This small unit is characterised by individual research in analysis and general musicology with distinctive collaborative work existing in the area of performance and performance pedagogy and a cluster of activity in composition. The unit is entirely located on the Jordanstown campus of the University, but has plans to develop work on the Magee College campus in Londonderry. There is presently a permanent music staff of 6 of whom 3 are research active.
The University of Ulster manages research through its Research Office, under the leadership of a Pro-Vice-Chancellor, to whom the unit reports at least annually, and regular monitoring is also carried out by the Research Policy and Practice Committee of the Faculty of Arts. Members of staff from this unit of assessment are all in the School of Media and Performing Arts which works closely with the Faculty to facilitate, for example, study leave. The University has adopted a strategic approach to research funding making allocations from a large Research Strategy Budget to research units both on a formulaic basis and selectively in support of further development. The (acting) unit co-ordinator Dr M Russ is responsible for administering the devolved budget, overseeing the day-by-day management of research activities and developing the research environment. The budget allows for the selective support of conference attendance, travel for research purposes, teaching relief and the purchase of research materials. The unit has also been successful in bidding for additional funds, for teaching relief, scholarships, and to support a research fellow. The Research Office has offered the unit valuable advice and support making grant applications.
The Irish Chapter of the Royal Musical Association, established in 1986 by the unit, is administered from it. Its annual two-day conference, held in departments throughout Ireland, in which staff and students take a full part, is an important part of the Irish academic calendar with attendees from both North and South and from Great Britain.
With regard to staffing policy we require non research-active members to carry a higher teaching and administrative load so as to allow the three key researchers time to develop their specialisms. This, and the University’s provision of monies for teaching relief, has allowed research active staff at least one day a week free for research and our AHRB Fellow has an extremely light teaching load and does not carry an administrative burden. Staff have been supported through research leave in the reporting period and have received funding for materials, travel for research purposes and to give papers at conferences. Evaluation of individual research, the formation of research plans, and the setting of targets are core elements in the appraisal process conducted by the Head of School who is a member of the unit. As an indicator of its support for the development of the unit, and anxious to bring new blood, the University generously matched the funding gained from AHRB (£45,000) for the appointment of Dr Ian Wilson, a doctoral graduate of the University (1988), to a three-year AHRB Fellowship in Creative and Performing Arts. Dr Wilson is also supported with monies to secure performances. It is University policy that all new appointments should be research-active.
The period under review has been a vibrant one for research students. Given the small size of the unit it has been fortunate in obtaining two Department of Further and Higher Education Training and Employment research studentships. These new students joined five award-bearing students already registered. There is always a healthy group of part-time students. The low numbers for 2000 in RAE3a reflects the fact that several students are ‘writing-up’ and are not included in the statistics. During the period five doctoral theses were completed on time. In addition to the two shown on RAE3a, three students submitted their theses for examination in 2000. Another thesis is expected in March 2001. There were two successful MPhils with a further expected in March 2001. Subjects have been wide-ranging including composition, in which the unit has specialised, the music of Rovetta, Schumann, Strauss and Gershwin, and the analysis of free musical improvisation. Among current students, composer Brian Irvine has a growing reputation with commissions from UK, Europe and USA, many performances and broadcasts and three CDs of his work. Julie Sutton is respected internationally as a writer on music therapy with nine journal articles or book chapters and eight conference presentations (three invited) in the reporting period. The Music Division has a part-time Postgraduate Diploma MA programme the dissertation element of which comprises a substantial piece of research or composition.
Research students are placed in the Faculty’s Graduate School, which ensures proper monitoring, pastoral care and training in research methods. All supervisors are required to take a course in postgraduate supervision and new supervisors are assigned an experienced advisor. New research students are required to complete a 100-day viva and a later viva based on a substantial written submission before their registration for PhD is confirmed. Students are provided with space, computing and photocopying facilities and may be given financial support for travel.