Music student playing a grand piano
Music student playing piano.
(Credit: Stuart Bebb)


mortar boardUCAS codeW300calendarDuration3 years (BA)
pencilEntrance requirementsAAAHeadSubject requirements

 Music or ABRSM Music Theory Grade VII or above
 ABRSM Grade V keyboard ability or above
(see admissions requirements tab)

tickAdmissions test(s)Performance piecetickWritten workThree pieces
bar chartAdmissions statistics*

Interviewed: 93%
Successful: 40%
Intake: 77
*3-year average 2019-21


+44 (0) 1865 286264
Email Music

Subject requirements:       Essential       Recommended       Helpful – may be useful on course

Unistats information for this course can be found at the bottom of the page

Please note that there may be no data available if the number of course participants is very small.

Music is everywhere in the world around us; it is part of all of our lives, whether we play it, actively listen to it, or hear it in passing. At Oxford, we study music by reading, listening, performing and composing. We create music in all its aspects – acoustic, electronic, individually and communally, working with world-class professionals and with local communities. We analyse the relationships within a piece of music, and between that piece and its genre and context. Throughout the course, you will be exposed to music of all kinds and in all contexts: Western classical, popular music, musics of other cultures, community music, seeing these musics in terms of their social and cultural contexts (and how those contexts have been shaped over time).

Music has been part of the life of Oxford for more than 800 years. There are around 30 academic staff, of whom 15 give lectures regularly – scholars with distinguished reputations as musicologists, performers and composers. Oxford welcomes visits from numerous speakers and professional performing ensembles. Students enjoy performance and composition workshops, and play an active part in the life of the faculty and their colleges – in chapels, orchestras, ensembles, bands and stage performances, and in musical outreach to the broader community.

The faculty building incorporates practice rooms, electronic music and recording studios, and one of the best music libraries in any British university. The world-famous Bate Collection of Musical Instruments, housed in the faculty, lends historical instruments to students. The faculty also has a gamelan orchestra.

The course is broadly based but allows increasing specialisation and choice as you proceed. Whether you’re a performer, a composer, a budding scholar of music history, sociology, psychology or education, the Music course offers something for you. Students graduate as mature and well-rounded musicians with an informed and lively sense of the contemporary study and practice of the subject, and the ways in which music contributes to society more broadly.

Music students Official Guide for applicants:  undergraduate
“The Oxford music course suits me because it is broad and varied, but also has lots of space to make it my own. For my final exams I am sitting papers in broad aspects of music history (from English renaissance polyphony to electronic music), analysis, and issues to do with how we study music but I am also writing a dissertation about the music in a primary school near Oxford, essays on Brazilian music, and a report from the term I spent working on a music project with children with autism. I have friends who are playing the Rite of Spring for piano duet for a chamber music exam, who are singing Schubert Lieder for a solo recital, and who are analysing Bach organ fugues for an analysis portfolio – and those are just the people in my year in my college!”
 “From playing for three evensongs a week to being immersed in the sound world of the Bosavi Rainforest people in Papua New Guinea, Oxford has been a fantastic experience so far. One aspect of Oxford’s music course that first attracted me was the diversity and the choice it gives students, particularly in the final year. I am currently studying a variety of history topics, ranging from the 13th-century motet to film music, along with some composition and analysis courses. I want to be a performer and knowing that I can choose to concentrate on this later in the course has helped me to focus my interests throughout the term.”


A typical week

  • Four to six lectures
  • One or two tutorials in college
  • Practice, workshops and rehearsals
  • More time for independent study in the summer terms

Tutorials are usually 2-4 students and a tutor. Lecture sizes may vary depending on the options you choose. Compulsory lectures are the largest and will include the full year group of around 70 students, while the smallest lectures, for specialist options, might include fewer than 10 students. Seminars will also usually involve 10-12 students.

