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BA (Hons) Music

Music study for professional careers

2018/19 entry

UCAS code


Institution code



3 years full-time (plus optional placement year)

Typical offer

AAB/ABB (full entry requirements)

Start date

September 2018 (term dates)

UK/EU fees

£9,250 per year (2018/19)

International fees

£16,620 per year (2018/19)

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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.

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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.

Course content

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.

You will 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 will always be actively engaged in discussion with your lecturers. Alongside traditional text-based study you will be taught through seminars, workshops and practical exercises: you will study music from the inside, an approach which is central to our vibrant, supportive and internationally respected department.

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.

Specialist modules are updated every year and cover all aspects of music from medieval through to electronica. These typically involve a period of learning in small group classes combined with independent study through which, with individual assistance, you produce a folio of work for assessment. You also take modules designed to develop core skills, that complement and support the areas of specialist study. You will develop research techniques, skills in writing about music, aural ability, and analytical, critical and creative thinking.

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, France, Germany and Corfu.

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

Year 1 includes four core skills modules:

  • Making Music, Studying Music: this includes the Practical Project, which 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. The module also includes classes on writing and research skills. 
  • Developing Musicianship: this includes aural skills, harmony and counterpoint. 
  • Listen to This: this module includes a lecture series offering an overview of the history of music through a variety of key pieces. 
  • Performance Studies: this includes solo studies supported by your individual instrumental or vocal teacher, as well as ensemble studies.

Alongside these you choose three modules from our extensive list of module options.

Academic integrity module

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

Year 2

During Year 2 the focus is on developing your independence, critical thinking and confidence; improving your core skills; and continuing your instrumental/vocal studies.

The 'Critical Thinking and Listening' module develops critical reflection on music and its performance. In addition you will choose three specialist modules and begin planning for your Solo Project, which will form a major part of Year 3.

Year 3

Year 3 allows you to specialise further, with Recital and Composition Folio options alongside the wide variety of module topics.

In Year 3 you also devise, research and produce a Independent 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.

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.

Top 10 in the UK

We're ranked in the top 10 in the UK in the Guardian University league table 2018

Leading research

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

Fees and funding

Annual tuition fees

UK/EU International
£9,250 £16,620

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 bursaries for instrumental and vocal studies

Living costs

You can use our living costs guide to help plan your budget. It covers accommodation costs and estimated social costs.

“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 work with world‐leading academics who’ll challenge you to think independently and excel in all that you do. 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

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 1200 hours a year learning.


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

Course location

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 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 Grade
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 30 credits from units awarded Distinction and 9 awarded Merit or higher 15 credits from units awarded Distinction and 15 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 AAAAB/AABBB at Higher Level
AB at Advanced Higher Level

English language

6.5 with a minimum of 5.5 in all units

Pearson (Academic PTE)
61 overall with 51 in all parts

GCSE/O level English Language (as a first language)
Grade C

English Language requirements in full


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

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Department of Music

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