Triangle Skip to content
Exit nav

Course overview

Music surrounds us. It has a profound effect on us as individuals and shapes wider society. It's used for personal pleasure, intellectual stimulation, celebration, mourning, and political propaganda.

At Nottingham you’ll explore both how music does this and how your creativity can produce music that people will remember.

All of our students get a common introduction to the basic building blocks of music across styles, genres, cultures and traditions.

You'll then have the freedom to choose. If you want to specialise in musicology, performance, composition or technology you can. Alternatively, explore widely across our diverse mix of modules. Combine Early Music with Race and Musical Theatre or Conducting with Studio Recording. You can build your degree to suit your interests.

Our facilities support your choices. We have purpose-built spaces to compose, rehearse, perform, record and experiment!

We encourage collaboration between students and joining up work across modules. There are also opportunities to get involved in staff projects. See some recent examples of student projects.

The opportunities to perform are extensive:

  • student ensembles
  • on-course groups
  • university-wide orchestra and choir
  • as part of the city's dynamic music scene.

Check out the full range of performance possibilities.

Your department

Find out more about what it’s like to study in the Department of Music.

Why choose this course?

  • Combine practical skills with academic understanding
  • Collaboration is key! Work with experienced musicians, producers and technicians
  • Over 20 specialised students ensembles
  • Paid-for tuition with experienced professionals for performance modules
  • Integral work placement module that is carefully designed to help you look beyond your degree
  • Lakeside Arts - the University's public arts facility and programme

Entry requirements

All candidates are considered on an individual basis and we accept a broad range of qualifications. The entrance requirements below apply to 2022 entry.

UK entry requirements
A level ABB - including music or music technology. Alternatives to A-level music accepted.
Required subjects

A or B in music or music technology at A level.

Grade 5 Theory ABRSM, LCM, Trinity or Rockschool may be accepted in place of A-level music.

We also accept many alternative qualifications including DDD in the BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in Music.

We are always happy to discuss different qualifications as suitable entrance requirements.

IB score 32 (5 in music at Higher Level)

Extended Project Qualification (EPQ)

If you have already achieved your EPQ at grade A you will automatically be offered one grade lower in a non-mandatory A level subject.

If you are still studying for your EPQ you will receive the standard course offer, with a condition of one grade lower in a non-mandatory A level subject if you achieve an A grade in your EPQ.

Foundation progression options

You can also access this course through a Foundation Year. This may be suitable if you have faced educational barriers and are predicted BCC at A Level.

Learning and assessment

How you will learn

We are preparing your tutorials, laboratory classes, workshops and seminars so that you can study and discuss your subjects with your tutors and fellow students in stimulating and enjoyable ways. While we will keep some elements of online course delivery, particularly while Covid-19 restrictions remain in place or where this enhances course delivery, teaching is being planned to take place in-person wherever possible. This will be subject to government guidance remaining unchanged.

We will use the best of digital technologies to support both your in-person and online teaching. We will provide live, interactive online sessions, alongside pre-recorded teaching materials so that you can work through them at your own pace. While the mix of in-person and digital teaching will vary by course, we aim to increase the proportion of in-person teaching in the spring term.

As you you'd expect from a music degree there's so much more than lectures and seminars.

Our workshops with professional musicians and composers give you industry insights, practical experience and networking opportunities. These workshops are usually professionally recorded and can be added to your portfolio.

Collaboration is encouraged. Groups of students often work together across modules - one composes, a second performs while a third produces a recording. This helps you to work on real projects and demonstrates strong team working skills to employers.

We record all of our lectures. This allows you to catch important points again, review your notes and catch up if life means you can't attend in person.

Teaching quality

We work hard to provide meaningful and stimulating teaching:

  • over 90% of students agree that staff are good at explaining things and made the subject interesting (National Student Survey 2020)
  • all of our teaching staff have nationally recognised teaching qualifications

If you have worries abut your work we won't wait for them to become problems. You'll have a personal tutor who will support your academic progress and help find solutions to any issues.

“You'll meet regularly with your personal tutor to consult on your personal and academic progress and ensure you feel part of our community. They can help you to manage your extra-curricular musical activities and will be your first port of call should you encounter any academic or personal difficulties. They'll advise you on career options and write references as required. They also love talking about music!”

Simon Paterson, Assistant Professor in Music Technology

Teaching methods

  • Lectures
  • Practical classes
  • Seminars
  • Tutorials
  • Placements
  • Workshops

How you will be assessed

All assessments in the 2021/22 academic year will be delivered online unless there is a professional accreditation requirement or a specific need for on-campus delivery and in-person invigilation.

A combination of essays and exams are the norm for most modules. Weekly reading summaries, presentations and online quizzes and tests may also be used by individual lecturers.

Depending on the modules you take you will also be assessed through recital performances, a composition portfolio, sound recordings and conducting performances.

Assessment methods

  • Dissertation
  • Essay
  • Portfolio (written/digital)
  • Presentation
  • Reflective review
  • Written exam

Contact time and study hours

The minimum scheduled contact time you will have is:

  • Year one - 12 hours
  • Year two - 10 hours
  • Year three - 8 hours

Weekly tutorial support, ensemble rehearsals and the accredited Nottingham Advantage Award provide further optional learning activities, on top of these class contact hours.

Your lecturers can be available outside your scheduled contact time to discuss issues and develop your understanding. This can be in person and online.

