Contact Details

Black and white photo of Jacob Downs


I am Departmental Lecturer in Music and Chair of Faculty in the Faculty of Music, as well as Organising Tutor in Music at Lady Margaret Hall.

I passed my PhD viva at the University of Sheffield in 2021 with no corrections, having received full funding from the AHRC via WRoCAH. Prior to my doctoral studies, I received my MSt with distinction from St John’s College, Oxford, in 2016, funded by the Ertegun Scholarship Programme; and I graduated with a first-class BA from Christ Church, Oxford, in 2015.

Prior to returning to Oxford in 2023, I was Research Associate at the University of Sheffield on two projects under Nicola Dibben (UKRI/Research England, 2023). Before that, I was briefly Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Cyprus (European Research Council, 2022), as well as providing research assistance for Carolyn Birdsall at the University of Amsterdam (Dutch Research Council, 2021).

Beyond my academic work, I am also an established musician, arranger, and scoring consultant, working mainly at the intersection of classical, popular, and electroacoustic music.

Research Interests

My research explores listeners’ and musicians’ experiences with music and sound technologies. I combine qualitative empirical methods with historical research and theoretical approaches drawn from the fields of sound studies, phenomenological philosophy, and music psychology.

My research interests include: sound, music, and listening in the 20th and 21st centuries; critical phenomenologies of perception, embodiment, and space; popular music, music technology, and mediation; voice, affect, sociality, and intimacy; environmental humanities and psychology; and sensory studies of incarceration, violence, and torture.

I am currently Co-Investigator on the UKRI HEIF-funded project ‘Influencing Environmental Values through Music (MusEnv)’, based at the University of Sheffield.


I lecture and give tutorials on various topics within contemporary music and sound studies. In 2023/24, my lecture courses include: FHS List A Musical Thought and Scholarship (with Jason Stanyek), FHS List B Dissertation, the new FHS List C Mediating Intimacy: Space and Intersubjectivity in Recorded Music and Sound, Prelims Paper 1 Foundations in the Study of Music (with Samantha Dieckmann), and Prelims Paper 5b Extended Essay. I also run the MSt Core Seminar course in Aesthetics (with Laura Tunbridge), as well as convening the MSt Presentation Seminar.

I am happy to supervise undergraduate and graduate students on subjects adjacent to my research and teaching expertise.

Selected Publications