Doctor of Musical Arts

Course 170AA (2012)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2012.

Year and Campus: 2012 - Parkville
CRICOS Code: 024754D
Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Level: Research Higher Degree
Duration & Credit Points: Students are expected to complete this research in 3.00 years full time, or equivalent part time.


Professor Gary McPherson


Melbourne Conservatorium of Music
T: +613 99053471 or +613 83444337
E: /

Melbourne Conservatorium of Music
VCA and Music Student Centre


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.

Doctoral degrees at the University of Melbourne seek to develop graduates who demonstrate academic leadership, increasing independence, creativity and innovation in their research work. In addition, professional doctoral studies provide advanced training designed to enhance professional knowledge in a specialist area, and encourage the acquisition of a wide range of advanced transferable skills.

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 Major 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.


The degree would normally be completed in the following sequence:

Subject Options:

Year 1 [Probationary year]:

Study Period Commencement:
Credit Points:
Not offered in 2012
Not offered in 2012
Not offered in 2012
Semester 1, Semester 2
Semester 1, Semester 2

Year 2:

Study Period Commencement:
Credit Points:
Not offered in 2012
Not offered in 2012
RHD First Half Year, RHD Second Half Year

Year 3:

Study Period Commencement:
Credit Points:
Not offered in 2012
RHD First Half Year, RHD Second Half Year
Entry Requirements:

There will be no intake for the Doctor of Musical Arts in 2012

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 a Musicological Research Methods subject (or equivalent).

Selection mode: Audition and interview.

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.

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

References: Applicants need to supply at least three references of which one must be in the area of academic study and one in the area of music performance.

For further information and to access the online application system, go to

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:

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.
Generic Skills:

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


Students who have completed a MMus in performance at the University of Melbourne, or other recognised tertiary music institutions, or who have satisfied the 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 Graduate Studies Committee of the Melbourne Conservatorium 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 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 Director. 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 Graduate Studies Committee.

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