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Home>Study at York>Undergraduate>Courses 2019/20>Music (BA)

BA (Hons) Music

Music study for professional careers

Year of entry: 2019
Show year of entry: 2020

UCAS code


Institution code



3 years full-time (plus optional placement year)

Typical offer

AAB/ABB (full entry requirements)

Start date

September 2019 (term dates)

UK/EU fees

£9,250 per year (2019/20)

International fees

£17,120 per year (2019/20)

Clearing and adjustment 2019

Seeking bright minds for 2019! We have limited places available on some of our courses.

Explore our vacancies

We come into contact with music every day: on the internet or radio, in the street, in a club, on film, or in a concert hall. This experience can be fleeting or intense, relaxing or frustrating, trivial or life-changing, looked-for or unexpected, solitary or social.

Studying music at university gives you the opportunity to deepen your understanding of that experience and to look at how it has shaped and responded to the world. The story of music is always about people and their creativity – even in a world full of music, what it is and what it does still matters.

York Music graduates are creative, critical, independent thinkers. Our degree programme develops these qualities through a modular teaching system covering all forms of musical activity; performance, composing, analysis, musicology and music technology are all valued. Both flexible and challenging, we deliver a balanced musical education and develop key skills, providing you with opportunities to specialise and pursue your own choices of study under expert guidance.

Received an offer from us? Attend a visit day to get to know us better.

York appealed to me because of the fantastic atmosphere and the excellent course. Our lecturers are down to earth, extremely interesting, and passionate teachers, as well as producing some of the top current research. For students this translates into a stimulating academic environment, offering in-depth insight into a wide variety of topics.
Anna, 3rd year undergraduate

Bringing students together in one creative hub

With digital recording studios, performance spaces with two professional concert halls, a large collection of historical and world instruments, numerous practice rooms and communal discussion and IT areas, you can develop your specialisms and explore new areas of music.

An engaging environment

You'll learn from musicians who are leaders in their fields and benefit from the working relationships we have built up with our professional partners – an enviable roster of artists-in-association. We teach in small groups and individual tutorials, which means you'll always be actively engaged in discussion with your lecturers.

Course content

Our BA Music is designed to be flexible, meaning you can tailor your studies to what interests you. All students will undertake a mixture of musicology and analysis, composition and performance. 

Throughout your three years at York, your studies will include:

  • core skills modules
  • option modules, known internally as ‘projects’
  • an extended independent project

Option modules are key to the way we teach. Rather than being split by year, students from all years of the degree are taught together, giving you invaluable opportunities to meet and learn from other students on the course. 

The core skills modules complement and support the specialist topics covered in the option modules. You will develop research techniques, skills in writing about music, aural ability, and analytical, critical and creative thinking.

You will be supported with a bursary for instrumental or vocal lessons; this will be increased if you choose to present a final recital in Year 3. Individual tuition is also supported by a range of performance classes ranging from masterclasses with leading concert artists to sessions on the Alexander technique and developing entrepreneurial skills, as well as workshops with non-Western, folk and jazz musicians.

Study abroad

You'll have the opportunity to study abroad for one or two terms as part of the ERASMUS Scheme. We currently partner with institutions in Finland and France.

There are a number of Study Abroad options at York. Here are some of the many opportunities you'll find here at the University:

Year 1

You'll take 120 credits during your first year. 

Core modules

During Year 1, you'll study four core skills modules. Find out more about these skills modules.

As part of the Making Music, Studying Music module, you'll take part in the first-year Practical Project. This will take up the majority of your first term and involves the preparation and public performance of a music theatre work or small opera. The project involves around 50 hours of rehearsals, lectures, workshops and tutorials and includes classes on writing and research skills. 

Option modules

In the second half of Autumn Term, you'll choose one first-year option module. These are designed to give you experience of the 'project' format (skill-based exercises, researching materials, delivering seminar presentations, academic writing) before entering the full cross-year modules in the Spring term. 

First year option modules may include:

In your Spring Term, you'll choose two option modules (20 credits each). We update these modules every year.

Academic integrity module

In addition to the above you will also need to complete our online Academic Integrity module.

Year 2

You'll take 120 credits during Year 2.

You'll focus on developing your independence, critical thinking and confidence; improving your core skills; and continuing your instrumental/vocal studies in Performance Studies 2. You'll also begin to prepare for your Solo Project in your final year. The Critical Thinking and Listening module develops critical reflection on music and its performance, while your specialist option modules allow you to explore the areas you are most interested in. 

Core modules

Option modules

You will choose three further option modules (20 credits each). You'll be able to choose from the same options as in your first year - please note that there may be variation in the modules available each year.

