Music and Philosophy (BA)

This joint honours degree programme enables you to combine the study of Music and Philosophy.

You will spend a similar amount of time on each subject, benefiting from developing your musical understanding and skills whilst studying the fascinating and challenging subject of philosophy. Many students find joint honours both stimulating and rewarding as they observe similarities and differences in the two subjects. Often there are complementary issues and perspectives as well as skills that link the subjects, be they critical analysis, historical contexts or recent research.

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.

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.

Key facts

Duration3 years
Typical places availableThe School of Music typically has 70 places available
Typical applications receivedThe School Music typically receives 350 applications
Scholarships and bursaries
Typical A level offerABB (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 offerGrade A in the Core may be substituted for one A-level. Typical offers would be AA (to include Music) plus Welsh Bacc. (Grade A), or AB (to include Music) plus Welsh Bacc. (Grade A). 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 offer35 points, including 6 points in higher level Music.
Other qualificationsApplications from those offering alternative qualifications are welcome.

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

Music, Philosophy

Academic School
Admissions tutor(s)

Dr Richard Gray , Admissions Tutor

    Dr Keith Chapin , Admissions Tutor

      Miss Laila Khan , Course Administrator

        Welsh medium provisionThis course offers elements that are taught through the medium of Welsh. Please contact the Admissions tutor for more information.

        Throughout your degree programme, you will choose from modules offered in Music and Philosophy.

        We realise that many of our students will not have had the opportunity to study Philosophy before as an academic discipline, and for the increasing number of those who have, it is still relatively new and demanding. We therefore structure the programme with great care so as to build progressively your critical understanding and creative philosophical skills.

        Year one

        You will take 60 credits in Music and 60 credits in Philosophy.

        Module titleModule codeCredits
        Moral and Political PhilosophySE410320 credits
        Mind, Thought and RealitySE410120 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
        A HISTORY OF POPULAR MUSICMU122610 credits
        From Page To Stage: Dramaturgy in Musical TheatreMU123010 credits
        Four Great Works in PhilosophySE410420 credits
        Darllen AthroniaethSE410520 credits
        Y Da, Drwg a'r GwleidyddolSE410620 credits

        Year two

        You will take 60 credits in Music and 60 credits in Philosophy.

        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
        Philosophy of Contemporary PoliticsSE436320 credits
        MetaphysicsSE436420 credits
        Contemporary Ethical TheorySE438820 credits
        EpistemologySE439820 credits
        Kant & HeideggerSE439020 credits
        Philosophy of MindSE431320 credits
        French Philosophy: Sartre To BadiouSE438020 credits
        ORCHESTRATIONMU216120 credits
        Topics in Musicology 2AMU216220 credits
        Topics in Musicology 2BMU227020 credits
        ETHNOMUSICOLOGY II: Music in Cross-Cultural PerspectiveMU227120 credits
        Jazz in the Modern WorldMU227320 credits
        The Business of Music IMU216410 credits
        The Business of Music IIMU227220 credits
        Credoau'r CymrySE440020 credits
        Modern Moral PhilosophySE437320 credits
        Hanes Athroniaeth WleidyddolSE439520 credits
        International Study Abroad (60 credits) AutumnSE625160 credits
        International Study Abroad (60 credits) SpringSE625260 credits
        Music and Idea: from Enlightenment to RomanticismMU216610 credits
        Reading Film SoundMU227410 credits
        Philosophy of LanguageSE435820 credits

        Year three

        You will take 60 credits in Music and 60 credits in Philosophy.

        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
        The Problem of ConsciousnessSE437920 credits
        Dissertation in PhilosophySE438520 credits
        Philosophy and Literary TheorySE432920 credits
        NietzscheSE530620 credits
        MetaethicsSE436720 credits
        Moral PsychologySE437220 credits
        Notation and Editing of Early MusicMU327320 credits
        Wagner and Romantic OperaMU327410 credits
        Wagner and Romantic OperaMU327520 credits
        Cyfiawnder Byd-eangSE439420 credits
        Topics in Musicology 3AMU316610 credits
        Topics in Musicology 3AMU316720 credits
        Topics in Musicology 3BMU327610 credits
        Topics in Musicology 3BMU327720 credits
        International Study Abroad (60 credits) AutumnSE625160 credits
        Philosophy of ScienceSE431220 credits
        Philosophy and The ArtsSE432520 credits
        International Study Abroad (60 credits) SpringSE625260 credits
        Advanced Moral PhilosophySE439220 credits
        Hanes Athroniaeth yr 20fed Ganrif yng NghymruSE439620 credits
        Feminist PhilosophySE438620 credits
        Political Philosophy: Methods & ApproachesSE440120 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.

        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. 

        We use a range of teaching and learning styles, including lectures, small-group seminars and workshops, individual tutorials, ensemble instrumental tuition, rehearsals, portfolios, creative assignment and independent study. 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.

        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.

        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.

        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 admits 70 students each year to its undergraduate degree programmes.


