Music, Performing Arts and Visual Arts

6 minute read

people in black outfits doing performative dance on a wood floor dance studio

As a graduate researcher, you’ll be part of a thriving creative community in the heart of the Melbourne Arts Precinct.

The Faculty of Fine Arts and Music has an active and vibrant research culture. This culture combines an exploratory and experimental approach to enquiry. It draws upon both traditional and practice-led modes of research in the pursuit of excellence and innovation. Interdisciplinary collaboration is a key feature of our work. The process of colliding traditional and emerging ideas, perspectives, knowledges and methods creates an environment of intellectual opportunity. It also informs and infuses our approach to teaching and learning.

In 1978 Professor Denise Grocke initiated music therapy as a discipline in Australia. In  2016, we launched Australia’s first research unit for the application of creative arts and music therapies across the healthcare spectrum.

Also in 2016, we established Australia's only dedicated research unit for Indigenous arts and culture: the Research Unit for Indigenous Arts and Cultures (RUIAC). RUIAC aims to support and grow Indigenous research and researchers in the arts.  As a faculty, we continue to grow Indigenous representation among students, researchers and academic staff.

The Faculty of Fine Arts and Music encompasses Australia’s oldest and most prestigious music institution  the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music (MCM). This organisation includes the largest community of music students and academics in Australia. The faculty is also home to the Victorian College of the Arts (VCA). If you choose to do your research with the VCA, you’ll join a community of practicing artists and writers, designers, performers and more.

The faculty also hosts the Wilin Centre for Indigenous Arts and Cultural Development. This centre connects Indigenous artists with a career in visual and performing arts. This means that the wider community can learn through longstanding traditions of Indigenous culture.

Be part of a vibrant arts community

Most arts and music research is based at our Southbank campus, which sits in the heart of the Melbourne Arts Precinct.

This area of Melbourne includes the most visited art gallery and busiest performing arts centre in Australia. And it has one of the highest concentrations of arts and cultural organisations in the world.

From this location you can easily participate in the artistic life of Melbourne. You’ll be close to many exhibitions, performances, masterclasses and other significant events in Melbourne's cultural calendar.

Our campus buildings and spaces support our teaching, learning and research activities. We have the latest technologies and infrastructure to support your discovery process. Facilities include the VCA print workshop, production design studios and professional film and television studios.

Since 2018, we’ve invested in several major re-developments at our Southbank campus to create a world-class experience for our community:

The University’s Parkville campus is home to Melba Hall. With 340 seats, this is the scene of many music recitals and performances.

Find out more about our campus experience.

A new home for the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music

The new Ian Potter Southbank Centre is both architecturally beautiful and highly functional. Discover what it's like to learn and perform in this impressive purpose-built space.

The design of the Ian Potter Southbank Centre

Learn how we’re making a difference

We are currently leading a three-year study into the use of music therapy for people with dementia the first of its kind in the world. This project secured over $A1 million in funding from Australia's National Health and Medical Research Council.

This research has already demonstrated fascinating insights. This includes music’s ability to facilitate learning, even in people with declining cognitive function.

We’ve created an app to help dance therapists assess their clients’ progress. This means that dance therapists can more easily demonstrate the benefit of their work. And this potentially leads to increased access to music therapy.

Technology has also been used for visual arts research, to explore themes of death and transience of life. This project used immersive audio, paintings, text messages and apps to convey the inevitability of death. And to remind us that in our busy and cluttered lives, the inanimate collections we amass will outlive us.

We’ve undertaken research into the mechanism of musical mastery. It showed that motivation and the quality of music practice are powerful predictors of performance. This finding can help musicians to practice more effectively.

This is only a snapshot of the faculty's research. We’re continuing to push the boundaries of fine arts and music inquiry, on a global scale.

#UniResearchChangesLives - Supporting people with dementia

Using music therapy to help people with dementia

By 2050, there will be almost 900,000 Australians living with dementia. Memory loss and communication difficulties are common symptoms associated with dementia.

Music is connected with memories and emotion. It can be used to activate the brain's pleasure centre. Learn how research into music therapy could lead to more cost effective treatments for dementia.

Explore research themes

The Faculty of Fine Arts and Music has several multidisciplinary research centres and units exploring different research themes.

As a graduate researcher, you can pursue research across all our discipline areas, including:

  • acting and theatre
  • composition (music)
  • creative arts and music therapy
  • dance
  • design and production
  • ethnomusicology and musicology
  • film & TV
  • Indigenous arts and culture
  • music performance
  • music psychology
  • performance teaching
  • social practice and community engagement
  • visual art
  • writing.

Music research

Music research takes place at the MCM, Australia’s premier music research institution. It attracts more competitive research funding for music studies than other universities, particularly from the Australian Research Council (ARC).

Musical legacies and futures

  • musicology
  • ethnomusicology
  • performance
  • composition

Music creation and performance

  • performance
  • composition
  • music psychology and performance science

Music health and wellbeing

  • music therapy
  • music psychology and performance science
  • music education

Next steps

Related items

Two women standing facing a colourful street mural

Creativity and Wellbeing

The Creativity and Wellbeing Hallmark Research Initiative is uncovering ways that creativity can help people live happier and healthier lives.

Grainger Museum - One of Melbourne's most fascinating museums, a unique site devoted to creativity.

Grainger Museum

Experience the art, photographs, costumes and musical scores of Australian music icon, Percy Grainger.