As well as your timetabled sessions you’ll carry out extensive self-study. This will include course reading, seminar preparation and music practice. As a guide 20 credits (a typical module) is about 200 hours of work (combined teaching and self-study).

Class sizes vary depending on topic and type. A popular lecture may have up to 50 students attending while a specialised seminar may only contain 10 students.

Your lecturers will usually be from our academic staff many of whom are internationally recognised in their fields.

Performance tuition

All students taking solo performance modules will receive fully-paid tuition with one of our experienced instrument and vocal tutors. The allocations are generous:

  • Year one - 16 hours
  • Year two - 18 hours
  • Year three - 20 hours

Additionally, for each assessed recital performance, students will receive a bursary to support practice with an approved accompanist.

Many of our performance tutors are happy to provide additional paid-for support.

Study abroad

Nottingham's a global university so we support a range of opportunities for you to study abroad.

In the past five years over 1,500 of our students have benefitted from living and learning in a different culture. And boosted their CVs for prospective employers.

You've a range of options - from short summer schools, a single semester to a whole year abroad.

We've a dedicated team to help you with the practicalities and many opportunities mean you pay reduced fees.

If you need support for your language skills before you go our Language Centre will have resources to help.

Explore your study abroad opportunities

Placements

We are one of very few UK music departments to offer a Work Placement module that counts towards your degree. Placement providers include professional orchestras and venues, promoters, record labels and recording studios.

You can also apply for paid part-time traineeships with Nottingham Lakeside Arts and the Denis Arnold Music Library.

We offer voluntary mentoring placements at local primary schools in conjunction with Nottingham Music Hub

You also have access to a wide range of work experience and volunteering schemes through the:

Perform at Nottingham

Hear what our students think about studying music here.

Modules

We know everyone comes from a variety of backgrounds and experiences so our first year:

  • ensures you have the necessary skills and knowledge to thrive
  • is designed to help you connect to and build relationships with your fellow students

You will take up to 120 credits-worth of modules split as follows:

  • Core modules (100 credits) – consolidate and deepen your knowledge of music theory, history, repertoire, world music and popular music
  • Optional music modules (10-20 credits) – start exploring your special interests
  • Optional modules in other subjects (0-20 credits) – an opportunity to approach a music topic from another angle, learn a language or explore an unrelated passion!

You must pass year one but it does not count towards your final degree classification.

Core modules

Elements of Music 1
This module will consolidate your knowledge of the fundamental building blocks of music across all periods and genres. Topics will include notation, mode, chord, time and texture. 
Elements of Music 2
This module continues the survey of fundamental building blocks of music undertaken in Elements of Music I. It introduces a variety of analytical theories and interpretative methods, applied to a broad range of genres and styles. The precise content may vary from year to year, depending upon available staff expertise, but typical topics include partimento, jazz harmony, and approaches to form. 
Ensemble Performance
This module is based upon participation in and preparation for rehearsals and performances of the University Choir or the University Philharmonia. Through intensive preparation of demanding repertoire with a professional conductor, students will develop their understanding of the demands and pleasures of large ensemble performance and their knowledge of the repertoire concerned, and be encouraged to reflect upon the roles and responsibilities of individual performers within the group. Conducting workshops will give them initiation and insight into the role (especially the practical tasks) of the conductor. They will also be required to attend a professional ensemble concert or concerts in the Djanogly Recital Hall, which they will review and on which they will prepare a report. 
Repertoire Studies 1: Music Before the 20th Century

You'll get a thorough knowledge of European musical repertoires from the Renaissance to the turn of the twentieth century.

As well as learning about composers, styles and genres, you’ll develop an appreciation of how musical traditions have been shaped by their cultural contexts – and how cultures have been shaped by their musical traditions.

Topics covered will include:

  • early opera and oratorio
  • chamber music
  • choral and religious music
  • programme music
  • historical instruments and period performance
  • the invention of ‘Classical Music’
  • women in music history
  • histories of amateur participation
  • global perspectives on European music

You'll also learn about how music history is researched and studied today, and how the stories we tell have changed over time.

As this is one of the first modules you will take at university you'll also get an introduction to the skills required to research and write essays effectively.

 

This module is worth 20 credits.

Repertoire Studies 2: 20th-Century Music

You'll be exploring a wide range of genres and stylistic trends in key repertoire from the late nineteenth century to the present day.

Topics covered will include:

  • impressionism
  • modernism
  • neo-classicism
  • atonality and its consequences
  • nationalism
  • film music
  • jazz
  • the work of female composers
  • cross-cultural influences
  • minimalism

You'll also develop an appreciation of the cultural contexts in which these repertoires developed.

As this is one of the first modules you will take at university, it will also help you develop the general skills required to research and write essays effectively.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Global Music Studies

Explore a range of musical cultures beyond the traditional canon of Western art music.

Introduce the fields of ethnomusicology and popular music studies. You'll look at different:

  • meanings
  • practices
  • theories of music

from a diverse range of cultures and communities.

We delve into musical traditions and popular culture from around the world, including case studies from Asia, the Americas, Africa, the Middle East, Europe, and the Pacific.

As well as ethnomusicological theory and method you'll get an overview of key issues and debates in Anglophone popular music. You will also develop critical skills for the analysis of musical practice in diverse contexts.

 

This module is worth 10 credits.

