Doctor of Musical Arts

Course 170AB (2010)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2010.

Year and Campus: 2010 - Parkville
Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Level: Graduate/Postgraduate
Duration & Credit Points: 300 credit points taken over 36 months full time. This course is available as full or part time.




VCA and Music Student Centre
234 St Kilda Rd, Southbank

Tel: +61 3 9685 9322
Fax: +61 3 9685 9358

School of Music - Parkville
Conservatorium Building

Tel: +61 3 8344 5256
Fax: +61 3 8344 5346
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Course Overview:

The Doctor of Musical Arts degree is a professional coursework doctorate in music performance.

The DMA provides an avenue of study for music performers parallel to the PhD, and offers a more appropriate degree structure for music performance study at the doctoral level. The degree is oriented towards professional performers who are already established in their respective fields. The degree program is characterised by the advanced study of music performance supported by scholarly study. The performance components of the degree are assessed as externally examined public performances, and the thesis is also examined externally.


The DMA aims to be the benchmark of the advanced practical performer. The degree allows for sustained instrumental or vocal development at an appropriate professional level. Essential research and academic skills support the advanced study and practice of instrumental or vocal performance, providing academic training at the highest level to enrich and inform the practical skills required of the degree.

On completion of this course, students should be able to

  • function effectively as an independent teacher-performer at the most advanced levels of the musical profession;
  • provide leadership in the interpretation and performance of a chosen area of their instrument's repertoire at the best professional concert level;
  • apply specific knowledge of the style and interpretation of the Western tradition, as it applied to their instrument, informed by current research in performance practice;
  • pursue, with self confidence, a program of independent research and further study in the history and literature of their instrument;
  • communicate orally and in writing, with authority and independence, a perspective for performance and performance practice issues related to their instrument.
Course Structure & Available Subjects:

Probationary & Confirmed Candidature

The first year of the degree constitutes probationary candidature.

Confirmation of DMA candidature is due at the end of the first year of full-time candidature. Students applying for confirmation of candidature are required to attend an interview with the Research and Graduate Studies Committee. As part of this process, they are required to provide:

  1. A written proposal of the programs for Recitals 1 and 2 and the Concerto or Chamber Music Performance.
  2. A written proposal for their research topic, including:
  • proposed topic
  • research aims and methodology
  • a literature survey
  • an outline of the structure of the thesis
  • evidence of research achieved to date
  • a timeline for completion of the thesis

During this interview the research proposal will be presented by the candidate and discussed. Candidates may be required to substantiate their written report. The Committee will also wish to discuss the structure of the remaining two years of the course.

Leave of Absence is not normally approved during the probationary year.

Performance & Research Assessment

All the performance and research components of the degree are assessed on a pass/fail basis. The expected standard of performance will be equivalent to that of the concert platform. With the exception of the Preliminary DMA Recital, which must be passed in its entirety at the first attempt for candidature to be confirmed, the examiners may either pass all subsequent recitals in their entirety or request that some part of the performance be repeated within a time limit set by the examiners.

The thesis topic should be conceptually linked to the student's performance interests and specialisations, and approved by the Research and Graduate Studies Committee at the end of the probationary year of candidature. The thesis will be examined to a standard equivalent to a Master's research thesis. The thesis topic, or areas closely related to it, would normally be the central focus of the lecture recital and the candidate's presentations at the postgraduate seminar.

The Lecture Recital, Music Literature Survey and comprehensive examination will be assessed according to the respective subject descriptions.

Overall Assessment

All components of the degree must be passed before the degree can be awarded.

Subject Options: The degree would normally be completed in the following sequence:

Year 1 [Probationary year]:

Study Period Commencement:
Credit Points:
Not offered in 2010
Semester 1, Semester 2
Semester 1, Semester 2
Semester 1, Semester 2
Semester 1, Semester 2

Total points for Year 1: 100

Year 2:

Study Period Commencement:
Credit Points:
Semester 1, Semester 2
Semester 1, Semester 2
Semester 1, Semester 2
RHD First Half Year, RHD Second Half Year

Total points for Year 2: 100

Year 3:

Study Period Commencement:
Credit Points:
Semester 1, Semester 2
RHD First Half Year, RHD Second Half Year

Total points for year 3: 100

Total points for course: 300

Entry Requirements:

The prerequisite for the DMA degree is a Master of Music in performance or equivalent. Normally applicants to the DMA will have completed a minor thesis or research project at Masters level, and Musicological Research Methods 1 or equivalent.

