Kathryn Emerson, BA (Hons), MSc, MBPsS

Photo of Kathryn Emerson

Department of Human Communication Sciences
University of Sheffield
362 Mushroom Lane
S10 2TS

Tel: +44 (0) 114 222 2412
Fax: +44 (0) 114 222 2439

email: kemerson1@sheffield.ac.uk


I graduated from Royal Holloway, University of London, in the summer of 2010, with a joint honours degree in Music and Psychology. This degree gave me a broad knowledge of undergraduate psychology (developmental, social and cognitive psychology, learning and memory, personality and individual differences, neuropsychology, statistics and research methods), whilst also allowing me to further my education in music (history of music, music theory, composition, and modules studying Wagner’s Ring, and music, environment and ecology). I also focused on music performance, achieving a scholarship to receive bassoon lessons at the Royal College of Music with Nicholas Hunka. My dissertation, supervised by Dr Alison Woodcock, endeavoured to combine the two sides of my degree by exploring personality differences between musicians who prefer to perform as soloists, chamber musicians or in large ensembles.

In 2012, I completed my Masters in Music, Mind and Brain, with distinction, at Goldsmiths, University of London. This course covered aspects of music psychology within music perception and the cognitive neuroscience of music. My dissertation, supervised by Dr Vicky Williamson, investigated the evolution of music through sexual selection.

Following my master’s degree I worked as a research assistant with Dr Marcus Pearce and Professor Geraint Wiggins on an EPSRC-funded project studying Information and Neural Dynamics in the Perception of Musical Structure, where I helped examine preferences and expectations in an unfamiliar music genre (Turkish) using the computational modelling programme IDyOM (Information Dynamics Of Music).

I have now taken up a teaching assistantship in the Department of Human Communication Sciences at the University of Sheffield, where I am studying for my PhD investigating the interaction between choirs and conductors, and how we talk and gesture about music.

Research interests

  • How choirs and conductors interact
  • How people talk about music
  • Use of interactive gesture in music and speech
  • Evolution of music and language
  • Conversation Analysis

Current projects

My doctoral research will use Conversation Analysis to investigate the interaction between choirs and conductors, and how we talk and gesture about music.


My doctoral research is supervised by Professor Ray Wilkinson (Department of Human Communication Sciences) and Dr Victoria Williamson (Department of Music)