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Doctor of Philosophy

Students in the RCM Library
The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) research degree focuses on musicological and scientific approaches to performance and composition.


Start date September 2022
End date Flexible depending on planned duration and possibility of a write-up period before completion
Duration 3 or 4 years full-time; 5 or 6 years part-time

The RCM research community currently includes approximately 50 doctoral research students working in all of its key areas. The RCM’s doctoral awards are specialist research degrees that particularly encourage research in the areas of performance, composition, musicology and performance science.

Find out about staff and students in our research community

As a doctoral student, you will work with at least two supervisors in addition to attending group tutorials and seminars relevant to your particular area of research. In addition, you will be expected to take an active role within the research life of the Royal College of Music.

The RCM’s doctoral programme offers both a DMus and PhD pathway, and it is possible during the degree to move between pathways depending on how your individual research project evolves.

PhD students submit a written dissertation of between 80,000 and 100,000 words, which may include supporting practical work if appropriate to the topic.

Royal College of Music courses are internationally recognised as full degree courses with successful students awarded their qualifications under the RCM's Royal Charter.

LAHP Collaborative Doctoral Award

We are now encouraging applications to the LAHP Collaborative Doctoral Award (CDA) for the following project:

A study of diversity and music-making in early childhood: Towards inclusive research and practice

The CDA is open to prospective doctoral students. Applications must be received by 5pm BST on 28 January 2022.

For more information, including how to apply, visit the LAHP website. If you have any queries about the award, please contact Dr Jessica Pitt by emailing

Performance opportunities

RCM students enjoy a wide variety of performance opportunities including orchestral and choral projects, chamber music and solo opportunities, performance in jazz and historical instrument ensembles. The RCM runs a busy events calendar of more than 500 events every year, the vast majority of which feature RCM students.

Faculty-based performance activities include chamber music and duo performance coaching, orchestral training, performance classes, acting and language classes (for singers), music technology (for composers), reed making (for double reed players) and improvisation (for organists).

Composition at the RCM fosters partnerships with the College's large body of gifted instrumentalists. Composers will hear performances of their own works in a variety of contexts and have the opportunity to benefit from a range of collaborations, which we host regularly with artistic organisations in London and beyond.

Find out more about performance opportunities


We continually invest in our facilities to ensure RCM students have the very best opportunities. Our impressive performance spaces are matched by top-quality academic and technical provisions, such as our historic library and professional grade studios. The Royal College of Music is proud to offer some of the finest facilities anywhere in the world.

The RCM has three major performance spaces. The Amaryllis Fleming Concert Hall which has an illustrious history and is the primary performance venue for RCM orchestras and large ensembles. Our 400-seat Britten Theatre boasts excellent technical facilities for the RCM’s thriving International Opera School. The Performance Hall offers an alternative space for ensemble performances and orchestral rehearsals. It boasts a retractable stage, a Fazioli grand piano, comprehensive technical infrastructure and variable acoustics, providing versatility for the range of events staged by the College.   

In addition, more intimate spaces for solo and chamber performance include the Performance Studio and The Parry Rooms, which have unparalleled views of the Royal Albert Hall, and our 100-seat Recital Hall. 

As well as practice rooms and space for one-to-one and group teaching, the RCM contains dedicated opera rehearsal spaces, a number of sound-proofed Amadeus Music Pods and organ rooms. We have over 160 pianos, including 60 grand pianos and 20 early keyboards, and a recently opened Blüthner Practice Suite which holds ten Blüthner pianos, instrument storage with special facilities for harps and double basses, plus in-house instrument workshops.

RCM Studios is a commercial-grade facility, equipped with professional audio, video and composition technologies, supporting the RCM’s recording needs and enabling live broadcast of performances around the world.

The RCM Library contains more than 400,000 scores, books and recordings in its lending collection, plus access to more than 400 music journals. The library also subscribes to many online resources including Oxford Music Online, Naxos Music Library, JSTOR, Met Online and the Berlin Philharmonic Digital Concert Hall. In addition, the RCM also boasts an internationally renowned collection of original manuscripts (including examples from Mozart and Elgar) early printed editions and archives. Our musicians also have access to thousands of scores online through our partnership with nkoda, and Henle digital sheet music.