Optional modules

Aesthetics of Electronic and Computer Music
Investigates technological shifts in recording and performance and assesses impact on the perception of music. Explores how cultural changes and advances in technology have shaped existing genres and created new movements, and asks how society and laws have adapted to the democratisation of music creation and distribution which technology has enabled.

Topics include:

  • Examining recording technologies; e.g. digital and analogue workflows; their respective advantages and limitations
  • Sampling and tape loops, plunderphonics • programming, development of computer technology, MIDI
  • Rights and ownership and relation to creativity
  • Recording spaces; acoustics
  • Performance technology, haptics
Performance 1

Develop your performance skills towards a professional level.

You will work with a dedicated tutor, agreeing pieces to work on at the appropriate level.

Repertoire:

  • instrumental: at least one item at DipABRSM level or equivalent (Trinity, Rockschool)
  • vocal: at least two items at DipABRSM level or equivalent (Trinity, Rockschool)

You will combine 16 hours of individual tuition with group masterclasses and workshops, and personal practice using our specialised facilities. Workshop topics covered will include rehearsal strategies, diversifying repertoire choices, musician’s wellbeing, and writing programme notes.

Final assessment is through an end of year recital and supporting programme notes, in which you will have the opportunity to work with a collaborative pianist, funded by the department.

This module is worth 10 credits.

You would normally be expected to have Grade 8 ABRSM or equivalent standard before starting this module.

Skills in Composition
 The module explores the relationship between musical raw materials and the realisation of their creative potential by examining a wide range of compositional techniques and musical styles. Topics include melody, scales and modes, and contrasting harmonic idioms.
The above is a sample of the typical modules we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Modules (including methods of assessment) may change or be updated, or modules may be cancelled, over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for information on available modules. This content was last updated on Friday 26 February 2021.

There are no compulsory modules in year two – you get a totally free choice.

You will take 120 credits of modules split as follows:

  • Optional modules (100-120 credits) - build on existing interests or explore new ones. Gain professional experience with our Work Placement module.
  • Optional modules in other subjects (0-20 credits)

Many year two modules are also offered as year three options. 

You must pass year two which counts approximately one third towards your final degree classification.

Optional modules

History and culture

Approaches to Popular Music

Get a grounding in approaches to thinking and writing about popular music critically.

You'll cover a variety of perspectives and explore key issues in relation to featured songs, music videos and performers.

We'll ask fundamental questions about the contexts of popular music and their role in forming and responding to social and political issues. We'll also explore connections with other cultural traditions and artistic media.

Overall you will develop a sense of the richness and diversity of scholarly approaches to popular music in the Anglophone world.

 

This module is worth 20 credits.

Jazz: Origins and Styles

Jazz covers a multitude of styles from trad to free, plus any number of contemporary ‘fusions’.

We'll start by looking at its origins in ragtime and blues and then delve into a wide range of contrasting styles from 1917 to the present day. These might include:

  • New Orleans and Chicago ensemble jazz
  • Harlem stride piano
  • swing bands
  • be-bop and hard bop
  • the ‘cool’ school
  • modal jazz
  • free jazz
  • symphonic jazz
  • jazz-rock and other fusion styles

We'll also take a look at jazz film scores.

Throughout the module we'll explore cultural, racial, analytical and aesthetic issues at each stage in jazz's development.

 

This module is worth 20 credits.

Aesthetics of Music

Discussions of music have a long-established history of engaging with philosophical issues, while music has often challenged and shaped philosophical thought. This module introduces the student to relationships between the two disciplines and examines some of the crucial issues at stake.

The first half of the module will explore the foundations of modern aesthetics in the writings of enlightenment and nineteenth-century philosophers, including Kant, Hegel,Schopenhauer, and Nietzsche.

The second half will explore key twentieth-century contributions from thinkers including Adorno, Barthes and Lydia Goehr.

The module offers a variety of conceptual tools that will enable the student to develop critical and philosophical skills relevant for the historical and theoretical study of music.

The Hollywood Musical

Hollywood musicals have been hugely popular from the invention of “talkies” to the present day. But how are they different to musicals written for the stage?

We'll use a range of case studies, from The Jazz Singer (1927) to The Greatest Showman (2017), to consider specific issues such as:

  • theatricality and “backstage narratives”
  • star casting
  • dance on screen
  • the role of animation in developing the form.

You'll develop a broad knowledge of the:

  • range of musicals produced
  • key figures in their development
  • musicological debates around them.

This module is worth 20 credits.

The Social Life of Scores

This module looks at musical scores as material (or virtual) objects, from the earliest medieval songbooks to IMSLP and the PDF, via five centuries of music printing.

With attention to objects in the Nottingham library collections, as well as famous items online and in facsimile, we will be asking what do scores tell us about their makers, their owners and their users?

Classes will think about matters including literacy, musical interpretation and cultural memory, as well as intersections between music books and race, gender, power and social class.

Film Music

Music is often integral to the success of a film. It can set the mood, heighten drama, enhance emotions and provide a sense of continuity. Together we'll look at the various styles of film music developed during the history of cinema, and consider aesthetic and technical issues around them. You'll also develop an awareness of historical, commercial and social factors in the entertainment industry, including music for television and videogames.

Topics will include:

  • silent film
  • the golden era of Hollywood
  • characteristics of different genres (such as animation, musical comedy, film noir, science fiction, etc.)
  • European cinema
  • animation
  • documentary film
  • uses of pop, jazz and classical music in film scoring

In your coursework, you'll be encouraged to apply the general lessons learnt from seminars and lectures to specific areas of film you are particularly interested in.