Most lectures are delivered by Associate Professors and Professors within the University. Most of these professors are also college subject tutors (although not all college tutors are University lecturers). Each college’s subject tutor is responsible for giving and coordinating tutorials. Many tutors are world-leading experts with years of experience in teaching and research. Some teaching (mostly at tutorial level) may also be delivered by postgraduate students, who are usually studying at doctoral level. To find out more about how our teaching year is structured, visit our Academic Year page.

Course structure



Six subjects are taken (two chosen from a list of options)

  • Compulsory:
    • Foundations in the study of music
    • Stylistic composition, arranging and transcription
    • Topics I, for example: Machaut’s songs; Women and music in the 19th century; Music, mind, behaviour; Global hip hop
    • Musical analysis and critical listening
  • Options:
    • Extended essay
    • Composition
    • Performance
    • Critical studies in ethnomusicology
    • Historically informed performance
    • Musical skills 


Two written papers and three ‘take-away’ papers for compulsory subjects. The assessment for the two options will take the form of a written paper, practical examination, recital, portfolio of compositions, essay or take-away paper depending on the option chosen.



Eight subjects are taken (six chosen from a list of options)

  • Compulsory
    • Topics II (three from a range of historical and critical fields, eg: Sacred Renaissance polyphony on the Continent; History and philosophy of music education; Bach’s keyboard music)
    • Topics III (three from a range of historical and critical fields, eg in 2018-19: 18th-century opera; Modernism in Vienna, 1900-1935; Scenes and subcultures in the 20th century)
  • Optional topics studied
    • Dissertation
    • Composition portfolio
    • Solo performance
    • Music ethnography
    • Musical analysis and criticism
    • Musical thought and scholarship
    • Techniques of composition
    • Orchestration
    • Edition with commentary
    • Analysis portfolio
    • Chamber music 
    • Choral performance
    • Choral conducting
    • Music education: practice and pedagogy
    • Recording and producing music
    • Special topic papers. Some recent examples include: Music perception; Music in Scandinavia; Women composers; Dance music; Lieder; Music and society in England, 1851–1914; Music in the community
Please note that the courses listed above are illustrative and may change. A full list of current options is available on the Music website.


Final University examinations: two written examinations (with more possible, depending on student options) and a combination of take-away papers, portfolio submissions, recitals and practical tests, depending on the options chosen

The content and format of this course may change in some circumstances. Read further information about potential course changes.

Academic requirements 

Advanced Highers:                    AA/AAB
IB: 38 (including core points) with 666 at HL                                                                          
Or any other equivalent (see other UK qualifications, and international qualifications

Wherever possible, your grades are considered in the context in which they have been achieved.  (See further information on how we use contextual data.) 

Subject requirements

  Essential: Candidates are expected to have Music to A-level, Advanced Higher, Higher Level in the IB (or equivalent) or ABRSM Music Theory Grade VII or above* 
  Recommended: Keyboard ability of ABRSM Grade V or above is also highly recommended.

* If you do not offer A-level Music, you must have ABRSM Music Theory Grade VII or above, plus three A Levels. Music Tech A-level is a viable alternative to Music A-level for our course, provided that you also take the ABRSM Music Theory paper.

The Faculty of Music considers vocational qualifications in Music, such as the BTEC Extended Diploma in Music; however, an accompanying A-level in an essay subject is strongly recommended.

If you are unsure about your qualifications please contact  

If a practical component forms part of any of your science A‐levels used to meet your offer, we expect you to pass it.

If English is not your first language you may also need to meet our English language requirements.


All candidates must follow the application procedure as shown in applying to Oxford. The information below gives specific details for students applying for this course.

Admissions tests

There is no written test but candidates are required to submit a video recording audition of up to 5 minutes performing on their chosen instrument in advance of their interview. The quality of the recording will not be taken into account.

Candidates not possessing keyboard fluency to ABRSM Grade V may be asked to take a standardised keyboard sight-reading test at interview. Please indicate your level of keyboard proficiency on your UCAS application. Most tutors will ask you to study a short piece of music and/or text about music in preparation for your interview; if so, this material will be given to you shortly in advance but typically on the same day as your interview.

