Music BA


Fact file - 2019 entry

BA Hons Music
UCAS code
3 years full-time (available part-time)
A level offer
Required subjects
A or B in music; or A or B in music technology. Grade 8 Performance and 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.
IB score
32 (5 in music at Higher Level) 
Course location
University Park Campus
Course places


The course covers a wide range of musical repertory and offers a variety of practical and theoretical approaches.
Read full overview

The course covers a wide range of musical repertory, including all periods of western art music, jazz, world music, popular music and film music, and offers a variety of practical and theoretical approaches.

Alongside practice-based modules (including performance, composition, music technology and music analysis), there are modules focusing on specific periods or genres, and on a variety of contextual and contemporary music-related topics. You will gain a solid grounding in basic skills in the first year; the flexible modular structure and choice of topics will enable you either to specialise or to maintain a breadth of interests as you progress through the course.

The typical path in our courses guarantees class contact time of 12 hours/week in year one, 10 hours/week in year two and eight hours/week in year three. Weekly tutorial support and ensemble rehearsals provide further, additional optional learning activities.

Fuller descriptions of our modules can be found under the 'Modules' tab.

Year one

Your understanding of the discipline is consolidated and deepened through the study of core modules in music theory, history, repertoire, world music and popular music. The remaining credits may be filled with optional music modules in composition, performance and music technology, or modules from another department.

Year two

The emphasis in years two and three is on choice - there are no compulsory elements. You choose up to six music modules per academic year from a range of options in musicology, composition, performance and music technology. You may also take a maximum of 20 credits from another department.

Year three

The final year allows you to specialise further, with pathways across the year in dissertation (on a subject of your choice), musicology, performance, composition and music technology. Many year two modules are also offered as year three options. You may also take 20 credits from another department.


Entry requirements

A levels: A or B in music; or A or B in music technology 

Grade 8 Performance and Grade 5 Theory ABRSM, LCM, Trinity, Rockschool may be accepted in place of A level music. We also accept many alternative qualifications. Please see our website for further details.

English language requirements 

IELTS 7.0 (no less than 6.0 in any element)

If you require additional support to take your language skills to the required level, you may be able to attend a presessional course at the Centre for English Language Education, which is accredited by the British Council for the teaching of English in the UK.

Students who successfully complete the presessional course to the required level can progress onto their chosen degree course without retaking IELTS or equivalent.

Alternative qualifications 

BTEC: We normally require DDD grades in BTEC Music courses, and if syllabus is heavily practice – or technology – weighted, we may also ask for a pass in ABRSM Grade 5 Theory. 

Please see the alternative qualifications page.

Flexible admissions policy

In recognition of our applicants’ varied experience and educational pathways, the University of Nottingham employs a flexible admissions policy. We may make some applicants an offer lower than advertised, depending on their personal and educational circumstances. Please see the University’s admissions policies and procedures for more information.  


The following is a sample of the typical modules that we offer as at the date of publication 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. Due to the passage of time between commencement of the course and subsequent years of the course, modules may change due to developments in the curriculum and the module information in this prospectus is provided for indicative purposes only.

Find out more about some of our current modules by clicking on the links below. A fuller view of the course structure, including a full list of current optional modules, is offered on the ‘Overview’ tab.

Typical year one modules


Elements of Music 1

This core 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 core module focuses upon principles of form construction in music. Topics will include partimenti, baroque forms, song form, sonata and the principles of tonal and thematic relationships.


Repertoires 1

This core module introduces you to key developments in Early Music and Opera. Through a combination of lectures and seminars, you will become familiar with fundamental developments in these areas of the repertoire, cementing basic knowledge essential for all trained musicians.


Repertoires 2

This core module introduces you to key developments in 19th- and 20th-century music. Through a combination of lectures and seminars, you will become familiar with fundamental developments in these areas of the repertoire, cementing basic knowledge essential for all trained musicians.


Global Music Studies

This module offers an introduction to the different meanings, practices, and theories of popular and art music from a diverse range of cultures, surveying traditions from Asia, the Americas, Africa, the Middle East, Europe, and the Pacific. It incorporates an introduction to ethnomusicological theory and method. 


Ensemble Performance

This module is based upon participation in and preparation for rehearsals and performances of the University Choir and/or Philharmonia. Through intensive preparation of demanding repertoire with a professional conductor, you will develop your understanding of the demands and pleasures of large ensemble performance and knowledge of the repertoire concerned, and be encouraged to reflect upon the roles and responsibilities of individual performers within the group. You will also be required to attend a professional ensemble concert or concerts in the Djanogly Recital Hall, which you will review and on which will prepare a report. Your learning will be assessed through monitoring participation, and by two short written assessments.



Performance 1

You will receive instrumental or vocal lessons, including guidance on programming, from a specialist tutor. These lessons will be complemented by regular, interactive performance workshops examining performance style, stage presentation and recital preparation. You will be assessed through a 15-minute public recital in the Djanogly Recital Hall. 


