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Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)

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The Doctor of Musical Arts is a three-year full-time programme in Music with three areas of specialisation: Performance, Composition or Studio Production. The DMA offers creative musicians the opportunity to develop their skills to the highest artistic and professional levels, while working within the innovative and stimulating environment of Otago's Music Department.

Attaining a DMA will demonstrate your mastery in a creative field of music perfomance, composition or studio production. The DMA signals to the professional and creative musical world that you are capable of independently conceiving and presenting high quality musical creative outputs in your area of specialisation.

Regulations for the Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)

Overview of the Degree

The Doctor of Musical Arts is a research-based doctorate in music performance, composition, music production, or a combination of these areas. The DMA offers professional-level musicians with strong scholarly abilities the opportunity to deepen their knowledge and develop and refine their skills. The programme of supervised study leads to the production of a thesis comprising a portfolio of significant creative works (or bodies of work), and a research exegesis that situates the practitioner's creative work within its wider historical and theoretical field, including critical analysis of their methodology/creative process. The creative works and the exegesis must demonstrate an original and significant contribution to the field/s of knowledge related to the candidate's specialisation/s.

  1. Admission

    1. Admission to the degree programme shall be subject to the approval of the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Humanities).         Note: All applicants must provide evidence of their creative abilities at the proposal stage of their application.
    2. Every candidate must be a university graduate and produce evidence of ability to undertake study in the proposed area. Such evidence shall include:        
      1. a Bachelor's degree with first or upper second class Honours or equivalent; or
      2. a Master's degree (including an appropriate research component); or
      3. appropriate experience in the proposed area of study.
    3. A candidate for a Master of Music degree may apply to transfer to candidature for the degree of Doctor of Musical Arts, and may have the date of admission backdated as is considered appropriate.
    4. Initial admission to the degree programme shall normally be provisional, and shall be confirmed on receipt of a satisfactory progress report after no less than six months and no more than 12 months of full- or part-time study.
    5. If admission to the degree programme is not confirmed, then either provisional admission may be extended for one period of up to six months or the candidate shall be required to withdraw or to enrol for another degree. If admission is not confirmed after a period of extension, the candidate shall be required to withdraw or to enrol for another degree.         Note: A person wishing to undertake the programme in Performance is required to sit an audition before admission into the programme.

  2. Full-time and Part-time Study

    1. A candidate may apply for admission on a full-time or part-time basis, but may, with approval, change that status at the start of any academic year.
    2. Holders of Divisional Teaching Assistantships shall be deemed to be full-time candidates, and Assistant Research Fellows may also be so deemed.


    1. A full-time candidate shall count as 1 Equivalent Full-time Student (EFTS) per annum (also see Note (iii) below).
    2. A part-time candidate shall count as 0.5 EFTS per annum.
    3. The University expects that full-time candidates will devote the majority of their working time to their studies.

  3. Additional Papers

    In certain cases a candidate may be required or allowed to take one or more prescribed papers in addition to the programme. No candidate may take any other paper or course additional to the programme without first obtaining the approval of the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Humanities), who must be satisfied that taking any such paper or course will not materially delay the completion of the candidate's research.

  4. Duration of the Programme

    1. A candidate shall pursue a programme of study and research under supervision for a period normally equivalent to 3 full-time years.
    2. The minimum period of study shall be equivalent to 2.5 full-time years and the maximum period shall be equivalent to 4 full-time years. Exceptions shall be permitted only with approval of the Senate.
    3. A candidate shall be enrolled continuously for the entire period of the candidacy, except that a candidate may apply to the Senate for permission to withdraw temporarily from study.
    4. Candidates are normally expected to be resident and studying in New Zealand while enrolled for the degree.  Exceptions shall be permitted only with approval of the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Humanities).

  5. Supervisors

    1. The Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Humanities) shall, on the recommendation of the Head of the School of Performing Arts, appoint at least two supervisors, or one supervisor supported by a school advisory panel, to oversee the work of the candidate.
    2. One of the supervisors must be an appropriately qualified member of the academic staff of the University.
    3. In the case of a dispute between a candidate and a supervisor, the Pro-Voce-Chancellor (Humanities) shall have discretion to replace that supervisor.

  6. Progress Reports

    1. While a candidate is provisionally admitted to the degree programme, progress reports signed by the candidate, supervisors, Head of the School of Performing Arts and Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Humanities) shall be submitted to a Senior Administrator in Student Experience  at six-monthly intervals from the date of initial admission.
    2. Once confirmation has been granted, progress reports signed by the candidate, supervisors and the Head of the School of Performing Arts shall be submitted annually.
    3. If an unsatisfactory report is received, the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Humanities) may, after appropriate consultation, terminate the candidacy.