 

This module is worth 20 credits.

The Broadway Musical

Look at the development of the Broadway musical from the 1920s to the present.

Examine themes including:

  • adaptation
  • stardom
  • collaboration
  • commercialism

Sessions will include:

  • Rodgers and Hammerstein and the musical play
  • Stephen Sondheim and the art musical
  • the Disney musical on stage
Historical Performance and Early Music Revivals

As students of music we are constantly thinking about and interacting with repertories of the past. Historicism is one of the most distinctive features of the Western musical tradition, yet it is also one of the most problematic.

  • How can we listen to earlier repertories with anything other than modern ears?
  • How can we ascertain the intentions of dead composers and copyists, reanimate lost acoustic environments, or revivify performing traditions whose memory has faded?
  • What does our engagement with this material tell us about ourselves, our values and ideologies?

You'll get first-hand exposure to the original notations, treatises, instruments, recordings and other primary sources which grant us access to the musical past, and by reflecting critically thereupon.

In particular we'll examine tuning, scoring, the realisation of notations, improvisation, edition-making, early recordings and the question of ‘technique’.

You'll also look at Western attitudes to the musical past, principally from the nineteenth century to the present, with particular attention to the ‘Early Music’ movement in post-war Britain.

This will involve investigating the various communities which sustain Early Music in our culture today, including festivals, conservatories, universities, publishers, societies, churches, folk ensembles, broadcast media and record labels.

Society and community

Music Work Placement

This module involves part-time placement (1 day a week, or equivalent, for 8 weeks) in an external organisation, and is aimed at developing hands-on work experience and employability skills in a workplace relevant to Music graduates. Each placement will be arranged by the Department, and will be provided by organisations involved in music or other areas of the creative and cultural industries. Departmental mentoring will take the form of a fortnightly seminar, where experiences are shared and work is undertaken on the assessment tasks.

We currently offer more than 20 placements at music-related organisations in Nottingham and the East Midlands, including:

  • Royal Concert Hall
  • NottinghamSinfonia
  • Viva orchestra
  • DHP Family – a leading concert promoter
  • I’m Not From London – an independent record label
  • Dance4 – a contemporary dance company
  • Derby Cathedral

a host of local music hubs, schools, and recording/mastering studios. We will also help you arrange placements with non-music related organisations if you feel you would like to gain experience in other industries.

Contemporary Approaches to Music Education

This module centres on participation in primary school music teaching in partnership with the Nottingham Music Hub. Students attend weekly in-school sessions throughout the autumn and spring semesters, assisting with Nottingham First Access mentoring (In Harmony and/or Whole Class Ensemble) or contributing to the direction of post-first-access ensembles. In the spring semester, fortnightly classes will supplement the in-school experience with sessions on topics such as: the national music plan and music hubs; different teaching and learning styles; Musical Futures; musical inclusion and teaching in inner-city schools; and special educational needs.

Music and Health

This module will address issues relevant for professional performing musicians including:

  • injury prevention and treatment
  • nutrition
  • exercise
  • integrative medicinal approaches.

We will explore research on topics such as:

  • healthy movement for musicians (including Tai Chi / Qi Gongand Yoga)
  • therapeutic approaches such as physiotherapy and Alexander Technique
  • the latest directions in working with performance anxiety and stage fright such as visualisation, mindfulness and “smart practice” methods as well as time and stress management.

Seminars will introduce readings on these topics supplemented by occasional guest lectures and practical activities, discussion and student presentations.

 

This module is worth 20 credits.

Composition

Creative Orchestration
This module will introduce students to the art of writing for orchestral instruments including strings, woodwinds, brass, percussion and keyboard with some coverage of writing for popular instruments.
Digital Composition

Develops core skills in digital composition.

Using Logic Pro software you'll gain professional technical skills in:

  • creation of sounds using synthesis
  • audio recording and sampling techniques
  • audio and MIDI programming and editing
  • scoring (inc. exporting to Sibelius)
  • mix techniques such as dynamic processing, time-based effects (reverb, modulation), equalisation and automation to attain width, height, space and depth
  • audio files and formats
  • mastering (metering, loudness)

As well as technical skills you'll also:

  • look across genres at how different techniques are used in particular settings
  • learn to work in a professional way using industry specific composition briefs.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Electroacoustic Composition
In this course, students will compose a portfolio of original electro-acoustic compositions for soloist and electronics that will be performed towards the conclusion of the module. The course will cover a range of contemporary music in the creation of a series of etudes in compositional areas that will encourage the development of current practice and an understanding of electroacoustic compositional ideas and related performance practice. It will establish a thorough technical base for future compositional output in a wide range of areas within fixed and live electroacoustic music that includes aspects synthesis, sampling, and computer music. The final submission will be judged on both technical merit and creativity. The goal of the module is for each student to develop a body of work expressive of their individual creative voice.
Composing for Words, Theatre and Moving Image

Get an introduction to composing music that responds to and interacts with work by non-musical artists.

By the end of the module you'll have composed two short pieces:

  • a choral work on an English-language text of your choice
  • a score for a short film clip

In past years, students have chosen a wide variety of texts for their choral compositions, from Romantic poetry to political speeches. Students have composed new scores for film clips from a range of films, from Dziga Vertov's pioneering Man With a Movie Camera to BBC nature documentaries.