Written work

  • Two teacher-marked essays. The emphasis is on quality of thought, not on quantity, so each of the two essays should be around 1500 words. Although it is preferable to submit two essays, students will not be disadvantaged if they can only submit one piece due to any limitations they have faced during their education as a result of COVID-19. Students can submit essays from any subject, they do not have to be Music-based.
  • One or two examples of teacher-marked harmony and counterpoint (eg Baroque chorale, 16th-century counterpoint, 2-part invention, string quartet, Romantic songs). We understand that not all students are formally taught this as part of their course. We ask that all students do attempt an exercise if they can.
  • If you wish, you may also submit one or two short examples of original composition, which should be in some form of notated score. 

Candidates are required to submit a video recording audition of up to 5 minutes performing on their chosen instrument in advance of their interview.

Submission deadline:  10 November 2022

For more information, and to download a cover sheet, please see our further guidance on the submission of written work.

What are tutors looking for?

Potential to engage with the course in its full diversity through a genuine spirit of enquiry; keenness to think critically about music; as well as creativity and independent thought in areas of specialism (musicology, composition, performance, ethnomusicology, psychology of music, musical analysis). For more detail on the selection criteria for this course, please see the Music website.


The varied nature of the course enables students to develop highly desirable skills in areas such as self-management, creativity, data analysis, performance, teamwork, problem-solving, and communication, all of which makes them an attractive prospect for potential employers. Teaching, performance and arts administration are among the popular destinations for Music graduates, but others include broadcasting, publishing, law, politics and the Civil Service. Many students undertake further study in performance, often at conservatoires in the UK and abroad. An Oxford Music degree opens doors to a wide range of careers both within and outside the arts.

After graduating, Fabienne secured a marketing and public relations internship with the Philharmonia Orchestra. She then worked for the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and London Symphony Orchestra before being headhunted for her current role as Head of Communications and Marketing at Intermusica, an industry-leading international classical music management agency. She says; ‘Our roster includes Marin Alsop, Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Daniil Trifonov, Sir Willard White, James MacMillan, Leonidas Kavakos and many others. Naturally my music degree has proved an extremely helpful foundation for a career in classical music management but I would say that the most important thing I gained from Oxford was confidence and resilience and being able to meet people from all walks of life.’

We don't want anyone who has the academic ability to get a place to study here to be held back by their financial circumstances. To meet that aim, Oxford offers one of the most generous financial support packages available for UK students and this may be supplemented by support from your college.


These annual fees are for full-time students who begin this undergraduate course here in 2023.


For more information please refer to our course fees page. Fees will usually increase annually. For details, please see our guidance on likely increases to fees and charges.

Living costs

Living costs at Oxford might be less than you’d expect, as our world-class resources and college provision can help keep costs down.

Living costs for the academic year starting in 2023 are estimated to be between £1,290 and £1,840 for each month you are in Oxford. Our academic year is made up of three eight-week terms, so you would not usually need to be in Oxford for much more than six months of the year but may wish to budget over a nine-month period to ensure you also have sufficient funds during the holidays to meet essential costs. For further details please visit our living costs webpage.

Financial support


A tuition fee loan is available from the UK government to cover course fees in full for Home (UK, Irish nationals and other eligible students with UK citizens' rights - see below*) students undertaking their first undergraduate degree**, so you don’t need to pay your course fees up front.

In 2023 Oxford is offering one of the most generous bursary packages of any UK university to Home students with a family income of around £42,875 or less, with additional opportunities available to UK students from households with incomes of £27,500 or less. The UK government also provides living costs support to Home students from the UK and those with settled status who meet the residence requirements.

