How do I Write a Music Dissertation?

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  • Written By: Sonal Panse
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 12 November 2019
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If you are doing a doctoral program in music, you will be required to write a dissertation as part of your degree requirement. A music dissertation is an original, in-depth and analytical or theoretical study on a selected music topic. The dissertation can be book-length and may take several months to complete.

To begin with, you will need to select an appropriate topic for your dissertation. The topic will be dependent on the particular field of music that you happen to be studying, and you may be required to consult your dissertation guide or adviser on the types of dissertation that you can undertake. Dissertation topics can cover aspects of music theory and composition, music history, music teaching, music education, music therapy, ethnomusicology, and so on.

It is important to remember that a music dissertation is supposed to present original research and ideas. You may, of course, need to refer to work already done in that particular field, but your own work should present new concepts or views. For this, you will need to undertake a great deal of in-depth investigation on your topic.

The dissertation can be written in a variety of formats. Depending on what suits your subject, you can write in standard, education, or scientific format. It is necessary to be consistent in how you organize your dissertation structure.


You will need to write the dissertation title and your dissertation proposal at the start of your music dissertation. In the proposal, you will state your dissertation plan and what direction you intend to take in your dissertation research. You can also mention the research questions you intend to pursue.

Next comes the approach section, where you are expected to list your sources, the study materials you have reviewed in the course of your research, and compile a bibliography. You can include a brief outline of the manner in which you conducted your research, and list an outline the music dissertation chapters. Breaking the work into the chapters will make it more manageable and more readable.

You should try to ensure that your writing is clear and that all points are explained satisfactorily. You may want to include sound files, score excerpts, and technical diagrams to illustrate and explain your text. You should state why you used particular music scores and how they serve to illuminate your topic.

It will help to check with your doctoral adviser regularly for dissertation tips and to see that your work is in accordance with the music department criteria. Once you have written the dissertation, it is a good idea to do some dissertation editing to recheck facts, logical progression and language. Your completed music dissertation should be neat and well-presented. You will be required to defend the concepts in it for the university dissertation committee before you are awarded your PhD.


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