BA Mathematics and Music

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There is a deep historic affinity between the disciplines of Mathematics and Music. Both involve patterns and structures – indeed notions such as octaves, chords, scales, and keys are all based in mathematics.

Continue your passion for both subjects by joining these two highly regarded departments.  You’ll benefit from outstanding music facilities such as the £16m Bramall Music Building, as well as world-leading teaching in musicology, performance and composition. All students receive a scholarship for lessons at the Birmingham Conservatoire or through the Centre for Early Music Performance and Research.

In addition, our well-equipped Mathematics department boasts academics who are global experts in their fields, conducting excellent teaching and conducting ground breaking research in many areas, such as fluid dynamics, analysis and group theory.

Course fact file

UCAS code: GW13

Duration: 3 Years

Typical Offer: AAB (More detailed entry requirements and the international qualifications accepted can be found in the course details)

Start date: September

Contact

Admissions and Recruitment Coordinator: Beth Astington

Telephone: +44 (0) 121 414 5506

Email: music-ug-admissions@contacts.bham.ac.uk

Details

You will benefit from an intellectually challenging and stimulating environment for your undergraduate studies, focused on ensuring you’re a fully supported and active learner. Our degrees are designed to provide both academic excellence and vocational development; a balance that’s highly sought after by employers in today's intellectual, professional and creative industries.

Your Mathematics programme is carefully designed to give you access to as many topics as possible. Develop skills such as the ability to formulate and tackle problems, to think logically, to use technical language and to express complex ideas clearly and accurately.

Currently ranked 4th for Music in the Sunday Times University Guide our Music undergraduates benefit from some of the best facilities for music study and practice in the country (read more below). Your Music studies will encompass musicology, performance and composition - including lessons on one instrument / voice. Many of our students receive their practical tuition from the Birmingham Conservatoire, with whom we enjoy close links. As you progress through your degree, you will find a greater emphasis is placed on independent work and you are able to choose modules that suit your interests. 

Both the Music Society and MathSoc are popular choices for our students.

Why study this course

  • Excellent employability development: Our Music and Mathematics graduates have a range of general skills that are highly prized by graduate employers. Visit the employability page for more information. 
  • Exciting Study Abroad opportunities: You will have the opportunity to extend your degree by spending a Year Abroad, giving you the chance to discover a new culture, study exciting new modules – some may even be specialist topics specific to the places you are studying or ones that may not be commonly available in the UK.

Open day talks

Two videos on YouTube of recent open day talks relevant to this course:

Modules

Please be aware that the following information is intended to provide prospective students with an indicative guide of the modules offered by the School. However, our research is constantly exploring new areas and directions of study, therefore some modules may be dropped and new ones offered in their place.

First Year

Music: Your foundation courses will develop your knowledge and skills in Music History and Analysis, Tonal Harmony and Counterpoint. You have the choice to take an optional unassessed Instrumental or Vocal Performance module and if you are interested in composition, you may be able to sit-in the Paper and/or Studio Composition modules, depending on place availability. You will also have an opportunity to participate in ensemble performances.

Mathematics: The first two years are carefully designed to allow you as much choice as possible in your final year. In the first year, you will cover Calculus; Vectors, Geometry and Algebra; and Mechanics.

Second Year

Music: You will choose one of the core modules (either Critical Musicology or Analysis). In addition, you have a wide choice of optional modules, ranging from aspects of western art music, through to modules such as Sound Recording, Baroque Performance Practice, Art Music in the Movies, and Conducting. You may also continue to study Individual Performance (including fully funded instrumental lessons), and/or Composition, if prerequisites are fulfilled.

Mathematics: In your second year you will take modules in Multivariable & Vector Analysis; Linear Algebra; Probability and Statistics; and Algebra & Combinatorics.

Year Abroad Option

You may choose an option of spending a year abroad. There is a wide variety of universities across the world to choose from. The decision on whether or not to take the year abroad pathway is made in your second year. The year abroad allows you to pursue musical and / or mathematical interests in universities that specialise in areas that are not normally offered in British universities at an undergraduate level.

Final year

Music: While taking more of the optional modules, you can specialise in solo performance by giving a recital, in composition by preparing a portfolio, or in musicology by writing a dissertation, or in any two of these.

As a final-year student you are required to take an independent study module in Music or Mathematics. You can choose one of the three main disciplines: musicology, composition, or performance. You can also put a particular stress on one of these three subjects, choosing it as a Special Subject module.