For an example of the final work you might produce see this video - 'Apotheosis' by George Littlehales

This module is worth 20 credits.

Performance

Performance 2

Build on your performance abilities developed in the first year.

You will work with a dedicated tutor, agreeing pieces to work on at the appropriate level.

Repertoire:

  • one item at DipABRSM level or equivalent (Trinity, Rockschool)
  • one work by a female or female-identifying composer

You will combine 18 hours of individual tuition with group masterclasses and workshops, and personal practice using our specialised facilities. Workshop topics covered will include rehearsal strategies, diversifying repertoire choices, musician’s wellbeing, and writing programme notes.

Final assessment is through an end of year recital and supporting programme notes, in which you will have the opportunity to work with a collaborative pianist, funded by the department.

This module is worth 20 credits.

There is also a 10 credit version of this module available for part-time students and students who take the opportunity to study abroad for one semester in their second year.

Advanced Ensemble Performance
This module offers the opportunity for intensive development of ensemble performance skills. Students are required to pre-form small instrumental or vocal ensembles before the module commences, agreed with the Director of Performance. If students have a specific instrumental or vocal formation in mind that cannot be formed within the module, they may invite guest performers, normally up to one unassessed member per ensemble. Please note that the department does not provide accompanists for this module. Collaborative pianists should be regarded as an integral part of an ensemble. They are required to participate fully in regular rehearsals and workshops within the framework of the module. Ensembles will remain intact for the duration of the module. Should any member of the ensemble be unable to continue, this should be confirmed before the module transfer deadline and the other members will be required to find a replacement. No changes to the ensemble are permitted after the module transfer deadline. Pianists will have the option to choose collaborative piano (accompanying) as their specialism within the module. Students will receive a weekly coaching workshop/rehearsal session as well as further individual coaching. Ensembles are encouraged to explore existing repertoire during weeks 1–3, and thereafter to work on their performance of the work(s) selected by the group. All ensembles are assessed by performance and must also complete a log documenting rehearsals.
Conducting
This module provides an introduction to some fundamental techniques and practical skills of instrumental/orchestral and choral conducting. It addresses the various problems and challenges from a variety of angles, and will include practical work both in class and in front of an ensemble. Rehearsal techniques, score literacy, interpretation, and the practical psychology of conducting will be examined in plenary meetings (thorough preparation and independent work on all aspects of the module will be required). Technical issues (including stance, movement, beating patterns and other relevant gestures, as well as knowledge and preparation of scores) will be explored in workshops. Students will practise conducting specific pieces (with the rest of the group singing/playing), and will gain feedback both from group discussion and from the tutor.

Music technology

Recording Studio Practice

The recording studio is one of the key spaces where technology and creative musical practice meet.

You'll develop professional skills in:

  • applications of microphones and their placement within a variety of acoustic spaces, and for a variety of instrumentation.
  • mixing techniques with reference to current standards
  • audio processing, signal paths and workflows
  • file-types applicable to recent trends in musical consumption

You'll work in small groups to allow you to specialise in techniques and styles for your particular music interests such as chamber music, jazz ensemble, rock or ethno-music groups.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Digital Composition

Develops core skills in digital composition.

Using Logic Pro software you'll gain professional technical skills in:

  • creation of sounds using synthesis
  • audio recording and sampling techniques
  • audio and MIDI programming and editing
  • scoring (inc. exporting to Sibelius)
  • mix techniques such as dynamic processing, time-based effects (reverb, modulation), equalisation and automation to attain width, height, space and depth
  • audio files and formats
  • mastering (metering, loudness)

As well as technical skills you'll also:

  • look across genres at how different techniques are used in particular settings
  • learn to work in a professional way using industry specific composition briefs.

This module is worth 20 credits.

The above is a sample of the typical modules we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Modules (including methods of assessment) may change or be updated, or modules may be cancelled, over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for information on available modules. This content was last updated on

You have choice from a wide variety of modules as long as the total credits taken add up to 120.

You can specialise further with pathways in musicology, performance, composition and music technology or mix and match to suit your interests.

The optional dissertation module allows you write a longer piece of work on a topic of your own choosing, supported by a member of staff.

You can also take 20 credits from another department or the Language Centre.

You must pass year three which counts two thirds towards your final degree classification.

Optional modules

History and culture

Dissertation or Editorial/Analytical Project

Your opportunity to pursue an extended individual project in the areas of musicology, analysis, or transcribing and editing.

The topic covered will be your choice and agreed before you start with the module convenor.

Supported through a series of seminars and tutorials, you'll demonstrate original research and critical thinking in producing a 8,000‒12,000 word written project (or equivalent).

You'll give a presentation on aspects of your project at a Finalists Conference and get additional on-the-spot feedback from staff and students

 

This module is worth 40 credits.

Jazz: Origins and Styles

Jazz covers a multitude of styles from trad to free, plus any number of contemporary ‘fusions’.

We'll start by looking at its origins in ragtime and blues and then delve into a wide range of contrasting styles from 1917 to the present day. These might include:

  • New Orleans and Chicago ensemble jazz
  • Harlem stride piano
  • swing bands
  • be-bop and hard bop
  • the ‘cool’ school
  • modal jazz
  • free jazz
  • symphonic jazz
  • jazz-rock and other fusion styles

We'll also take a look at jazz film scores.