The RCM Museum holds more than 15,000 instruments, portraits, images and engravings dating from the late 15th century to the present day, some of which are the earliest known examples of their kind. These items offer fascinating insight into the past, present and future of music and provide a coherent and comprehensive resource for the documentation, research and representation of the history of musical performance and instrument-making in London, particularly between the 18th and 20th centuries. Collection items regularly feature in academic and popular publications, television and radio programmes and as loans to major international exhibitions in Europe and beyond.

As part of a £3.6 million National Lottery Heritage Funded project, the Museum collection has been greatly enhanced and revitalised in a suite of purpose-built spaces that include accessible permanent display and temporary exhibition galleries, a ‘hands-on’ discovery area, a climate-controlled performance space and a dedicated research facility.

Career development

The RCM’s Creative Careers Centre, which is recognised internationally for its innovative approach to supporting young musicians, provides an unparalleled service to current students and recent alumni. The dedicated team partners with leading consultants, reputable arts organisations and local communities, delivering unique career-building opportunities and a direct route to the music industry.

The work of the Creative Careers Centre allows students to discover their professional identity, gain hands-on experience and new skills, develop an entrepreneurial mind-set and build a fulfilling professional portfolio.

Extensive performance and teaching opportunities are available, as well as valuable guidance on CV and biography writing, concert programming, communication skills, project management, marketing and publicity, online promotion, financial matters and how to develop a business idea.

Find out more

Entry requirements

To be admitted onto the programme, you will normally need to have a good Masters degree, the ability to demonstrate a close familiarity with existing theoretical and practical aspects of your topic area, a developed awareness of fundamental research skills, and some ability to design and define a viable project.

There should also be a good match between your intended project and expertise of staff at the RCM.

The RCM welcomes applicants from all backgrounds and alternative qualifications may be considered. If your qualifications are not listed here, please contact our Admissions team, who will be happy to discuss your suitability for the programme.

English language requirements

All applicants must be able to demonstrate that their level of English language ability meets the Royal College of Music’s minimum requirements in order for their application to be accepted.

If you require a visa to study at the RCM, you must meet the English language requirements before the RCM is permitted to sponsor your visa application.

Find out more

How to apply

The main application deadline for September 2022 entry has now passed. The deadline was 15 October 2021.

Late applications may still be possible, however late applicants will not be eligible to apply for funded studentships from the LAHP. Please contact before submitting a late application.

You must complete all four steps below by the deadline for your application to be considered.

How to submit your application

Applications are made via the RCM’s online portal. Please note, there is one application form for both the PhD and DMus programmes.

There are four steps to submitting your application:

  • Create an account on the RCM online submission portal
  • Complete the Doctoral application form and upload your research proposal and your supporting documents
  • Pay the application fee of £100
  • Arrange for your referees to email their references direct to

Apply now

Next stages

Shortlisted applicants will be invited to interview. Interviews normally take place in person at the Royal College of Music, and are usually held in November. All applicants will be notified of the outcome in mid-December.

Changes to interview availability

We have been closely monitoring the ongoing situation with coronavirus in the UK, as the safety of our applicants is paramount. As a result, all interviews for candidates shortlisted for the second stage of the application process for research degrees will now take place via video conferencing. This applies to 2022 entry.

RCM Blomfield Building illuminated at night

AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership

The RCM is the only conservatoire in London to be part of an AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership, with full studentships awarded to exceptional applicants through the London Arts and Humanities Partnership.

Find out more

RCM Blomfield Building illuminated at night


If you are interested in pursuing your research interests at the RCM please contact our Head of Postgraduate Programmes for a discussion about your project ideas.

If you have any questions about the admissions process please contact our Admissions team, who will be happy to help you.

Professor Natasha Loges

Head of Postgraduate Programmes


Admissions and general audition enquiries