Melbourne Conservatorium of Music

Conservatorium Director’s Awards for Exceptional Doctoral Research

The Melbourne Conservatorium Director’s Awards for Exceptional Doctoral Research are granted twice per year on a competitive basis to support outstanding Conservatorium PhD students to produce high quality research outputs closely following submission of the PhD thesis or portfolio for examination.

Applicants submit a proposal to extend their PhD research project with additional outputs in the public domain. A competitive proposal will typically involve two or three significant and distinct outputs. These may include an application for a major peer-reviewed external grant (e.g. Early Career Researcher or ARC DECRA awards), or a proposal to publish a monograph, but the proposed output(s) must include at least one traditional research publication such as a peer-reviewed journal article or book chapter, or at least one non-traditional creative research output (NTRO) such as new original work(s) or a performance or recording project. The proposed work plan should commence as soon as possible after submission of the thesis, and should require approximately three or four months to complete. A longer work plan may be proposed when grant deadlines or performance opportunities lie beyond the four-month span. All proposed outputs must be submitted to established external platforms that involve peer review or its equivalent.

The maximum amount of the award is $7,500. The amount awarded will depend on the scope of the proposed project and research outputs. The award is paid as a stipend to support living expenses. The award comes into effect upon commencement of the project (and following submission of the thesis or portfolio for examination).

A maximum of two proposals will be funded in each round. The number of awards and the award amount is contingent on available funds, as part of the Conservatorium’s annual budget allocation.


The eligibility period is closely connected to the submission of the PhD thesis for examination. Melbourne Conservatorium of Music PhD candidates are eligible to apply for the award as soon as they have registered an ‘Intention to submit’ the PhD thesis for examination (two months prior to submission). Eligibility extends no later than six months after submission for examination.

Application Deadline

There will be two application rounds per year, with deadlines 10 March and 10 September at 5pm.

Submit applications as a single PDF to the Fine Arts and Music Research Office with ‘Conservatorium Director's Award’ in the subject line.

Selection Criteria

Awards are awarded on a competitive basis on the following criteria:

  • Potential quality, impact, and dissemination as appropriate to the discipline, of the proposed research output(s)
  • Potential benefits for professional development and community engagement
  • Prospects for successful research funding (e.g. Early Career Researcher or ARC DECRA grants)
  • Capacity of the project to advance the diversity and equity of Conservatorium research outputs, in terms of research topics, research methodologies, and under-represented researcher identities.

Selection Committee and Selection Process

The Conservatorium Director shall convene a selection committee of Conservatorium academic staff members to consider applications and select recipients. The committee will consist of at least three members:

  • The Conservatorium Director
  • The Conservatorium Associate Director (Research & Research Training)
  • At least one additional senior Conservatorium academic such that the committee includes diverse research perspectives

Selection committee members must declare and manage any potential conflicts of interest, and will only be permitted to vote if they have not been the PhD supervisor for any applicant. To ensure a total of three voting members, additional committee members will be asked to join the committee in the event of conflict of interest involving the Director or Associate Director (who will then participate as non-voting committee members).

Shortlisted candidates may be required to interview with the committee.


Award Recipients will receive six hours of mentorship from a nominated continuing staff member from within the Conservatorium.

Recipients must acknowledge the support of the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music in all research outputs produced from the award.

Recipients should ensure that these award-related outputs are entered into the University depository, currently Minerva.

Unless exceptional circumstances apply, the award will be forfeited if the thesis is not submitted within four months of the indicated submission date. In such cases, re-application in a subsequent round may be considered.

Timing of payments

The award will be paid in two instalments: Two thirds upon commencement of the project following submission of the thesis, and the remaining third upon proof that all the proposed research outputs have been submitted for review. The award lapses after two years.


Research Output: In the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music a research output can include Traditional Research Outputs and Practice-Based Research Outputs.These encompass, but are not limited to:

  • an article in an academic journal, preparation of/proposal to publisher for a monograph
  • a chapter in a scholarly book
  • a conference paper with publication in peer-reviewed proceedings
  • a music composition published and/or recorded
  • a performance presented and/or recorded in a venue/at an event/through a performance publication platform of prestigious calibre and/or high-impact significance/wide dissemination.

Thesis: At the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, a thesis refers to a submission for the award of a PhD, and may consist of creative/practice-led works in addition to a dissertation and/or exegesis.

It is suggested that in the final 3 months of candidature, the PhD candidate and supervisor discuss the post-submission period, with a view to devising a suitable project for the Award.

You can download the application form here