The University of Manchester has one of the UK's top-rated Music departments for research.

Our diverse research activities comprise four main research areas:

  • instrumental and vocal composition
  • electroacoustic composition and interactive media
  • musicology
  • ethnomusicology

The interests of our academic staff encompass shared themes across all four subdisciplines. They are brought together in our core research areas, which demonstrate our imaginative and multi-layered approaches to exploring key questions in music research both creatively and intellectually.

Performance is an integral part of our research activities, resulting in a distinctive, dynamic fusion of practice-based and theoretical approaches, involving interdisciplinary collaboration with a wide range of partners across academia, the music profession and the cultural industries.

Our musicology and ethnomusicology staff have particular expertise in early modern music, 19th-century Austro-Germanic music, 20th-century music from Soviet Russia and contemporary music. Their exploration of today's musical cultures ranges from traditional vocal polyphony in Corsica and Georgia to post-colonial music in South Asia, to European and American modernism to contemporary jazz improvisation.

Our composers have research interests that span an exceptionally diverse range of creative approaches. These encompass concert-hall composition and music for film as well as the latest electroacoustic technology and composition for interactive media. Some of our most cutting-edge creative research explores music's interface with contemporary technology through applications involving game audio and artificial intelligence.

Research community

Our research community of academic staff, postdoctoral researchers and postgraduate students is one of our greatest strengths. It provides a lively and inspiring environment for the development of new ideas, new connections and new sounds.

Our large cohort of postgraduate students has an impressively wide international profile. Our externally funded projects also frequently bring globally leading scholars to Manchester to collaborate with our researchers.

We are heavily involved in networks of interdisciplinary scholarship, working with colleagues interested in music, culture and sound across the University, the city and in other academic and music-related institutions around the world.

We cultivate strong collaborative relationships with our partners in the cultural industries, commercial sector and community, ensuring that our research has real and meaningful impact locally, nationally and internationally.

Research events

We regularly host major conferences, symposia and workshops, as well as practice-led festivals of new music. These include New Music North West and the biannual festivals of acousmatic music mounted by Manchester Theatre in Sound (MANTIS).

Our weekly term-time Thursday research afternoons encompass workshops, masterclasses, research fora and seminars, ensuring that Manchester fosters a lively and inspiring environment for musical research.