Music and English Literature (BA)

This joint honours degree programme enables you to combine the study of Music and English Literature

The School of Music and the School of English, Communication and Philosophy offer challenging programmes of modules in each subject.The flexibility of the programme allows you to specialise and develop your own interests, whilst acquiring a solid, broad-based education and developing transferable skills. 

English Literature at Cardiff University offers access to the whole span of English literature, from the Anglo-Saxon period to the twenty-first century. Nor is the curriculum restricted to the printed word: we are intrigued by the connections between literature and film, art, music, history, language, and popular culture, and our teaching reflects these interests. After a grounding in your first year, you are free to follow a traditional programme covering multiple periods and genres or to build a more distinctive mix of modules combining literary study with analysis of other cultural forms.

Home to the arts, Cardiff is a great location for the study of music in the UK. The city has a professional opera company, Welsh National Opera, and a professional symphony orchestra, the BBC National Orchestra of Wales. The School of Music enjoys a fruitful relationship with both organisations that allows, for instance, students to attend dress rehearsals and buy cut-price tickets for concerts. 

As a joint honours student, you will find that often there are complementary issues and perspectives as well as skills and that link subjects, be they critical analysis, historical contexts or recent research. You will spend a similar amount of time on each subject, benefiting from developing your music understanding and skills whilst studying the fascinating and challenging subject of English Literature.

Key facts

Entry pointSeptember 2016
Duration3 years
Typical places available
Typical applications received
Typical A level offerAAB (A in English Literature or Creative Writing, AB including Music, excluding General Studies). All joint honours applicants with Music are expected to have gained or shown evidence of working towards Grade 8 in one instrument or voice at the time of application. Consideration will be given to applicants who are not taking A-level Music but have Grade 8 Practical and Grade 8 Theory and are studying appropriate Humanities subjects at A-level.
Typical Welsh Baccalaureate offerWBQ core will be accepted in lieu of one A-level (at the grades specified above), excluding Music and English. Applicants are expected to have gained or shown evidence of working towards Grade 8 in one instrument, or voice, at the time of application.
Typical International Baccalaureate offer36 points, with 6 points each required from both English Literature and Music at higher level
Other qualificationsApplications from those offering alternative qualifications are welcome.

Detailed alternative entry requirements are available for this course.
QAA subject benchmark

Music, English

Admissions tutor(s)

Dr Keith Chapin, Course Administrator

Dr Keith Chapin, Admissions Tutor

Dr Megan Leitch, Admissions Tutor

Important Legal Information: The programme information currently being published in Course Finder is under review and may be subject to change. The final programme information is due to be published by May 2016 and will be the definitive programme outline which the University intends to offer. Applicants are advised to check the definitive programme information after the update, to ensure that the programme meets their needs.

Throughout your degree programme, you will split your time equally, choosing modules offered in Music and English Literature.

There are no compulsory modules in English Literature at Cardiff after year one. We give you choice – but we also give you the skills and knowledge to make informed decisions from a diverse range of options which includes Creative Writing.

Year one

You will take 60 credits in English Literature and 60 credits in Music.

Module titleModule codeCredits
Introduction to Poetry and the NovelSE213620 credits
Reading and IdentitySE213120 credits

Module titleModule codeCredits
Composition 1AMU110710 credits
Composition 1BMU120810 credits
Fundamental AcousticsMU121710 credits
Practical Musicianship IMU131410 credits
Elements of Tonal Music IMU112520 credits
Elements of Tonal Music IIMU122720 credits
Repertoire StudiesMU131720 credits
The Full WorksMU112710 credits
From Page To Stage: Dramaturgy in Musical TheatreMU123010 credits
Texts in Time 1500-1800SE213220 credits
Literature, Culture, PlaceSE213320 credits
Shakespeare and ChaucerSE213520 credits
Medieval Narrative and NationSE213720 credits

Year two

You will take 60 credits in English Literature and 60 credits in Music.

