In 1905 Edward Elgar was appointed our first Professor of Music and we have not looked back since.
Today, our degrees offer a chance to explore your passion for the subject and its performance, in everything from early to cutting-edge contemporary music. We are one of the most distinguished university music departments in the UK, currently ranked 4th in the Sunday Times University Guide.
Study here and you will benefit from outstanding facilities, such as the £16m Bramall Music Building, and world-leading teaching in musicology, performance and composition. All students receive a scholarship for lessons for two instruments at the Birmingham Conservatoire or through the Centre for Early Music Performance and Research. Furthermore, the city of Birmingham boasts a diverse and eclectic array of music venues.
“Skills, self- belief and contacts: all of these things I learned and acquired at Birmingham and have been a constant and practical advantage in attempting to further my career. I believe strongly that I owe much of what I might have achieved so far to my time at Birmingham. Primarily my degree allowed me to develop skills in independence of learning, self-criticism and driving for higher standards. These are of inestimable value in any profession.”
Our Department of Music is one of the most distinguished in the UK, currently ranked 4th for Music in the Sunday Times University Guide.
Your degree will encompass musicology, performance and composition. You may receive lessons on one or two instruments / voice. Many students receive their practical tuition from the Birmingham Conservatoire, with whom we have 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 (find out more below).
You will 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. You will also use the on-campus Barber Institute of Fine Arts, with its magnificent Art Deco Concert Hall and Library, with Special Collections centred on 20th century English music, including Elgar diaries, manuscript scores and early editions, and Baroque music. Together, these buildings provide spaces perfectly suited for everything - chamber music, electronic music, jazz and orchestral concerts.
Joining the active Music Society is a very popular choice for our students.
- Exceptional facilities: You will 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. You will also use the on-campus Barber Institute of Fine Arts, with its magnificent Art Deco Concert Hall and Library (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). Together, these buildings provide spaces perfectly suited for everything including chamber music, electronic music, jazz and orchestra concerts. The department houses a Balinese Gamelan and a large collection of Early Instruments, upon which it is possible to receive tuition. We are also home to the Centre for Early Music Performance and Research (CEMPR); the Centre for Composition and Associated Studies (COMPASS); and Birmingham Electroacoustic Music Studios (BEAST).
- Plentiful performance opportunities: You will be spoilt for choice when it comes to making music. You will have access to a wide variety of choirs, orchestras, ensembles and musical theatre organised by the Department of Music, University Music Society and the Guild of Students. There is even a Summer Festival of Music, organised by students.
- Excellent employability development: Our Music graduates have a range of general skills that are highly prized by graduate employers. 95% were in work or full time study within six months of graduation.
- 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 and study exciting new modules. Some may even be specialist Music topics specific to the places you are studying.
Open day talk
Hear from our students
The optional modules listed on the website for this programme may unfortunately occasionally be subject to change. As you will appreciate key members of staff may leave the University and this necessitates a review of the modules that are offered. Where the module is no longer available we will let you know as soon as we can and help you make other choices.
Your first year foundation courses will include:
- History and Analysis (Baroque and Classical Music; Romantic and Twentieth-Century Music; Medieval and Renaissance Music; Popular and World Musics);
- Tonal Harmony and Counterpoint;
- Instrumental/Vocal Performance (including fully funded instrumental lessons);
- Paper and Studio Composition
- detailed description of first year modules
In addition, everyone participates in ensemble performances and you will also take one Module Outside the Main Discipline which will allow you to explore another subject.
In this year, in addition to compulsory modules in Critical Musicology and Analysis of Music, you may also choose to continue to study Solo Performance (including fully funded instrumental lessons) as well as choosing from a wide choice of other optional modules such as:
- Paper Composition
- Studio Composition
- Solo Performance (includes fully funded instrumental / voice lessons)
- Music in California
- Arts Management in Practice
- An Introduction to Sound Recording Techniques
- Eighteenth-Century Counterpoint
- The Symphony: Sammartini to Sibelius
- Music, Place and Identity
- Tonality: An Introduction
- Sound in Society
- Music and the Brain
- Introduction to Jazz Styles: 1920 to 1980
- Studies in Performance Practice
- American Experimental Music
- The Singer's Survival Guide
- The Sixties
- The Romantic Piano: Chopin and his Legacy
- From Glinka to Glazunov
- Small Ensemble Performance
- An Introduction to Music Therapy
- detailed descriptions of second year modules
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.
While taking more of the optional modules mentioned above, 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 following:
You can also put a particular emphasis on one of these subjects by choosing it as a Special Subject module.
- Number of A levels required:
- Typical offer:
- General Studies:
- Not accepted
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.
Required subjects and grades: A level Music grade A. 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 (they will be accepted as part of your wider offer if you are studying Music A level as well).
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.
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.
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:
- small group tutorials
- independent study
- and peer group learning, such as delivering presentations with your classmates
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.
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
Our Music 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% were in work or full time study within six months of graduation (well above the national average).
The study of music develops analytical skills, lateral thinking and 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 also acquire transferrable skills that are valued by employers in many sectors:
- Researching, analysing and interpreting information;
- Handling complex information;
- Forming concise and articulate arguments;
- Time management and workload prioritisation.
Our graduates become professional musicians, pursue postgraduate study, or progress to highly successful careers. Employers include:
- City of London Sinfonia;
- the BBC;
- Purcell School;
- Island Records UK;
- Cartwright Communications;
- Royal Opera House;
- Royal Academy of Music;
- Education institutions.
Many take management jobs in orchestras, music venues and other arts and performance organisations. Job titles include:
- Accompanist Composer;
- International Events Manager;
- Lecturer Music Teacher;
- Orchestra Administrator;
- Trainee Orchestra Manager;
- Performance Music Assistant;
- Piano Teacher;
- Film Composer;
- Marketing Assistant;
Famous alumni include:
- Natasha Marsh, BA Music and Drama, 1996 - operatic soprano
- Gabriel Prokofiev, BMus Music, 1997 - 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
Graduates return to campus to talk to current students about their careers, how to find opportunities and the wide variety of roles available in the industry. Recent speakers hold positions such as Teacher; Jazz Festival Manager at Cheltenham Festivals; Music Therapist at Music Therapy Works; Customer Service and Admin Assistant at DanceXChange; and Assistant Registrar at the University of Birmingham.
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.
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.
Birmingham has transformed into one of Europe's most exciting cities. It is more than somewhere to study; it is somewhere to build a successful future.
Clubs and societies
The Guild has over 200 Societies, community volunteering groups and associations for you to join; they cover every topic and activity that you can think of - there really is something for everyone.
Student Experience Officers
Our Student Experience Officers 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.
Coming to Birmingham might be your first time living away from home. Our student accommodation will allow you to enjoy your new-found independence in safe, welcoming and sociable surroundings.
The City of Birmingham
One of Europe's most exciting destinations, Birmingham is brimming with life and culture, making it a wonderful place to live, study and work.
Our students fall in love with the city - around 40% of our graduates choose to make Birmingham their home.