Year 3

You'll take your final 120 credits in Year 3.

During this year, you'll specialise further with Recital and Composition Folio options alongside your choice of two or four option modules.

You will also have the opportunity to devise, research and produce a Solo Project. Building on skills you've acquired across your degree, it is an opportunity for you to develop a piece of large-scale work that will be useful to your future career. Past Solo Projects have included dissertations, editions, albums, innovative performance events, orchestrations, film music, community music projects, and many other types of work.

Core modules

Option modules

You'll study two option modules (20 credits each). You will choose from roughly the same options available to you in your second year. 

If you choose the 20-credit options for the Solo Project, Composition Folio and Recital, you will have the option to take two further 10-credit option modules. 

Please note, modules may change to reflect the latest academic thinking and expertise of our staff.

Learning by design

Every course at York has been designed to provide clear and ambitious learning outcomes. These learning outcomes give you an understanding of what you will be able to do at the end of the course. We develop each course by designing modules that grow your abilities towards the learning outcomes and help you to explain what you can offer to employers. Find out more about our approach to teaching and learning.

Students who complete this course will be able to:

  • Understand and engage meaningfully, creatively and critically with a range of music from different traditions and parts of the world, by drawing upon knowledge and experience of music’s histories, its structures and its varied uses. 
  • Lead, or constructively contribute to, high-level musical activity, for example by performing, composing, listening, thinking critically, analysing, editing, improvising, notating or employing studio techniques and digital literacy at an advanced level. 
  • Research independently and collaboratively, whether as preparation for postgraduate study or for the workplace environment, with analytical sophistication, close attention to detail and creative flair. 
  • Apply the musical and transferable skills gained throughout the programme with confidence and aptitude in a range of national and international professional contexts, for example performance, composition, teaching, management, academic work, studio work and community music projects. 
  • Communicate with clarity and critical insight on a range of issues relating to music, the arts, society and culture, using appropriate written and oral media and music-making activities. 
  • Approach familiar tasks as well as new and challenging situations with creativity, imagination and initiative, and identify resourceful and entrepreneurial actions that have real benefit for themselves and others. 
  • Work independently and self-reliantly, and also contribute with purpose and responsibility to different communities through team-working skills that are founded on a commitment to inclusivity and are informed by a deep understanding of the role of music as an expression of culture.

Highly ranked

We're in the top 15 in the Complete University Guide 2020 and the Guardian University Guide 2020

Leading research

96% of the Department's research activity is classed as ‘internationally recognised’ (Research Excellence Framework 2014)

Fees and funding

The fees and funding figures below are for 2019 entry. If you take a year abroad or year in industry you'll pay a reduced rate of fees for that year.

Annual tuition fees

UK/EU International
£9,250 £17,120

Additional costs

You will be expected to pay for the maintenance of your instruments, equipment and sheet music. You will also need appropriate concert attire throughout your studies.


UK/EU or international fees? The level of fee that you will be asked to pay depends on whether you're classed as a UK, EU or international student.

Fees for subsequent years

  • UK/EU: further increases within the government fee cap will apply in subsequent academic years. We will notify you of any increase as soon as we can.
  • International: fees for international students are subject to annual increases. Increases are currently capped at 2% per annum.

More information

For more information about tuition fees, any reduced fees for study abroad and work placement years, scholarships, tuition fee loans, maintenance loans and living costs see undergraduate fees and funding.


We offer a number of scholarships to help cover tuition fees and living costs.

Home/EU students

International students

Departmental scholarships

We offer some funding for undergraduate students. See our bursaries for instrumental and vocal studies

Living costs

You can use our living costs guide to help plan your budget. It covers additional costs that are not included in your tuition fee such as expenses for accommodation and study materials.

Teaching Excellence Framework Gold Award

“Students from all backgrounds achieve consistently outstanding outcomes”

The TEF Panel, Office for Students, June 2018

Our Gold Teaching Excellence Framework award demonstrates our commitment to the delivery of consistently outstanding teaching and learning for our students.

Teaching and assessment

You’ll study and learn with academics who are active researchers, experts in their field and have a passion for their subjects. Our approach to teaching will provide you with the knowledge, opportunities, and support you need to grow and succeed in a global workplace. Find out more about our approach to teaching and learning.

Teaching format

Our modules are taught in small groups (typically 15-22 students). Much of the course content is developed alongside ongoing staff research so what you learn keeps pace with the constant changes in music culture and technology.

Each module is made up of intensive tutor-led sessions and usually includes a combination of lectures, seminars, performances, workshops, classes, discussions and group study. With the support of the module tutor, you will then produce a portfolio of work in response to these taught sessions.


