The Ph.D. program admits superior candidates for scholarly studies in musicology — historical or ethnographic studies and theoretical studies, with individual programs subject to explicit orientation and certification in one of these two major directions. The program is designed to provide thorough training in the techniques and applications of musical research and analysis.

The dissertation is expected to demonstrate a capacity for doing research which enhances or qualifies existing bodies of knowledge, or which presents important new interpretations of prevailing materials and methods.

Areas of scholarly research emphasis pursued by faculty include Renaissance sacred polyphony; source studies in the music of Bach and other major composers; Reformation and Counter-Reformation; nineteenth-century topics (program music, form, harmony); twentieth-century American music, Second Viennese School; issues in rhythmic analysis; theory construction and analytical method; computer-based analysis; aspects of modern and contemporary music and musical life; and music of East Asia (especially China and Bali). The faculty in performance and composition includes many figures well-known throughout Canada and beyond for their work in concert, on radio, and on CDs.



The Degree

The Ph.D. in Music is offered with Emphasis on Musicology, Music Theory, or Ethnomusicology, with the certification of degree reflecting this distinction. Qualified students may combine the curricula of two or more emphases in their programs of study, with the approval of the supervisory committee.

Entrance Requirements

The entering student should have completed a Master's degree or its equivalent, including a thesis. Exceptionally, however, a student who has completed 12 credits in the first year of an M.A. program may be offered admission directly into the Ph.D. (without completing the M.A. thesis) if the student has demonstrated sufficient mastery of graduate-level material and sufficient development as a scholarly writer. Students who wish to transfer from a master’s to a doctoral program must have completed one year of study in the master’s program with a minimum 80% average in 12 credits, of which at least nine credits must be at the 500 level or above and at least nine credits must be at 80% or above. The student must show clear evidence of research ability. In either case, the following entrance requirements apply:

  1. Historical Musicology

    The entering student should have demonstrated extensive experience with music history research and bibliographical techniques, as well as in German or French (see the explanatory notes to the M.A. in Historical Musicology).

  2. Music Theory
    The entering student should have: a) completed a program of study comparable to our M.A. in Music Theory; and b) demonstrated proficiency in German (see the explanatory notes to the M.A. in Music Theory).

  3. Ethnomusicology
    The entering student should have:
    a) completed Music 520 (Introduction to Music Research) or its equivalent;
    b) completed at least two graduate seminars in ethnomusicological theory, method, and/or transcription (the equivalents of Music 529 and 531); and c) demonstrated reading or fieldwork proficiency in one language beyond the student's first language (see the explanatory notes to the M.A. in Ethnomusicology).

Sequence of Completion of Degree Requirements

  1. Prerequisites and remedial subjects. Registration in Music 512E (Directed Individual Studies).

  2. Course work (curriculum, language requirements).

  3. Formal approval of thesis topic. At this time the student should present for approval to the advisory committee evidence of progress such as a bibliography, an outline of methodology, a ground plan of themes to be explored and expanded, etc.

  4. Comprehensive Examinations

  5. Advancement to candidacy and completion of Music 512E.

  6. Research and fieldwork (if applicable); thesis (Music 649); and Final Oral Examination.

Review of a Student's Program and Progress

Students do not automatically continue from year to year in the Ph.D. Their programs and progress are reviewed by the appropriate division in the spring term of each year.


In addition to Music 649 (Ph.D. thesis, no credit), students will take 21 credits of course work as specified below. All programs of study must be approved by the student’s supervisory committee.

1. Historical Musicology

The minimum of 21 credits of course work will include the following:

  • a) 3 credits of Music 512E (Directed Individual Studies) taken on a topic related to the subject of the Ph.D thesis. Students should register in Music 512E during the first year of doctoral study and remain in this course until they have advanced to candidacy.

  • b) Students should take at least 12 credits (four courses) of seminars in Musicology, one from each of the historical periods: pre-1600, 1700-1800, 1800-1900, and 1900-present. Eligible Musicology courses include the following (Note that actual topics will vary from one year to another, and conceivably one seminar of the same number may be taken twice if offered on two different topics. With the supervisory committee’s approval, other courses may be counted toward these 12 credits in Musicology. ):
    523 Seminar in Medieval Music - 3/6 credits
    524 Seminar in Renaissance Music - 3/6 credits
    525 Seminar in Baroque Music - 3/6 credits
    526 Seminar in the Classical Period Music - 3/6 credits
    527 Seminar in Nineteenth-Century Music - 3/6 credits
    528 Seminar in Twentieth/Twenty-First Century Music - 3/6 credits
    532 Advanced Studies in Music History and Musicology - 3/6 credits

  • c) 6 credits (two courses) in Music Theory at the 500 level. Music Theory courses should have a strong analytical component.

Students are encouraged to take or audit additional elective courses in addition to the minimum program requirements.

In addition to the 21 required credits, up to 4 credits of Music ensemble or, with permission of the Director of the School of Music, Music Performance may be elected.

