The overriding aim of undertaking PhD and MPhil study is to make an original contribution to knowledge. The programmes do not follow a prescribed course of study but benefit from close supervision and a range of research training that is designed to support the project being undertaken, and provide wider opportunities for professional development as a researcher.
Our vibrant multidisciplinary environment includes performance and new work in dance, drama and music, performing arts education and policy, Scottish music, historically-informed performance, musicology, and a range of other specialist areas.
Following a historic agreement between RCS and the University of St Andrews, we offer research degrees leading to the awards of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) and Master of Philosophy (MPhil). These programmes are validated and awarded by the University of St Andrews.
The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland offers opportunities for suitably qualified students to work towards the achievement of research degrees in appropriate areas of enquiry. Applications will only be successful if it is clear that the proposed research can best be undertaken within a Conservatoire context, in which performance and/or creation is held central.
The specific areas for research degrees are:
- the processes and methodologies of developing new performance work (music/drama/music theatre), including collaborative and devised performance
- musical composition, in all genres, for live, electro-acoustic and mixed media
- Scottish music
- methodologies of specialist performance training, including the use of IT
- socio-cultural studies of performance
- performance education and pedagogy
Research degree students do not follow a prescribed course of study, but benefit from close supervision and a range of research training that is designed to support the programme of research being undertaken, and provide wider opportunities for professional development as a researcher. In addition, an external supervisor is normally appointed to provide further support for, and an additional perspective on, your research.
The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland is housed in a modern, specially designed building and has some of the best performance and rehearsal facilities of any conservatoire in Europe.
The Royal Conservatoire library contains one of the most comprehensive performing arts collections in the UK. The collections feature extensive print and online material covering all Conservatoire subject disciplines and wider multi-disciplinary research materials. The RCS Archives is also a unique research resource, rich in both the depth and diversity of holdings. ICT facilities and a study lab for research students are available.
Conservatoire research students also have access to the extensive library resources held by the University of St Andrews. Students also have access to the specialist academic training through the University’s Centre for Academic, Professional and Organisational Development (CAPOD).
All research students undertake training within the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland through participating in a number of study days held throughout the academic year and engaging in The Exchange Talks series. The resources of the Scottish Graduate School of Arts and Humanities (SGSAH), of which the Conservatoire is a member, can also be accessed.
Head to our Campus and Facilities page to find out more.
- Student Showcase Modal Controls:
Syncretism is a term that designates a type of fusion, or amalgamation, which might happen naturally or might be strategically employed. Examples of this kind of cultural fusion in theatre have existed for a long time, usually seen in adaptations of canonical texts. Moving beyond the models found in theatre scholarship and practice, the main objective of my research is to explore ways to work with syncretism in a devised theatre context. My thesis will include a portfolio containing samples of the work done in a theatre laboratory setting, during which a group of performers worked with cultural texts in devising material.
A Modern Woman Composer – an Autoethnography
My PhD is an autoethnography in which original compositions and a dissertation will work as a seamless whole in which I describe my experiences as a woman composer in the form of stories, and I also write stories about other women composers from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries to show that what happened to each of us has not only been individual struggle to achieve success, but that we have shared a common difficulty in developing our careers as a result of the values of the society we live in.
James Slimings is a 3rd year PhD candidate, studying ensemble singing in trained vocalists. He is using Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis as well as acoustic data to investigate the phenomenon of ‘Choral Blend’ in trained Conservatoire singers, with a particular focus on the perceived differences between ‘solo’ and ‘choral’ techniques. He has presented this research at the Choir in Focus conference (Lund University, Sweden), and the Music, Education, and Technology Conference (London). He is also the PhD student representative, and has spoken about his research and the doctoral experience for the Scottish Funding Council, Scottish Graduate School for Arts and Humanities, SPARQS, and the Association of European Conservatoires.
