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Research Postgraduate Degree Programmes in Music at The Chinese University of Hong Kong have the longest history and also the largest intake of research postgraduates in Hong Kong. The Department offers MMus and DMus research degree programmes in Composition and MPhil and PhD research degree programmes in three research concentrations, namely Historical Musicology, Theory, and Ethnomusicology. Research in HIstorical Musicology and Theory focuses mainly on Western Music, while that in Ethnomusicology emphasizes Chinese Music and other non-Western music cultures.
Although the concentrations reflect recognized professional boundaries, the faculty as a whole embraces the spirit of interdisciplinary research and is actively engaged in diverse modes of scholarly inquiry. In keeping with international practice, postgraduate studies in composition lead towards the professional degree titles of MMus and DMus, while that in the other three research concentrations, ethnomusicology, historical musicology, and theory, lead towards the MPhil and PhD. Our research postgraduate students, in addition to formal courses, have many other opportunities to become exposed to the latest academic research in music. The department research forum series offers a platform for faculty and PhD students to present their work in progress, and the colloquium series features guest lectures by international scholars on a regular basis. Faculty- and University-wide interdisciplinary lectures, forums and conferences, and exchange opportunities are also available.
MPhil (Ethnomusicology, HIstorical Musicology, Theory), MMus (Composition)
The 2-year MPhil programmes (1-year in the case of MMus) are designed to bridge the gap between undergraduate and doctoral studies, and to prepare students for further advanced studies either locally or abroad. They are also stand-alone programmes that can equip graduates for careers as research associates, adjunct university teachers and professional composers.
The MPhil programmes are emphatically research-oriented, with the completion of a thesis/portfolio as the major degree requirement. In addition, students are required to take core and elective courses within their specialized fields and a foreign language (aside from English and Chinese) and IT competency are also required of students in selected fields. These requirements are specifically designed to help students lay the groundwork for carrying out up-to-date research in the field.
PhD (Ethnomusicology, Historical Musicology, Theory), DMus (Composition)
The 3 or 4-year doctoral degree programmes are highly specialized to prepare students for full-time academic appointments in their selected fields. The PhD programmes are emphatically research-oriented, with the completion of a dissertation/portfolio set up as the main degree requirement. Additional course work is required in selected fields. Apart from fulfilling credit requirements, students are also required to pass qualifying examinations before they formally start working on the dissertations/portfolios.
The composition division emphasizes traditional Western musical training, and offers many collaborative and performance opportunities both locally and internationally to its students. Each year, its Ensemble-in-Residence and Composer-in-Residence Programs provide regular platforms for student works to be studied, performed, and critiqued by professional musicians. In order to cope with the demands of the ever-changing contemporary music scene, graduates from the CUHK composition program will be equipped to produce music in diverse styles and instrumental forces, whether it is solo, chamber, vocal/choral, orchestral, electronic or staged works. The quality of teaching of the CUHK composition faculty members is reflected in the high employment rate of its graduates, as well as in the many significant awards and commissions at international competitions and music festivals that its graduates have garnered over the years.
There are no course requirements for the DMus (Composition) and the study scheme focuses on the creation of a portfolio of new works.
Ethnomusicology at CUHK is grounded in an integrated curriculum emphasizing a balanced approach to theory, methodology, and area study. Students engaging in ethnographic as well as historical research are taught by a team of three faculty members whose own interdisciplinary work bridges the fields of anthropology, musicology, popular music studies, sound studies, cultural studies, and performance studies. The faculty has particular regional strengths in East Asia, Southeast Asia, and South Asia. While our program has historically been an important international center for the study of Chinese music, we welcome students whose projects focus on any area of the world. Our program benefits from relationships with CUHK’s outstanding departments of Anthropology, Cultural Studies, Religious Studies, China Studies, Japanese Studies, and Communication. Our curriculum is enhanced by an internationally renowned archive of Chinese music located in the Center for Chinese Music Studies and Hong Kong's strategic geographic location, providing easy access to Asia and the Pacific. We have a close-knit and collegial community of about a dozen graduate students in ethnomusicology in any given year.
In historical musicology, faculty advising at the postgraduate level have complementary interests that cover a range of topics spanning the seventeenth century to the present. Our professors are interested in the creative process and has worked across the spectrum of German Romantic opera, while developing a secondary area of research in television and video game music; some specialize in music and modernism in the first half of the twentieth century and jazz and popular music in the second half; and on seventeenth-century Spanish religious music, from large-scale polyphonic liturgical compositions to issues of identity in local plainsong. They frequently combine historical research with music analysis in addressing questions of meaning and aesthetics.
The coursework for both MPhil and PhD students encourages students to acquire broad knowledge of music history and its methods, while simultaneously cultivating their own field of interest and expertise.
Students may be required to take additional foreign language study, if their research topic requires it.
Cheong Wai Ling and Mak Su Yin, the two full-time faculty members in the field of music theory, with their complementary training and interests, can ensure comprehensive coverage of research areas in music theory and provide supervisory support to research postgraduates on a diverse range of thesis and dissertation topics. Cheong specializes in post-tonal theory and the music of Messiaen and Scriabin, while Mak is a Schubert scholar with experience in Schenkerian analysis and semiotic theory. They have published in Acta Musicologica, Eighteenth-century Music, Journal of Musicology, Journal of Music Theory, Journal of the Royal Musical Association, Music Analysis and Perspectives of New Music, as well as in monographs by international academic presses. Both faculty members have received major research grants and awards for their scholarship and teaching.
The core courses in the MPhil Theory programme offers training in research and analytical methodologies, and familiarizes students with the state of research within the field. Students will also be directed to take elective courses and study foreign languages that are relevant to their thesis areas.
There are no coursework requirements in the PhD programme in Theory, and the study scheme is primarily centered around the dissertation. Upon admission to the programme, students immediately begin working with their supervisors towards the refinement of their dissertation proposals, and are directed to undertake a comprehensive literature review relating to their research areas. As their work on the dissertation progresses, students are also encouraged to present their preliminary findings as conference papers and journal articles. Thus the dissertation, when completed, would have benefited from peer review and professional exposure.
Anyone who is registered for full-time studies in research degree programmes at CUHK and who has not been awarded a Hong Kong PhD Fellowship can be considered for CUHK postgraduate studentships. Students awarded studentships will receive a stipend for assisting in the teaching, research work, and other duties assigned during the normative study period. The provisional monthly stipend for Postgraduate Studentship (2022-2023) is around HK$18,025 – 18,525.
The Hong Kong PhD Fellowship Scheme (HKPFS) The HKPFS was established by Hong Kong Research Grants Council in 2009 to give Hong Kong universities generous funding for our most promising full-time PhD students. It awards a monthly stipend of HK$27,100 and an annual conference and research-related travel allowance of HK$13,600 for up to three years. If a Fellowship winner has a normative study period of four years, CUHK will provide funding at the same level during the fourth year. Competition for the HKPFS is intense, but we have had good success with the music candidates we have nominated to the selection committee. Please visit the Graduate School website for details.
Field of Specialization
In addition to the general requirements of the Graduate School, applicants should have majored in Music, or have attained equivalent standard.
Additional Application Information
Applicants should submit:
1. A curriculum vitae (must use the template);
2. A representative selection of the candidate's music composition work (3-4 pieces comprising of solo and chamber works) in the style in which the candidate proposes to work;
3. A one-page summary of the candidate's proposed area of creative work, written in English;
4. Attend an interview (Shortlisted applicants).