Throughout the module we'll explore cultural, racial, analytical and aesthetic issues at each stage in jazz's development.

 

This module is worth 20 credits.

Aesthetics of Music

Discussions of music have a long-established history of engaging with philosophical issues, while music has often challenged and shaped philosophical thought. This module introduces the student to relationships between the two disciplines and examines some of the crucial issues at stake.

The first half of the module will explore the foundations of modern aesthetics in the writings of enlightenment and nineteenth-century philosophers, including Kant, Hegel,Schopenhauer, and Nietzsche.

The second half will explore key twentieth-century contributions from thinkers including Adorno, Barthes and Lydia Goehr.

The module offers a variety of conceptual tools that will enable the student to develop critical and philosophical skills relevant for the historical and theoretical study of music.

Research Seminar: The Art of 18th-Century Performance - Improvisation

In the eighteenth century all professional musicians had to undergo an apprenticeship of up to 10 years, either with a family member or within a church school or orphanage (conservatoire). The first three years of training involved singing and imparted essential skills in performance, improvisation, and composition. After that, apprentices would specialise in either singing, composing, or playing an instrument. If they chose to play, then they would repeat the entire three years of rudiments upon their instrument (unless they chose the keyboard, which involved a different system called partimento). 

In this module, we will undertake the same real lessons of an eighteenth-century apprentice, both sung and played. Students should expect to participate in improvisations and sing or play in class. By the end students will be able to read 84 different staves fluently (7 clefs multiplied by 12 key signatures), improvise a stylish and correct melodic composition instantaneously, and perform scores in a novel yet historically authentic way. 

The Hollywood Musical

Hollywood musicals have been hugely popular from the invention of “talkies” to the present day. But how are they different to musicals written for the stage?

We'll use a range of case studies, from The Jazz Singer (1927) to The Greatest Showman (2017), to consider specific issues such as:

  • theatricality and “backstage narratives”
  • star casting
  • dance on screen
  • the role of animation in developing the form.

You'll develop a broad knowledge of the:

  • range of musicals produced
  • key figures in their development
  • musicological debates around them.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Approaches to Popular Music

Get a grounding in approaches to thinking and writing about popular music critically.

You'll cover a variety of perspectives and explore key issues in relation to featured songs, music videos and performers.

We'll ask fundamental questions about the contexts of popular music and their role in forming and responding to social and political issues. We'll also explore connections with other cultural traditions and artistic media.

Overall you will develop a sense of the richness and diversity of scholarly approaches to popular music in the Anglophone world.

 

This module is worth 20 credits.

The Social Life of Scores

This module looks at musical scores as material (or virtual) objects, from the earliest medieval songbooks to IMSLP and the PDF, via five centuries of music printing.

With attention to objects in the Nottingham library collections, as well as famous items online and in facsimile, we will be asking what do scores tell us about their makers, their owners and their users?

Classes will think about matters including literacy, musical interpretation and cultural memory, as well as intersections between music books and race, gender, power and social class.

Analysing Early Music

This module introduces students to the analysis of European music to circa 1700, from the Ancient Greeks to the beginnings of the Baroque.

With the help of the latest scholarly conversations our classes will consider the challenges and possibilities of assessing style, structure and meaning in pre-modern musical repertories.

In particular, we will be thinking about:

  • musical traditions built upon different systems of pitch, tonality and rhythm
  • repertories that are partially notated, improvised or inherently variable in their transmission
  • the relationship between repertories and the writings of contemporary theorists
  • whether or not analysis can disclose musical meanings (hermeneutics).

Although Western Europe is our focus, the issues encountered in this course also readily pertain to popular repertories, and to musical cultures worldwide.

Film Music

Music is often integral to the success of a film. It can set the mood, heighten drama, enhance emotions and provide a sense of continuity. Together we'll look at the various styles of film music developed during the history of cinema, and consider aesthetic and technical issues around them. You'll also develop an awareness of historical, commercial and social factors in the entertainment industry, including music for television and videogames.

Topics will include:

  • silent film
  • the golden era of Hollywood
  • characteristics of different genres (such as animation, musical comedy, film noir, science fiction, etc.)
  • European cinema
  • animation
  • documentary film
  • uses of pop, jazz and classical music in film scoring

In your coursework, you'll be encouraged to apply the general lessons learnt from seminars and lectures to specific areas of film you are particularly interested in.

 

This module is worth 20 credits.

The Broadway Musical

Look at the development of the Broadway musical from the 1920s to the present.

Examine themes including:

  • adaptation
  • stardom
  • collaboration
  • commercialism

Sessions will include:

  • Rodgers and Hammerstein and the musical play
  • Stephen Sondheim and the art musical
  • the Disney musical on stage

Society and community

Dissertation in Music

This module provides you with the opportunity to prepare for an extended individual prose study of 10,000–12,000 words, on a self-selected subject, agreed with the module convenor. Credit will be given for the scope and depth of the study, for clarity of expression and thoroughness of presentation. One-to-one supervision will be supplemented by regular group classes and attendance at Department Music Colloquia.

Research Seminar: Music and Environmentalism

This module aims to:

  • develop individual and group-based research skills in a specific field of study
  • undertake basic research efficiently and productively
  • develop promising lines of enquiry to an appropriate level of sophistication
  • develop an understanding of the potential social and environmental impact of music and musicology
Race and Music Theatre

You will examine the role of race in “music as drama”. Using critical race theory you'll explore issues of representation, agency, and identity in a safe, supportive and constructive environment. You will also begin to develop the connections between new musicology, theatre studies, and identity theory.

