Doctoral Project

The doctoral project consists of a lecture-recital and a paper. The artistic research may involve the study of scores, works, and contextual influences through the analysis of performance itself and the creation of new works. The core subject matter is developed as you work through your comprehensive examination process.


Key Dates (you will be charged $100 if you submit your proposal after the deadline)

Graduation date

Project proposal


Paper Submission

Final Paper with revisions

Spring (May, June)

By October 15


8 weeks later

May 1

Fall (October, November)

By January 15 or
February 15


8 weeks later

August 15

Winter (no convocation)

By April 15

Late September to early October

8 weeks later

December 15

  • One month before your project proposal is due: Submit a complete draft to your research department supervisor and your teacher for review, then to the whole committee.
  • Submit your project proposal to Graduate Studies by October 15 for Spring graduation; January 15 or February 15 for Fall graduation;  April 15th for Winter graduation. They will circulate it to the Graduate Performance Sub-Committee and Faculty Council for approval.
  • At least three weeks before lecture-recital: Submit your lecture-recital draft (text and handout materials) to the Music Research supervisor and your teacher for review.
  • Two weeks before lecture-recital: Submit your lecture-recital draft to your Advisory Committee, if not already done.
  • 5 weeks after lecture-recital: Submit draft of your paper to Research supervisor/teacher and Associate Dean of Graduate Studies (Chair of Committee) for preliminary feedback.
  • 8 weeks after lecture-recital: Email your paper in PDF form to [at] (Graduate Studies) for committee review and comments. Committee review will take about two weeks, after which you will make paper revisions as indicated.
  • Submit the final version of your paper, including revisions proposed by the committee, by May 1 for Spring graduation; August 15 for Fall graduation; December 15 for Winter graduation. Print waiver and library copyright documents required for submission of research theses and complete.   Scan and attach to the final PDF. Indicate the number of your ethics approval document (if applicable), in your abstract.

Evaluation Criteria

The doctoral project is evaluated according to the following criteria:

  • Clarity of expression and the development of ideas;
  • Grasp of subject matter, awareness of previous work in the field, and critical thinking;
  • Contribution of research and its implications for performance practice;
  • Artistic quality and expression of musical performance.

A passing grade is dependent on the submission of the final written paper, which incorporates revisions based on committee recommendations.

Evaluation Committee

The doctoral project evaluation committee is normally the advisory committee set up during your first semester in the program.

Project Proposal

The project proposal includes:

  • A copy of the complete concert program and technical set-up requirements
  • A cover sheet signed by the Music Research supervisor and teacher: PDF icon dmuslecturerecitalapplicationform_1516.pdf
  • A two-page project description (see below for guidelines)
  • A bibliography
  • Ethics documentation if human subjects are involved in your research
  • A chapter outline is recommended

Project Description Tips

An effective project description (2 pages) builds a clear vision of the artistic, historical or analytical framework guiding the work by:

  • Citing sources, peformance practices and other artistic/scientific initiatives that have inspired the project;
  • Identifying a gap that your work will fill; and
  • Explicating the methodological choices, musical repertoire, scores, performers, composers, archives, historical instruments, rehearsal or creative strategies, and/or scholarly and analytical approaches that will be used.

It has two parts:

The introduction has a clear and concise title and opening impact that situates your topic. It concisely states what you will do (goals and objectives); how you will do it (methodology); why it is worth doing (originality, value, benefits), particularly as it informs performance practice.

The body points to the outcomes of your project by briefly describing what each work on the recital contributes or will illustrate about your topic. Use the organization of the recital to develop a “narrative” or  argument that builds logically and musically across the course of the recital to arrive at various conclusions or implications about or for artistic practice.


The lecture-recital includes 35 minutes of music followed by a 35-minute presentation defending your ideas and artistic/scientific approaches. Afterwards, there is a short question/answer period with committee members and then the audience.

The format is flexible, but there should be a handout or overheads or power point presentation (as at an academic paper). Indicate your name, title and date of the lecture-recital on handouts. Identify musical examples or quotations with captions indicating source and page or measure numbers.

Tip: Attend the doctoral colloquium regularly to learn about different delivery styles.


The paper is typically 50 pages plus bibliography and appendices. It should not exceed 100 pages. The paper should include:

  1. ​A title page (the title of the thesis; the name of the author and department followed by "McGill University, Montreal"; the month and year the paper was submitted; the following statement "A paper submitted to McGill University in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of D.Mus. Performance Studies"; the universal copyright notice followed by the author's name and the year the paper was submitted);
  2. A detailed table of contents;
  3. a brief abstract in English and French;
  4. an introduction that clearly states the rationale, objectives and originality of the research;
  5. chapters presenting different aspects of the topic as appropriate;
  6. a final conclusion and summary;
  7. a bibliography or reference list;
  8. recording of the lecture-recital performance if possible.

Final copy:

Ethics approval: If ethics approval is required for your research, note the ethics approval number and title in the paper abstract. Keep the original document and ensure that your supervisor also keeps a copy on file.