Music (BA)

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

Our undergraduate courses 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. If you would prefer to focus totally on Music, consider our BMus course as an alternative.

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.

You are expected to have gained or shown evidence of working towards Grade 8 in one or more instruments or voice at the time of your application. You may be considered if you are not taking A-level Music but have Grade 8 Practical and Grade 7/8 Theory and are studying appropriate subjects at A-level.

 

Distinctive features

The distinctive features of the course include:

  • instrumental tuition which is fully funded by the School of Music on your principal study instrument
  • Business of Music modules which offer a short work placement
  • composition workshops, performance masterclasses, the University concert series, the John Bird lectures presented by visiting academics and the careers talks which provide many opportunities for contact with active music professionals

Key facts

UCAS CodeW300
Next intakeSeptember 2017
Duration3 years
ModeFull time
Studying in WelshUp to 1% of this course is available 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.
Admissions tutor(s)

Entry requirements

For detailed entry requirements see the School of Music admissions criteria pages.

Typical A level offerAAB-BBB, with an A or a B in Music, and excluding General Studies. Music Technology will be counted as a separate GCE A-Level from Music. It may be substituted for A-Level Music if it is accompanied by grade 7/8 theory (ABRSM or equivalent). 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 7/8 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.

This is a three-year full-time degree, consisting of 120 credits a year. Each year is divided into an autumn and a spring semester and has a modular structure. Most modules are worth 10 or 20 credits.  

The modules shown are an example of the typical curriculum and will be reviewed prior to the 2017/18 academic year. The final modules will be published by July 2017.

Year one

The first year in Music is essentially a foundation year preparing you 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.

You will take 80 credits in Music in year one.

Note that some modules provide essential preparation (‘prerequisites’) for more advanced modules if you wish to pursue them in later years.

To complement your academic study, you are actively encouraged to join the University Choir or Orchestra and other ensembles.

 

 

Module titleModule codeCredits
Module titleModule codeCredits
Composition 1AMU110710 credits
ETHNOMUSICOLOGY I: MUSIC IN HUMAN LIFEMU112410 credits
Elements of Tonal Music IMU112520 credits
The Full WorksMU112710 credits
Composition 1BMU120810 credits
Fundamental AcousticsMU121710 credits
A HISTORY OF POPULAR MUSICMU122610 credits
Elements of Tonal Music IIMU122720 credits
From Page To Stage: Dramaturgy in Musical TheatreMU123010 credits
Practical Musicianship IMU131410 credits
Repertoire StudiesMU131720 credits

Year two

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

You will take 100 credits in Music in year two.

Students of this course can choose to study modules outside of their allocated School’s core and optional modules.

Our year two modules on the Business of Music I/II are designed to help you better understand different branches of the music profession and give an opportunity for a short placement in an area related to music or the arts, either in one block or as a series of regular workplace visits.

Year three

Available modules in year three also include projects.

You will take 100 credits in Music in year three.

Students of this course can choose to study modules outside of their allocated School’s core and optional modules.

Unlike BMus students, BA students do not have 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).

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.

How will I be taught?

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. You will receive 24 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.

How will I be supported?

At the start of each year you will be given a guide to module aims, learning outcomes, methods of assessment, module syllabuses, and reading and listening lists. Your allocated personal tutor will be able to provide advice and guidance on module choices and you will have regular meetings with them.

For the final-year projects you will have a supervisor to monitor progress and provide individual consultations by arrangement.

Instrumental tuition is fully funded by the School of Music on your principal study instrument, including accompaniment at your final recital. You will receive 24 half-hour lessons in a year.

You will have access through the Learning Central website to relevant multimedia material, presentations, lecture handouts, bibliographies, further links, electronic exercises and discussion circles.

The University offers a range of services including the Careers Service, the Counselling Service, the Disability and Dyslexia Service, the Student Support Service, and excellent libraries and resource centres.

How will I be assessed?

Methods of assessment vary from module to module and may include essay assignments, presentations, extended projects, performances, and written exams.

 

What skills will I practise and develop?

You will acquire and develop a range of valuable skills, both discipline specific and more generic ‘employability skills’, such as:

  • advanced literacy
  • computer literacy
  • critical skills (reasoning, evaluating evidence, problem-solving, relating theory to practice)
  • oral and written communication skills
  • coping with uncertainty/complexity
  • creativity and innovative thinking
  • skills such as leadership, teamwork and self-management, embedded in practical musical activities
  • identifying, recording and communicating your relevant career attainments

In 2013/14, 98% of the School of Music’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 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-related 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.

Jobs

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

Tuition fees

UK and EU students (2017/18)

Please see our fee amounts page for the latest information.

Students from outside the EU (2017/18)

Please see our fee amounts page for the latest information.

Will I need any specific equipment to study this course/programme?

Other than your principal study instrument, you will not need any specific equipment.

You will be invited to attend one of four interview days held from November to February. If you do not attend your application will be rejected, unless you have contacted us to make alternative arrangements, or to say you are unable to attend for reasons such as distance to travel or exam commitments. An offer can be made without interview in exceptional circumstances.

The day includes a tour of the School of Music, presentations by staff and students and a 15-minute interview/audition. You will be asked to perform or sing something of your own choice for around five minutes. Assessment is based on overall expressive and technical standards.

The interviewer will ask specific questions, 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 and your wider knowledge. The interviews are not designed to catch you out or expose your weaknesses. 

The final decision of the admissions tutor is based on an interview report and the UCAS application.

Year two modules on the Business of Music I/II give an opportunity for a short placement, either in one block or as a series of regular workplace visits.


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.