The 3rd cycle working group

3rd cycle studies in the Bologna Declaration terminology are studies that follow the 2nd (Master) cycle study in higher education in the framework of a 1st (Bachelor) and 2nd (Master) cycle system. They are also referred to as ‘doctoral’ or ‘PhD’ studies, but to avoid confusion or exclusion of certain types of study, the term ‘3rd cycle’ was used in this project. Until recently, these studies were typically offered exclusively at universities and associated with scientific research. It is a challenge for music institutions to offer musicians, in addition to instrumental training and practice, a reflective environment as well that nourishes innovation and creativity paired with the extension of knowledge and artistic understanding. It becomes equally interesting when attempts are made to bridge the gap between theoretical research and instrumental practice. Various questions that arise around a 3rd cycle in higher music education were studied by the 3rd cycle working group.


  • To provide an overview of trends, types of courses and developments at the 3rd study cycle in music in Europe.
  • To develop learning outcomes for the 3rd cycle and to study the connection of these outcomes to the learning outcomes of the 1st and a 2nd study cycle.
  • To study the relevance of a 3rd cycle in music for the profession and the job market.
  • To establish a mechanism for the exchange of 3rd cycle research results at European level.
  • To develop helpful tools for music institutions wishing to establish a 3rd cycle.


  • A description of the current status of and the latest trends/developments in relation to 3rd cycle studies in music in European institutions for professional music training
  • Learning outcomes for the 3rd cycle
  • A study on the relevance of a 3rd cycle in music for the profession market
  • Tools for music institutions wishing to establish a 3rd cycle
  • Suggestions on the use of learning outcomes in 3rd cycle studies

The outcomes are incorporated in the Guide to Third Cycle Studies in Higher Music Education which was developed by the the 3rd cycle working group.


  • Peter Dejans (Co-chair – Orpheus Instituut Gent)
  • Darla Crispin (Co-chair – Royal College of Music, London)
  • Valentina Dediu-Sandu (Universitatea Nationala de Muzica Bucuresti)
  • Hubert Eiholzer (Conservatorio della Svizzera Italiana, Lugano)
  • Harald Jørgensen (Norwegian Academy of Music, Oslo)
  • Lola Schirgi (University of Music and Dramatic Arts Graz)
  • Michael Uhde (Staatliche Hochschule für Musik, Karlsruhe)

To read and download documents related to this working group, please go to the project material section.

3rd cycle music studies in Europe


In some European countries 3rd cycle studies are already well established, in others they are a rather young discipline or not existing at all. The 3rd cycle working group is gathering information about the existence of 3rd cycle studies in professional music training and will present the results of its research in country overviews. The information is researched with the help of questionnaires and site visits. Site visits are leading the working group members to Polifonia partner institutions. The exact destinations can be found here. During their visits the working group members try to learn as much as possible about the situation of 3rd cycles in professional music training in the visited country. Meetings with decision makers, teachers and students of the visited institutions assist the working group member with collecting the desired information and give a general impression of the overall attitude towards the topic. Special attention is given to geographically balanced venues for the site visits. This, together with the available national expertise of working group members, enables the pre-college working group to collect information covering all Europe.
A first questionnaire has been developed to locate existing 3rd cycles in Europe. It has been sent to all Polifonia partners and AEC member institutions in June and August 2005.
A second questionnaire explored the existing 3rd cycles in more depth by asking for organisational, funding, institutional and other details. It has been sent to those institutions that answered positively on the existence of a 3rd cycle study in music in the first questionnaire. The second questionnaire was sent in December 2005 and January 2006.