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 

Rees Archibald -

The sound was already inside: exploring textility through sonic art installations, compositions, and performances

Supervisors: Dr Adrian Moore

Research Interests

  • The sound was already inside: exploring textility through sonic art installations
  • Compositions
  • Performances.

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 Caceres -

The electroacoustic song: Hybridisation of electroacoustic and popular music

Supervisors: Dr Adam Stanovic, Dr Fay Hield

Research Interests

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

Lorenzo Prati -

Melting Buildings: reimagining architectural structures as musical systems


Dr Adam Stanovic, Dr Amanda Crawley Jackson, Dr Adrian Moore

Research Interests

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

Evelyn Stroobach -

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


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

Konstantinos Vlachos -

The Use of Space in the Performance of Live Instrumental Music

Professor Dorothy Ker, Professor Adrian Moore

Research Interests

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

James Thomas -

Exploring approaches to temporal multiplicity through a portfolio of instrumental compositions


Professor Dorothy Ker and 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

Thomas Stearn -

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


Professor Dorothy Ker and Professor Renee Timmers

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


Nicola Beazley -

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

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

Helen Gubbins -

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

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

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.

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


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


Inheritance and Development of Traditional Folk Music in Contemporary China


Dr. Andrew Killick, Dr. Fay Hield

Research Interests: 

  • Music as Intangible Cultural Heritage 
  • Traditional Music in contemporary world
  • Music industry
  • Music heritage management


Ciara O'Flaherty -

Sounding the Bookshelf 1501: Prose Verse and Narrative


Dr Tim Shephard

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

Joshua Goodman -

Lerner and Loewe's Gigi: sources, performance and context

Dr Dominic McHugh

Research Interests

  • The Broadway musicals of Lerner and Loewe
  • Issues of adaptation in musicals
  • Sources, scores, scripts: editing and engraving scholarly and performance editions of musicals
  • Broadway orchestrators and orchestrations
  • Hollywood on Broadway
  • Arthur Freed - his unit, musicals and collaborators

Kathryn Jayasuriya -

Lerner and Loewe's Camelot: A Critical Edition

Dr Dominic McHugh

Research Interests

  • Broadway and the Hollywood Musical
  • Critical Editing of Musicals

Yiyun Liu -

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

Professor Simon Keefe

Research Interests

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

Elsa Marshall -

The Business and Craft of Cinematic Integration in the Production of MGM's Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

Prof. Nicola Dibben and Prof. Jonathan Rayner

Research Interests

  • Film musicals, history and analysis
  • Music and storytelling in popular music albums and film
  • Musical exhibition practices of silent films 
  • Archival research
  • Digital humanities 

James M Anderson -

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


Professor Simon Keefe


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


Xinyi Liang -

Piano Transcriptions of Chinese Traditional Music from the Cultural Revolution Period


Dr Andrew Killick

Professor Simon Keefe

Research Interests:

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

Danqing Wu -

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


Dr Tim Shephard

Research Interests 

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

Psychology of Music

Caroline Curwen -

Music-colour synaesthesia: a conceptual correspondence?

Dr Renee Timmers
Dr Andrea Schiavio

Research Interests

  • Music-Colour Synaesthesia illustrates that synaesthesia may not be a purely perceptual phenomenon
  • The role of concept and meaning challenges a single mechanism as an explanation for synaesthesia
  • Music-Colour synaesthesia presents a challenge to the established philosophical theories

Jacob Downs -

Embodiment, spatiality, and relationality in headphone listening

Professor Nicola Dibben
Dr Annamaria Carusi

Research Interests

  • Mobile sound technologies and their impact on listening
  • Relationships between sonic experience, corporeality, and spatiality
  • Human-technology relations and philosophy of technology
  • Sensory experience in situations of conflict and violence
  • Interdisciplinarity and new methodologies

Elizabeth MacGregor -

Musical vulnerability: pupils' experiences of Key Stage 3 classroom music education and a pedagogy of care


Professor Stephanie Pitts

Dr Andrew Killick

Research Interests

  • Classroom music education in the United Kingdom;
  • Equality, diversity, and inclusion in music learning from primary to tertiary education;
  • Vulnerability studies, the ethics of care, and linguistic and musical vulnerabilities;
  • Praxial philosophy and critical pedagogy; Phenomenological and ethnographic approaches to educational research

Marco Morbidelli -

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


Prof Renee Timmer

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

Ryan Taylor -

The Role of Music Within The Context of Science Communication

Professor Nicola Dibben
Dr Dorothy Ker
Professor Duncan Cameron

Research Interests

  • Methodology for composers to create space for dialogue within the context of science communication.
  • Quantifying emotional impact of music.
  • Interdisciplinary collaborations to support narratives of sustainability and environmentalism.
  • Improvised music to moving image.

Persefoni Tzanaki -

I feel your rhythm: Empathy and rhythmic entrainment as a reciprocal process in children’s musical interaction and social development.


Professor Renee Timmers, Professor Nikki Dibben

Research Interests

  • Musical interaction in children.
  •  Socio-psychological factors affecting rhythmic entrainment
  • Interpersonal synchrony and social development in children
  • Equality, diversity and inclusion in and through music
  • Music and wellbeing; music-supported therapy

Kate Wareham -

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

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

Thomas Jacob Spurgin -

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


Prof. Stephanie Pitts, Prof. Karen Burland, Adam Szabo

Research Interests

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

Jonathan “Jaytee” Tang -

The Role of Self-Construal in Affective Experiences with Music


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

Kexin Qi -

Uses of visual imagery in music performance


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

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