Application Procedure

Application forms are available via the School of Music website:

International applicants should ensure they also complete an International Application form available either from the Faculty or from the International Office, as well as the forms required from the Faculty.

Further requirements:

Repertoire List

Applicants must submit with their application a complete repertoire list (including concerto and chamber music).


Applicants need to supply at least two references, one of which must be in the area of academic study, and the other in the area of music performance.


Applicants will be required to prepare a 60-minute audition at a level of performance appropriate for entrance to the degree.

Overseas and, where necessary, interstate students may submit a DVD recording in place of attending an audition. The DVD is to be recorded in one session, must be uncut, and accompanied by a statutory declaration stating that:

'This DVD is submitted in application for the Doctor of Musical Arts course. The performance is by the undersigned ............... (Full name), has been filmed in one session and is unedited.

Signed................ Date......................'


Applicants will be required to attend an interview.

Core Participation Requirements: It is University policy to take all reasonable steps to minimise the impact of disability upon academic study, and reasonable adjustments will be made to enhance a student's participation in the University's programs. Students who feel their disability will impact on meeting the requirements of this course are encouraged to discuss this matter with a Faculty Student Adviser and the Disability Liaison Unit.
Graduate Attributes: University of Melbourne graduate coursework degrees seek to develop graduates who demonstrate a capacity for contemporary professional practice and/or specialist knowledge and theory. Graduate coursework degrees have multiple purposes. They are designed to provide students with the opportunity for advanced knowledge and understanding in a specialist area; to enhance professional knowledge and skills; and to engage with new and emerging fields of study.
Generic Skills:

The University expects its doctoral graduates to have the following qualities and skills:

  • an advanced ability to initiate research and to formulate viable research questions;
  • a demonstrated capacity to design, conduct and report sustained and original research;
  • the capacity to contextualise research within an international corpus of specialist knowledge;
  • an advanced ability to evaluate and synthesise research-based and scholarly literature
  • an advanced understanding of key disciplinary and multi-disciplinary norms and perspectives relevant to the field;
  • highly developed problem-solving abilities and flexibility of approach;
  • the ability to analyse critically within and across a changing disciplinary environment;
  • the capacity to disseminate the results of research and scholarship by oral and written communication to a variety of audiences;
  • a capacity to cooperate with and respect the contributions of fellow researchers and scholars;
  • a profound respect for truth and intellectual integrity, and for the ethics of research and scholarship;
  • an advanced facility in the management of information, including the application of computer systems and software where appropriate to the student's field of study;
  • an understanding of the relevance and value of their research to national and international communities of scholars and collaborators;
  • an awareness where appropriate of issues related to intellectual property management and commercialisation of innovation; and
  • an ability to formulate application to relevant agencies, such as funding bodies and ethics committees.


Students who have completed a MMus in performance at the University of Melbourne, or other recognised tertiary music institutions, or who have satisfied the Research and Graduate Studies Committee that they have equivalent qualifications or are of an appropriate standing, may be exempt from certain sections of the degree. Approval for exemptions is granted by the Research and Graduate Studies Committee of the Faculty of Music. This would normally include exemption from Preliminary DMA Recital and Chamber Music. Students wishing to apply for exemptions should state their case in writing to the Research and Graduate Studies Committee.


Normally each candidate will have two supervisors, one in the field of performance and one in the field of academic research. Appropriate supervisors for each candidate will be appointed by the Dean. Formal supervision in the field of academic research commences after the probationary year of candidature.


The panel of examiners for the performance component will consist of two external examiners, and an internal Chair of Examiners.


Candidates will be required to submit a complete repertoire list of their existing repertoire, including concerto and chamber repertoire as part of the application process. The content of all works to be included for assessment under the performance and research component of the degree will be planned and structured with the candidate's supervisors and subject to approval by the Research and Graduate Studies Committee.

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