PhD student research topics

Our PhD students are part of a thriving research community, participating in seminars and workshops to support their research and developing advanced, transferable skills. These attributes help our graduates succeed both within and beyond the course.


Music Technology and Composition 

Alex Barker

In search of a musical language: Exploring the Tone Clock as an organising principle for the exploration of chromatic substructures, and their interaction with each other, and other continuities.

Supervisors: Dr Dorothy Ker, Professor Simon Keefe

Research interests

  • Chromatic organisation
  • Interaction of musical elements
  • Musical analysis
  • Tone Clock theory

Mario Cáceres

The electroacoustic song: Hybridisation of electroacoustic and popular music

Supervisors: Dr Adam Stanovic, Professor Adrian Moore

Research interests

  • Electroacoustic and popular music composition
  • Genre hybridisation
  • Form in electroacoustic and popular music


Melting Buildings: reimagining architectural structures as musical systems

Supervisors: Professor Dorothy Ker, Dr David Buck, Professor Adrian Moore

Research interests

  • Music and Architecture
  • Sonic Interaction Design
  • Sonification
  • Installations
  • Electroacoustic composition

Thomas Stearn

Exploring word painting in choral music through harmonic exploration: evoking emotion through assimilating music psychology research in composition

Supervisors: Professor Dorothy Ker, Professor Simon Keefe

Research interests

  • Word painting in choral music, from 16th century to present day - it’s progression and forms
  • Harmonic treatment and exploration in text settings 
  • Embodiment and Prediction in compositional practice

Evelyn Stroobach -

Holocaust - Remembrance: A multi-movement work for orchestra and SATB chorus

Supervisors: Professor Dorothy Ker, Professor Adrian Moore

Personal Website

Research interests

  • Composing a multi-movement work for orchestra and SATB chorus in response to the holocaust
  • Music with a Message: Exploring Antisemitism
  • Second-Generation Holocaust Survivors
  • Comparing, contrasting and critiquing my composition with other composers who have written orchestral works in response to the holocaust

James Thomas

Exploring approaches to temporal multiplicity through a portfolio of instrumental compositions

Supervisors: Professor Dorothy Ker, Dr Amir Konjani

Research interests

  • Exploring the juxtaposition of differing layers of time in compositional structures
  • The relationship between musical material and time
  • The ways in which rhythm, tempo, resonance, and acoustic space relate to our conception of musical time
  • The extensive exploration of limited material

Konstantinos Vlachos -

The Use of Space in the Performance of Live Instrumental Music

Supervisors: Professor Dorothy Ker, Professor Adrian Moore

Research interests

  • Instrumental and vocal composition
  • Spatial Acoustic Music
  • Film Music
  • Improvisation


Nicola Beazley -

Interplays of tradition and acceptance in creative practices in contemporary, professional English folk tunes.

Supervisors: Dr Fay Hield, Dr Andrew Killick

Research interests

  • Music for English Morris dance; the role of creativity, expression and constructs of 'tradition' in the contemporary English folk scene
  • A recital and composition project from the Full English Archive
  • Quebec Fiddle Styles

Saydyko Fedorova South -

The Sakha Khomus (Jew’s Harp) in the Past, Present & Future: Music, Identity and Resurgence

Supervisors: Dr Andrew Killick, Professor Simon Keegan-Phipps

Research interests

  • Khomus music in the past, present and in the future
  • Identity studies: an exploration of a national identity expressed through/within a musical instrument
  • Globalisation: transformation of folk music into pop and the other way around; influence of khomus music
  • Indigenous studies
  • Sakha music
  • Diaspora studies
  • Post-Soviet resurgence/revival of spiritual culture in native lands of the Russian Federation: the Republic of Sakha
  • Production of a notation system: overton instrument, khomus
  • Studies in shamanic practices. North Siberian studies
  • Digital ethnography
  • Music and beliefs

Helen Gubbins -

The mediation of Irish traditional music in Irish public broadcasting radio, 1970-1994

Supervisors: Dr Simon Keegan-Phipps, Dr Andrew Killick

Research interests

  • Radio music broadcasting
  • Liveness, gender, and genre in broadcast music
  • Mediation and mediatisation of folk and traditional musics
  • The relationship(s) between music, language, national and local identity, and public radio
  • Broadcast archives
  • Performance practices in Irish traditional music

Tim Knowles -

Participation and Individuality at Sheffield's Public Participatory Music Events

Supervisors: Dr Simon Keegan-Phipps, Dr Andrew Killick

Research interests

  • Musical Participation
  • Social Theory
  • Cosmopolitanism
  • Community Music
  • Material Culture
  • Ethnography

Michael Walsh -

A celtic or national aesthetic? Flute playing in the contemporary Asturian Folk Scene.

Supervisors: Dr Simon Keegan-Phipps, Dr Fay Hield

Research interests

  • Nationalism and folk music
  • The use of the simple system transverse wooden flute in contemporary folk scenes
  • Asturian nationalism and identity
  • 'Celtic' Identity in the modern world
  • Post colonial and post imperialist theory
  • Hispanic studies and music
  • Irish in Britain

Anqi Wang

A Study on Organology: The “Gender Attribution” of the Development and Evolution of Ethnic groups' Jew's Harps in China

Supervisors: Dr Andrew Killick, Dr Fay Hield

Research interests

  • Jew’s harp: an embryo of the instruments in the world
  • Gender and instruments
  • Traditional instruments
  • Folk music
  • Music community
  • Music history


Depictions of Disability in English Folk Song: Reflections of History?