Overall workload

As a guide, students on this course typically spend their time as follows:

Year 1Year 2Year 3
Lectures and seminars396 hours312 hours324 hours

The figures above are based on data from 2016/17.

The rest of your time on the course will be spent on independent study. This may include preparation for lectures and seminars, follow-up work, wider reading, practice completion of assessment tasks, or revision.

Everyone learns at a different rate, so the number of hours will vary from person to person. In UK higher education the expectation is that full-time students will spend 1,200 hours a year learning.

Teaching location

You will be based in the Department of Music on Campus West. Nearly all of your teaching will take place within the department. 

About our campus

Our beautiful green campus offers a student-friendly setting in which to live and study, within easy reach of the action in the city centre. It's easy to get around campus - everything is within walking or pedalling distance, or you can always use the fast and frequent bus service.

Assessment and feedback

The York Music degree is unique in its approach to assessment. There are no closed written exams – instead we want to focus on your individual response to our teaching. You are assessed through portfolios, the precise content of which will be tailored to the individual module, but might consist of one or more essays, compositions, performances or other options. This approach challenges you to take what you have been taught and extend it into new, exciting areas.

Percentage of the course typically assessed by coursework and exams

Year 1Year 2Year 3
Practical exams35%68%44%

The figures above are based on data from 2016/17.

Lecturer and student
assessed performance
What York does extremely well is offer the resources, teaching and time for students to experiment, discover their voice, and find a niche: something rather important in a climate where just being an excellent violinist/pianist/soprano won’t cut it.
Kerry Andrew, York graduate and award-winning composer and performer

Careers and skills

The majority of our students go on to graduate-level jobs in music and related professions. These include broadcast and media positions, professional performance, arts management, teaching and community education. Others undertake further study for an MA, PhD, conservatoire programme, or a PGCE.

Career opportunities

Our students go on to build successful careers in music, as well as in fields such as law, finance and management. Some recent graduates are now pursuing the following careers:

  • UK Concert Director of the Philharmonia Orchestra
  • General Director of the Southbank Sinfonia
  • Opera direction (including Opera North, Glyndebourne Touring Opera and the Royal Opera House)
  • BBC production (Proms and Radio 3 and 4)
  • Music publishing (most major houses)
  • Major music agencies
  • Freelance jazz musicians (including the World Service Project)
  • Music outreach
  • Classic FM production
  • University lecturing
  • Orchestral management
  • London Symphony Orchestra (currently four graduates plus their ex-principal cello)

Transferable skills

The creativity, professionalism, and critical thinking that you develop in our Music degree sets you up for a wide variety of careers, both within the field and beyond. Our students graduate with well-developed skills in the following areas:

  • independent thinking
  • teamwork
  • presentation
  • writing
  • critical analysis
  • creative problem-solving
  • communication

Entry requirements

Qualification Typical offer
A levels

AAB/ABB (including A level in Music at grade A).

In place of A level Music at Grade A, we will accept ABRSM Grade 5 Theory and Grade 8 Performance, or equivalent.

Access to Higher Education Diploma 36 credits from units awarded Distinction and 9 awarded Merit or higher
BTEC BTEC National Extended Diploma with DDD/DDM
Cambridge Pre-U D3, D3, M2 / D3, M2, M2
International Baccalaureate Diploma with 35-34 points including Higher Level 6 in Music
Scottish Highers / Advanced Highers AB at Advanced Highers including A in Music, plus AAAAB/AAABB in Highers

English language

If English isn't your first language you may need to provide evidence of your English language ability. We accept the following qualifications:

IELTS: 6.5, with a minimum of 5.5 in each component
PTE Academic: 61, with a minimum of 51 in each component
C1 Advanced and C2 Proficiency: 176, with a minimum of 162 each component
TOEFL: 87 overall, with a minimum of 17 in Listening, 18 in Reading, 20 in Speaking, 17 in Writing
Trinity ISE III: Merit in all components

For more information see our undergraduate English language requirements.

If you've not met our English language requirements

You may be eligible for one of our pre-sessional English language courses. These courses will provide you with the level of English needed to meet the conditions of your offer.

The length of course you need to take depends on your current IELTS scores and how much you need to improve to reach our English language requirements.

After you've accepted your offer to study at York, we'll confirm which pre-sessional course you should apply to via You@York.


To apply to York, you will need to complete an online application via UCAS (the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service).

All applications must be made through UCAS. Following your application you may be called to an interview and audition. On the day you visit York, there will be a chance to talk to current students and see the department in action. For general information about the application process, visit the UCAS site.

Next steps

Contact us

Get in touch if you have any questions

Dr Federico Reuben, Admissions Tutor

Learn more

Department of Music

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