Barchan was born in Middlesbrough. He studied composition with Richard Steinitz (founder of the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival) and Edwin Roxburgh, supported by the EMI Music Sound Foundation.
Amongst the organisations who have presented his music are Aldeburgh Music, BBC, LSO Discovery, Ostrava Days, Park Lane Group, Sounds New and Soundwaves Festivals at venues including Adrian Boult Hall, Carnegie Hall, CBSO Centre, Cineworld, Old Rep, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Royal Festival Hall, Snape Maltings and The Gate Arts Centre. Performances of his work have been given by Azalea Ensemble, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, David Purser (former principal trombone of the London Sinfonietta), Endymion, Jane Manning, Lior Eitan (principal piccolo of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra), London Sinfonietta, Peter Donohoe and Psappha New Music Ensemble.
In 2009 he was commissioned to write the score for the 2009 film A Closed Book (also known as Blind Man's Bluff and based on the short novel A Closed Book by Gilbert Adair) directed by Raoul Ruiz and starring Daryl Hannah, Tom Conti, Miriam Margoyles and Elaine Paige, first screened at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2009. In 2010 he was commissioned to write the score for the 2010 short film The Gap and in 2011 he was commissioned to write Changing Seasons for the ensemble Musitonik. In 2012 he was commissioned by Eye Music/Rawsthorn Fund to write In Wonderland. During January 2012 he was featured artist of the month on the Dutch radio programme Dissonant (broadcast by RTV-Arnhem) and in July 2012 he was a featured composer at the King's Lynn Festival with performances of his work given by the Contemporary Consort. In August 2012, he was a BBC After 2 guest and discussed his music with radio presenter John Foster in a live broadcast by BBC Tees. Since 2011, he has served as Chairman for the Composers Forum hosted by the London New Wind Festival. His music is published by UMP.
He has also worked as a freelance music editor for Boosey & Hawkes and as a music copyist for Anthony Payne, Boydell and Brewer, Faber Music, Joe Cutler, Richard Causton, Samuel French Ltd., Schott Music and Tempo music magazine. His transcription of Five Miniatures by Howard Skempton (a suite of miniatures originally written for solo accordion, transcribed for ensemble) is published by Oxford University Press.
- Violent Shallow Eyes (2005) SPNM shortlist 2006
- Dark Times Lie Ahead (2005/2007) first performed by Warehouse Ensemble at The Warehouse, London, UK in 2007
- Injured Love (2006) first performed by Birmingham Contemporary Music Group at CBSO Centre, Birmingham, UK in 2006
- Crying In The Distance (2006/2007) first performed by Lior Eitan at Felicja Blumental Music Center, Tel Aviv, Israel in 2008
- Spit It Out (2007) commissioned by Park Lane Group. First performed in the Park Lane Group Lunchtime Series in 2007 at St James's Church, Piccadilly, London, UK
- Beauty That Must Die (2007) commissioned by SPNM. First performed by Aruna Narayan (sarangi), Hanif Khan (tabla) and Endymion at Turner Sims Concert Hall, Southampton, UK in 2007
- Blasted To Bits (2008) commissioned by David Purser. First performed by David Purser (trombone) and Jonathan Green (live electronics) at Birmingham Conservatoire, Birmingham, UK in 2008
- Freedom Within Limits (2008) commissioned by SPNM. First performed by Tetsuumi Nagata (violin) at LSO St Lukes, London, UK in 2008
- Coming Into Focus (2009) First performed by Xenia Pestova (piano) at The Unitarian Church of Montreal, Montreal, Canada in 2009
- The Gap (2010) commissioned by Thursday Film Ltd. First screened at Cineworld Shaftesbury Avenue, London, UK in 2010
- Opened Up (2010) First performed by Gerry Cornelius (conductor) and ICP Ensemble at St. Gregory's Centre for Music, Canterbury, UK in 2010
- Two Songs About Spiders (2010/2011) First performed by Jane Manning (soprano) at Function Room, Royal Festival Hall, London, UK in 2011
- Changing Seasons (2011) commissioned by Musitonik. First performed by Musitonik at Red House Theater, Taipei, Taiwan in 2011
- Trapped Inside (2012) commissioned by Contemporary Consort. First performed by Contemporary Consort in the King's Lynn Festival at King's Lynn Town Hall, King's Lynn, Norfolk, UK in 2012
- Without Words (2012) tape piece, composed from vocal samples by ensemble Juice. First performed at Peter Pears Recital Room, Snape
- In Wonderland (2013) commissioned by Eye Music/Rawsthorn Fund
- Rising from the Depths (2015) commissioned by Scott Lygate
- "British Music Collection". Sound and Music. 24 June 2009. Retrieved 9 June 2015.
- "Sound and Music". Sound and Music. 24 June 2009. Retrieved 9 June 2015.
- "London Sinfonietta Collective". Londonsinfoniettacollective.blogspot.com. 3 June 2010. Retrieved 9 June 2015.
- "Waltmans International Music Services". Waltmans-artists.com. Retrieved 9 June 2015.
- Cale Short. "21st century classical: A playist of young modern composers". Theaviso.org. Retrieved 9 June 2015.
- "Park Lane Group Young Artists New Year Series 2008 – 4 Reviewed by: Ben Hogwood". Classicalsource.com. Retrieved 9 June 2015.
- "Biography". Retrieved 9 June 2015.
- "Endymion.org". Endymion.org. Retrieved 9 June 2015.
- "PiccoloHQ". PiccoloHQ. 23 January 2008. Retrieved 9 June 2015.
- "Edfilmfest". Retrieved 9 June 2015.
- "Eyeline Entertainment on ''A Closed Book''". Eyelineentertainment.com. Retrieved 9 June 2015.
- "Sound and Music INTO magazine". Issuu.com. 2 September 2010. Retrieved 9 June 2015.
- "Musitonik". Cchuang.artexmedia.net. Retrieved 9 June 2015.
- "RTV-Arnhem radio broadcast: Two Songs About Spiders".
- "King's Lynn Festival 2012".
- "Jonathan Musgrave – concerts".
- "London New Wind Festival concert history".
- "16th London New Wind Festival" (PDF).
- "Five Miniatures by Howard Skempton, transcribed by Stephen Barchan – published by Oxford University Press".
- "Short review of work". Jg1983.co.uk. 17 June 2008. Retrieved 9 June 2015.
- "Xenia Pestova 30-second Project". Xeniapestova.com. Retrieved 9 June 2015.
- "Recital Hall, Britten Pears School". Zoë Martlew. 9 October 2012. Retrieved 9 June 2015.
- "New ways of breathing". Zoë Martlew. 9 October 2012. Retrieved 9 June 2015.
- "Tom Coult". Tom Coult. 9 October 2012. Retrieved 9 June 2015.
- "Music Box". Tom Coult. 9 October 2012. Retrieved 9 June 2015.
- "Clapham Common Brochure" (PDF). Eye Music. 9 October 2012. Retrieved 9 June 2015.
- "Diary". Natalie Raybould. 9 October 2012. Retrieved 9 October 2012.
- "Alice". Natalie Raybould. 9 October 2012. Retrieved 9 June 2015.
- "The Sampler". Sound and Music. 9 October 2012. Retrieved 9 June 2015.