music courses in university

Last Updated on August 28, 2023

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Music courses

If you want to improve your performance skills, compose, conduct or learn music production techniques there is a wide range of music courses to choose from. You can study a variety of musical styles including classical (early to contemporary), jazz, popular music and electronic music. For performance courses you will usually need ABRSM grades in voice or the instrument(s) you want to study. Careers include professional musician, composer or conductor, teaching, music production and administration.Search for all courses

At a glance:

  • BA
  • BMUS


IntroductionStudent ViewsEntry RequirementsCareer Prospects

Studying music at university


Example course modules

  • Techniques of tonal music
  • Composition and theory
  • Instrumentation, harmony and analysis
  • Survey of western music: 900D AD to the present day
  • New directions
  • Musicianship
  • Music composition
  • Popular music studies
  • Free improvisation
  • Jazz studies

Teaching hours / week



The time you’ll spend in lectures and seminars each week will vary from university to university, so use this as a guide.

More on studying and contact hours at uni

Who studies this subject

  • Female : 45%Male : 55%
  • Mature : 19%School leaver : 81%
  • Full-time : 97%Part-time : 3%

League tables for this subject

The GuardianThe Complete University GuideThe Times

What students say about music

SOURCE:THE WHICH? UNIVERSITY STUDENT SURVEYSTUDENTThe music course is extremely varied and actually covers as many styles and genres as the real world would ask you to engage with. Essentially there are three strands: performan…2ND YEAR, UNIVERSITY OF CHICHESTERRead moreSTUDENTIn a typical week studying at Birmingham Conservatoire, you only have around nine hours of scheduled classes. This includes music history lectures, world music classes where you…1ST YEAR, BIRMINGHAM CITY UNIVERSITYRead moreSTUDENTThere is about 15 hours of teaching per week. The course explored all aspects of music from the very old to the very contemporary, and the subjects covered are stimulating. The …2ND YEAR, UNIVERSITY OF HERTFORDSHIRERead more

What you need to get on a course

Subjects you need

A-levels (or equivalent) usually required

  • Music
  • Grade VII / VIII for your main instrument

Useful to have

  • English
  • history

Application checklist

Here’s a guide to what to expect from the application process – also check individual university entry requirements, as these may differ.

  •  January application
  •  October application
  •  Personal statement
  •  Portfolio
  •  Interview
  •  Entry test
  •  Work experience
  •  Audition

Personal statement advice

Your personal statement is a core part of your university application, and getting it just right takes time. Before you start work on yours, take a look at our five quick tips on writing a personal statement. We’ll help you past that writer’s block!More advice on A-level requirementsMore advice on applying to uniPersonal statement tips and advice

Career prospects

SOURCES:HECSU & KISMusic is a popular degree subject and a little over 4,600 degrees were awarded to UK graduates in 2012. Most were working after six months – but postgraduate study (usually continuing with music) is quite common and a lot of graduates go into music teaching, often as freelance or travelling music teachers of particular instruments. Obviously, many music graduates get work as musicians as well, or work as sound recordists and in similar technical roles. Music is important in advertising and so a lot of graduates go into this industry and management is also a popular job role for music graduates. Because a lot of musician work is temporary or freelance, the most common way for new graduates to get jobs in music is through their own contacts, so learning how to make good use of networks and contacts might help in your career.Professional and accrediting bodies: 

Six months after graduating

SOURCES:DLHE & GRADUATE PROSPECTSTypical graduate job areas

  • Artistic, literary and media occupations

Average graduate salary

We don’t have the average graduate salary for this subject yet.% of graduates in work or further study

Data Missing

Longer term career paths

Jobs where this degree is useful

  • Musician (self-employed or contracted)
  • Music tutor
  • Music producer

Other real-life job examples

  • Arts officers
  • Multimedia designer
  • Sound technician

What employers like about this subject


Studying music can help you to develop subject-specific skills including the history of music and performance, a thorough knowledge of composition and a practical grounding in music performance – music degrees tend to have a strong practical element. Useful transferable skills you can gain from a music degree include communication, time management, project management, team-working, planning, performing under pressure and commercial awareness. The performing arts, education (both private tuition and in schools), events management, social and welfare, film and TV, advertising and computing industries all recruit music graduates.

Related subjects to explore


Drama and theatre studies

Photography and film

English language and literature

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