Organ Award application form 2025/26 entry

Thank you for submitting your Organ Award application for 2025/26.

Please note that you will not receive an immediate automatic acknowledgement of receipt by email. We will email you within a few days of the deadline, at the latest, once we have processed all applications received on time. You should monitor your inbox and spam folders to ensure that you do not miss correspondence from us.

This page summarises the next steps of the Organ Award selection procedure. You may like to print this information or save the page web address for reference.

Completing your application

  • Personal statement and references

If you have not already done so, you must ensure that your personal statement and references have been sent to your first-choice college of preference. Your application will not be considered with just the application form alone.

  • Written work

Many subjects require you to submit written work as part of your application to Oxford. For Organ Award applicants, this written work is to be submitted as part of the assessment for the Organ Award, not later in November as for standard undergraduate applications. You should prepare and assemble the written work required for your proposed subject in good time, so that it is ready to be submitted in early September.

For details of written work required in your subject, see the summary of written work requirements.

Candidates applying to read Music should submit two marked essays on any areas or aspects of music (or one of your other A-level subjects or equivalent if that is more convenient), and a marked sample of harmony and/or counterpoint where possible. Candidates may also submit one or more compositions.

You do not need to send the written work until it is requested by the college - if it is required, you will be notified within a few days of the closing date for applications. 

Organ playing submissions and keyboard tests

All applicants will be contacted within a few days of the receipt of applications at the beginning of September. If your application is judged suitably strong to proceed to auditions, you will be invited to come to Oxford during the period 25-28 September 2024 for your organ audition. Your first-choice college will accommodate you throughout the time you are in Oxford and will be in touch with you concerning these arrangements. Academic interviews will be held online.

This sample timetable gives an idea of what the audition days will involve:

Wednesday afternoon: arrival in Oxford in time for a 30 minute practice on the organ for the audition at a specified time.

Thursday and/or Friday: 15-20 minute organ playing audition (held centrally, usually on the organs of Exeter, Merton and New College); aural test; possible second auditions at individual colleges. All candidates will be free to leave Oxford by 3pm on Friday.

Academic assessment will take place either in September, alongside auditions, or in December with all other candidates for your subject. Further information on this process will be available in the coming months.

What to prepare

1. For your video recording

Your prepared piece may be by any composer, and should be 5 to 7 minutes in length. Select music that displays your instrumental and musical capabilities to the full, without going beyond what your technique can support.

Candidates are sometimes offered the opportunity to present a second piece at an informal audition. You are advised to bring a second piece that contrasts with and complements the first: for example, an 18th-century piece with no registration changes would be complemented by a 19th, 20th or 21st-century piece that changes registration and uses the swell box.

2. For the keyboard tests

The audition lasts approximately 15-20 minutes. In it you will play a prepared piece of your own choosing lasting between 5 and 7 minutes and attempt 4 tests: sight-reading, score-reading, transposition and harmonisation.
Auditions will take place on organs that have balanced swell pedals, standard pedalboards and aids to registration. Setting multiple combinations will not be possible, however; candidates should therefore select pieces without many registration changes. A page-turner will be provided, and he or she may be able to make one or two simple registration changes for you, provided that these can be explained within the few seconds immediately prior to performance. There will not be an opportunity to rehearse them.

The choice of music is not specified for the Oxford organ award process. Select music that displays your instrumental and musical capabilities to the full, without going beyond what your technique can support on an unfamiliar instrument in pressured circumstances. You will need to bring a spare copy of your prepared piece for use by the examiner. It is usually a good idea to bring a second prepared piece, in case you are invited to a second informal audition either in your first-choice college or at a lower-choice college.

Being an organ scholar involves a great deal more than just being able to play pieces on the organ. The keyboard tests are designed to explore the range and depth of your musicianship and are thus just as important in the evaluation as the prepared piece.

The tests are as follows:

  • Sight-reading: a short organ piece using pedals and set out on three staves. Change of manuals, use of the swell box and the addition or subtraction of a coupler may also be required.
  • Score-reading: a four-voice vocal score (SATB) using modern G and F clefs, to be performed without use of the pedals.
  • Transposition: performance of a harmonised hymn tune up or down a tone or semitone (as requested) with pedals.
  • Harmonisation: performance of a hymn melody in a tonal harmonisation using pedals (if possible: see above). The melody will present possibilities for modulation to closely related keys.

Stops will be selected for you for each of the tests.

Next steps

You can find full details of the Organ Award audition process on the main Organ Awards page.

Making your UCAS application

If you are successful in your Organ Award application, you should proceed immediately to complete your UCAS application for official admission to the University. On the UCAS application you must enter Oxford as one of your University choices, applying specifically to the college which has offered you an Organ Award. If the subject you are applying for requires you to take a written test, your offer of a place as organ scholar will normally be conditional on satisfactory performance. (View which courses require written tests.) You may, therefore, wish to apply to other universities as well.

The deadline for the UCAS application is 6pm on 15 October 2024.

Further information

If you have any questions about the Organ Award application process, please contact us by email ([email protected]).

If you have questions about the undergraduate admissions process in general, you should contact the Communications Team at [email protected].

You may also like to browse our Online Resources page or view the Music Faculty's website.