Francis Knights holds degrees from the universities of London, Oxford and Cambridge, and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. He has held positions at the Royal Northern College of Music, Green College, Oxford, Somerville College, Oxford, the BBC, the British Library and King's College, London, is a former Cambridge University Proctor, and been editor of four music journals. He is Acting Director of Music, Darwin College, Chairman of the National Early Music Association and Editor of Harpsichord & Fortepiano.

As an independent researcher, Francis is the author of some 80 publications, including articles, books, chapters and editions, as well as several hundred reviews, editorials and reports, totalling about 4,000 pages of work. His subjects include manuscript studies, performance practice, music analysis, pedagogy, virginal music, early keyboard instruments and church music.

Over the years he has founded and directed many vocal and instrumental ensembles, including Gradualia, the Cambridge Renaissance Ensemble, Bach Collegium Oxford and the Erasmus Chamber Choir, and has also been conductor of Voces Angelicae, Somerville College Chapel Choir and the Renaissance Choir, among others. Francis is also a very active keyboard recitalist and continuo player, and has undertaken major Bach and Tudor keyboard projects in recent years.