Doctor of Musical Arts

The Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA) is a research-based professional doctorate in music performance, conducting or composition open to professional-skilled musicians with strong scholarly abilities and interests. The DMA will suit candidates with a research background who wish to enhance their already high-level research and creative work abilities and experience, by taking advantage of the exceptional research and teaching community available at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.

The emphasis of the course is a supervised program leading to the submission of a thesis comprising two components: (i) a public presentation of creative work (recital, lecture recital, recording or other appropriate format), or a composition portfolio; and (ii) a written research dissertation of 25,000–30,000 words. Both components are expected to be an original contribution to the candidate's field of creative research. Research development is supported by research training and coursework.

In addition to the information presented here and in the Rules following, students also need to refer to the Higher Degree by Research pages available on the University’s Current Students website for further information on research candidature at the University of Sydney and for relevant rules and policies.

Language requirements for international candidates

An IELTS level of 7.0 with no component below 6.5 is normally required for entry to this degree.

Course structure

The Doctor of Musical Arts can be completed either in three to four years of full-time study or the equivalent in part-time study. Any research period during candidature may be undertaken part-time according to the needs of the candidate. The expected completion date will take into account the periods of full-time or part-time enrolment status.

During the first full year of candidature (or the part-time equivalent), Doctor of Musical Arts candidates undertake units of study in creative works projects, research methods and elective subjects, as well as participating in seminars.

As a research degree, the coursework credit points represent about one quarter of the degree structure and students need only enrol in units of study for the coursework component. The program of supervised research forms the main part of the candidature. This supervised research program will culminate in the completed thesis to be submitted for examination as described below.

Areas of research

Innovative and research-based performance, conducting or composition.

Candidature includes:

  • completion of units of study giving credit for a total of 36 credit points during the first full-time year of candidature, or its equivalent part-time
  • end of year 1 confirmation presentation
  • presentation of creative works during the first and second years of candidature including (i) the assessment of Creative Work Project 1 (with formative feedback by supervisory team); (ii) the formal assessment of Creative Work Project 2 in the first year of full time study (also with formative feedback); and (iii) a substantial presentation of creative work (recital, lecture recital and so on) or an approved format (composition) accompanied by critical notes at or by the conclusion of the second year of full-time study, or equivalent.
  • participation and presentation at the interdisciplinary Postgraduate Creative Research seminar, and
  • a program of supervised research leading to a thesis comprising (i) a substantial final public creative work presentation/portfolio and (ii) a dissertation of 25,000-30,000 words, both of which shall be an original contribution to the field concerned.

Candidates normally complete the following units of study

  • PERF5600 Graduate Research Methods
  • PERF5601 Creative Work Project 1
  • PERF5602 Creative Work Project 2
  • Two other units of study chosen from the table of postgraduate electives or approved alternatives

Preparation and Examination of the final submission - the thesis

At the end of the candidature the student will submit the complete thesis for examination. The thesis will include both the final presentation of creative work or composition portfolio and the written research dissertation. A preface can be used to introduce and contextualize the components of the thesis. Where performance forms part of the thesis, the performance will be presented to the examiners in recorded format. Candidates preparing a final creative work presentation (recital, lecture recital and so on) as part of the thesis must ensure that a suitable recording is made for presentation to the examiners. Candidates preparing a composition portfolio are expected to include recordings of the included compositions.

The thesis will be examined in accordance with University of Sydney policy by three approved examiners, including at least two examiners external to the University of Sydney.

Please refer to the Higher Degree by Research pages on the University’s Current Students website for further information on preparation for submission and examination.