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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Department is recognised internationally for the high level of the quality of its research output. The Department was ranked joint second out of all the country's 53 Music departments in the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise. This follows our top ranking of 5 stars in the 2001 RAE.
Study at Birmingham and you can take advantage of our world-class facilities, including the new £16 million Bramall Music Building (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 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-renown multi-speaker sound system devoted to the research and performance of electroacoustic music.
We currently rank 6th overall in the Guardian University League Table 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 Gluck's Iphigenia in Aulis, 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
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
International Baccalaureate Diploma: 36–38 points including Music at HL.
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
Joint Honours combinations
French Studies and Music BA
German Studies and Music BA
Italian Studies and Music BA
Mathematics and Music BA
Music and Russian Studies BA
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