UoA 35 Music, Drama, Dance and Performing Arts

We have research strengths in composition, performance and musicology, including ethnomusicology, cultural-historical analysis and popular music. Our work has had significant international impact on performance practice and audience engagement. This is reflected by a GPA of 3.28, a general UoA ranking of 13th, and a top 10 ranking among music departments in the UK. A distinctive feature of this unit is that 90% of our research environment was rated as conducive to producing research of world-leading quality in terms of its vitality and sustainability. This was more than double the sector average.

Quality level 4 3 2 1 UC
Overall 43.0% 42.0% 15.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Outputs 36.5% 40.4% 23.1% 0.0% 0.0%
Impact 30.0% 70.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Environment 90.0% 10.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
About the REF

Our School of Music is among the largest of the UK's university music departments, with an international reputation across the three sub-disciplines of composition, performance, and musicology (including ethnomusicology and popular music).

Defining characteristics of the research environment in Music since 2008 include:

  • A managed transition in the staff complement and associated research interests. With strategic financial support from the University, five new members of staff were appointed, three lecturers and two professors.
  • A highly research-active staff, ranging widely across the discipline. Seven monographs, 11 edited/co-edited books, 55 chapters in multi-authored volumes, and 33 journal articles were published; and 16 compositions were given their premiere.
  • Extensive wider contribution to the discipline, within and beyond academia, including collaboration with international organisations such as the BBC and Welsh National Opera.

Characteristic of the culture is the erosion of conventional subdisciplinary boundaries: musicology and ethnomusicology come together in a shared understanding of music as cultural practice; musicological research into compositional theory and processes informs the work of composers and vice versa; and specialists in historical performance are actively engaged with performance as consultants and/or practitioners.

With a staff complement that is now predominantly early and mid career, we look forward with confidence to the next phase of our development. We project a distinctive international presence in the discipline, one that combines acknowledged research expertise in dedicated areas with a commitment to the wider scholarly world and a clear sense of our role in the cultural and intellectual life of a capital city.

Case studies

Claire Holden and Robin Stowell playing violin

Precision performance

Revitalising the techniques and performance style of music from the 'long 18th century'.

125 Anniversary concert

More than Messiaen

Reinterpreting 20th-Century French musical traditions for UK audiences.

Centres and groups 

Group Details
The Centre for Research into Historically Informed Performance (CRHIP) Supports research into performance through history. Resources include a collection of 'period' musical instruments, specialist technological equipment to support analytical research into technique, style and performance in early recordings and a collection of 78rpm records.This research group is currently inactive.  Please contact the School if you would like further information.
Cardiff Interdisciplinary Research in Opera and Drama Provides a platform for interdisciplinary collaboration in opera research. Hosts an annual programme of events including seminars, workshops, reading sessions, panel discussions and symposiums for international audiences.

Overall ranking

Pos. Institution GPA
1 Queen Mary University of London 3.62
2 University of Southampton 3.55
2 Roehampton University A 3.55

10 University of Sheffield 3.30
10 King's College London B 3.30
12 University of Nottingham 3.29
13 Cardiff University 3.28
14 University of Birmingham A 3.26
14 Royal Holloway College and Bedford New College A 3.26

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