BMus Music

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In 1905, Edward Elgar was appointed the University’s first Professor of Music, and we have not looked back since. Today, BMus Music is a chance to explore your passion for the subject and its performance, in everything from early to cutting-edge contemporary music. Study here and you will not just benefit from outstanding facilities such as the £16m Bramall Music Building (opened in 2012), you will also experience world-leading teaching in musicology, performance and composition. In addition, all students receive a scholarship for lessons on up to two instruments.

Birmingham is a great city in which to study Music. Our links with the city and its rich musical culture include instrumental lessons for students at the Birmingham Conservatoire; the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group as ensemble in association; University concerts held in the internationally acclaimed Symphony Hall; and access to open rehearsals from the likes of Thomas Adès, Sakari Oramo and Sir Simon Rattle. Instrumental and vocal lessons may also be taken through the Centre for Early Music Performance and Research. 

You will find your time here enriching and rewarding, effectively preparing you for a wide range of successful careers in music and beyond.  Music graduates from Birmingham benefit from a higher than average rate of employability for the subject, with 95% going into work or study within six months of graduation. 80% of students that go into work secure employment in a professional or managerial job. The wide range of posts they have secured includes roles in event management, Orchestra management, music administration and teaching at every level. 

Course fact file

UCAS code: W302

Duration: 3 years

Places Available: 60

Applications in 2013: 355

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

Start date: September


Our Music undergraduates benefit from some of the best facilities for music study and practice in the country, including state-of-the-art facilities in our new Bramall Music Building along with practice rooms, electro-acoustic music studios, early instruments, computer workstations and the Barber Institute Concert Hall and Library. As you progress through your degree, you will find a greater emphasis is placed on option choices and independent work. You may specialise more in musicology, performance or composition, or some combination of the three.

First year

Your foundation courses will include History and Analysis, Tonal Harmony and Counterpoint, Instrumental/Vocal Performance and Composition (both paper and studio). Everyone participates in ensemble performances and you will also take one module outside the main discipline.

Second year

In this year, in addition to compulsory modules in Critical Musicology and Analysis, 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), which is optional.

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 interests in universities that specialise in areas that are not normally offered in British universities at an undergraduate level, such as music therapy and music education.

Final year

While taking more of the optional modules, you can also specialise: in solo performance by giving a recital; in composition by preparing a portfolio; 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 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.

Graduation 2013

Why study this course

The Department of Music at the University of Birmingham is one of the most distinguished in the UK. Our history stretches back to 1905, when Edward Elgar was appointed the University's first Professor of Music. But we’re also looking forward to the latest cutting-edge developments in the practice and study of music.

Over 85% of research in the Department of Music has been judged to be 'world-leading' or 'internally excellent'.  This is the result of the national Research Excellence Framework exercise, which assessed research publications and the public impact of research carried out in all universities in the UK, 2008-2014.  

Study at Birmingham and you can take advantage of our world-class facilities, including the Bramall Music Building (opened in 2012 and winner of the Civic Trust Award and RIBA Award 2013), which houses the Elgar Concert Hall and the Dome Room, and the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, with its award-winning art gallery and art-deco concert hall. Together these provide spaces perfectly suited for everything including chamber music, electronic music, jazz and orchestra concerts.

All of our undergraduates receive a scholarship for lessons on up to two instruments and we enjoy close relations with the Birmingham Conservatoire, where many of our students receive their practical tuition.

To support your studies and research, the Barber Music Library is one of the best in the country, with Special Collections centred on 20th century English music (including Elgar - diaries, manuscript scores and early editions) and Baroque music. Meanwhile, the Centre for Early Music Performance and Research (CEMPR) owns a large collection of reproduction early instruments and offers practical tuition in early instrumental and vocal techniques, with world-recognised early music specialists. The department is also home of BEAST (Birmingham Electro-Acoustic Sound Theatre), a world-renowned multi-speaker sound system devoted to the research and performance of electroacoustic music.

We currently rank 4th overall in the Times/Sunday Times University Guide for Music.

