Department of Music

Department of Music

On the most recent Research Quality Review, the Department of Music at University College Cork earned an overall score of a ‘very good’ standard, which the international panel of expert evaluators suggested reflects a high level of outputs were rated excellent with very few at the lower end of the scale… a sound indicator of much international excellence.’


The Department of Music at UCC is one of the largest and most dynamic homes for music research in Ireland.  The RQR Report concludes: It is evident that the Department at UCC is a major regional player where research is concerned with a distinctive national and, in certain areas, international profile.’  There are 45 staff in Music, 16 of whom are permanent appointments directing 340 undergraduate and 35 postgraduate students in fields from performance and composition to musicology and ethnomusicology.  Our collective work sustains a dual commitment to cutting-edge creative practice and critically aware scholarship –a commitment that positions UCC Music as a leader in practice-as-research.  The acclaimed FUAIM concert and seminar series typifies the top-notch music making and scholarship at the UCC Department of Music—a vibrant center of creative and intellectual activity.  The RQR Panel described these departmental concerts and events assymposia of a credibly international character,”continuing “The research seminar series, while common in most universities in Ireland and the UK, appears to be well supported with contributions from PhD students, staff members and distinguished visitors.... The balance appears to be well-suited to the research activities of the Department and the needs of postgraduate students.”

Our faculty earn major national and international research grants in musicology and ethnomusicology from major funding bodies such as the European Research Council, are awarded composition and performance grants from Arts Council Ireland and others, and regularly secure funding to host a Traditional Artist in Residence and launch and curate digital archives in the field of Irish traditional music.  As the RQR Panel stressed: Irish traditional music has a long history at UCC and remains well supported via the Arts Council funded ‘artist in residence’ scheme.”  Furthermore, the Department is, “in relation to the legacy of Aloys Fleischmann, an education resource of regional and national significance.”


We nurture partnerships with scholars and creative communities across local, national, and international networks and foster cross-disciplinary collaborations and outreach programs, as well as research projects within our disciplines.  Of these interdisciplinary and networked commitments, the RQR concluded: Collaboration with other institutions is extensive. Where performance is concerned these include Southbank Gamelan (London, UK), AHRC Centre for Musical Performance as Creative Practice (Cambridge, UK), The Sibelius Academy (Finland) and the University of Cape Town (South Africa), Merce Cunningham Dance Company (USA) and the University of Limerick.”  Aside from our numerous performances in the local and regional community, the RQR Panel singled out: “Outreach activities including the ‘Connections’ project relating to arts and health-care initiatives in the Cork area; extensive Arts Council-funded education projects; lectures (later published) on many aspects of Irish Traditional Music delivered by recognised experts in the field.”

Our postgraduate students are awarded Irish Research Council funding and present their creative and scholarly work at national and international conferences.  The RQR Panel, in particular highlighted the way in which: Research mentoring is carried out on a regular basis in the Department in relation to PGR grant applications and research grant applications.”  We also continue to attract funding for Postdoctoral Scholars from the IRC and ERC.  In 2012 the department launched a Research Affiliates Scheme to expand the research network of music scholars and creative practitioners at UCC.  It was highlighted as a standard bearer for good practice by the RQR Panel, who noted: The ‘affiliate’ scheme for mentoring is excellent and should be taken up elsewhere and “commendable in the way it keeps recent PhD graduates connected and in extending the sense of a research community.”  The panel also noted that“Research-led teaching is evident at a number oflevels including American shape-note singing, jazz improvisation, composition, experimental music, film music, Italian and English Baroque music, gender and sexuality in music, editing early music, early music performance, performance on the gamelan, and digitization.”  On the heels of this success, the Department is launching an Interdisciplinary Faculty Affiliates in Music (iFAM) scheme to build bridges between UCC Music and other UCC scholars working on music, sound, and culture across the humanities and sciences. 


UCC Music staff also serve as editors for top journals, external examiners at national and international institutions, keynote speakers at scholarly conferences, and featured clinicians at international music festivals.  The RQR Report notes: Senior members of staff act, often selflessly, in editorial and advisory roles (notably the Journal of the Society for Musicology in Ireland and Ethnomusicology Forum). These activities do much to flag up the significance of the Department on the national and international stage.”


The RQR Panelists remarked: Headline publications are placed with very reputable publishers and are evidently of high quality.”  The department has built on its strengths in Western art music and global traditional musics by developing strengths in the fields of popular music studies, film music, and digital multimedia composition.  In terms of research outputs, our scholars and practitioners publish monographs, edited collections, intermedial artworks and textbooks.  They contribute book chapters and articles to top journals. They direct ensembles, record CDs, create audio-visual performances, and curate and maintain musical archives.  The RQR noted: Departmental composers are active in the promotion of contemporary music through the Contemporary Music Centre, Dublin.”   They perform at local, national and international concerts and festivals and are regularly featured on the radio and internet podcasts. 


As the Research Quality Review Panel of international experts concluded: There is a high proportion of research excellence of international quality across a broad range.” 


Please visit the UCC Department of Music Research Page to learn more about our vibrant and welcoming research community perched high above the River Lee.


For a full copy of the UCC 2015 Research Quality Review please click here.


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