Examples will cover:

  • opera (for example Aida and Madama Butterfly)
  • musical theatre (for example Kiss Me, Kate, Hamilton, The Lion King)
  • plays with music (for example Morgan Lloyd Malcolm’s Emilia)

This module is worth 20 credits.

Composition

Composition Portfolio

Develop your creative voice by composing at least 15 minutes of original music.

In this module, you will receive individual support in regular tutorials, alongside group sessions exploring different aspects of composition. You will also have the chance to work with a professional guest ensemble.

The module will culminate in a performance of your own work that you'll organise yourself.

Your compositions will be judged on both technical merit and originality.

By the end of the module you will have an advanced understanding of the practical realities of contemporary composition.

This module is worth 40 credits.

Creative Orchestration
This module will introduce students to the art of writing for orchestral instruments including strings, woodwinds, brass, percussion and keyboard with some coverage of writing for popular instruments.
Digital Composition

Develops core skills in digital composition.

Using Logic Pro software you'll gain professional technical skills in:

  • creation of sounds using synthesis
  • audio recording and sampling techniques
  • audio and MIDI programming and editing
  • scoring (inc. exporting to Sibelius)
  • mix techniques such as dynamic processing, time-based effects (reverb, modulation), equalisation and automation to attain width, height, space and depth
  • audio files and formats
  • mastering (metering, loudness)

As well as technical skills you'll also:

  • look across genres at how different techniques are used in particular settings
  • learn to work in a professional way using industry specific composition briefs.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Electroacoustic Composition
In this course, students will compose a portfolio of original electro-acoustic compositions for soloist and electronics that will be performed towards the conclusion of the module. The course will cover a range of contemporary music in the creation of a series of etudes in compositional areas that will encourage the development of current practice and an understanding of electroacoustic compositional ideas and related performance practice. It will establish a thorough technical base for future compositional output in a wide range of areas within fixed and live electroacoustic music that includes aspects synthesis, sampling, and computer music. The final submission will be judged on both technical merit and creativity. The goal of the module is for each student to develop a body of work expressive of their individual creative voice.
Composing for Words, Theatre and Moving Image

Get an introduction to composing music that responds to and interacts with work by non-musical artists.

By the end of the module you'll have composed two short pieces:

  • a choral work on an English-language text of your choice
  • a score for a short film clip

In past years, students have chosen a wide variety of texts for their choral compositions, from Romantic poetry to political speeches. Students have composed new scores for film clips from a range of films, from Dziga Vertov's pioneering Man With a Movie Camera to BBC nature documentaries.

For an example of the final work you might produce see this video - 'Apotheosis' by George Littlehales

This module is worth 20 credits.

Performance

Performance 3

Build on your performance skills developed in your second year.

You will work with a dedicated tutor, agreeing pieces to work on at the appropriate level.

Repertoire:

  • at least two items from DipLRSM level or equivalent (Trinity, Rockschool)

You will combine 20 hours of individual tuition with group masterclasses and workshops, and personal practice using our specialised facilities. Workshop topics covered will include rehearsal strategies, diversifying repertoire choices, musician’s wellbeing, and writing programme notes.

Final assessment is through an end of year recital and supporting programme notes, in which you will have the opportunity to work with a collaborative pianist, funded by the department.

This module is worth 40 credits.

Music technology

Music Production

Music production covers creation, performance, recording, mixing and delivery.

You’ll look at current production processes and explore:

  • artistic expression via musical direction and arrangements
  • factors affecting performance (such as acoustic environment)

Through examples and discussion you’ll assess the impact of the role of Producer and its application within various genres and fields of practice.

Specific topics you'll cover include:

  • Arrangement (linear and vertical)
  • Sonic, stylistic and artistic considerations
  • Microphones: types, polar patterns, theory and practical application of techniques
  • Recording media and considerations of their respective workflows
  • Signal path
  • Multi-track recording technique
  • Mixing: dynamics, EQ and FX; ITB and OTB
  • Mastering, files and formats: recording and delivery

Practical work will give you:

  • an understanding of demands and expectations of commercial project briefs
  • the capacity to produce creative product to a precise brief and deadline

This module is worth 20 credits.

Recording Studio Practice

The recording studio is one of the key spaces where technology and creative musical practice meet.

You'll develop professional skills in:

  • applications of microphones and their placement within a variety of acoustic spaces, and for a variety of instrumentation.
  • mixing techniques with reference to current standards
  • audio processing, signal paths and workflows
  • file-types applicable to recent trends in musical consumption

You'll work in small groups to allow you to specialise in techniques and styles for your particular music interests such as chamber music, jazz ensemble, rock or ethno-music groups.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Digital Composition

Develops core skills in digital composition.

