Music (BA)

Our undergraduate programmes allow you to specialise and develop your own musical interests

Our undergraduate programmes are flexible and challenging, allowing you to specialise and develop your own musical interests whilst acquiring a solid, broad-based education in aesthetics, analysis, composition, ethnomusicology, music history and performance. 

For the BA Single Hons course, your primary focus will be on music but you will also get to broaden your education through the study of other subjects.

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.

We offer a number of instrumental and vocal entrance scholarships. You do not need to apply for these scholarships as you will be automatically considered when applying through UCAS. Visit the School of Music's website for more information.

Key facts

UCAS CodeW300
Entry pointSeptember 2016
Duration3 years
Studying in WelshThis course offers elements that are taught through the medium of Welsh. Please contact the Admissions tutor for more information.
Typical places availableThe School typically has 70 places available
Typical applications receivedThe School typically receives 350 applications
Typical A level offerAAB-BBB, with an A or a B in Music, and excluding General Studies. Practical music and music technology will be counted as separate GCE A-Levels as long as theoretical music is offered, along with one other traditional academic subject. Applicants 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. 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 offer32 points, including 6 at higher-level music. Applicants are expected to have gained or shown evidence of working towards grade 8 in one instrument, or voice, at the time of application.
Other qualificationsTypical BTEC offer is Extended Diploma DDM. Applications from those offering alternative qualifications are welcome. Specific admissions and selection criteria for this degree programme can be found online.

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


Admissions tutor(s)

Dr Keith Chapin, Course Administrator

Dr Keith Chapin, 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.

Our undergraduate curriculum is strong in traditional skills, but also reflects contemporary developments in music and musicology. During your time here, you will explore aspects of music that you might not have had the chance to study before, including ethnomusicology, music aesthetics and the history of popular music. Our flexible modular scheme of study allows you to develop new skills and discover new musical interests.

Your first year is essentially a foundation year preparing you to take advantage of the creative and intellectual benefits of higher education. The second and final year courses are more advanced and you will focus on more specialist topics. To complement your academic study, you are actively encouraged to join the University Choir or Orchestra and other ensembles.

Each year is divided into an autumn and a spring semester, and has a modular structure. At the start of each year you will be given a more comprehensive guide containing further details on module aims, learning outcomes, methods of assessment, module syllabuses, and reading and listening lists. Your allocated personal tutors will be able to provide advice and guidance on module choices.

If you opt to study music with another subject you will be required to complete a minimum number of credits per academic year in the School of Music.

A total of 120 credits must be completed each academic year.

Although our 30-credit composition or public recital modules are not open to BA students, you can still specialize in composition or performance with 20-credit modules. The specialist 30-credit projects in musicology, ethnomusicology and analysis are open to all students.

Degree Programme - BA Single Hons (Music)
Year 1 – Number of Music Credits: 80 credits
Year 2 - Number of Music Credits: Minimum 100 credits
Year 3 - Number of Music Credits: Minimum 100 credits

Year one

The first year in Music is essentially a foundation year preparing students to take advantage of the creative and intellectual benefits of higher education. 

In the first year the School of Music offers core instruction in analysis, harmony and counterpoint, history of music, composition and practical musicianship. As a BA student you will take a free choice from these subjects.

Students of this course can choose to study modules outside of their allocated School(s) core and optional modules. These can be chosen from modules from participating Academic Schools.

Module titleModule codeCredits
Composition 1AMU110710 credits
Fundamental AcousticsMU121710 credits
Composition 1BMU120810 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

Year two

In the second and third years you will select from groups of analytical, stylistic and historical modules together with practical musicianship. 

Degree Programme - BA Single Hons (Music)
Year 2 - No. of Music Credits - Minimum 100 credits
Year 3 - No. of Music Credits - Minimum 100 credits

If you opt to study music with another subject you will be required to complete a minimum number of credits per academic year in the School of Music.

Students studying this course may take one or two modules from another Academic School, selected from the University’s Free Standing Module Collection.

Year three

In the second and third years you will select from groups of analytical, stylistic and historical modules together with practical musicianship. Available modules also include third-year projects.

Degree Programme - BA Single Hons (Music)
Year 2 - No. of Music Credits - Minimum 100 credits
Year 3 - No. of Music Credits - Minimum 100 credits

If you opt to study music with another subject you will be required to complete a minimum number of credits per academic year in the School of Music.

