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Study Music, why & how to study

Music may be a hobby of yours that's fuelled by passion. If this is you, then you're already a strong candidate for a degree in the subject area.

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  1. What’s Music?

  2. What Music degrees can you study?

  3. What do you need to get onto a Music degree?

  4. What topics does a Music degree cover?

  5. How will you be assessed?

  6. Why study Music?

  7. What do Music graduates earn?

  8. What jobs can you get as a Music graduate?

  9. What are the postgraduate opportunities?

  10. Similar subjects to Music

  11. Have any questions?

What’s Music?

Beyond performing and listening, people involved in music may well find themselves teaching, composing, arranging, recording, reviewing, administrating, marketing, archiving and, of course, studying.

Music degree modules may develop your skills in composing, orchestrating, performing, analysing, conducting, studio use, administration and musicology (the historical and cultural study of music). They could engage a broad range of past and present musical forms, and styles from diverse cultures.

What Music degrees can you study?

Undergraduate degrees in Music include single, combined and joint honours degrees:

  • Composition for Media, Film and Games BA
  • Folk and Traditional Music BA
  • Mathematics and Music Technology BSc
  • Music and French BA
  • Music and Philosophy BA
  • Music BA

Options may include an integrated foundation year, professional placement or study abroad.

What do you need to get onto a Music degree?

Entry requirements for a Music degree at a university are typically 64–165 UCAS points – but talented applicants who don’t meet the advertised requirements will be considered. Qualifications range from:

  • A Levels: AAA–C
  • BTECs: D*D*D*–MMP
  • Scottish Highers: AAAAA– BBC (Advanced Highers: AA–AAB)
  • International Baccalaureate: 38–28
  • Universities will usually ask that you have studied: music at A Level (or equivalent)

Other good subjects to have studied include:

  • Associated Board/Trinity Grade 7 or 8 (performance and/or theory) may be accepted instead of music A Level
  • General studies and critical thinking A Level may be excluded

Experience that would look good on your application:

  • Performance-related experiences, from being in an orchestra to solo performances
  • Involvement in music competitions, music clubs or societies, student radio, or putting on events
  • Experience or shadowing in your field of music, such as in a recording studio
  • Activities that evidence your transferable skills, like the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award
  • Independent reading into the subject and your particular interests
  • Summer schools, if available

Other requirements for this subject include:

  • Auditions, and possibly a separate interview
  • You may need to provide samples of your work, for example compositions, audio files or YouTube videos

What topics does a Music degree cover?

Typical modules for courses in this subject include:

  • Composition: 20th-century innovations
  • Creative software skills
  • Folk music studies: resources and research materials
  • Media composition skills
  • Music industry studies
  • Musical techniques
  • Performance studies
  • Studio recording technique

How will you be assessed?

Assessments are usually carried out by a mixture of the following, depending on the type of module:

  • Live recital
  • Pre-recorded performance
  • Written composition or scores
  • Written commentary
  • Essays
  • Seminar presentations
  • Timed exams

Why study Music?

Whether you're interested in performing, composing, or studying music theory, this subject area gives you the chance to explore your musical passions and become a creative artist.

Career-specific skills:

  • Performance or technical production skills
  • Creativity in performance, composition, or problem-solving

Transferable skills:

  • Collaboration
  • Communication
  • Critical thinking
  • Entrepreneurial mindset
  • IT literacy
  • Organisation
  • Performing under pressure
  • Research
  • Team working
  • Time management

Professional accreditation:

  • Degrees may be accredited by JAMES (Joint Audio Media Education Support), representing the Music Producers' Guild (MPG) and the Association of Professional Recording Studios (APRS)

Music at university allows me to explore what I enjoy about certain pieces and learn about their context. It also gives me the chance to learn about styles I had never come across, in particular the contemporary classical genres and world music.

James, University of Durham

What do Music graduates earn?

Music graduates can expect an entry-level salary of around £17,000–£22,000. As your career progresses, your salary will depend on the field you work in.

If you’re into the business side of music, life as a concert promoter could earn you £30,000–£50,500 with experience – but it’ll take time and good contacts to build your career.

If you prefer to use music to help people, music therapist salaries range from £32,300–£45,800 in the NHS (pay scale Band 6 to Band 7).

What jobs can you get as a Music graduate?

Due to the wide range of skills attained, Music graduates find success in a vast array of professions, both music-related and non-music related.

  • Arts administrator
  • Editorial assistant
  • Composer
  • Lawyer
  • Music publisher
  • Music teacher
  • Music journalist
  • Music therapist
  • Performer
  • Producer

What are the postgraduate opportunities?

Graduates with a Music degree need to complete teacher training to become a teacher.  Other examples of postgraduate courses include:

  • Music MA/MPhil/PhD
  • Composition of Music for Film and Television MA
  • International Music Management MA
  • Music Industries MSc

Similar subjects to Music

If you’re interested in music but aren’t sure about studying it as a single honours, you could also consider:

Have any questions?

Ask our experts! You can email with your question about studying Music – we’ll be happy to hear from you.

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