Using Logic Pro software you'll gain professional technical skills in:

  • creation of sounds using synthesis
  • audio recording and sampling techniques
  • audio and MIDI programming and editing
  • scoring (inc. exporting to Sibelius)
  • mix techniques such as dynamic processing, time-based effects (reverb, modulation), equalisation and automation to attain width, height, space and depth
  • audio files and formats
  • mastering (metering, loudness)

As well as technical skills you'll also:

  • look across genres at how different techniques are used in particular settings
  • learn to work in a professional way using industry specific composition briefs.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Electroacoustic Composition
In this course, students will compose a portfolio of original electro-acoustic compositions for soloist and electronics that will be performed towards the conclusion of the module. The course will cover a range of contemporary music in the creation of a series of etudes in compositional areas that will encourage the development of current practice and an understanding of electroacoustic compositional ideas and related performance practice. It will establish a thorough technical base for future compositional output in a wide range of areas within fixed and live electroacoustic music that includes aspects synthesis, sampling, and computer music. The final submission will be judged on both technical merit and creativity. The goal of the module is for each student to develop a body of work expressive of their individual creative voice.
The above is a sample of the typical modules we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Modules (including methods of assessment) may change or be updated, or modules may be cancelled, over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for information on available modules. This content was last updated on

We're keen to offer you the opportunity to develop your language skills while studying here.

You can learn a language for its own sake or because it complements your degree or intended career.

We cater for all levels - from complete beginners to near-native competence.

There are currently nine language options available.

Check out the Language Centre for more information

Fees and funding

UK students

£9,250
Per year

International students

To be confirmed in 2021*
Keep checking back for more information
*For full details including fees for part-time students and reduced fees during your time studying abroad or on placement (where applicable), see our fees page.

If you are a student from the EU, EEA or Switzerland starting your course in the 2022/23 academic year, you will pay international tuition fees.

This does not apply to Irish students, who will be charged tuition fees at the same rate as UK students. UK nationals living in the EU, EEA and Switzerland will also continue to be eligible for ‘home’ fee status at UK universities until 31 December 2027.

For further guidance, check our Brexit information for future students.

Additional costs

Essential course materials are supplied.

Music performance modules

Some tuition and accompaniment is provided within the course tuition fees. If you elect to have extra tuition or accompaniment, this will be at an additional cost. You may also need to purchase sheet music where this is not provided in the Denis Arnold Music Library.

Books

You'll be able to access most of the books you’ll need through our libraries, though you may wish to buy your own copies of core texts.

A limited number of modules have compulsory texts which you are required to buy. We recommend that you budget £100 per year for books, but this figure will vary according to which modules you take.

The Blackwell's bookshop on campus offers a year-round price match against any of the main retailers (for example Amazon, Waterstones, WH Smith). They also offer second-hand books, as students from previous years sell their copies back to the bookshop.

Volunteering and placements

For volunteering and placements, such as work experience and teaching in schools, you will need to pay for transport and refreshments.

Scholarships and bursaries

For each assessed recital performance, students will receive a bursary to support practice with an approved accompanist.

Scholarships from local churches are available to some students who sing in choirs or play the organ.

The University of Nottingham offers a wide range of bursaries and scholarships. These funds can provide you with an additional source of non-repayable financial help. For up-to-date information regarding tuition fees, visit our fees and finance pages.

Home students*

Over one third of our UK students receive our means-tested core bursary, worth up to £1,000 a year. Full details can be found on our financial support pages.

* A 'home' student is one who meets certain UK residence criteria. These are the same criteria as apply to eligibility for home funding from Student Finance.

International students

We offer a range of international undergraduate scholarships for high-achieving international scholars who can put their Nottingham degree to great use in their careers.

International scholarships

Careers

Our music graduates progress to a wide range of successful careers both within and outside the music industry.

Recent graduates have gone to work at:

  • the BBC
  • London Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Boosey and Hawkes
  • Harrison Parrott Artist Management
  • Oxford University Press Music
  • Blackheath Halls

Many have also gained employment in:

  • businesses such as KPMG, Deloitte UK, PwC, Deutsche Bank, Charles Russell LLP, Citigroup, Christie's
  • education and other public sector organisations including King’s College London, Arts Council England, Royal College of Music and schools across the country

See what some of our recent graduates say about the skills they gained and how the degree has helped their careers.

Our Careers and Employability Service has specialised information and support for music students.

Key fact

Only 14% of employers state that specific degree subjects are a selection criterion. (Institute of Student Employers recruitment survey 2019)

Average starting salary and career progression

75% of undergraduates from the Department of Music secured graduate level employment or further study within 15 months of graduation. The average annual salary was £21,038.*

*HESA Graduate Outcomes 2020. The Graduate Outcomes % is derived using The Guardian University Guide methodology. The average annual salary is based on graduates working full-time within the UK.

Studying for a degree at the University of Nottingham will provide you with the type of skills and experiences that will prove invaluable in any career, whichever direction you decide to take.

Throughout your time with us, our Careers and Employability Service can work with you to improve your employability skills even further; assisting with job or course applications, searching for appropriate work experience placements and hosting events to bring you closer to a wide range of prospective employers.

Have a look at our careers page for an overview of all the employability support and opportunities that we provide to current students.

The University of Nottingham is consistently named as one of the most targeted universities by Britain’s leading graduate employers (Ranked in the top ten in The Graduate Market in 2013-2020, High Fliers Research).

Dummy placeholder image
" In your first year, where you’ve got a lot of your modules all together, it’s a really tight knit community. Then you meet so many more people in your second and third year as well, you have the opportunity to get to know everyone in the department. You also have the wider music community with all the societies. "
Kyle Campbell, Music BA

Related courses

The University has been awarded Gold for outstanding teaching and learning

Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) 2017-18

Important information

This online prospectus has been drafted in advance of the academic year to which it applies. Every effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content) are likely to occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for the course where there has been an interval between you reading this website and applying.