*For courses starting on or after 1 August 2021, the UK government has confirmed that EU, other EEA, and Swiss Nationals will be eligible for student finance from the UK government if they have UK citizens’ rights (i.e. if they have pre-settled or settled status, or if they are an Irish citizen covered by the Common Travel Area arrangement). The support you can access from the government will depend on your residency status.

 See further details.

(Channel Islands and Isle of Man)

Islands students are entitled to different support to that of students from the rest of the UK.

Please refer the links below for information on the support to you available from your funding agency:

States of Jersey
States of Guernsey
Isle of Man


Please refer to the "Other Scholarships" section of our Oxford Bursaries and Scholarships page.

**If you have studied at undergraduate level before and completed your course, you will be classed as an Equivalent or Lower Qualification student (ELQ) and won’t be eligible to receive government or Oxford funding

Fees, Funding and Scholarship search

Additional Fees and Charges Information for Music

Students may choose to have instrumental or voice tuition as part of their course, though please note that performance is not compulsory. With advice from your tutors, you can choose your own instrumental tutors. You will need to pay for these lessons yourself, but the money will be refunded by the Music Faculty at the end of term, up to £275. This usually covers the full cost of tuition.

Students can also apply to take part in a Faculty-funded scheme with the Royal Academy of Music, which provides 8 hourly lessons and participation in master-classes and performance classes at the RAM.

Contextual information

Course data from Discover Uni provides applicants with statistics about undergraduate life at Oxford. But there is so much more to an Oxford degree that the numbers can’t convey.

The Oxford tutorial

College tutorials are central to teaching at Oxford. Typically, they take place in your college and are led by your academic tutor(s) who teach as well as do their own research. Students will also receive teaching in a variety of other ways, depending on the course. This will include lectures and classes, and may include laboratory work and fieldwork. However, tutorials offer a level of personalised attention from academic experts unavailable at most universities.

During tutorials (normally lasting an hour), college subject tutors will give you and one or two tutorial partners feedback on prepared work and cover a topic in depth. The other student(s) in your college tutorials will be from your year group, doing the same course as you and will normally be at your college. Such regular and rigorous academic discussion develops and facilitates learning in a way that isn’t possible through lectures alone. Tutorials also allow for close progress monitoring so tutors can quickly provide additional support if necessary.

Read more about tutorials and an Oxford education

College life

Our colleges are at the heart of Oxford’s reputation as one of the best universities in the world.

  • At Oxford, everyone is a member of a college as well as their subject department(s) and the University. Students therefore have both the benefits of belonging to a large, renowned institution and to a small and friendly academic community. Each college or hall is made up of academic and support staff, and students. Colleges provide a safe, supportive environment leaving you free to focus on your studies, enjoy time with friends and make the most of the huge variety of opportunities.
  • Each college has a unique character, but generally their facilities are similar. Each one, large or small, will have the following essential facilities:
    • Porters’ lodge (a staffed entrance and reception)
    • Dining hall
    • Lending library (often open 24/7 in term time)
    • Student accommodation
    • Tutors’ teaching rooms
    • Chapel and/or music rooms
    • Laundry
    • Green spaces
    • Common room (known as the JCR).
  • All first year students are offered college accommodation either on the main site of their college or in a nearby college annexe. This means that your neighbours will also be ‘freshers’ and new to life at Oxford. This accommodation is guaranteed, so you don’t need to worry about finding somewhere to live after accepting a place here, all of this is organised for you before you arrive.
  • All colleges offer at least one further year of accommodation and some offer it for the entire duration of your degree. You may choose to take up the option to live in your college for the whole of your time at Oxford, or you might decide to arrange your own accommodation after your first year – perhaps because you want to live with friends from other colleges.
  • While college academic tutors primarily support your academic development, you can also ask their advice on other things. Lots of other college staff including welfare officers help students settle in and are available to offer guidance on practical or health matters. Current students also actively support students in earlier years, sometimes as part of a college ‘family’ or as peer supporters trained by the University’s Counselling Service.

More about Oxford colleges and how you choose