Skills in Composition

This 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. Short musical studies will focus on new approaches to rhythm, melody, counterpoint and harmony. 


Aesthetics of Electronic and Computer Music

This module investigates technological shifts in recording and performance and assesses their impact on the perception of music. Students will explore how cultural changes and advances in technology have shaped existing genres and created new movements.


Technology Enhanced Performance

This module is based on seminars and practical workshops and explores a variety of performance technologies. An assessed performance will showcase the possibilities of technological adaptation of pre-existing repertoire.

Typical year two modules


Advanced Ensemble Performance

This module assesses student performance in a small ensemble setting. Weekly coaching sessions will be given to student ensembles, plus individual instrumental tuition. The module will be assessed through a public ensemble performance, plus involvement in the larger student ensembles.


Creative Orchestration

This module explores the creative potential of present-day orchestral and popular instruments and the specific notational requirements of contemporary composition. Short musical studies will focus on writing for woodwinds, brass, strings, percussion and popular instruments, culminating in a final project for orchestra.


Digital Composition

This module develops core skills in professional digital composition, using Logic Pro software. Topics addressed will include the analysis and study of different examples of digital composition techniques, and the completion of industry-specific composition briefs. The aim is to provide a basic grounding in computer based music composition and industry standard software. 


Sound Design and Synthesis

This core module provides an introduction to sound theory, acoustics, wave shapes and sonic manipulation, using iMacs, synthesis and tablets in lectures and practical workshops.


Performance 2

This module offers opportunity for intensive development of performing skills. You will receive regular individual lessons with your assigned performance tutor, with whom you agree a corpus of works to be studied. Individual lessons are complemented by regular performance workshops. Your end of year recital will usually include items selected from the appropriate syllabus of the ABRSM, Trinity or Rockschool.


Work Placement

This module involves part-time placement (one day a week) 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.


Approaches to Popular Music

This module aims to provide a grounding in approaches to thinking and writing about popular music, with some theoretical and musicological background in musical, historical and cultural issues. It will cover a variety of general approaches and perspectives, as well as exploring key issues in relation to featured songs, videos, and case studies.


Jazz: Origins and Styles

This module investigates the origins of jazz in ragtime and the blues, and the development of contrasting jazz styles from 1917 to the present day. Topics include: New Orleans and Chicago ensemble jazz; Harlem stride piano; swing bands; be-bop and hard bop; the 'cool' school; modal jazz; free jazz; jazz-rock fusion. 


Composing for Words, Theatre and Moving Image

This module explores musical composition in dialogue with other artistic media. Topics will include text-setting and writing for voice, new possibilities for opera and music theatre, and film composition. 


Opera and Politics

This module considers political ‘meanings’ embedded in individual operas, and examines ways in which political theories might be related to the aesthetic dimension of opera. Themes include race, nationalism, gender, religion, fascism. 


Music in Asia

This module examines musical traditions throughout Asia, with an emphasis upon the different functions played by musical practice in different cultural contexts. Topics include K-pop, theatre in East Asia, Vietnamese minority music, Bollywood, popular music in Indonesia and Malaysia, nomadic music in central and western Asia, and music in the Asian diaspora.


Film Music

This module provides an introduction to the various styles of film music developed during the history of cinema. Topics include silent film, the golden era of Hollywood, genre characteristics (eg, animation, musical comedy, science fiction, etc), European cinema, and jazz/pop soundtracks. 


Beethoven and Schubert

The position of Beethoven and Schubert in music history will be examined from a dual perspective: as a continuation of the maturity of the Classical style and as a point of departure for the Romantic era. Their respective biographies will be studied, both psychologically and professionally, in relation to the musical life of the times and their individual creative trajectories. 


Narrative and Emotion

This module examines ways in which visual artists and composers tell stories and convey feelings in the period 1600–1750. Topics will include: the portrayal and projection of character, the delineation of emotion, the development of plot and action, the build-up of situations and the relation of these to the narrative sequence. 


19th-Century Composer Biographies

This module explores the ways in which biographical texts (written and audiovisual), by or about composers, inform the reception of composers and their work. It will examine myths that arise from biography, the construction of identities, common motifs and narrative structures in biography, and the influence of biography on reception. Case studies will be taken from the late 18th and 19th centuries.


20th-Century Studies

This module examines aspects of style and structure in a wide variety of 20th-century classical music. Topics to be considered include post-tonal harmony, serial thought, block form, minimalism and new concepts of rhythm and texture. 


Introduction to Music Therapy

Music Therapy is an established profession within healthcare, educational and social contexts, involving clients of all ages with a range of needs. This module will explore strategies and techniques informed by a range of psychological and developmental theories, and offer practical opportunities for creative musical activities and improvisation. Overall, the module will provide an understanding of contemporary approaches to music therapy, and a foundation for specialist training.

