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 2023
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 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.

Performance opportunities

With a busy events calendar of more than 500 events every year, the RCM offers a vibrant performance and composition environment. A wide variety of performance opportunities including orchestral and choral projects, chamber music and solo opportunities, performance in jazz and historical instrument ensembles form a regular part of the taught Undergraduate and Postgraduate Programmes.

Doctoral students are encouraged to engage with students and staff in performances as much as possible by sitting in on faculty-based performance activities. These 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). Active participation in formal classes is at the Head of Faculty’s discretion and there is much opportunity for self-directed performance activity which may be supported through our extensive chamber music coaching scheme.

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


The Royal College of Music is proud to offer its students fantastic practice and performance facilities with resources to support teaching and learning. We continually improve our facilities to ensure RCM students have the best opportunities.

Explore our facilities with a video tour of the RCM

Key facilities at the RCM include:

  • The Amaryllis Fleming Concert Hall our primary performance venue for orchestras and large ensembles
  • Our 400-seat Britten Theatre, home to the RCM’s thriving Opera Studio
  • A new Performance Hall, offering an alternative space for ensembles, with a retractable stage, Fazioli grand piano and variable acoustics
  • Intimate spaces for solo and chamber performance in our Performance Studio and Parry Rooms
  • Sound-proofed Amadeus Music Pods for private practice
  • A purpose-built percussion suite – you can watch a video tour on YouTube
  • Over 160 pianos, including 60 grand pianos and 20 early keyboards, as well as organ rooms
  • A Blüthner Practice Suite which holds ten Blüthner Model A upright pianos
  • Instrument surgeries including luthier services
  • RCM Studios: a commercial-grade facility, enabling live broadcasts around the world
  • The Digital Innovation Lab: a state-of-the-art recording and mixing suite
  • The RCM Library has more than 200,000 scores, books and recordings in its lending collection, as well as access to more than 400 music journals
  • The RCM Museum holds more than 14,000 instruments, portraits and images, as well as a climate-controlled performance space and dedicated research facility

Find out more about RCM facilities

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 mindset 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 about the Creative Careers Centre

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 application deadline for 2023 has now passed but late applications may still be considered. Please contact to enquire before applying. 

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.

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 Research 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 Robert Adlington

Head of Research


Admissions and general audition enquiries

+44 (0)20 7591 4362

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