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.

You will be taught by academic staff with expertise across composition, performance, musicology, ethnomusicology, and popular music.

Instrumental tuition is fully funded by the School on your principal study instrument. This includes accompaniment at your final recital. Students will 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. At the start of each year you will be given a comprehensive guide containing details on module aims, learning outcomes, assessments, syllabuses, and reading and listening lists.

Each student is allocated a personal tutor to ensure they have support and guidance throughout their time at Cardiff.

Requests for reasonable adjustment in the provision of teaching and/or learning materials can be made to the School Disability contact, Dr Amanda Villepastour (, who will liaise with the Disability and Dyslexia Centre as required.

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.

Graduates have gone on to careers with the BBC, Arts Councils, Glyndebourne Opera, English National Opera, universities, Oxford University Press, the National Trust, and London Symphony Orchestra, along with a range of other industrial, commercial, and charitable organisations.

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.


  • Musician
  • Teacher
  • Music journalist
  • Producer
  • Arts Administrator
  • Music Librarian

This only applies for those students wishing to study BA Single Honours in Music.

The information provided by interviews and auditions is a crucial addition to that provided on UCAS forms, and they are an important means of identifying potential in individual candidates.

You will be invited to attend one of four interview days that are held from November through to February. Applicants who do not attend will have their application rejected, unless they have contacted the School to make alternative arrangements, or to say that they are unable to attend for other reasons (e.g. distance to travel, exam commitments). In the case of exceptional mitigating circumstances, an offer can be made without interview.

The day will comprise an introductory talk from the Admissions tutor, a tour of the School of Music, presentations by staff and students, and a 15-minute interview/audition with a member of staff.

Interviews are conducted by individual members of staff. Applicants will initially be asked to perform or sing for around 5 minutes. The choice of repertoire is left to individual candidates. Assessment of performance is based on overall expressive and technical standards.

The interviewer will then ask questions of a specific nature, possibly relating to the music performed, and more general questions about musical interests and experience. You will be assessed in terms of your enthusiasm and commitment to the subject, your wider knowledge, and your ability to respond to issues which you may not have considered before.

The aim of the interviews is not to test factual knowledge, or to judge you in terms of your likes and dislikes, but to encourage you in as relaxed a way as possible to talk about what you know and what interests you. The interviews are not designed to catch people out or expose their weaknesses, but it is expected that you will engage readily with the interviewer. It's also a good opportunity for you to ask the interviewer any questions you have about the School or our degree programmes. 

Members of staff involved in the interview process prepare written reports on each candidate. The final decision of the admissions tutor is based on both the interview report and the information contained in the UCAS application.

Our 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 Mathematics admits around 180 students every year to its undergraduate degree programme.

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


Applications received

Typical applications received

School of Mathematics: 700

School of Music: 450


QAA subject benchmark

QAA subject benchmark


Overview and aims of this course/programme

The BA degree in Music offers candidates an advanced programme of study with the potential to embrace practical, theoretical, creative and historical aspects of music, while also providing the opportunity for students to take up to 80 credits – 40 at level 1 (NQF level 4) and 20 each at levels 2 and 3 (NQF5–6) – in another subject.  While the programme stipulates no compulsory modules (other than a major academic project – dissertation, music analysis or ethnomusicology – in the final year), it nonetheless enables students to gain experience of a wide range of musical disciplines – performance, free and stylistic composition, historical and critical musicology, ethnomusicology and  acoustics – while affording them access to continuous subdisciplinary pathways throughout the degree and some measure of specialization in the final year.  While the programme has produced high achievers in practical areas such as performance and composition, it is equally suited to those whose interest is in music within the broader humanities context or as a ‘liberal art’.  The requirement for a dissertation-style project in the final year accordingly places emphasis on the ability to articulate musical insights through the medium of prose.  As such the programme has proved especially successful for those seeking a career in teaching, arts administration or areas in which music sits alongside other disciplines, though it can lead on just as effectively to other types of graduate employment, or provide the foundation for postgraduate study in music or other humanities subjects.

What should I know about year five?

Full attendance is required for all lectures, classes, lessons, tutorials and rehearsals relating to the modules on which students are enrolled, except in cases of illness or other special circumstance (see the section ‘Illness and Certification of Absence’ in the Undergraduate Student Handbook, §§3, 7.1–7.6).  The condonement of absence is not a routine element of the School’s specific provision for disabled students; rather, the School 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.