Aby Watson’s practice-based PhD project, Choreographing Clumsy: Dyspraxia and Choreographic Practice, is an autoethnographic study that draws upon her personal experience and creative practice as a dyspraxic dance artist and situates it within a critical discourse. Through the generation of a new body of performance work and a short thesis, Aby’s research seeks to utilise a dyspraxic perspective within the field of choreography rather than adapt, or change, its nature to assimilate and conform to normative standards. This study questions: How can a dyspraxic choreographer utilise their positionality, external to the choreographic cannon, to create radical, affirmative and original dance?
Tuition fees for academic year 2018-19
- UK/EU students – £7,068 (full-time) and £3,627 (part-time)
- International (non-EU) – £16,290 (full-time) and £8,145 (part-time)
Sources of external funding
Scottish Graduate School of Arts and Humanities (SGSAH) AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership
Outstanding applicants applying for PhD study at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland may be eligible to be nominated for Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funding through the Scottish Graduate School of Arts and Humanities (SGSAH) Doctoral Training Partnership. Successful applicants receive full funding in the form of a generous stipend, tuition fee waiver, and research training and expenses. Visit our Apply page for more information.
For more information about alternative funding sources, including external scholarships and bursaries, please visit our Fees and Funding page.
The RCS International and Student Experience team are available to advise and assist applicants and current students in respect of queries about funding your studies at RCS. Please email or telephone +44 (0)141 270 8281/ +44 (0)141 270 8223 for further information.
Admission to doctoral level programmes is normally on the basis of a first degree at 2(i) level or higher (or the overseas equivalent) in the relevant subject or a relevant postgraduate qualification. However, where a prospective student lacks a suitable first degree, alternative mechanisms for assessing qualifications and preparedness, reflecting professional or other work experience, may be used. Increasingly the UK research councils in several disciplines require that funded students on doctoral programmes have first completed an approved masters programme that prepares the student for doctoral work. The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland is committed to the principles of the Accreditation of Prior Learning, including experiential learning, and will bring those to bear on the admissions process for its doctoral students.
Applicants for whom English is a second language must demonstrate an IELTS score of 7.0.
We accept a wide range of qualification, including international qualifications. If you wish to check the suitability of your qualification/experience, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr Laura Bissell
Lecturer in Contemporary Performance Practice and Lecturer in Research
Lecturer in Contemporary Performance Practice
Professor Stephen Broad
Head of Research and Knowledge Exchange
Professor Joshua Dickson
Head of Traditional Music
Dr Emily Doolittle
Dr Rachel Drury
Lecturer in Learning and Teaching in the Performing Arts
Professor Celia Duffy
Dr Laura Gonzalez
Professor Roy Howat
Senior Research Fellow
Knowledge Exchange Manager
Dr Alistair MacDonald
Dr Stuart MacRae
Dr Karen McAuley
Dr Gordon McPherson
Head of Composition
Head of BMus Programme
Dr Jill Morgan
Lecturer in Learning and Teaching in the Performing Arts
Professor Arnold Myers
Senior Research Fellow
Dr Diana Salazar
Acting Head of the BMus Programme and the Creative and Contextual Studies Department
Dr Oliver Searle
Lecturer in Composition
Dr Marc Silberschatz
Head of Classical and Contemporary Text
Dr John De Simone
Research and Knowledge Exchange Development Officer and Lecturer in Research and Creative and Contextual Studies
Dr Lori Watson
Lecturer in Traditional Music
Dr Bethany Whiteside
Research Lecturer and Doctoral Degrees Co-ordinator
All applicants should submit an application form via UCAS Conservatoires and send their research proposal to email@example.com. Those applicants who meet the admissions criteria and whose proposed research projects accord with the Royal Conservatoire’s research priorities and context will be interviewed/ auditioned. At least two supportive references from appropriately qualified persons will also be required. The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland may require an applicant to provide additional material in support of their application prior to, or following, their interview/audition.
An interview/audition panel will be chaired by a specialist member of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland staff and will include other members of staff or external advisers as appropriate. An interview panel will normally be chaired by the Head of Research and will include at least one other member of staff or external adviser as appropriate. At the conclusion of the interview/audition process, the panel will formulate a recommendation to the Research Degrees Committee regarding the application.