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, supplemented 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
Creativity and Collaboration for Professional Musicians
The module offers an opportunity to explore dialogues between disciplines and to create a collaborative project in response to a ‘real world’ creative brief (of the kind issued by funding agencies, arts organisations and other cultural venues). Students will engage in joint rehearsal and planning sessions as well as group workshops to discuss projects and experiment with different creative approaches. 
This module provides an introduction to some fundamental techniques and practical skills of instrumental/orchestral and choral conducting. 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. 
Typical year three modules


Collaborative Project

This module involves student performers, composers and music technologists working together to develop a new creative project, for performance in a venue in Nottingham. Improvisation will be fundamental to the developmental stages of the project. 


Performance 3

Building on previous performance modules, you will develop your performing skills to a professional standard. You will receive regular individual lessons with your assigned performance tutor, with whom you agree a corpus of works to be studied. Individual lessons are supplemented with regular performance workshops. The recital should usually include items selected from the appropriate syllabus of the ABRSM, Trinity or Rockschool.


Composition Portfolio

This module offers the opportunity to develop creative ability and technical skill in composition to an advanced level. Individuality of compositional voice is encouraged in a project or programme of projects agreed between yourself and the module tutor.


Music Production

This module investigates current production processes within historical contexts; explores communication of artistic expression via musical direction and arrangements, and factors affecting performance; develops communication and time management skills in working with artists; and skills in effective digital file management.


Studio Recording

This core module considers applications of microphones and their placement in order to integrate traditional instrumentation and performance into a digital production workflow. Mixing and mastering techniques will be practiced with reference to current standards and trends in musical consumption. Specialisms might include chamber music recording, jazz ensemble, rock or ethno-music groups.


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 Seminars

Every year a number of research seminars are offered in subjects directly relating to staff research interests. In the next two years these will be on Britten and Sondheim, Music and Health, Verdi and Wagner, and Folk Music of Britain and Ireland.


Many year two modules are also offered as year three options. You may also take 20 credits from another department.


Work placement

We are one of very few UK music departments to offer a curricular, credit-bearing Work Placement module. Gaining relevant work experience is increasingly seen as a must in today’s competitive world; at Nottingham you can do this as part of your music degree!

The department currently offers more than 20 placements at music-related organisations in Nottingham and the East Midlands, including:

You attend the placement organisation for one day a week during the spring semester, and undertake a related written project.

Additionally, we currently offer voluntary mentoring placements at local primary schools in conjunction with Nottingham Music Hub, and paid part-time traineeships with Nottingham Lakeside Arts and the department’s Denis Arnold Music Library.



All music graduates leave the University with a broad portfolio of transferable skills, prepared for a variety of careers both within and outside music. The variety of kinds of learning encompassed by a music degree is uniquely suited to developing the key employability skills identified in the recent CBI/NUS report 'Working towards your future'. Additionally, the department's 'Work Placement' module is specifically designed to enable music students to develop their career prospects in ways relevant to their interests and skills.

Recent graduates have gained employment in the music and creative industries (including jobs at the BBC, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Boosey and Hawkes, HarrisonParrott Artist Management, Oxford University Press Music, Blackheath Halls), in other business and professional sections (including professional positions at KPMG, Deloitte UK, PwC, Deutsche Bank, Charles Russell LLP, Citigroup, Christie's), and in education and other public sectors (including jobs at King’s College London, Arts Council England, Royal College of Music and schools around the country).

Average starting salary and career progression

In 2016, 93.2% of undergraduates in the School of Humanities who were available for employment had secured work or further study within six months of graduation. The average starting salary was £20,205 with the highest being £38,000.*

Known destinations of full-time home undergraduates 2015/16. Salaries are calculated based on the median of those in full-time paid employment within the UK.

Careers support and advice

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.  


Fees and funding

Scholarships and bursaries

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 £2,000 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/EU students

Our International Baccalaureate Diploma Excellence Scholarship is available for select students paying overseas fees who achieve 38 points or above in the International Baccalaureate Diploma. We also offer a range of High Achiever Prizes for students from selected countries, schools and colleges to help with the cost of tuition fees. Find out more about scholarships, fees and finance for international students.


Key Information Sets (KIS)

KIS is an initiative that the government has introduced to allow you to compare different courses and universities.

Time in lectures, seminars and similar

From September 2012, the typical path in our courses guarantees class contact time of 12 hours/week in year 1, 10 hours/week in year 2 and 8 hours/week in year 3 (when you are likely to be receiving more one-to-one tuition). Weekly tutorial support, ensemble rehearsals and the accredited Nottingham Advantage Award provide further optional learning activities, on top of these class contact hours.

% in professional/managerial job at six months

Nottingham Music graduates gain employment in a huge variety of careers. A period of apprenticeship or workplace training is normal for careers in the arts; these 6-month statistics accordingly do not take account of graduates who progress to professional or managerial posts within a year or two of graduation.

How to use the data

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.


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