Mathematics: As you will have gained a thorough grounding in many aspects of Mathematics during Years 1 and 2, you will be able to choose from an incredibly wide range of final year modules. Modules may inlcude topics such as Continuum Mechanics, Partial Differential Equations, Liner Algebra and Programming and Game Theory and Computer Simulation.

Fees and funding

Standard fees apply 
Learn more about fees and funding
 
Scholarships
Learn more about our scholarships and awards

Entry requirements

Number of A levels required: 3

Typical offer: AAB

Required subjects and grades: A level Music grade A. A level Mathematics grade A

International baccalaureate update

Please note that we have reviewed our policy on the IB Diploma for 2016 entry and our offers will now focus on performance in Higher Level subjects. For more information and details please read our 2016 IB Diploma requirements.

Additional information:

Please note:

  • Grade 7 ABRSM theory qualification will be accepted as a substitute for Music A level (provided you have studied 3 other A levels);
  • Music Technology A Level or any Music BTEC qualifications will not be accepted as a substitute for Music A level (however, they will be accepted as part of your wider offer if you are studying Music A level as well);

International students:

We welcome applications from international students and invite you to join our vibrant community of over 4500 international students who represent 150 different countries. We accept a range of qualifications, our country pages show you what qualifications we accept from your country.

Depending on your chosen course of study, you may also be interested in the Birmingham Foundation Academy, a specially structured programme for international students whose qualifications are not accepted for direct entry to UK universities. Further details can be found on the foundation academy web pages.

How to apply

Apply through UCAS at www.ucas.com.

Learn more about applying.

Key Information Set (KIS)

Key Information Sets (KIS) are comparable sets of information about full- or part-time undergraduate courses and are designed to meet the information needs of prospective students.

All KIS information has been published on the Unistats website and can also be accessed via the small advert, or ‘widget’, below. On the Unistats website you are able to compare all the KIS data for each course with data for other courses.

The development of Key Information Sets (KIS) formed part of HEFCE’s work to enhance the information that is available about higher education. They give you access to reliable and comparable information in order to help you make informed decisions about what and where to study.

The KIS contains information which prospective students have identified as useful, such as student satisfaction, graduate outcomes, learning and teaching activities, assessment methods, tuition fees and student finance, accommodation and professional accreditation.

Contact

Admissions and Recruitment Coordinator: Beth Astington

Telephone: +44 (0) 121 414 5506

Email: music-ug-admissions@contacts.bham.ac.uk

Learning and teaching

University of Birmingham students are part of an academic elite and learn from world-leading experts. We will challenge you to become an independent and self-motivated learner, qualities that are highly sought after by employers.

You will have a diverse learning experience, including:

  • lectures
  • small group tutorials
  • independent study
  • and peer group learning, such as delivering presentations with your classmates

Support

You will have access to a comprehensive support system to help you make the transition to Higher Education.

  • Personal tutors - You will be assigned your own personal tutor who will get to know you as you progress through your studies. They will provide academic support and welfare advice to enable you to make the most of your time here at Birmingham.
  • Transition review - you will undergo a formal transition review during your first year with an academic member of staff. They will see how you are getting on and if there are particular areas where you need support.
  • Academic Skills Centre - the centre aims to help you become a more effective and independent learner through a range of high-quality support services. The centre offers workshops on a range of topics, such as note-taking, reading, academic writing and presentation skills.
  • Academic Writing Advisory Service (AWAS) - the AWAS team will provide guidance on writing essays and dissertations at University-level. You will receive individual support from an academic writing advisor and meet with postgraduate tutors who specialise in particular subjects. Support is given in a variety of ways, such as small-group workshops, online activities, tutorials and email correspondence.
  • Student experience - our Student Experience Team will help you get the most out of your academic experience. They will offer research opportunities, study skills support and help you prepare for your post-university careers. They will also organise social events, such as field trips, to help you meet fellow students from your course.

Seminars, workshops and studio work are interactive sessions that develop subject-specific skills such as harmony, counterpoint, composition, analysis and historical understanding, as well as generic skills such as communication and essay writing.

Instrumental and vocal lessons are one-to-one and usually take place at the Birmingham Conservatoire.

Assessment methods

Assessments - you will be assessed in a variety of ways to help you transition to a new style of learning. At the beginning of each module, you will be given information on how and when you will be assessed. Assessments methods will vary with each module and could include:

  • coursework, such as essays
  • group and individual presentations
  • and formal exams

Feedback - you will receive feedback on each assessment within four weeks, so you can learn from each assignment. You will also be given feedback on any exams that you take. If you should fail an exam, we will ensure that particularly detailed feedback is provided to help you prepare for future exams.

