A gig at an Oxford venue.
(Image credit: Rob Judges Photography / Oxford University Images).


The musical world is your oyster when studying in Oxford.

From classical to jazz, through indie, rock, drum 'n' bass, grime, folk and electric, all the styles of music you could dream of (and then some) are represented.

Whether you want to sing, perform, DJ, or just listen, you will find what you are looking for here.

Classical music

There is a wealth of opportunity for classical music lovers. Many colleges have their own choirs, orchestras and bands. Opportunities to participate in classical recitals are numerous. Lunchtime and evening concerts abound, often taking place in spectacular settings such as the Sheldonian Theatre or the Holywell Music Room.

Oxford Philomusica, the University’s orchestra in residence, offers all sorts of opportunities in performances, recitals, masterclasses and coaching.

At the top end of musical ability, the University boasts student orchestras of professional calibre:

  • the Oxford University Orchestra
  • Oxford University Philharmonia
  • and the renowned choirs of Christ Church, Magdalen and New College, along with Schola Cantorum.

For those looking for a formal role in the musical life of the University, many colleges offer choral and organ scholarships, with a number also offering instrumental scholarships or repetiteur scholarships.

Contemporary music

If you are looking for more contemporary styles of music, Oxford truly punches above its weight. Venues such as the city’s O2 Academy and New Theatre regularly draw both national and international acts.

Many smaller venues hold regular jam sessions and ‘open mic’ nights for the more aspiring among us, and there is a well-established weekly series of both jazz and blues concerts.

If you fancying DJ-ing you could always start out at college parties, or try the student club nights that run open decks.

Oxford University Music Society (OUMS) - the musical hub of Oxford

OUMS aims to encourage participation in music. As well as co-ordinating many auditioned ensembles, including the flagship Oxford University Orchestra, the society runs two non-auditioning ensembles – the Chorus and the University Brass Band.

In addition, OUMS is looking to play a big part in improving and increasing the provision of college music so that everyone, whatever their skill, can get involved. They also maintain a 'performers' register' enabling musicians to get in touch with one another and collaborate.


Those looking to practise their instruments or form a band will find the numerous college music rooms invaluable. These rooms are often equipped with a piano, amps and a PA system. Some colleges have their own drum kits for student use.

Colleges without a dedicated music room will often provide another space in which musicians can practise. RockSoc, the rock music society, maintains a list of musicians and vocalists to enable like-minded music lovers to get in touch with one another easily.

Jazz musicians in particular are well catered for, with a number of different groups from across the jazz spectrum constantly looking for new members.

Other music societies include IMSoc (Indie Music Society) and Electric Collective (for electronic and dance music).


Vocalists also have an astounding array of opportunities in groups as diverse as traditional college choirs, a cappella groups, and non-auditioned vocal ensembles. Musical theatre and opera are also popular, with frequent productions in the large college theatres and city centre venues.

Have a look at our a cappella groups, The Alternotives and Out of the Blue for a glimpse of what's on offer.