2. Music Theory
The following courses are required:

  • Graduate seminars on topics in music theory and analysis - 9 credits (Note 1)

  • 512E Directed Individual Studies - 3 credits (Note 2)

  • Two 500-level seminars in Musicology, one on music before 1800, and one on music since 1800 - 6 credits

  • Any 300- or higher-level course in Music or another discipline, as approved by the student's supervisory committee - 3 credits

Note 1: In addition to these 9 credits, graduate seminars from our M.A. curriculum (including Music 501 or Advanced Schenkerian Analysis) may be required by the supervisory committee for students who have not completed similar courses previously.

Note 2: Must be taken on a topic related to the subject of the Ph.D. thesis. Students should register in Music 512E during the first year of doctoral study and remain in this course until they have advanced to candidacy.

3. Ethnomusicology

The 21 credits (Note 1) should be distributed as follows:

1. 512E Directed Individual Studies - 3 credits (Note 2)

2. At least 12 credits of Music courses selected from the following:

  • 428 Area Studies in Ethnic Music - 3 credits (Note 3)

  • 529 Seminar in Ethnomusicology - 3 credits (Note 4)

  • 530 Topics in Ethnomusicology - 3/6 credits

  • 531 Seminar in Ethnomusicology - 3/6 credits

  • 532 Advanced Studies in Music History and Musicology - 3/6 credits (Note 3)

  • 533 Advanced Studies in Music Theory - 3/6 credits (Note 3)

  • 565 World Music Ensemble - 2 credits

  • 566 Intensive Chamber Ensemble - 1 credit

3. Elective courses: 6 credits - Any 300- or higher-level courses in historical musicology,  music theory, or composition; and/or cognate electives chosen from upper-level undergraduate and graduate courses in Anthropology, Asian Studies (including languages), or another non-Music discipline related to the student's area of research


  1. Students permitted to transfer from the M.A. to the Ph.D. require 27 credits of coursework in total. The first 6 credits of M.A. coursework will not transfer to the Ph.D.

  2. Must be taken on a topic related to the subject of the Ph.D. thesis. Students should register in Music 512E during the first year of doctoral study and remain in this course until they have advanced to candidacy.

  3. May be repeated with a different topic

  4. If this course has been taken at the MA level and/or at another institution, it may be repeated for credit toward the Ph.D if the content is sufficiently different, and with the instructor’s permission.

Language Requirements

  1. Historical Musicology
    A reading knowledge of German and French is a prerequisite to the program, and shall be tested by a language examination prior to advancement to candidacy. Proficiency in a third language may also be required if the advisory committee deems it essential for thesis research.Language requirements will be tested by an examination administered by faculty within the division of Musicology. During the examination the student will be provided with a roughly 500-word excerpt in the original language (generally relevant to the student’s field of research), and given 60 minutes to provide a written translation that demonstrates accurate comprehension of the passage (a polished translation is not required). The student may use a dictionary for this examination. In cases where a faculty member in the division of Musicology is not available or competent to administer such an examination, arrangements will be made with faculty in another department at UBC.

  2. Music Theory
    A reading knowledge of German is a prerequisite to the program; students admitted with a deficiency in this area must rectify it by the end of their first winter session in the Ph.D. program. Proficiency in a second language may also be required if the advisory committee deems it essential for thesis research.

  3. Ethnomusicology
    A reading or fieldwork proficiency in a second language is prerequisite to the program. (Students admitted with a deficiency in this area must rectify it by the end of their first winter session in the Ph.D. program.) For the Ph.D. one additional language will normally be required, ideally a language or dialect appropriate to the proposed research area. In cases where the student’s research requires more intensive language study than a basic reading knowledge (such as spoken Chinese or classical Chinese) further work in a single language may be recognized as fulfilling this requirement.

Comprehensive Examinations

Before the student may actively pursue research for the Ph.D. thesis – excepting the preparatory studies conducted as part of Music 512E – he or she must have successfully completed the Comprehensive Examinations. These examinations may be taken only after the student has removed all entrance deficiencies, satisfied the language proficiency requirements, completed all course work, and received official approval of the Ph.D. thesis topic.

  1. Historical Musicology
    a) A written examination covering the major historical eras: Middle Ages, Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic, Twentieth Century to the present. One question is to be answered from each of these eras.
    b) A written examination covering questions related to the student's chosen area of research for the Ph.D. thesis.
    c) An oral examination with Emphasis on the student's chosen area of research, but dealing also with subjects related to the written examination and possibly several selected sound recordings.

  2. Music Theory
    a) A written examination in music analysis; students will be assigned a small number of compositions prior to being examined.
    b) A written examination dealing with major trends and scholarly contributions to music theory, historical and recent, with some emphasis on topics relevant to the student's thesis proposal.
    c) An oral examination involving prepared oral presentations on four topics closely related to the thesis project, and directly engaging (i) a selected body of music associated with the thesis topic and (ii) selected scholarly contributions, contemporary and historical, pertinent to this repertoire.