To test your knowledge and develop your core skills we use a range of different assessment methods, including essays, compositions (on paper and in electronic files), teacher reports, instrumental/vocal recitals, end-of-year examinations, listening tests, critical reports on concerts and programme notes

Contact

Admissions and Recruitment Coordinator: Beth Astington

Telephone: +44 (0) 121 414 5506

Email: music-ug-admissions@contacts.bham.ac.uk

Employability

Our Music and Mathematics graduates have a range of general skills that are highly prized by graduate employers, reflected in the fact that in our most recent survey, 95% of Music and 85% of Mathematics graduates were in work or full time study within six months of graduation (this is well above the national average). Of these, 80% and 87% respectively were in professional or managerial positions.

The study of musical performance and musicology develops analytical skills, lateral thinking and your creative imagination. The process of performing itself helps to develop skills in personal organisation, event management, teamwork and entrepreneurship to succeed in a competitive field.

Your mathematics studies develop skills in the application of logical thinking, statistical or strategic analysis. You will also acquire skills such as analytical thinking, problem solving, independent research, report writing and the use of technical language.

Our graduates become professional musicians; pursue postgraduate study in music and other fields; or go on to pursue highly successful careers with employers including: 

  • City of London Sinfonia;
  • CBSO;
  • Pricewaterhouse Coopers
  • Deloitte
  • HSBC
  • Purcell School;
  • KPMG;
  • Cartwright Communications;
  • Royal Opera House;
  • Royal Academy of Music;
  • local and central government;
  • schools, colleges and universities both in the UK and internationally.

Many take management jobs in orchestras, music venues and other arts and performance organisations, with specific job titles including:

  • Accompanist Composer;
  • International Events Manager;
  • Actuary
  • Associate Auditor
  • Financial Analyst
  • Lecturer Music Teacher;
  • Orchestra Administrator;
  • Trainee Orchestra Manager;
  • Performance Music Assistant;
  • Piano Teacher;
  • Film Composer;
  • Marketing Assistant;

Events are organised whereby graduates return to campus to talk to current students about their careers, how to find opportunities and the wide variety of roles available to both Mathematics and Music graduates. The annual Mathematics Careers Fair involves employers coming to campus who are specifically interested in mathematics graduates.

Developing your career

Employers target University of Birmingham students for their diverse skill-set and our graduate employment statistics have continued to climb at a rate well above national trends. If you make the most of our wide range of opportunities you will be able to develop your career from the moment you arrive.

  • Careers events - we hold events covering careers in teaching, event management, marketing and working with charities to help you meet potential employers and learn more about these sectors.
  • Global Challenge - you can apply to work overseas on an expenses-paid placement during your summer vacation through our Global Challenge initiative.
  • Work experience bursary - we encourage you to apply your skills in the workplace by undertaking internships in the summer. Our work experience bursaries allow you to apply for funding to support you during unpaid internships.
  • Cultural Internships - our innovative Cultural Internships offer graduates the opportunity for a six month paid internship at a leading cultural institution in the West Midlands. These internships will give you professional experience to set you apart in a competitive graduate market. Our current partners include Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery, Birmingham REP, Birmingham Royal Ballet, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Ironbridge Gorge Museums Trust, Library of Birmingham.

There are also internships available at our own cultural assets, such as Winterbourne House, the Lapworth Museum, and the Barber Institute of Fine Arts.

Extra-curricular activities

To enhance your career prospects even further, you will need to think about engaging in some extra-curricular activities to broaden your skills and network of contacts.

  • Undergraduate Research Scholarship Scheme - our College of Arts and Law undergraduate research scholarship scheme enables interested students to work on a current academic research project being run by one of our academic researchers. Undergraduate research scholars gain work experience over the summer after their first or second year and have the chance to develop skills in both collaborative and independent research.
  • Personal Skills Award - our employer-endorsed award-winning Personal Skills Award (PSA) recognises your extra-curricular activities, and provides an accredited employability programme designed to improve your career prospects.
  • Guild of Students - there is a vast number of student groups and volunteering opportunities offered by the Guild of Students, which cover a wide variety of interests.

Contact

Admissions and Recruitment Coordinator: Beth Astington

Telephone: +44 (0) 121 414 5506

Email: music-ug-admissions@contacts.bham.ac.uk