PhD in Musicology

image of lecture

Admission Requirements

  • A Master's degree in Musicology (or equivalent)
  • Minimum 70% average in the Master's degree

Application Materials

  • Two essays (3,500-5,000 words) that demonstrate the ability to articulate and carry out research in musicology
  • A statement of interest 
  • Three confidential letters of reference
  • Transcripts from all institutions attended, uploaded in PDF
  • Proof of English language proficiency (if applicable)

Application Deadline: Extended to January 15


Photo of Ala Krivov

“I found that the sense of community is really strong at Western. My faculty and my peers are extremely supportive. There has never been a problem that I was facing alone on my own.”

Ala Krivov, PhD Candidate

Learn more about Ala Krivov and our PhD in Musicology program. 

Program Requirements


(3.0 credits)

6 courses (3.0 credits) in musicology and related subjects

(check timetable for scheduling details)


Academic Integrity Module

To support success in graduate studies, all incoming graduate students are required to complete the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (SGPS) Academic Integrity Module in order to progress beyond the first term of their degree. Eligible students can access the module in the Graduate Student Web Services Portal.

Students who do not complete the module will not be able to progress beyond the first term of their degree.

This module is designed to provide students with the necessary knowledge and resources to abide by academic principles during their graduate career and to help combat scholastic offenses. After reviewing the material and finishing the readings, students are required to complete both a multiple-choice assessment and a series of short case studies to evaluate their knowledge of academic integrity. Students have unlimited opportunities to pass the module. 

Research Ethics Tutorial TCPS-2 CORE

New doctoral students in Music are required to complete the TCPS 2: CORE-2022 (Course on Research Ethics) in their first term. 

The Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans (TCPS 2) is a joint policy of Canada’s three federal research agencies: CIHR, NSERC, and SSHRC.

This policy is a Canadian guideline for the ethical conduct of research involving human participants. TCPS 2: CORE-2022 is an online, self-paced tutorial featuring interactive exercises and examples from each of the three agencies that help to familiarize researchers with the TCPS 2 guidelines. The course consists of nine modules and a knowledge consolidation exercise.

Comprehensive Examination

The examination requires students to demonstrate breadth of knowledge in their field and indicates their readiness to write a dissertation.

Written over a 4-week period in summer term, students write 3 papers of approximately 20 pages each. The questions, developed by the student’s advisory committee, cover the categories of methodology, recent literature, and issues. Students select one question from each category.

The student’s advisory committee reviews the papers and the possible outcomes are:

  • Pass
  • Supplemental work is required within a given time period
  • Fail (the student is invited to repeat the exercise or to withdraw from the program).

Dissertation Proposal Development

This milestone is meant to help students conceptualize and develop their dissertation proposal while also completing courses and the comprehensive examination. The milestone encourages regular contact between a PhD student and their Advisory Committee.

Completed over approximately 16 months, the Dissertation Proposal Development milestone is begun in Term 3 (Summer term of Year 1) with an approved draft of a dissertation proposal delivered in Term 7 (Fall term of Year 3).

pdf icon Timeline for dissertation proposal development

pdf icon Guidelines for writing a dissertation proposal


Dissertation Proposal Defense

The proposal defense brings together the members of the student’s advisory committee, plus the supervisor and second reader if either or both are not already members of the committee. All in attendance should receive a copy of the proposal in advance. At the defense, all in attendance may pose questions or comments to the student and determine that the proposal meets expectations.

Following the proposal defense, the student submits a final version of the proposal to the office of the Associate Dean (Graduate Studies) for approval by the Graduate Committee. This marks the completion of this milestone.

Dissertation and Oral Defense

The length of a PhD dissertation in musicology is usually 200-250 pages.

All procedures and formatting found in the School of Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies' (SGPS) Thesis Regulation Guide must be followed in the preparation of a dissertation.

Please note the deadlines set by SGPS for dissertation submission and scheduling of the defense.

All PhD candidates must present a public lecture (approx. 45 minutes) which is usually on the same day just before the defense. 

pdf icon Guidelines for requesting a doctoral defense 


Expected duration of program

12 terms (4 years)


Timeline for Progression

Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4
4 half courses
(or equivalent)
2 half courses
(or equivalent)


Dissertation Proposal Defence Dissertation Research and Writing
Dissertation Proposal Development

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  • Course requirements must be completed in years 1 and 2, by the end of Term 5.
  • Conceptualizing and developing a dissertation proposal begins in Term 3.
  • A draft dissertation proposal should be completed in Term 7 with the approval of the dissertation supervisor and second reader.
  • The Dissertation Proposal Defense should take place as early as possible in Year 3.
  • The chart does not show the completion of language requirements, where applicable.
  • This chart does not include the application for ethics approval (where applicable). The student and supervisor must plan accordingly. 

Directory of Current PhD Students

Recently Completed Dissertations

Contact Info

Associate Dean (Graduate Studies) 
Kevin Mooney
TC 215

Graduate Program Assistant
Audrey Yardley-Jones
TC 216
519-661-2111 x85354