasive interaction, mathematics and advanced computing techniques. We devise and investigate new ways to:

  • empower beginners to engage deeply with musical activities
  • provide new tools and capabilities for expert musicians and theorists
  • cast new light on how music works.

Entry requirements

Most successful applicants to the PhD programme have a masters degree in music or a related discipline, with a substantial dissertation. However, applicants can still be considered provided they demonstrate evidence of the ability to research and write about music at a high level. If you are not a UK citizen, you may need to prove your knowledge of English.

Potential research projects

Our interests are eclectic and we are keen to hear from motivated students interested in any aspect of music computing research. 

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

Current/recent research projects

  • Using whole body movement to understand and control musical harmony
  • Design and evaluation of tangible and multi-touch interfaces for collaborative music making
  • Using sensors and touch feedback to help musicians improve their posture
  • Understanding how people hear harmony
  • Exploring computational models of rhythm perception
  • Using haptic feedback to help people learn multi-limb rhythms
  • Algorithms to discover musical patterns
  • Tools for understanding and controlling harmony visually
  • Use of multi-touch surfaces for microtonal tunings
  • Using embodied cognition to improve music interaction design
  • Designing and testing musical instruments controlled directly by the brain.
  • Adaptive Music for Computer Games

See also:

Potential supervisors



Fees and funding

UK fee International fee
Full time: £4,786 per year Full time: £15,698 per year
Part time: £2,393 per year Part time: £7,849 per year

Some of our research students are funded via the Open-Oxford-Cambridge AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership;  some via the Open University STEM EPSRC DTP 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.


Man making music with computing equipment

How to apply

Get in touch

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

Dr Robin Laney

Apply now

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