MPhil & PhD Curriculum

The postgraduate curriculum in music consists of four components: coursework, original research or composition under the guidance of a supervisor, regular attendance of research colloquia, and the completion of Graduate School courses.

MUSI7001 Research Methods in Music

Aims and objectives: The course introduces students to the key concepts and practices of musical investigation, giving them command of the skills to pursue their chosen topic of research or portfolio of compositions. The course focuses on translating research principles into practical skills that support the research and creative process at its various stages. Areas covered include: defining research goals; planning a research strategy; exploiting resources effectively; organizing primary research materials and compositional techniques; and writing up/composing.

Course duration: 24 hours over one semester.

Scheduling of course: Offered in 1st and 2nd Semester.

Assessment: 100% continuous assessment. Grades are expressed as either Pass or Fail.

Regulations: The course is compulsory for first-year M.Phil. students and first-year Ph.D. students (whether on a 3- or 4-year curriculum).

Notes: MUSI7001 can be taken in lieu of the compulsory Graduate School Course "GRSC6034 Introduction to Quantitative Research Methods (The Humanities & Related Disciplines)" or "GRSC6036 Introduction to Qualitative Research Methods (The Humanities & Related Disciplines)."

HUMA7001 Introduction to Thesis Writing (Critical Humanities)

Aims and objectives: The course will consider all aspects of writing a thesis in the broadly defined field of the critical humanities. It will focus on the particular challenges and opportunities faced by writing a thesis that engages with core texts of contemporary critical theory. It will explore ways in which these texts and approaches can be brought to bear upon the unique considerations of particular humanities disciplines. It will look at the overall content and organization of the thesis and the concerns particular to each stage of the work. Discussions will cover the following topics related to the thesis itself: identification of a research gap; the subsequent formulation of a research problem or research questions; acknowledging the work of others and commenting on the literature in the field; discussing the writer's own research findings; and presenting conclusions. The writing of abstracts and research proposals will also be covered, along with citation practices and bibliographic formats.

Assessment: 100% Continuous assessment

Notes: HUMA7001 is not counted towards fulfilling the requirement of compulsory courses but may be taken in lieu of the compulsory Graduate School Course “Introduction to Thesis Writing” (GRSC6001/GRSC6020).


Both Ph.D. and M.Phil. Musicology students are required to carry out original research leading to the completion of a thesis. While an M.Phil. thesis should showcase the candidate's ability to do research and think independently, a Ph.D. thesis is expected to be a major contribution to a field of scholarship. Historical, theoretical, or anthropological approaches to music research are possible, and a wide variety of topics will be considered. Such topics may include classical, traditional, or popular idioms of various regions, including Asia (particularly Hong Kong, China, and the Philippines), Europe (particularly France, Germany, and Italy), and North America. Research in the areas of film, multimedia, aesthetics, ethnography, and the social and cultural contexts of music is encouraged. Other subject areas may be possible if a suitable faculty member is available.


Composition students are required to complete a portfolio of original works in addition to submitting a research thesis, or a number of short essays, on issues related to composition and adjacent fields, such as analysis or music theory. Students may compose for a variety of media, including voice, musical instruments of Western and Eastern origin, or electro-acoustic instruments. Specialisation in computer-assisted musical creativity, utilising the resources offered by the electronic studio, and the exploration of various musical styles and idioms, including popular and commercial musics, are also possible. Innovative projects that combine composition with writing, technology, or any other art forms are particularly encouraged.


The research and writing process is guided by a supervisor whose research interests are compatible with that of the student's. Potential students may contact faculty members to discuss possible research areas. A supervisor will normally be appointed once the student is accepted into the programme, however, if a student's research interests are not yet clearly defined at the time of application, the Postgraduate Advisor will serve as an interim supervisor until a permanent one is appointed. A permanent supervisor will normally be appointed by the end of the first semester after registration, if not before, and it is generally by mutual agreement between the student and faculty member.

All postgraduate students are required to attend the Department's research colloquia given by local and international scholars and composers. Ph.D. candidates must also give at least one presentation on their thesis research within the framework of the colloquia series. M.Phil. candidates are also eligible for such presentations, pending approval of their supervisor.

In addition to the Department's requirements, the Graduate School offers a number of basic courses that are compulsory for all entering postgraduate students. These courses must be successfully completed within the first year of study for confirmation of candidacy. Further information on Graduate School course requirements may be found on the Graduate School website at