Music, Performing Arts and Visual Arts

The Faculty of Fine Arts and Music has an active and vibrant research culture that combines an exploratory and experimental approach to enquiry. It draws upon both traditional and practice-led research in the pursuit of excellence and innovation.

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.

We encompass Australia’s oldest and most prestigious music institution, the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music (MCM), which 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, and performers among others.

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

Explore our research

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 and TV
  • Indigenous arts and culture
  • Music performance
  • Music psychology
  • Music theatre
  • Performance teaching
  • Social practice and community engagement
  • Visual art
  • Writing

Research centres and institutes

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

The Faculty also hosts the Wilin Centre for Indigenous Arts and Cultural Development which 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.

Learn how we're making a difference

We are currently in the final stages of collecting data for our HOMESIDE randomised controlled trial, which is being delivered in five countries and includes 432 people with dementia and their family carers.

In this study, we train family carers to use music intentionally to support care and manage symptoms of their loved one living with dementia. Recently, the research team was funded $AU2 million from the Medical Research Future Fund, to build on the work of the HOMESIDE study and develop a Music eHealth Application called MATCH – Music Attuned Technology: Care via eHealth.

MATCH uses wearable sensor technology, AI and machine-learning to detect and interpret levels of agitation in people living with dementia. If agitation is detected, our intuitive and closed loop physiological feedback system selects music to MATCH levels of agitation and, in real time, adapts music to regulate and reduce agitation.

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 all.

COVID-19 and its attendant lockdown restrictions have influenced some of our more recent research activities.

These include:

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.

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 which 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.

Work in a stimulating environment

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. It also has one of the highest concentrations of arts and cultural organisations in the world.

From here, 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. You’ll access 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 also home to Melba Hall. With 340 seats, this is home to many music recitals and performances.

Find out more about our campus experience.

A home for the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music

The 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.

Next steps