Music (BMus)

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

Our undergraduate programmes allow 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.

The BMus is the ideal choice if you would like to concentrate on music. Of all our programmes it offers the most in-depth study, allowing you to spend all your time specialising and studying music. It also enables you to take the specialist 30-credit options of Composition and / or Public Recital in Year 3 (options which are not available on our BA or BSc programmes).

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 CodeW302
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. Please see detailed information about alternative entry requirements here.

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 in July 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, film music, 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.

There are a number of compulsory modules that BMus students must complete in years 1 and 2 of the programme. For the 2016/17 academic year these are: Practical Musicianship I, Repertoire Studies, Elements of Tonal Music I, and Elements of Tonal Music II.

120 Music credits must be completed each academic year, and these must be selected from those offered
within the School. A selection of the modules currently available in Music is given below; these are subject to change each academic year as we continue to refine the programme.

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.

Module titleModule codeCredits
Elements of Tonal Music IIMU122720 credits
Elements of Tonal Music IMU112520 credits
The Full WorksMU112710 credits
Practical Musicianship IMU131410 credits
Repertoire StudiesMU131720 credits

Module titleModule codeCredits
Composition 1AMU110710 credits
Composition 1BMU120810 credits
Fundamental AcousticsMU121710 credits
From Page To Stage: Dramaturgy in Musical TheatreMU123010 credits

Year two

The second and final year courses are more advanced and focus on more specialist topics, encouraging a greater level of concentration on areas of particular interest to you.

Year three

The second and final year courses are more advanced and focus on more specialist topics, encouraging a greater level of concentration on areas of particular interest to you.

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. If you are a BMus student taking the open recital module, you will receive 22 full hours of tuition in your third 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.

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
  • Producer
  • Arts Administrator
  • Music Librarian

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.

You will initially be asked to perform or sing for around five 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 about 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 an opportunity for you to ask about questions you may have about the School and our programmes. 
Members of staff involved in the interview process prepare written reports on each candidate. The final decision 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 admits 70 students each year to its undergraduate degree programmes.


Applications received

Typical applications received



QAA subject benchmark

QAA subject benchmark


Overview and aims of this course/programme

The Bachelor of Music (BMus) degree offers candidates an advanced programme of study that embraces the practical, theoretical, creative and historical aspects of music.  Its core modules at level 1 (NQF level 4) aim to consolidate the most important skills of literate musicianship – harmony and counterpoint, practical musicianship, historical and analytical awareness of musical traditions, and prose writing about music – and are supplemented by elective introductions to such areas as composition, ethnomusicology and acoustics.  At levels 2 and 3 (NQF5–6) these initial foundations are broadened and deepened into a variety of distinct pathways – in composition (including studio techniques), historical/critical musicology, performance, music analysis, and ethnomusicology – each of which can form the basis of the specialism(s) pursued in the final year.  On its completion the programme can either lead straight on to graduate-level employment or provide the foundation for Master’s and doctoral study in composition, performance, all disciplines of musicology, and related arts and 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 20 hours a week) is required of all students in independent study and/or private practice, especially in preparation for the final-year projects. Students are expected to manifest (and credit can be awarded 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 BMus at Cardiff aims to give you a solid grounding in literate and practical musicianship, as well as enabling you to pursue advanced studies in such areas as composition, musicology, ethnomusicology, music analysis and studio composition.

In Year 1 the five core modules focus on the basic skills of literate musicianship: harmony and counterpoint (in Elements of Tonal Music I and II), practical musicianship (compulsory only in Year 1), historical and stylistic awareness of musical genres and traditions (Repertoire Studies), and skills in research and writing about music (The Full Works).  Further elective modules are offered in composition, music history, ethnomusicology and acoustics.

In Year 2 students have the opportunity to consolidate their strengths while maintaining activity in a breadth of disciplines, choosing their modules from at least three of four groups: Composition and Electroacoustic Studies, Written and Practical Musicianship, Analytical and Critical Skills (including the core Autumn semester module Formal Functions in the Classical Tradition) and Historical Studies.

In Year 3 students have the opportunity for further specialization.  They choose once again from at least three of the four subject groups, and pursue at least one (but no more than two) of the major projects on offer: in musicology (Dissertation), composition, performance, music analysis or ethnomusicology.

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 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 BMus involves a range of learning and teaching styles, including (but not limited to) lectures (especially learning outcomes 4. and 5.), small-group seminars and workshops (4., 5., and 6.), individual tutorials or solo instrumental tuition (1., 3., 8.), ensemble instrumental tuition and practical rehearsals (7.), and independent study (especially 8.; also 1.–6.). 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 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 3., 7. and, possibly, 8.)

• Continuous assessment followed by final presentation/performance/practical test (7.)

• Essays/exercises (1., 2., 4., 5., 6).

• Written examinations (1., 2., 4., 5., 6).

• Dissertations/portfolios (8.)

• Oral presentations (1., 2., 6., 7.)

• Self-evaluation (3., 7.)

• Reports on fieldwork, practical work or other empirical study (1., 2., 3., 6., 7., 8)

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.

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 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

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 and tutorial resources 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. Display an advanced ability in instrumental or vocal performance, as well as competence in aural skills and basic keyboard skills.

4. Demonstrate a broad awareness of a range of musical styles and techniques, through pastiche composition, analysis and/or critical commentary of music.

5. Understand and exemplify the core principles of harmony and counterpoint in the Western common practice tradition.

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

7. Show an ability to work closely with other musicians in the preparation of ensemble performance and other collaborative projects.

8. Manage and see through to completion (during the final year of the programme) a major independent academic, creative or performance project.

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.

How to apply
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