Module titleModule codeCredits
Harmonic Practice (1750-1900)MU211410 credits
Contrapuntal Practice (1750-1900)MU222410 credits
Composition IIMU232020 credits
Analysing 20th Century MusicMU215210 credits
Studio Techniques I : Midi and SynthesisersMU215310 credits
Studio Techniques I : Midi and SynthesisersMU226110 credits
Formal Functions in The Classical TraditionMU215720 credits
Practical Musicianship I IMU235520 credits
Creative Writing ISE241720 credits
Reading Old EnglishSE244120 credits
Shakespeare and Renaissance DramaSE244220 credits
Elizabethan ShakespeareSE244320 credits
Modernist FictionsSE244520 credits
Modern Welsh Writing in EnglishSE244820 credits
Twentieth-Century Crime FictionSE245520 credits
Introduction to Romantic PoetrySE245020 credits
Modernism and the CitySE246320 credits
Fiction of The Indian SubcontinentSE228320 credits
The Post-1945 American NovelSE256620 credits
Imaginary Journeys: More to HuxleySE245720 credits
Introduction to Visual CultureSE246120 credits
Topics in Musicology 2AMU216220 credits
The Business of Music IMU216410 credits
Jazz in the Modern WorldMU227320 credits
The Business of Music IIMU227220 credits
Topics in Musicology 2BMU227020 credits
ETHNOMUSICOLOGY II: Music in Cross-Cultural PerspectiveMU227120 credits
Contemporary Women's WritingSE244620 credits
History of EnglishSE139820 credits
African-American LiteratureSE245120 credits
Children's Literature: Form & FunctionSE244720 credits
Representing the VictoriansSE246620 credits
The Robin Hood TraditionSE236720 credits
Fictive Histories/Historical FictionsSE246720 credits
Gothic Fiction: The Romantic AgeSE246820 credits
Romanticism, Politics, AestheticsSE246920 credits
Social Politics and National Style: American Fiction and Form 1920-1940SE247020 credits
Ways of ReadingSE244920 credits
Literature and ScienceSE247120 credits
Dickens in Many MediaSE247220 credits
Music and Idea: from Enlightenment to RomanticismMU216610 credits
Reading Film SoundMU227410 credits

Year three

You will take 60 credits in English Literature and 60 credits in Music.

Module titleModule codeCredits
Practical Musicianship III (Ensemble)MU313710 credits
Case Studies in Performance PracticeMU315410 credits
FugueMU333020 credits
DissertationMU334030 credits
Case Studies in Performance PracticeMU315820 credits
Practical Musicianship IV (Performance)MU334420 credits
Project in Music AnalysisMU334330 credits
Studio Techniques II : Audio and Hard Disk RecordingMU316320 credits
Studio Techniques II: Audio and Hard Disk RecordingMU326720 credits
Composition IvMU334520 credits
20th Century Contrapuntal PracticeMU316410 credits
Project in EthnomusicologyMU334630 credits
The Birth of ModernismMU314910 credits
The Birth of ModernismMU316520 credits
Creative Writing III: Special TopicsSE237320 credits
HitchcockSE254420 credits
DissertationSE252420 credits
Nineteenth-Century Crime FictionSE239020 credits
Creative Writing II: Special TopicsSE237020 credits
Notation and Editing of Early MusicMU327320 credits
Writing Caribbean SlaverySE256820 credits
Love, Death and Marriage in Renaissance LiteratureSE258320 credits
R. S. Thomas: No Truce with the FuriesSE257820 credits
French TheorySE257020 credits
Second-generation Romantic PoetsSE258220 credits
Desire, the Body and the Text: Psychoanalysis & LiteratureSE258020 credits
Utopia: Suffrage to CyberpunkSE258120 credits
Wagner and Romantic OperaMU327410 credits
Wagner and Romantic OperaMU327520 credits
Topics in Musicology 3AMU316610 credits
Topics in Musicology 3AMU316720 credits
Topics in Musicology 3BMU327610 credits
Topics in Musicology 3BMU327720 credits
Gender & Monstrosity: Late/Neo VictorianSE256420 credits
Interwar Experiments: Sex, Gender, StyleSE258420 credits
Middle English Romance: Monsters and MagicSE258620 credits
International Study Abroad (60 credits) AutumnSE625160 credits
International Study Abroad (60 credits) SpringSE625260 credits
Bluestockings, Britannia, Unsex'd Females: Women in public life, 1770 - 1800SE258820 credits
Gothic Fiction: The VictoriansSE258920 credits
Modern British Political DramaSE259020 credits
Norse Myth and SagaSE256020 credits
Canterbury Tales: Genre, History, InterpretationSE257920 credits
Four English Poets of the Twentieth CenturySE259120 credits
Poetry in the Making: Modern Literary ManuscriptsSE259220 credits
Postcolonial TheorySE259320 credits
Shakespeare's Late PlaysSE259420 credits
The Graphic MemoirSE140920 credits
Visions of Past and Future in Children's LiteratureSE259520 credits
Medical FictionsSE259620 credits
Military Masculinities in the Long Nineteenth CenturySE259720 credits
The University is committed to providing a wide range of module options where possible, but please be aware that whilst every effort is made to offer choice this may be limited in certain circumstances. This is due to the fact that some modules have limited numbers of places available, which are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, while others have minimum student numbers required before they will run, to ensure that an appropriate quality of education can be delivered; some modules require students to have already taken particular subjects, and others are core or required on the programme you are taking. Modules may also be limited due to timetable clashes, and although the University works to minimise disruption to choice, we advise you to seek advice from the relevant School on the module choices available.