The University has two symphony orchestras, a jazz orchestra, new music ensemble, choirs and many other ensembles, run by the Department and the University Music Society. The Birmingham Contemporary Music Group is the Department's 'Ensemble in Association', allowing undergraduate and postgraduate composers opportunities to hear their works performed by top-class professionals. The Centre for Composition and Associated Studies (COMPASS) also organises performances, workshops, masterclasses and seminars on all aspects of contemporary music.

The Department has recently received a set of Balinese gamelan instruments (on permanent loan). A series of workshops, available to all students, will be held during each academic year.

With an impressive array of venues and live music offerings, Birmingham is an ideal place to study music. The University has a wide range of links with the city; we regularly holds concerts in the Town Hall and Symphony Hall, which is widely regarded as the finest concert hall in Europe. Other links include coaching for our orchestra players from the professional musicians form CBSO and many of our students are also members of the CBSO Youth Orchestra. We also have links with Honorary Professors and Research Fellows such as Graham Vick, artistic director of Birmingham Opera Company, Koen Kessels, Music Director of Birmingham Royal Ballet and Jeffrey Skidmore, artistic director of Ex Cathedra. Through these links our students can get involved in major musical events in the city, as well as performance and composition workshops.

Run entirely by Music students, the Summer Festival of Music includes an opera (recent performances include Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro and Beethoven's Symphony No. 6 in F, "Pastoral"), orchestral and choral concerts, chamber ensembles and open-air performances by the brass and wind bands.

Open day talk

Fees and funding

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

Entry requirements

Number of A levels required: 3

Typical offer: AAA–AAB

Required subjects and grades: A level Music grade A; Music Technology is accepted but not as a substitute for Music A level; A grade 7 ABRSM theory qualification along with 3 A levels will be accepted if a Music A level has not been studied; we do not accept BTEC qualifications in place of A Level Music

General Studies: Not accepted

Additional information:

International Baccalaureate Diploma: 36–38 points including Music at HL.

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

Learn more about applying

Joint Honours combinations

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.

Learning and teaching

As a Birmingham student you are part of an academic elite and will learn from world-leading experts. At Birmingham we advocate an enquiry based learning approach, from the outset you will be encouraged to become an independent and self-motivated learner, qualities that are highly sought after by employers. We want you to be challenged and will encourage you to think for yourself.

Your learning will take place in a range of different settings, from scheduled teaching in lectures and small group tutorials, to self-study and peer group learning (for example preparing and delivering presentations with your classmates).


To begin with you may find this way of working challenging, but rest assured that we will enable you to make this transition. You will have access to a comprehensive support system that will assist and encourage you, including personal tutors and welfare tutors who can help with both academic and welfare issues, and a formal transition review during your first year to check on your progress and offer you help for any particular areas where you need support.

Our Academic Skills Centre also offers you support with your learning. The centre is a place where you can develop your mathematical, academic writing and general academic skills. It is the centre's aim to help you to become a more effective and independent learner through the use of a range of high-quality and appropriate learning support services. These range from drop-in sessions to workshops on a range of topics including note taking, reading, writing and presentation skills.

From the outset, you will be assigned your own Personal Tutor who will get to know you as you progress through your studies, providing academic and welfare advice, encouraging you and offering assistance in any areas you may feel you need extra support to make the most of your potential and your time here at Birmingham.

The Academic Writing Advisory Service (AWAS) will provide you with individual support from an academic writing advisor and postgraduate subject-specialist writing tutors. You will receive guidance on writing essays and dissertations at University-level which can be quite different from your previous experiences of writing. Support is given in a variety of ways, such as small-group workshops, online activities, feedback through email and tutorials.

Student experience

Supporting you throughout your transition to University, offering research opportunities and study skills support and helping you develop and prepare for your post-University careers - our Arts and Law Student Experience Team strive to help you get the most out of your academic experience.


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. All our students receive a scholarship for lessons on two instruments.

