University of Oxford Undergraduate Prospectus 2015 entry

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A BA in 3 years

UCAS code: W300

Course statistics for 2013 entry

Interviewed: 90%

Successful: 35%

Intake: 70

Entrance requirements

A-levels: AAA

Advanced Highers: AA/AAB

IB: 38 (including core points) with 666 at HL

Or any other equivalent

Candidates are expected to have Music to A-level, Advanced Higher, or Higher Level in the IB or another equivalent. Keyboard ability of ABRSM Grade V or above is also highly recommended.

How to apply (see page 118) [Transcriber's Note: page number of the printed edition. End of note]

Tests: None required

Written Work: Two pieces

Tuition Fees for 2014

Home/EU: £9,000/year

No upfront costs: you can get a loan for the full amount

Grants, bursaries and scholarships available

More on student finance: p 120 [Transcriber's Note: page number of the printed edition. End of note]

More Information

+44 (0) 1865 286264

Oxford Open days

2 and 3 July, and 19 September 2014

Why study Music?

Music can be studied from a wide variety of perspectives. We ‘study music’ by listening or by learning to perform a musical composition. We may also investigate, through analysis, the relationships between the various parts of the composition, or use documentary evidence to explore how reliable and authoritative a given score might be and how we might perform it in a historically sensitive manner. Historical studies, too, allow us to investigate the various uses of music – be it in 16th-century Rome, in Hollywood films, among the aboriginal peoples of Australia, or in some other context – and to understand better how our perception of a musical work (or repertory or style) has been shaped over time, and how it might differ from that of earlier ages or of different cultures. Although these and many other approaches, such as the more creative activities of performance and composition, might be singled out, they cannot so easily be kept separate if we are to study music musically.

Music at Oxford

Music has been part of the intellectual and cultural life of Oxford for more than eight centuries. Today, some dozen professors, readers and lecturers form the academic staff in the Faculty of Music, all of whom have internationally distinguished reputations as musicologists, performers or composers. Their work is complemented by that of many college Fellows and lecturers, bringing the total staff number to about 30. Numerous visiting speakers, and our close links with professional performing ensembles, including Phantasm and the University’s professional orchestra in residence, the Oxford Philomusica, add further richness and enjoyment to the experience of being a music student here.

The faculty offers performance and composition workshops, and many students play an active part in the life of college chapels, as either choral or organ scholars (see p 170 [Transcriber's Note: page number of the printed edition. End of note]). The faculty building includes practice rooms for solo, chamber and orchestral work; there is an electronic music and recording studio; and the library holdings of scores, recordings, books and other research materials are probably the most extensive in the UK. The world-famous Bate Collection of Musical Instruments is also housed at the Faculty, and many of these historical instruments are available for use by students.

The Oxford course is broadly based without compromising the possibility of increasing specialisation in one or more areas as you proceed. Performance and performance-related studies are especially prominent, particularly among the options for Finals, while those wishing to concentrate on other areas such as history, analysis and stylistic or original composition can do so equally well. Combined with the rich opportunities for personal development which arise from the musical facilities and activities sustained throughout the University and the city, this course helps every student to graduate as a mature and well-rounded musician with an informed and lively sense of the contemporary study and practice of the subject.

A typical weekly timetable

Work is divided between lectures and classes in the Faculty of Music and college tutorials. There are between four and six lectures a week, depending on the chosen options, as well as classes and tutorials. In the final term there are generally fewer lectures and more time for independent study.

What are tutors looking for?

Tutors are looking for a genuine spirit of enquiry and keenness to think critically about music, and those showing the potential to engage with the undergraduate course.



Teaching, performance and arts administration are among the more popular destinations for Music graduates, but others include broadcasting, publishing, politics and the Civil Service. Those wishing to undertake further study in performance often win coveted places at conservatoires in the UK and abroad. Josephine, who graduated in 2005, is now an analyst for HSBC Private Bank. She says: ‘My Music degree developed core research skills which are essential to rigorous fundamental analysis, a high standard of written communication which is key to concise report writing, and stage presence which translates into confident public speaking.’

Deborah, who graduated in 2001, now works in a university library in London. She says: ‘Over the last 10 years I have worked as a librarian and research assistant. I went on to gain master’s degrees in both musicology and librarianship, and am working towards a PhD in music librarianship. I am currently responsible for cataloguing and classification at the library.’

Andrew, who graduated in 2006, is now the Director of Music at King Edward VI School in Stratford-upon-Avon. He says: Since graduating, I have been involved in professional music-making and education. I’m currently combining teaching music with some professional singing and organ-playing. The experiences afforded by an Oxford education and participation in student societies around my course have enabled me to be seen, in post-Oxford life, as a safe pair of hands, both in terms of academic issues and administrative matters. This means I have been able to gain responsibilities in the areas of education management and school governance fairly early on in my career.

For more information about careers after Oxford, please see p 122 [Transcriber's Note: page number of the printed edition. End of note].

1st year


Six subjects are taken (one chosen from a list of options)


  • Special topics

  • Musical analysis

  • Techniques of composition and keyboard skills


  • Issues in the study of music

  • Composition

  • Performance

  • Extended essay


First University examinations: Three written papers and one ‘take-away’ paper, a practical examination and a recital/portfolio of compositions/essay

2nd and 3rd years


Eight subjects are taken (six chosen from a list of options)


  • Topics in music history before 1750

  • Topics in music history after 1700

Optional topics studied (these vary from year to year and have recently included the following): Singing, music writing, and memory, c600-1100; Opera in Purcell’s England 1659-1705; The Keyboard Concerto, 1740-1830; Richard Wagner; From Tasso to Tapiola: the symphonic poem, c1850-1950; Beyond modernism: music since 1945; Musical analysis and criticism; Musical thought and scholarship; Techniques of composition; Solo performance; Orchestration; Dissertation; Composition portfolio; Edition with commentary; Analysis portfolio; Chamber music performance; Choral conducting; Choral performance. Special Topic papers (these may vary from year to year and have recently included the following): Choral studies; The music of Guillaume de Machaut; Ethnomusicology and the urban encounter; Film music; Handel’s operas and oratorios in context; Music in the Iberian world, 1480-1650; Psychological perspectives on performance; 1966 and all that: The Beatles and popular music culture; Before silence and after: experimental music


Final University examinations: Three or more written papers and a combination of ‘take-away’ papers, portfolio submissions, recitals and practical tests, depending on the options chosen

Student statement

There’s a lot of history in the course, but there’s also a lot of psychology behind it, the sociology in making music and the political significance of it. Rebecca

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