Instrumental tuition is fully funded by the School of Music on your principal study instrument. This includes accompaniment at your final recital. Students receive 22 half hour lessons over the course of the year.

We use a range of teaching and learning styles, including lectures, small-group seminars and workshops, individual tutorials, ensemble instrumental tuition, rehearsals, and independent study. Methods of assessment vary from module to module and may include essay assignments, presentations, extended projects, performances, and written exams.

The School of English, Communication and Philosophy offers intellectually stimulating programmes of study, shaped by the latest research. We have a supportive learning environment, where students are enabled to acquire a range of skills and a wealth of specialist knowledge. Our programmes foster intellectual skills, such as critical thinking, close analysis, evaluating evidence, constructing arguments, using theory, and the effective deployment of language in writing and in debate. We also help you gain experience in team-working, independent research, and time management. A range of formative and summative assessment methods are used, including essays, examinations, presentations, portfolios, and creative assignments.

School of Music

In 2013/14, 98% of the School's graduates who were available for work reported they were in employment and/or further study within six months of graduation.

The skills developed within a music degree help our students to progress to a wide range of careers, both within and beyond the music profession.

Employability skills are embedded in modules at the School of Music so that you will learn both music-specific and academic skills that are transferable to other domains, especially the workplace. Our new second-year modules on the Business of Music are designed to help you better understand different branches of the music profession and provide an opportunity to undertake a short placement in a music- or arts-related area.

Our annual series of talks on Careers in Music offer a great chance to meet professionals active in a range of fields such as performance, music education, music journalism, arts and artist management, production and licensing, and composing for media.

School of English, Communication and Philosophy

In 2013/14, 91% of the School's graduates who were available for work reported they were in employment and/or further study within six months of graduation.

The School of Music's second-year modules The Business of Music I/II are designed to help you better understand the music profession. They also offer the opportunity to undertake - either in one block or as a series of regular workplace visits - a short placement in a music- or arts-related area.


3 Year(s)

Next intake

September 2016

Places available

Typical places available

The School of English, Communication and Philosophy admits around 360 students every year to its undergraduate degree programmes.

The School of Music admits around 70 students every year to its undergraduate degree programmes.


Applications received

Typical applications received

School of Music = 450

School of English, Communication and Philosophy = 1500


QAA subject benchmark

QAA subject benchmark

Music, English

Overview and aims of this course/programme

The BA (Joint Honours) in Music and English Literature offers candidates the opportunity to pursue an advanced programme of study, dividing their modules equally between Music, English literature and in the first year potentially one further subject area.  While the programme stipulates no compulsory modules in either Music or English, it enables students to gain experience of a wide range of literary texts, periods, movements and genres as well as a number of musical disciplines, including performance, free and stylistic composition, historical and critical musicology, ethnomusicology and acoustics.  While the programme has produced high achievers in such areas as performance and composition, it is especially suited to those interested in seeing music within a broad cultural context, one that embraces the literary, the social and the political.  The option, offered by both subjects, to write a dissertation in the final year enables students if they wish to choose a topic that draws on both disciplines of the degree.  The programme is especially suited to those seeking a career in teaching or academia, arts administration or areas in which music sits alongside other disciplines, but it can just as effectively lead on to other types of graduate employment, or provide the foundation for postgraduate study in music, English or other humanities subjects.

