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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.

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

Average for this subject


Average for all subjects

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 : 46%
    Male : 54%
  • Mature : 19%
    School leaver : 81%
  • Full-time : 97%
    Part-time : 3%

What students say about music

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!

Career prospects

Sources: HECSU & KIS
Music 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

Typical graduate job areas
  • Artistic, literary and media occupations

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.