  7. Structure of the Programme

    1. The degree shall be awarded in Composition, Music Production, Performance or a combination of these areas
    2. The degree requires the submission of a thesis comprising a substantial portfolio of creative work, as well as a written exegesis (see regulation 8 below).
    3. The nature of the proposed portfolio shall be approved by the School's Postgraduate Committee before admission, and is subject to the approval of the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Humanities) on the recommendation of the Head of the School of Performing Arts.
    4. It is expected that the portfolio shall represent a significant body of work in the chosen discipline(s). For the purposes of providing a general indication, a significant body of work would comprise:        
      1. In Performance: four recitals of at least 50 minutes duration, in which the candidate is the featured performer.
      2. In Composition: a substantial portfolio of significant works, as approved by the School's Postgraduate Committee.
      3. In Music Production (where the candidate is producing, but not making a major contribution to composition or performance): three to four full length albums, or an equivalent body of work.
      4. In a multi-disciplinary portfolio, or a portfolio involving collaborations with other practitioners, it is expected that the length of the works be adjusted, and agreed upon by the candidate, supervisors, and the School's Postgraduate Committee prior to the commencement of study.
    5. The final presentation of any portfolio involving musical performance must normally take place in person in a public setting.
    6. Candidates specialising in composition alone must present works or bodies of work in notated score form. The compositional works or bodies of work must also be presented in an audible format (this may be generated using notation software or take the form of an audio recording).
    7. Candidates specialising in performance alone must normally present their work live in a public setting. Performances shall be assessed in the following manner:        
      1. A delegate from the School of Performing Arts (usually the internal examiner, or another person nominated by the Post-Graduate Committee in the School of Performing Arts) shall attend each performance to verify the fidelity and archiving of audio-visual recordings.
      2. For every performance except the final one, external and external (international) examiners shall be provided with unadulterated live recordings of the performance.
      3. The final performance, which shall take place near the end of the candidature, shall be attended in person by all examiners.
    8. Candidates presenting work via a recording must fully acknowledge the contributions of any other creative specialists involved in the work and shall be examined only on their own creative contribution.
    9. Candidates should aim to complete at least one significant work, body of work, or case study per year of fulltime study (or part-time equivalent). In the case of performances, these should be recorded, and will be kept on file by school administration.
    10. The candidate shall not present a portfolio or part of a portfolio that has previously been accepted for another degree.

  8. The Exegesis

    1. The length of the exegesis may vary from approximately 30,000 to 40,000 words (excluding appendices, footnotes and bibliography). The thesis will situate the creative work within its relevant historical and theoretical context, and include critical analysis of the creative practitioner's methodology/creative process.
    2. The exegesis must be of a standard worthy of publication in a peer-reviewed academic journal.
    3. A candidate may not present a exegesis which has previously been accepted for another degree.
    4. If the exegesis is not at an acceptable standard, the degree shall not be awarded, regardless of any result attained for the portfolio of creative work.

  9. Examination

    1. The Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Humanities) shall appoint three examiners on the recommendation of the Head of the School of Performing Arts in consultation with the supervisors: one examiner shall be from outside New Zealand, one shall be from within New Zealand but external to the University, and one shall be internal to the University.             Note: Normal patterns for examiners may be varied in exceptional circumstances.
    2. A supervisor shall not be an examiner.
    3. The entire examination shall be supervised by an independent Convener appointed by the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Humanities).
    4. The primary supervisor shall make a report on the work of the candidate which may be released to the Convener of the examiners.
    5. For the final examination, a portfolio consisting of all the creative work (which should include recordings of any and all live performances, live work(s), score(s)) and an exegesis shall be presented to examiners.
    6. An oral examination on the topic of the portfolio or performances or studio productions and on the general field to which the topic belongs is required.
    7. The exegesis and portfolio materials shall be submitted for examination in accordance with current university policies: where possible, digital formats are preferred. In the case of performances to be examined via archived audio-visual recordings, these shall be supplied by School of Performing Arts as part of the examination process.
    8. The exegesis must be submitted no more than two months after the final presentation of creative work.
    9. Each examiner shall supply a written report on each presentation of a candidate's creative work as well as the exegesis together with a recommendation for an examination result.
    10. There shall be an oral examination as part of the final examination.
    11. The oral examination shall be conducted by at least two examiners, one of whom must be external to the University.
    12. At the discretion and invitation of the Convener, the supervisors and the Head of the School of Performing Arts may contribute to the oral examination.
    13. After consultation with the examiners, the Convener may approve the attendance of others at the oral examination

  10. Examination Result

    1. The Convener of examiners shall report to the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Humanities) the recommendation of the examiners.
    2. The examiners may recommend that the portfolio and exegesis            
      1. be accepted, or be accepted with minor corrections, and the degree be awarded;
      2. be accepted and the degree be awarded after amendments have been made to the satisfaction of the Convener of examiners in consultation with the internal examiner;
      3. be revised and resubmitted for examination;
      4. be rejected and referred to the appropriate authority within the University for consideration of the award of another degree;
      5. be rejected with no right of resubmission.
    3. Where the examiners cannot agree on a result, the Convener shall so report, and the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Humanities) shall arrive at a decision after consulting a referee from outside the University.
    4. A candidate shall be permitted to revise and resubmit material for examination once only.
    Note: Once the final result has been decided, the student shall submit two hardbound copies of the exegesis and portfolio (the Department will record all performances for examination and archival purposes). The cost of these hardbound copies will be met by the University provided that the exegesis is submitted within four years of first enrolling for full-time study for the degree.

  11. Variations

    Notwithstanding anything in these regulations, the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Humanities) shall have discretion to vary any provision set down if, in its opinion, special or unusual circumstances warrant such variation.

This information must be read subject to the statement on our Copyright & Disclaimer page.

Regulations on this page are taken from the 2024 Calendar and supplementary material.

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