Supervisors: Prof Fay Hield, Prof Tim Shephard

Research Interests

  •  English Folk Song
  • Song transmission
  • Folk song archives
  • Marginalised histories
  • Disability theory and history
  • Intersectionality
  • Representations of disability in art & culture


James M Anderson -

Music and Manuscript Circulation in Mozart’s Vienna (1780–92): Aspects of Chronology and Commercial Distribution

Supervisors: Professor Simon Keefe, Professor Dominic Broomfield-McHugh

Research interests

  • Mozart and contemporaries
  • Eighteenth-century music
  • Music copyists and commercial distribution
  • Manuscript and archival studies
  • Style, attribution, and authenticity
  • Late seventeenth- and eighteenth-century music theory and counterpoint


Beyond the Courtier: Music and Lifestyle in Italy 1480-1530

Supervisors: Professor Tim Shephard, Dr Erin Maglaque

Research interests

  • Performance Practice 1400-1650
  • Issues of gender and performance in 15th century Italy
  • Secular song repertory and culture in Italy, 1400-1530
  • The operas of Francesco Cavalli

Jiaoyang Ji -

China’s Adoption of the West’s Classical Music Tradition: The Receptions of Mozart, 1900-1976

Supervisor: Professor Simon Keefe

Research interests

  • Mozart reception in China
  • Aesthetics of Music
  • Archival studies
  • Mozart and contemporaries


George Frideric Handel and the consciousness of classics musical taste in eighteenth-century England

Supervisors: Professor Simon Keefe, Professor Tim Shephard

Research interests

  • English 'ancient music'
  • Handel's oratorio
  • Western early music

Ciara O'

Sounding the Bookshelf 1501: Prose Verse and Narrative

Supervisors: Dr Tim Shephard, Dr Erin Maglaque

Research interests

  • Poetry and performance in Renaissance Italy
  • Courtesan musicianship in 16th century Italy
  • Female musicianship in the late Renaissance and Baroque Eras
  • Female Composers in the late Renaissance and Baroque Eras



Piano Transcriptions of Chinese Traditional Music from the Cultural Revolution Period

Supervisors: Dr Andrew Killick, Professor Simon Keefe

Research interests

  • Connection between politics and music
  • Traditional Chinese music
  • Chinese piano music
  • Piano performance


Cello Repertoire and Performance Practice in Modena under Francesco II d’Este

Supervisors: Dr Tim Shephard, Dr Sarah K Watts

Research interests

  • Baroque music
  • Baroque cello
  • Cello performance
  • Critical edition
  • Performance practice of Baroque music

Psychology of Music

A Cross-Cultural Exploration of Parental Attitudes Towards Children's Musical Instrument Learning: Impact on Children's Music Learning Motivation
Supervisors: Professor Stephanie E Pitts, Dr Sarah K Watts
Research interests
  • Music Education
  • Music Pedagogy
  • Music and Emotion
  • Music Health and Wellbeing
  • Children and Young People's Development
  • Student Behaviour
Emily Cooper -

Are you a singer? Facilitating the use of voice for people with respiratory conditions through singing and choir participation.

Supervisors: Professor Renee Timmers, Dr Michael Bonshor 

Research interests

  • Singing and Health
  • Music and Wellbeing
  • Community Singing Projects
  • Singing and Respiratory Health
  • Music and Social Bonding

Rory Kirk -

A musical bio-feedback loop to facilitate sleep

Supervisors: Professor Renee Timmers, Professor George Panoutsos, Dr Maan van de Werken

Research interests

  • Music and sleep
  • Music and health
  • Chronobiology
  • Physiological responses to music

Marco Morbidelli

The experience of authenticity and the integration of skills in the training of the musical theatre performer.

Supervisors: Professor Renee Timmers, Dr Carmen Levick

Research interests

  • Singing technique
  • Acting through song
  • Performing arts training in Higher Education
  • Self-expression and self-development
  • Social agency and change through theatre practice and training


Uses of visual imagery in music performance

Supervisors: Professor Renee Timmers, Professor Stephanie Pitts

Research interests

  • Piano performance expression 
  • Music cognition and imagery
  • Music communication between pianists and listeners
  • Music performance anxiety
  • Visual imagery training in music education

Emma Risley -

Eight shows a week: investigating the psychological and physical impacts of participation in musical theatre

Supervisors: Professor Stephanie Pitts, Professor Dominic Broomfield-McHugh

Research interests

  • Musical theatre performance on and under the stage
  • Music and wellbeing
  • Culture and inequalities
  • Rehearsal and performance processes of musical theatre

Thomas Jacob

The 'crisis' in classical music: exploring alternatives in audience development

Supervisors: Professor Stephanie Pitts, Professor Karen Burland, Adam Szabo

Research interests

  • Audience studies
  • Cultural Policy
  • Equality
  • Diversity and Representation in Music
  • Musician Training; Orchestral Management

Jonathan (Jaytee)

The Role of Self-Construal in Affective Experiences with Music

Supervisors: Professor Nicola Dibben, Professor Renee Timmers

Research interests

  • Music and cultural identity
  • Culture and affective experiences in music
  • Music therapy and music as therapy
  • Diversity, equity and inclusion in music and music therapy

Persefoni Tzanaki

Empathy and interpersonal synchronisation as reciprocal processes in interactions between musical novices.

Supervisors: Professor Renee Timmers, Professor Nikki Dibben, Dr Jenni MacRitchie 

Research interests

  • Musical interactions in children and adult musical novices
  • Socio-psychological factors affecting interpersonal synchronisation
  • Interpersonal synchrony and social development in children
  • Music and well-being; music-supported therapy


Music listening and its mediation of social interaction amongst emerging adults in non-traditional environments

Supervisors: Professor Nicola Dibben, Professor Helen Kennedy

Research interests

  • Music in everyday life
  • Music listening
  • Homeless young people
  • Emerging adulthood
  • Social interaction and identity in music

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