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W300 Music BA Undergraduate 2012


UCAS code W300
Degree BA
Mode of study Part Time + Full Time
Duration 3 years
Location Durham City
Typical offers A Level
International Baccalaureate (IB)
Related qualifications

Department(s) Website
Telephone +44 (0)191 334 3158 or 3140

Course Content


The programme at Durham prides itself in combining the traditional and the modern in the study of music. The learning of techniques such as harmony, counterpoint and aural skills are juxtaposed with an investigation of the most upto- date thinking in musicology, critical theory, analytical method, electroacoustics, composition, ethnomusicology and performance. Moreover, our teaching, essentially research-led, is enhanced by distinctive staff specialisations that include Korean music, popular music, Adorno, nineteenth- and twentieth-century British music, the music of Beethoven, Schenker, music technology, music of the Soviet Union, Indian Music, conducting and contemporary composition. For an introduction to the staff and their research interests, visit

Level 1

In the first year all students are expected to follow a broad introductory course designed to enhance skills in techniques, history, composition, analysis, cultural studies and performance:

  • Aural skills and performance
  • Musical Techniques (Harmony)
  • Historical Trends of the 17th and 18th Centuries
  • Contemporary Music
  • Issues and Methods in Musicology
  • Analysis and Perception.

All six modules are compulsory for students pursuing Single Honours. For Combined Honours students, the choice is restricted. All Combined Honours students taking Music are required to take at least two modules in Music, which must include Historical Trends of the 17th and 18th Centuries and either The Analysis and Perception of Music or Issues and Methods in Musicology. Combined Honours students wishing to take a third module in Music may choose to take both the latter modules, or may select one module from Contemporary Music, Musical Techniques, or Aural Skills and Performance. Please note that only one of these three modules may be selected, and it must be taken as a third module in Music.1 At second and third level the choice widens to embrace a wide variety of subjects. The second level (of six modules) is structured around core modules on Western music history and theoretical/cultural studies, with a number of optional modules:

Level 2

  • Historical Trends (compulsory)
  • Theory and Analysis (compulsory)
  • Introduction to Conducting
  • Orchestration
  • Studies in Composition
  • Introduction to Ethnomusicology
  • Advanced Performance Studies
  • Electroacoustic Studies
  • Advanced Musical Techniques
  • Indian Music
  • Module from another department (with permission).

Students can mix and match to a considerable extent from the modules on offer here but it is also important to consider another aspect built into the course, that of 'pathways'. At third level the course is structured around a compulsory double module in the fields of either a musicological dissertation, a composition portfolio or a 40-minute solo recital. Students are required to choose one of these. More importantly, however, these double modules require that pre-requisite courses must be done at second level. For example Advanced Performance Studies is obligatory for doing the Recital double module in third year, and so on.

Level 3

In addition to the compulsory double modules, students also have the opportunity to choose from other optional modules (the list will vary from year to year):

  • Late Nineteenth- and Early Twentieth-Century English Song
  • Music of the Soviet Union
  • The Music of Brahms
  • Arts Administration
  • Issues in Aesthetics
  • Introduction to Music Therapy
  • Popular Music and Theories of Mass Culture
  • Advanced Ethnomusicology
  • Single modules in Composition and the Dissertation can also be taken (this is not available for the Recital)
  • Module from another department (with permission).

Applicants may like to visit the Music Department website where there is a short video introduction available here.

For further information on the structure and content of the music programmes click here.  

Teaching and assessment details

As part of our programme of modules we have a variety of ways in which teaching takes place. Lectures for large groups are used to communicate the foundations for your study; seminars in smaller groups provide a forum for discussion and debate; tutorials are used to allow in-depth study of a particular subject. Financial help is provided for individual instrumental and vocal lessons and the Department maintains a list of recommended teachers which is available to all students.

Some of the assessment for the degree is by written examination, but a large proportion of the assessment is through essays, project work and portfolio submissions. Feedback throughout the year is also given for formative assignments and there will be opportunities to discuss your progress with lecturers and tutors.

Admissions Process

Subjects required, level and grade

In addition to satisfying the University's general entry requirements and the programme specific entry requirements above, please note:

We welcome applications from those with other qualifications equivalent to our standard entry requirements and from mature students with non-standard qualifications or who may have had a break in their study. For more information please contact our Admissions Selectors.

Grade A in Music at A-level, or equivalent, is required.

We do not include General Studies or Practical Music as part of our offer.

We will accept ABRSM Grade VIII Theory in addition to AAB at A-level or equivalent should A-level Music, or equivalent, not have been available. This must be explicitly stated in your personal statement or reference.

Grade VIII or equivalent in at least one instrument is required in addition to some proficiency on the piano/keyboard (if this is not your instrument).

English Language requirements

IELTS 6.5 (no component under 6.0); TOEFL iBT 92 (no component under 23); Cambridge Proficiency (CPE) Grade C; or Cambridge Advanced (CAE) Grade A

Requirements and Admissions

Information relevant to your country

Fees and Funding

Fees have not been set for this academic year.

Scholarships and funding

Career Opportunities

Department of Music

Open days and visits

Pre-application open day

Pre-application open days are the very best way to discover all you need to know about Durham University. With representatives from all relevant academic and support service departments and opportunities to explore college options they will provide a full experience of Durham University for any prospective undergraduates.

Pre-application open days in Durham City will take place on:

  • Monday 25 June 2012
  • Saturday 30 June 2012
  • Saturday 22 September 2012

Further details, and information on how to book.  

Campus tours

Overseas Visit Schedule

Department Information

Department of Music


Study here, and you will develop your creative, practical and critical skills in a unique and beautiful location.

Music at Durham covers everything from the music of the great composers to contemporary music and Indian ragas, studied from the perspectives of history, theory, aesthetics and ethnography as well as through composition and performance. Our BA combines a focus on core skills with the chance to choose between diverse specialisms in years two and three. All of the Music Department's teaching is delivered in a unique and beautiful location facing the Cathedral, while the University as a whole offers many and diverse opportunities for practical music making.

Durham University is one of the leading centres for music studies in Britain. In the 2010 National Student Survey (NSS), 89% of Durham music students were satisfied with the quality of their course, placing us in the top tier of UK music departments: we are also highly rated for graduate employability. Study here and we will not only provide you with a wide and critical knowledge of various musical repertories, we will also help you to develop critical skills which are valued by a wide range of employers.

RAE results


The Music Department has excellent facilities. Besides the usual array of lecture rooms situated in the main building on Palace Green (virtually next to the Cathedral), there are three well equipped electronic studios, practice rooms (both in the Department and individual colleges), an extensive library of books, scores and CDs, audio-visual facilities, and a rich range of online resources.


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