        Applications received

        Typical applications received



        QAA subject benchmark

        QAA subject benchmark

        Music, Philosophy

        What are the aims of this Programme?

        The BA (Joint Honours) in Music and Philosophy offers candidates the opportunity to pursue an advanced programme of study, dividing their modules equally between Music, Philosophy and, in Year 1, potentially one further subject area.  While the programme stipulates no compulsory modules in either Music or Philosophy, it enables students both to study a breadth of philosophical questions – about reality, knowledge and ethics – and to gain experience of a wide range of musical disciplines, including performance, free and stylistic composition, historical and critical musicology, ethnomusicology and acoustics.  The two subjects intersect notably in areas such as the ethics and aesthetics of music, which can be studied on modules in both Philosophy and Music.  While the programme has produced high achievers in such areas as performance and composition, it is especially suited to those interested in apprehending music within a wider intellectual context.  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 lead on just as effectively to other types of graduate employment, or provide the foundation for postgraduate study in Music, Philosophy or other humanities subjects. 

        What is expected of me?

        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 Programme Structured?

        The programme is studied full time over three academic years.  360 credits are taken (120 credits per year).  Both subjects offer foundation modules in Year 1 that equip you with skills for advanced study and give you an overview of the subject that will enable you to make informed choices from the modules available in Year 2 and Final Year.  Final Year in both subjects involves more specialized modules in which you can engage with current issues in research and scholarship, enabling you further to develop analytical and presentational skills that employers value, as well as equipping you for postgraduate study.

        In Year 1, candidates take EITHER

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


                    40 credits in Philosophy and 80 credits in Music


                    80 credits in Philosophy and 40 credits in Music

        In Year 2, candidates take 60 credits in Philosophy 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 Philosophy and 60 credits in Music.  Modules in Music are again selected from at least two of the four subject groups.

        The programme has no compulsory modules in either Philosophy 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).

        Will I need any specific equipment to study this Programme?

        No specific equipment required

        What skills will I practise and develop?

        In addition to the discipline-specific skills outlined in the learning outcomes above, candidates have the opportunity to acquire a range of generic and employability skills.  These include

        • advanced oral and written communication skills, including the ability to communicate concepts, theories and arguments and appraise them accurately and clearly
        • analytical thinking, including the ability to assess the validity of different evidence and arguments
        • independent learning, and the ability to use a variety of sources in a comprehensive and well-documented manner
        • critical skills (reasoning, evaluating evidence, problem-solving, relating theory to practice), including an ability to explore critically their own beliefs and values
        • coping with uncertainty/complexity, and displaying sensitivity to the diversity of beliefs, practices and ways of life
        • 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.

        How will I be taught?

        A diverse range of learning and teaching styles is used in Philosophy throughout the programme. Students will attend lectures, participate in seminars and tutorials, and study independently in preparation for each session.

        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.

        How will I be assessed?


        In Philosophy, formative assessment is provided as feedback on coursework through written comments and individual discussion and on oral seminar presentations through individual guidance. Summative assessment for most modules takes place through one or more of the following methods: unseen examinations; open book examinations; portfolios of essays; and (if chosen) the dissertation.  The form(s) of summative assessment for individual modules are set out in the relevant module description.  Assessment methods are chosen as most appropriate to elicit the skills, knowledge and competencies developed by the module.  Not all skills are assessed directly (e.g. the accurate and clear oral communication of concept and theories).  However, opportunities are made available for the development of such skills in seminar presentations, and their value is emphasised to students.

        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 Philosophy too: such restrictions are noted in the Module Descriptions.


        In Philosophy, all taught modules involve some formative assessment, which is returned to you with individual feedback.  Generic Feedback is provided for all forms of summative assessment. 

        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.

        How will I be supported?

        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.

        What are the Learning Outcomes of this Programme?

        Graduates from this programme will be able to:

        • demonstrate knowledge and understanding of important concepts, theories, problems and arguments in the main areas of Philosophy, such as metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of mind, logic, moral philosophy and political philosophy.
        • demonstrate familiarity with the ideas and arguments of some of the major philosophers in the history of the subject, and an awareness of the competing interpretations they have generated.
        • display precision of thought and expression in the analysis and formulation of complex philosophical concepts, theories, arguments and methods, and an ability to apply them to some of the major problems, both theoretical and practical, facing human reflection, life and society.
        • construct and justify arguments whileforming independent, fair and well-supported assessments of conflicting views and opinions, with a critical awareness of their presuppositions.
        • demonstrate 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.
        • manifest an awareness of the component subdisciplines of music and a working competence in more than one in addition to their chosen specialism(s).
        • demonstrate an understanding of a range of musical styles and techniques, through pastiche composition, analysis and/or critical commentary of music.
        • show an awareness of the social, historical and cultural contexts in which music is made.

        Other information

        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 Richard Gray , Admissions Tutor

          Dr Keith Chapin , Admissions Tutor

            Miss Laila Khan , Course Administrator

              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.