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Overview Music study for professional careers

UCAS code


Typical offer

AAB/ABB (full entry requirements)


3 years full-time

music course contentWe 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, to explore new ways of making, sharing and hearing music, 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 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

Course content What you’ll study


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.

Our range of dedicated music facilities bring students together in one creative hub. When you study at York you will have access to facilities including 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, allowing you to develop your specialisms and explore areas which you may not have encountered before. 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.

Year 1

Year 1 includes two core skills modules:

  • Researching, Talking and Writing about Music: which includes a lecture series offering an overview of the history of music through a variety of key pieces.
  • Developing Musicianship: which includes aural skills, harmony and counterpoint, and keyboard skills.

Alongside these you choose three modules from our extensive list of module options, and pursue studies in your instrument or voice, supported by your individual teacher.

In Year 1 you'll also be involved in the Practical Project: 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.

Academic integrity module

In addition to the above you will also need to complete our online Academic Integrity module. This covers some of the essential skills and knowledge which will help you to study independently and produce work of a high academic standard which is vital for success at York.

This module will:

  • define academic integrity and academic misconduct
  • explain why and when you should reference source material and other people's work
  • provide interactive exercises to help you to assess whether you've understood the concepts
  • provide answers to FAQs and links to useful resources.

Year 2

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

The Practical Studies module develops critical reflection on performance, and requires you to engage with music journalism and our professional concert series as well as your own participation in departmental ensembles. 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 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.

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:

Teaching and assessment How you’ll be taught and assessed

Lecturer and student

Teaching format

Modules are taught in small groups over a full term. 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.

assessed performance


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.

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


Department ensembles

From choral to orchestral, jazz and folk to improvised electronica, gospel to gamelan, almost every kind of music is performed by the Department’s many ensembles, and all Music students are required to join at least one of these.

Careers Where you’ll go from here

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.

96% of the Department's research activity is classed as ‘internationally recognised’ (REF2014)

Entry requirements How to get here

Course entry

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.

A-levels and GCSEs

AAB/ABB (including A level music at grade A). In place of A level music, we will accept ABRSM Grade VIII Theory in combination with at least one essay-based A level.

Other UK qualifications

Scottish Highers / Advanced Highers

  • AAAAB/AABBB at Higher Level
  • AB at Advanced Higher Level


  • BTEC National Diploma
  • QCF BTEC Extended Diploma with DDD/DDM

Cambridge Pre-U

D3, D3, M2 / D3, M2, M2

Access to HE

  • 30 credits from units awarded Distinction and 9 awarded Merit or higher 
  • 15 credits from units awarded Distinction and 15 awarded Merit or higher

International options

International Baccalaureate
Diploma with 35-34 points including Higher Level 6 in Music

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

Unistats for this course

Enquire Contact our admissions tutor if you have any questions