Assessment methods

Studying at degree-level is likely to be very different from your previous experience of learning and teaching. You will be expected to think, discuss and engage critically with the subject and find things out for yourself. We will enable you to make this transition to a new style of learning, and the way that you are assessed during your studies will help you develop the essential skills you need to make a success of your time at Birmingham.

You will be assessed in a variety of ways, and these may be different with each module that you take. You will be assessed through coursework which may take the form of essays, group and individual presentations and formal exams (depending on your chosen degree).

During your first year you will undergo a formal 'transition' review to see how you are getting on and if there are particular areas where you need support. This is in addition to the personal tutor who is based in your school or department and can help with any academic issues you encounter.

At the beginning of each module, you will be given information on how and when you will be assessed for that particular programme of study. You will receive feedback on each assessment within four weeks, so that you can learn from and build on what you have done. You will be given feedback on any exams that you take; if you should fail an exam we will ensure that particularly detailed feedback is made available to enable you to learn for the future. 

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


Our Music graduates have a range of general skills that are highly prized by graduate employers. 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. You will have the opportunity to take a practical module in Arts Management which has a strong focus on employability. Subjects covered include marketing, project management, fundraising and finance, programming and contracts. Guest lecturers are invited including previous music graduates and professionals from the University Cultural Partnerships.

Music graduates often go on to pursue highly successful careers with employers including: City of London Sinfonia, CBSO, Purcell School, the Royal Academy of Music, local government, schools, colleges and universities. Many have taken management jobs in orchestras, music venues and other arts and performance organisations, with specific job titles including Accompanist Composer, International Events Manager, Lecturer Music Teacher, Orchestra Administrator, Trainee Orchestra Manager, Performance Music Assistant, Piano Teacher and Professional Musician. Some also decide to pursue graduate study in music and other fields.

The University of Birmingham's music graduates are very successful after graduation. 95% of our Music graduates go into work or study within six months of graduation. This is well above the national average.

Famous former Music students of University of Birmingham include:

  • Natasha Marsh, BA Music and Drama, 1996 - highly regarded and well-known operatic soprano
  • Gabriel Prokofiev, BMus Music, 1997 - well-known composer and DJ with works performed at the Proms (Sergei was his grandfather)
  • David Murray, BMus Music, 1975 and 2012 Honorary Graduate - Director of the BBC National Orchestra and Chorus of Wales

Whether you have a clear idea of where your future aspirations lie or want to consider the broad range of opportunities available once you have a Birmingham degree, our Careers Network can help you achieve your goal. This is a unique careers guidance service tailored to your academic subject area, offering a specialised team who can give you expert advice. This includes individual careers advice and events to give you insight into the professions and employers of interest to arts graduates, and access to internships (including some at summer music festivals) and job vacancies.

Extra-curricular activities

To enhance your career prospects even further, you will need to think about engaging in some extra-curricular activities while you're at university to broaden your skills and your network of contacts. This can include the many societies at the Guild of Students and also the many voluntary opportunities offered with local arts organisations. 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.

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 the College's 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.

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 are a unique opportunity to learn fundamental, transferable business and interpersonal skills, through experience of real work in an established cultural institution. Our current partners include Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery, Birmingham REP, Birmingham Royal Ballet, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Ironbridge Gorge Museums Trust and the Library of Birmingham. We have plans to expand the scheme to include our own major cultural assets, such as Winterbourne House, the Lapworth Museum, and the Barber Institute of Fine Arts. This scheme will give you professional experience to set you apart in a competitive graduate market.

We also offer voluntary work which complements your studies by helping you gain practical experiences in occupational settings while contributing back to society. This can bring new skills that will be useful throughout your future and can make a positive impact on your learning whilst at university. Volunteering enables you to develop skills such as communication, interpersonal skills, teamwork, self-confidence and self-discipline all of which can be transferred into your studies.

Your Birmingham degree is evidence of your ability to succeed in a demanding academic environment. Employers target Birmingham students for their drive, diversity, communication and problem-solving skills, their team-working abilities and cultural awareness, and our graduate employment statistics have continued to climb at a rate well above national trends. If you make the most of the wide range of services you will be able to develop your career from the moment you arrive.