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W300 Music BA Undergraduate  2016


UCAS code W300
Degree BA
Duration 3 years
Location Durham City
Typical Offers A-Level
International Baccalaureate
Please also check Requirements and Admissions.
Alternative qualifications

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

Course Content


The course 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 up-to-date thinking in musicology, critical theory, composition (acoustic and electroacoustic), analysis, ethnomusicology and performance. Moreover, our teaching, essentially research-led, is enhanced by distinctive staff specialisations that include nineteenth- and twentieth-century British music, music of the Soviet Union, Korean and Indian music, popular music, music technology, conducting, cognitive musicology, early music and contemporary composition.

Year 1

In the first year all students are expected to follow the same course, designed to introduce a broad range of disciplines and approaches.

The course consists of six modules:

  • Historical Studies 1: The Long Nineteenth Century
  • Performance 1: Listening and Performing 
  • Musical Techniques (Harmony and Counterpoint)
  • Approaches to Contemporary Composition
  • Introduction to Ethnomusicology 
  • Analysis 1: Elements of Tonal Theory and Practice

Essential topics in music technology are spread over these compulsory modules, as are foundational research skills that will be needed in the later years.

All Combined Honours students taking one or two modules in Music may take Historical Studies and/or Introduction to Ethnomusicology; students taking a third module in Music have a free choice.

Year 2

In the second year, you will undertake one compulsory module – Historical Studies 2: The Twentieth Century – and choose five modules from a broad menu. As an alternative, you may choose to take one or two modules in other departments.

Modules available in 2014/15:

List A:

  • Studies in Composition
  • Creative Music Technology
  • Performance 2: Practice as Research 
  • Advanced Musical Techniques 
  • Theory and Analysis 
  • Orchestration 
  • Conducting
  • World Music Traditions
  • Russian and Soviet Music, 1890-1975
  • Studies in Popular Music
  • Studies in the History of Opera


Year 3

The third-year course is structured around a compulsory double-weighted independent project, which can take the form of a musicological Dissertation, a composition portfolio, or a 40-minute solo recital. All students are required to do one of these. In addition, you will choose four other modules, selecting from the list below and the second year menu (above). Other possible options are to undertake a single-weighted project (again, a Dissertation, composition or performance) and/or pursue a module in another department.

  • Audiovisual Production
  • Contemporary Music Performance
  • The Music of India
  • Performance 3: Recorded Performance Project
  • Time and Rhythm
  • Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Century English Song
  • Britten’s Chamber Operas
  • Arts Management
  • Live Electronic Music
  • Psychology of Music
  • Advanced Ethnomusicology: Themes and Methods
  • Music Theology
  • Studies in Symphonic Analysis

Admissions Process

Subjects required, level and grade

For students who have taken A-levels, our entrance requirements are grades AAB (including Music). In addition to satisfying the University’s general entry requirements, 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.
  • We do not include General Studies or Practical Music as part of our offer
  • A-level in Music is required
  • 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)
  • We are pleased to consider applications for deferred entry.

English Language requirements

IELTS of 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

The University accepts the following alternative English language tests and scores.

Information relevant to your country

Fees and Funding

Fees have not been set for this academic year.

Scholarships and funding 

Career Opportunities


Durham graduates are renowned for having a deep knowledge of music from different cultures and historical periods, having explored many different aspects of music, including musicology, performance and composition. The discipline required in fostering critical thinking develops our students' ability to define and solve problems, both by working independently and with their colleagues. All of the modules available on the BA course are designed to help students develop a range of transferable skills that will aid their future employment. The new curriculum (as of October 2012) places greater emphasis on research-led teaching, the development of independent learning and the acquisition of transferable skills.

The department aims to help all students to keep track of their progress from induction week to graduation, including arranging careers events with recent graduates who offer a valuable insight on how to make the most of the opportunities available at Durham University, and how best to promote these to potential employers. The department is aiming to make strong links with their Alumni so that they can provide extra help and support for undergraduate students looking to find employment in their field(s) of work.

Many Durham graduates proceed to further study, whether in a university department, conservatoire or elsewhere: our graduates have moved on via postgraduate study to careers as academics and performers as well as in other fields (including journalism, acting or the clergy). Other recent destinations of Durham music graduates include arts administration, broadcasting, teaching, business (e.g. Account Manager, Recruitment Consultant, Underwriter, Trainee Manager) and sports.

As one of the country's top universities, students from Durham are held in high esteem by IBM. Regardless of degree discipline, graduating from Durham University with a 2:1 or above represents a significant achievement, and one IBM sees as a valuable stepping stone towards a successful career. We have a dedicated campus recruitment team for Durham, one of a select number of UK Universities, testament to our belief that through their time at the university, Durham students in particular significantly develop the transferable skills which we value. GTS Smart Deal Engine.

Employability development opportunities

The Careers, Employability and Enterprise Centre works closely with the School of Music. The link Careers Adviser delivers presentations to each year group on topics relevant to that stage of their academic career. These cover career decision making, successful applications and interviews, and advice for those considering further study.

A high proportion of our graduates progress onto higher level study following their degree. Recently many have progressed to our own Masters courses at Durham and also to York, Bristol, Cambridge, King's College, School of Oriental and African Studies, the Royal Academy of Music, Edinburgh and Oxford. Some remain within their academic field of interest but others take a different route and pursue professional postgraduate programmes in law, social sciences, property management, administration, the clergy and teaching.

Career Options

Recent graduate destinations include:

  • Account Manager
  • Arts Administration
  • Broadcasting
  • Ecclesiastical training
  • Fixed Income Analyst
  • Further Study in Music: A high proportion of our graduates progress onto higher level study following their degree. Recently many have progressed to our own Masters courses at Durham and also to York, Bristol, Cambridge, King's College, School of Oriental and African Studies, the Royal Academy of Music, Royal College of Music, Guildhall School of Music and drama, Edinburgh University and Oxford University .
  • Further Study in other academic fields: Recent graduates have pursued professional postgraduate programmes in law, social sciences, property management, administration, the clergy and teaching.
  • Marketing Assistant
  • Recruitment Consultant
  • Trainee Manager
  • Underwriter

Open days and visits

Pre-application open day

Pre-application open days are the 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, the open days provide our prospective undergraduates with the full experience of Durham University.

Please see the following page for further details and information on how to book a place:

Campus Tours

Overseas Visit Schedule

Department Information



When you join us you will develop your creative, practical and critical skills in a unique and beautiful location.

Music at Durham University 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 the second and third years.

We will not only provide you with an extensive knowledge of various musical repertories, we will also help you to develop critical skills which are valued by a wide range of employers.

Durham University is one of the leading centres for music studies in Britain. All of our 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.

  • Ranked joint 1st in the UK for Internationally Excellent and World-leading research impact (REF 2014).
  • 93% of students said that staff were enthusiastic about what they are teaching in the National Student Survey 2014 (sector average 90%).
  • 3rd in the Complete University Guide 2016.

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, a multimedia resource centre, and practice rooms (both in the Department and individual colleges). The University Library houses an extensive collection of books, scores, and CDs, and offers a rich range of online resources.


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