A significant investment of time (at least 18 hours a week) is required of all students in independent study and/or private practice, especially in preparation for the final-year project(s).  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 demonstrated 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?

The BA offers the opportunity to pursue an advanced programme of study in Music while also allowing candidates to take up to 80 credits in another subject across the degree programme as a whole.  The programme stipulates no compulsory modules other than the requirement to take a major academic project – Dissertation, Project in Ethnomusicology or Project in Music Analysis – in final year.  Modules that are core for the BMus programme are nonetheless available as options to BA students, and candidates should be aware that certain modules are designated as prerequisites (i.e. essential preparation) for study in the relevant areas in later years (this applies, for instance, to Year 1 modules in practical musicianship, theory, composition and ethnomusicology). 

In Year 1 candidates take a total of 80 credits over the year, plus 40 credits in Music or another subject.  There are no compulsory requirements.  Students can, if they wish, select as their 80 Music credits the five BMus core modules (Elements of Tonal Music I and II, Practical Musicianship I, Repertoire Studies, The Full Works).  Alternatively, they can substitute one or more of those modules with options in composition, music history, ethnomusicology or acoustics.

In Year 2 students take a total of 100 credits over the year, plus 20 credits in Music or another subject.  Students choose their modules from at least three of four groups: Composition and Electroacoustic Studies, Written and Practical Musicianship, Analytical and Critical Skills, and Historical Studies.

In Final Year students choose once again from at least three of the four subject groups, and pursue at least one (but no more than two) of the three major academic projects: Dissertation, Project in Ethnomusicology, or Project in Music Analysis.  BA students cannot pursue the 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 above in the learning outcomes above, the programme fosters a range of generic and employability skills.  These include advanced literacy, computer literacy, critical skills (reasoning, evaluating evidence, problem-solving, relating theory to practice), oral and written communication skills, coping with uncertainty/complexity, and creativity and innovative thinking.  Practical musical 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?

The BA involves a range of learning and teaching styles, including (but not limited to) lectures (especially learning outcomes 3. and 4.), small-group seminars and workshops (3., and 4.), individual tutorials or solo instrumental tuition (1., 5.), ensemble instrumental tuition and practical rehearsals (1.), and independent study (especially 5.; also 1.–4.). 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 School Disability contact, who will liaise with the Disability and Dyslexia Centre as required.

What should I know about year one?


Assessment on the BA programme takes a wide range of forms. These are partly dependent on the modules chosen, but may include any one or a number of the following:

• Performance (learning outcomes 1. and, possibly, 5.)

• Continuous assessment followed by final presentation/performance/practical test (1.)

• Essays/exercises (1.– 4.).

• Written examinations (1.–4.).

• Dissertations/portfolios (5.)

• Oral presentations (1., 2., 4.)

• Self-evaluation (1.)

• Reports on fieldwork, practical work or other empirical study (1., 2., 4., 5.)

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 the Undergraduate Student Handbook, §§2, 9.7.

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).


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

Other information

The principal means of individual student support in the School of Music is through the personal tutor, who is allocated at the start of the programme and generally provides consultations three times a year.  The School’s dedicated PDP resources (see the Resource Pack on Learning Central) offer an opportunity for more structured reflection on personal and academic development in the personal tutorial context.  For the final-year projects a supervisor is provided to monitor progress and provide individual consultations by arrangement. Careers advice is available from the School’s designated career consultant in the university Careers Service and from the speakers in School of Music’s own Careers in Music talks.

Distinctive features

Graduates from this programme will be able to:

1. 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.

2. Possess an awareness of the component subdisciplines of music and demonstrate a working competence in more than one in addition to their chosen specialism(s).

3. Show an awareness of a range of musical styles and techniques, through pastiche composition, analysis and/or critical commentary of music.

4. Manifest an awareness of the social, historical and cultural contexts in which music is made.

5. Manage and see through to completion (during the final year of the programme) a major independent academic project, possibly in addition to one or more subsidiary specialisms (e.g. in performance or composition).

How will I be taught?

The programme provides numerous opportunities for contact with active music professionals outside the school through composition workshops, performance masterclasses, the university concert series, the John Bird lecture series and other presentations by visiting academics, careers talks and careers mentoring.

Admissions tutors

Dr Keith Chapin, Course Administrator

Dr Keith Chapin, 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.

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