What should I know about year five?

Students are expected to:

  • attend punctually all timetabled classes (i.e. lectures, seminars, tutorials and instrumental/vocal lessons), notifying the relevant School (in advance where possible) in cases of unavoidable absence.
  • prepare adequately for and contribute to seminars and tutorials.
  • complete their assessments on time, following the instructions given.
  • engage in between three and six hours of independent study (or private practice) for every taught hour of study.  Increasing independence of learning is expected in both subjects as the programme progresses.
  • familiarize themselves with School and University policies and regulations (e.g. School handbooks).

The programme seeks to integrate disabled students as fully as possible into academic life by making existing classes as accessible as possible and, in the rare cases where these attempts prove inadequate, to provide an alternative, active learning experience of equivalent quality.  A student who experiences a change in their personal circumstances (e.g. maternity/paternity) should consult their personal tutor with a view to following the university guidelines on Interruption of Study.

In the Music element of the programme, students are expected to manifest (and can, on certain elective modules, be awarded credit for) a commitment to the musical and intellectual life of the School of Music through participation in performance activities and attendance at performances and public lectures.

Students are expected to adhere to the Cardiff University policy on Dignity at Work and Study.

How is this course/programme structured?

In Year 1 candidates take EITHER

            40 credits in English, 40 credits in Music, and 40 credits in another subject


            40 credits in English and 80 credits in Music


            80 credits in English and 40 credits in Music

In Year 2, candidates take 60 credits in English and 60 credits in Music.  In Music, modules are selected from at least two of the following four subject groups: Composition and Electroacoustic Studies, Written and Practical Musicianship, Analytical and Critical Skills, and Historical Studies. 

In Final Year candidates take 60 credits in English and 60 credits in Music.  Again, in Music, modules are selected from at least two of the four subject groups.

The programme has no compulsory modules in English or Music.  In Music candidates should be aware that certain modules are essential preparation (what are called ‘prerequisites’) for modules in later years: for instance, students wishing to take composition, performance or ethnomusicology in Year 2 and Final Year should ensure that they take the respective subject(s) in Year 1.  Candidates may therefore need to take 80 credits in Music in Year 1 in order to amass a sufficient number of prerequisites.

Joint-honours students in Music are not able to pursue the final-year options of a 30-credit composition portfolio (Composition III) or public performance (Recital), though they may complete a shorter (20-credit) composition portfolio (Composition IV) and/or a ‘closed’ recital in front of examiners only (Practical Musicianship IV).

What should I know about year four?

No specific equipment required

What should I know about year three?

In addition to the discipline-specific skills outlined in the learning outcomes above, the programme fosters a range of generic and employability skills.  These include

  • advanced oral and written communication skills
  • analytical thinking
  • independent learning, and the ability to use electronic and other sources of information appropriate to the project chosen
  • critical skills (reasoning, evaluating evidence, problem-solving, relating theory to practice)
  • coping with uncertainty/complexity
  • creativity and innovative thinking
  • digital and IT literacy
  • the ability to direct their own academic and professional development

Practical music activities, where undertaken, embed such skills as leadership, teamwork (including formative input in a group situation) and self-management.

What should I know about the preliminary year?

In English teaching is by means of a combination of lectures and seminars, with all modules including seminar or small-group teaching.  The learning activities will vary from module to module as appropriate, but may include such activities as: interactive lectures, seminar discussions of prepared texts/topics, student presentations or group presentations, small-group work within seminars, translation classes, formative writing exercises, journal entries, and film showings.  Students are expected to do the reading and other relevant preparation to enable them to take a full part in these activities and are encouraged to explore the resources of the library as appropriate.

