Melissa Kirby

Melissa Kirby


I am a postgraduate researcher working within the School of Music at the University of Leeds. My doctoral research explores the outcomes of participation in the Purple Patch Arts Lifelong Learning programme, a Yorkshire-based creative arts education programme for people with learning disabilities and/or autism. Utilising a Participatory Action Research approach and a range of creative arts-based methods, the project seeks to understand and capture the experiences of Purple Patch Arts participants, and to identify the outcomes of creative arts-based learning. I am co-supervised by Professor Karen Burland and Dr Freya Bailes and my research is funded by the Leeds Doctoral College. 

Research profile:

Research interests

My primary area of interest is music, the arts and disability. Specifically, I am interested in the impact of music and the arts in the everyday lives of people with disabilities. I am also  interested in inclusive research approaches that faciliate the active involvement of disabled people in all stages of research. 

Specific areas of research interest include:

  • Music, Creative Arts and Disability 

  • Musical Experiences of Disabled People

  • Inclusive Research Approaches

  • Participatory Action Research

  • Arts-based Methods

  • Functions of Music

  • Music and Wellbeing


  • MA Applied Psychology of Music
  • BA Music (Industrial)