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Ph.D. candidate (m/f/d) for the Department of Music


The Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, investigates the attentional, cognitive, and affective mechanisms of aesthetic perception and evaluation.

The Department of Music is currently accepting applications for a

PhD position

that will involve collaborating with the performance research unit within the music department, led by Melanie Wald-Fuhrmann and Julia Merrill. The successful candidate will be responsible for completing a dissertation in the field of empirical concert studies. The research will entail conducting experiments and analyzing various types of data, including video recordings of audience behavior, psychophysiological responses (such as heart rate and galvanic skin response), and self-reports (e.g., questionnaires, interviews). Specific aspects of the dissertation will be linked to the ERC S+T+Arts project “ReSilence: Retuning the soundscape of future cities,” with a focus on the sub-project titled “Musical experience design.

In the Department of Music, music historians, music theorists, and ethnomusicologists work and research hand in hand with psychologists, sociologists, and neuroscientists in order to jointly develop a transdisciplinary aesthetics of music in which all relevant approaches and methods are productively intertwined. The intention is to gain a better understanding of the specific field of experience and practice that humans have created for themselves with music and how they make use of it. For more information about the department, please visit our website.

Applicants for this position should have a Master’s degree in psychology, (systematic) musicology, computer science, or a related field, along with basic skills in experimental design and statistics. Knowledge of, or familiarity with, music theory and musicology, or a strong personal interest in these subjects is essential. A high level of motivation to work in an interdisciplinary team is required, collaborating with professionals from various fields such as musicology, psychology, philosophy, anthropology, and neuroscience. The ideal candidate should possess a strong collaborative attitude while also demonstrating the ability to work independently. Proficiency in both oral and written English is a key requirement for this role.

The research will be conducted at MPI for Empirical Aesthetics in Frankfurt am Main with access to laboratories for behavioral and physiological experiments. The facilities are supported by experienced IT and physicist staff. The institute is a highly interdisciplinary and international scientific environment, with English and German being the languages spoken in the laboratory. It is located in an attractive location with excellent infrastructure in Frankfurt’s Westend. You can expect a modern workplace with a pleasant and inspiring working atmosphere.

The position will start as soon as possible after April 1, 2024 for a fixed term of three years. The agreed working time is currently 39 hours per week. Payment is based on the Collective Wage Agreement for the Civil Service (TVöD Bund E13 65%) and is supplemented by an annual bonus. Please refer to mpg.de/doctoral students for further information.

Your application:

The Max Planck Society strives for gender equality and diversity. We are also committed to increasing the number of individuals with disabilities in our workforce. Therefore, applicants of all backgrounds are welcome.

Your application should include: your detailed CV; a cover letter that explains why the research and the pursuit of a doctoral degree interest you and how your skills and abilities are suited to both; copies of relevant degrees and/or certificates; a short (one-page) summary of your master’s thesis; and the names and contact information of two references who have previously agreed to be contacted.

Please send these materials, no later than February 25, 2023, via our application management system.


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