Music modules involve a range of learning and teaching styles, including (but not limited to) lectures, small-group seminars and workshops, individual tutorials or solo instrumental tuition, ensemble instrumental tuition and practical rehearsals, and independent study.  Supplementary resources are available through various channels, including Learning Central (the university’s Virtual Learning Environment) and from commercially available software resources for which the School holds licences.

Requests for reasonable adjustment in the provision of teaching and/or learning materials can be made to the Schools’ Disability contacts, who will liaise with the Disability and Dyslexia Centre as required.

What should I know about year one?


In English, most modules are assessed by means of essay and/or examination, but some include other forms of assessment such as journal entries, a portfolio, or presentations.  Emphasis in assessment is placed on the writing of clear, persuasive and scholarly essays presented in a professional manner.  All modules offer the opportunity to undertake formative work appropriate to the module.

Assessment in Music may involve any one or a number of the following:

  • Performance
  • Continuous assessment followed by final presentation/performance/practical test
  • Essays/exercises
  • Written examinations
  • Dissertations/portfolios
  • Oral presentations
  • Self-evaluation
  • Reports on fieldwork, practical work or other empirical study

Guidance on specific provision and reasonable adjustments in assessment for disabled students or those affected by the consequences of ongoing illness or injury are set out in School Handbooks.  Adjustments to the conduct of an assessment are usually possible unless the mode of assessment is integral to the learning outcomes of the module concerned (e.g. performance as a mode of assessment on a performance module).  Such competence standards may sometimes limit the availability of adjustments or alternative assessments in English too: such restrictions are noted in the Module Descriptions.


In English, written feedback is provided on both formative and summative assessment and students are encouraged to discuss their ideas with module tutors in seminars and, where appropriate, on a one-to-one basis in office hours.

In Music, many of the Year 1 modules involve regular oral feedback on weekly tasks.  In Years 2 and 3 feedback is received in group seminars and workshops, individual lessons and one-to-one tutorials, and in written comments on summative assessments.

Other information

Every student is assigned a personal tutor in each School and will meet him/her for regular progress meetings.  There are forms to complete before each meeting: these are designed to help you reflect on the written feedback and the reasons for the marks you have received from the previous round of assessment.  You should take the opportunity to discuss this feedback and your reflections on it with your personal tutor.

In addition, students may make appointments to see their personal tutor or module leaders on a one-to-one basis about any issues.  Staff may also be contacted by email.

Use of Learning Central, the University’s Virtual Learning Environment, will vary from module to module as the module leader feels appropriate for the specific contents of the module but will normally at least include making lecture handouts available online.

Careers advice is available from the Schools’ designated career consultants in the university Careers Service.  In addition, the School of Music provides its own Careers in Music talks.

Distinctive features

Graduates from this programme will be able to demonstrate:

  • an awareness of different literary periods, movements and genres of English literature and the critical issues and/or debates surrounding them.
  • an ability to select and organize material purposefully and cogently and to handle complex ideas with clarity.
  • an ability to analyse and interpret texts drawn from a diversity of literary periods, applying high-level critical skills of close analysis.
  • a significant degree of specialist knowledge, creativity, skill and understanding in one or more of the following: performance, composition, ethnomusicology, music analysis, historical/critical musicology.
  • an awareness of the component subdisciplines of music and a working competence in more than one in addition to their chosen specialism(s).
  • an understanding of a range of musical styles and techniques, through pastiche composition, analysis and/or critical commentary of music.
  • knowledge of appropriate critical vocabulary and terminology.
  • an awareness of the shaping effects of social, historical and cultural circumstances on the production and meaning of both music(s) and text(s).

How will I be taught?

In the School of Music composition workshops, performance masterclasses, the university concert series, the John Bird lecture series (presentations by visiting academics) and the careers talks provides numerous opportunities for contact with active professionals in the discipline.

Admissions tutors

Dr Keith Chapin, Course Administrator

Dr Keith Chapin, Admissions Tutor

Dr Megan Leitch, Admissions Tutor

Key Information Sets (KIS) make it easy for prospective students to compare information about full or part time undergraduate courses, and are available on the Unistats website.


Get information and advice about making an application, find out when the key dates are and learn more about our admissions criteria.

How to apply
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