  3. Ethnomusicology
    The comprehensive examination has five parts, each devoted to a general topic chosen in consultation about six months prior. Three or four of these are selected by the student's committee, and one or two by the student. About one month before the exam, more focused questions relating to the same topics are provided. The format of the exam is subject to some change and flexibility but in general is written and/or presented over two days. It consists of two sit-down essays written in conventional examination format; one pre-written paper in academic conference format (20-25 minutes) read to the examiners; presentation of the results/documentation of one research activity in written form; and one formal lecture as if to a class, with annotated bibliographic supplement.

The Ph.D. Thesis and the Advisory Committee

Students must take 3 credits of Music 512E (Directed Individual Studies) in order to formulate a proposal for the thesis topic. Students should register in Music 512E during the first year of doctoral study; this course will continue until the student advances to candidacy, at which point the principal supervisor will provide a grade for Music 512E. Once the student advances to candidacy (no later than three years after initial registration), he or she shall register for Music 649 (Thesis).

The thesis proposal must then be approved by the School before the Comprehensive Examinations can be taken. In accordance with the student's proposed research area, a committee will be established early in the period of residency. This advisory committee will include the thesis supervisor and at least two other members, one of whom may be drawn from outside the School of Music.

Admission to Candidacy. The basic requirements for a doctoral student to be admitted to candidacy are:

  • a) all required coursework, remedial requirements, and language requirements have been successfully completed

  • b) the Comprehensive Examination has been passed

  • c) the supervisory committee has certified that the thesis proposal has been approved

A Graduate Program may also wish to apply additional criteria for students to be admitted to candidacy. In such cases, the Graduate Program must inform the Faculty of Graduate Studies and the student(s) of these criteria in writing.

Students are normally expected to complete their comprehensive examination within 24 months from the date of initial registration. A student who is not admitted to candidacy within 36 months from the date of initial registration must withdraw from the program. Extension of this period may be permitted by the Dean of Graduate Studies in exceptional circumstances.

As soon as a student has satisfied all requirements, the Graduate Program must recommend to the Faculty of Graduate Studies that the student be admitted to candidacy. The appropriate form is to be found on the Faculty of Graduate Studies’ website.

The Ph.D. thesis must be researched and written under the direction of the thesis supervisor and with the assistance of the candidate's committee as required. In its final form it must satisfy all requirements established by the Faculty of Graduate Studies. An external examiner will be asked to evaluate the thesis and, when possible, to join the committee for the final oral defence. Students should consult the Faculty of Graduate Studies website for deadline dates for submission of the Doctoral thesis, and for information concerning the final oral examination.

Academic Dishonesty Policies

Students are responsible for informing themselves of the guidelines of acceptable and non-acceptable conduct for graded assignments established by their instructors for specific courses and of the examples of academic misconduct set out below. Academic misconduct that is subject to disciplinary measures includes, but is not limited to, engaging in, attempting to engage in, or assisting others to engage, in any of the actions described below.

Cheating, which may include, but is not limited to the following:

  • falsification of any material subject to academic evaluation, including research data

  • use of or participation in unauthorized collaborative work

  • use or possession in an examination of any materials (including devices) other than those permitted by the examiner

  • use, possession, or facilitation of unauthorized means to complete an examination (e.g., receiving unauthorized assistance from another person, or providing that assistance)

  • dishonest practices that breach rules governing examinations or submissions for academic evaluation (see the Rules Governing Formal Examinations)

Plagiarism, which is intellectual theft, occurs where an individual submits or presents the oral or written work of another person as his or her own. Scholarship quite properly rests upon examining and referring to the thoughts and writings of others. However, when another person's words (i.e. phrases, sentences, or paragraphs), ideas, or entire works are used, the author must be acknowledged in the text, in footnotes, in endnotes, or in another accepted form of academic citation. Where direct quotations are made, they must be clearly delineated (for example, within quotation marks or separately indented). Failure to provide proper attribution is plagiarism because it represents someone else's work as one's own. Plagiarism should not occur in submitted drafts or final works. A student who seeks assistance from a tutor or other scholastic aids must ensure that the work submitted is the student's own. Students are responsible for ensuring that any work submitted does not constitute plagiarism. Students who are in any doubt as to what constitutes plagiarism should consult their instructor before handing in any assignments.

Academically dishonest practices include:

  • Submitting the same, or substantially the same, essay, presentation, or assignment more than once (whether the earlier submission was at this or another institution) unless prior approval has been obtained from the instructor(s) to whom the assignment is to be submitted.

  • Impersonating a candidate at an examination or other evaluation, facilitating the impersonation of a candidate, or availing oneself of the results of an impersonation.

  • Submitting false records or information, orally or in writing, or failing to provide relevant information when requested.

  • Falsifying or submitting false documents, transcripts, or other academic credentials.

  • Failing to comply with any disciplinary measure imposed for academic misconduct.

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