Call for Applications: The Nitin Sawhney Scholarship in Popular Music


The Department of Music and Design Arts at the University of Huddersfield is pleased to invite applications for the Nitin Sawhney Scholarship in Popular Music and for full and partial fee-waivers for PhD studies, for new UK, EU and International PhD students, starting in September 2023.


The scholarship and fee-waivers are open to applicants engaged in research on any aspect of popular music. Projects may be practice-based, with a reflective commentary; or they may be analytical, theoretical or empirical. Relevant topics might include, but are not limited to, those that are focused on popular music as it relates to:

  • practice-based or practice-led approaches;
  • composition or songwriting;
  • performance or instrumental technique;
  • British Asian or other specific ethnicities, or with an intercultural emphasis;
  • stardom and celebrity;
  • the work of one particular artist or act;
  • identity, for example related to gender, sexuality, ethnicity, age, or neurodiversity;
  • quantitative or qualitative analysis or memetics;
  • meaning, spirituality or religion;
  • technologies;
  • business and industry;
  • aesthetics or cultural value;
  • music festivals and events cultures;
  • electronic dance music cultures or metal;
  • other genres or styles;
  • scenes or subcultures;
  • sociological theory;
  • inter-, cross-, or multi-disciplinarity involving a mixture of these or other subjects;
  • global music cultures;
  • phenomenological, embodied or experiential approaches.

The successful candidate’s primary affiliation will be within the Popular Music Studies Research Group (PMSRG), which is part of the Centre for Research in Music and its Technologies (CRMT). The PMSRG is a hub for practice-based, practice-led and text-based research around popular music. It has a track record of international research events such as the Practice Based and Led Popular Music Studies Research Symposium in 2017, the Crosstown Traffic Conference (a joint event with academic societies specialised in the art of record production (ARP), popular music (IASPM), metal music (ISMMS) and electronic dance music (Dancecult) in 2018, the symposium Afro-Futurism, Arena Rap, The Self-Producer in 2021, and the industry-focused day Creative Sampling, Sound Design, Artificial Intelligence in Mixing in 2022. The PMSRG aims to support research in the art of record production as a developing and flourishing interdisciplinary field of study on practical and theoretical issues surrounding music production past, present and future. The group is committed to expanding industry links and to supporting student enterprise in both solo and collaborative ventures, of which the funded project Heaviness in Metal Music Production is an example.


The successful candidate can expect:

  • Full waiver of tuition fees.
  • Automatic consideration, for appropriate research projects, for the Creative Music Production Scholarship and/or the Richie Hawtin Scholarship (the first of which provides an annual stipend of £17,668 in addition to the full fee-waiver provided by both).
  • £17,668 annual stipend for the three years of registration.
  • Full-time PhD study for three years beginning in September 2023.
  • Supervision from internationally renowned staff, including, if appropriate to the subject of the research project, some tutorial support from Nitin Sawhney.
  • Opportunities for creative work, collaborative projects, publication, and the expectation to gain teaching experience.
  • Access to the Teaching Assistant Preparation Programme (TAPP), which can lead to the qualification of Associate Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy (AFHEA).
  • Access to additional financial support through the Postgraduate Support Fund of the School of Arts and Humanities.
  • If not successful, consideration for a full or partial fee-waiver or full-fee study.


The successful candidate is normally required to be resident in/near Huddersfield during the period of registration.


With over 100 students representing numerous fields of study and more than 20 nationalities, our postgraduate community is a vital, diverse and vibrant part of the department. The University is home to the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival (, the British Music Collection ( and the Electric Spring Festival ( The University features one of the UK’s leading electronic music studios (, including a 24-track SSL-based recording studio, the SRIF-funded SPIRAL 25.4-channel digital spatialisation lab, one 8-channel studio, four 5.1 studios with video editing facilities, three stereo studios, an interactive sound lab and the 50-channel HISS (; expanded recently by a further 20 channels). All studios are equipped with top-of-the-line hardware, software and plug-ins, and we offer an impressive collection of industry-leading microphones and recording equipment, including a 26-track location recording setup with class-A preamps. The University of Huddersfield is ranked 25th in the world for Performing Arts (Music and Drama) in the QS World University Subject Rankings, and in the Times World University Rankings Arts and Humanities at the University of Huddersfield is ranked in the top 300. Huddersfield was ranked 5th for Music in the recent 2021 Research Excellence Framework results ranking UK Higher Education Research, one of only four departments to achieve a world-leading 4* ranking for its research environment.


A number of staff of the University have popular music as their primary area of research expertise, including Prof. Rupert Till (electronic dance music cultures, composition and songwriting, stardom and celebrity, music and spirituality), Dr Graham St. John (electronic dance music cultures, transformational events, cultural studies, ethnography), Dr Jan Herbst (metal, music production, analysis), Dr Rosemary Hill (gender, sexuality, metal), and Dr Nicolas Bougaïeff (techno, electronic dance music, music production). Other staff have interests in areas of popular music study such as music and screen, experimental musical forms, ambient music, acoustics, and jazz.


Additional information:

To apply:

Closing date:  27th February (extended from the originally published date of 10 February).

Applications should be accompanied by a proposal outlining the project, samples of written work, examples of music practice or other material relevant to the scope of the scholarship. Please indicate clearly on the online application form that you are applying for the Nitin Sawhney Scholarship in Popular Music.



Prof. Rupert Till (Professor of Music);

Dr Steven Jan (Music and Music Technology Research Coordinator);