University of Cambridge logo
  • Tuition Fee:
  • Local: n/a
  • Foreign: $ 31.6k / 1 year
  • Deadline:
  • 15 October 2017
  • StudyQA ranking:
  • 225pts.
  • Duration:
  • 3 years

    Photos of university / #cambridgeuniversity

    Our course covers a broad range of music, as well as a great variety of ways of thinking about and understanding music, ranging from medieval plainchant to the blues, and from advanced analysis to the study of music and science.

    Music at Cambridge

    Over recent decades many of the most significant figures in British music have studied or taught at Cambridge: composers such as Alexander Goehr, Judith Weir and Thomas Adès; performers like Joanna MacGregor and Thomas Trotter; and conductors including John Eliot Gardiner, Christopher Hogwood and Edward Gardner.

    Our undergraduate course has a strong academic component, particularly focusing on history, analysis, composition (including screen and media composition) and performance, but also offering a range of other topics (see the course outline).

    Facilities and resources

    As well as providing a location for lectures, seminars and research activities, the modern Faculty building also houses:

    • a professional concert hall (seating 500)
    • an extensive library of music, books, periodicals and recordings
    • a purpose-built studio
    • music computing laboratories

    Students can borrow period instruments and make use of the Faculty’s Javanese gamelan. The Faculty organises a weekly Composers’ Workshop, open to all students, and also supports the New Music Ensemble’s work.

    In addition, the Faculty hosts several resident ensembles (the Endellion String Quartet, Britten Sinfonia and Academy of Ancient Music) which perform regularly and offer masterclasses, coaching and further composition workshops for students.

    These facilities and resources are complemented by the University Library and by the libraries, practice rooms and computer suites available in Colleges. College funds are available for instrumental or vocal lessons for those taking a performance course – support varies between Colleges so request details from individual Colleges.

    Additional course costs

    There are no compulsory additional course costs. Students taking performance options will require instrumental/vocal teaching, for which financial support is guaranteed through the Colleges at the following minimum levels: 1st year - £420; 2nd year - £540; 3rdyear - £700.

    Music books and scores are available in the libraries in Cambridge (in the Faculty, Colleges, and/or University Library). Students may purchase their own copies of some books and study scores to have to hand when needed, but this is not compulsory. For full details of optional costs, including sources of funding, see the Music Faculty website.


    Music graduates are extremely attractive to employers and can follow a career in almost any field thanks to the transferable skills they acquire on our course.

    Many of our students do enter the music profession in one guise or another. Recent graduates include pianist Tom Poster, who performs regularly at the Proms, and Robin Ticciati, now the Principal Conductor of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. Other recent graduates have pursued successful careers in publishing and the media, academia, arts administration, banking, law, public service and the charity sector.

    Teaching is provided through lectures, seminars and supervisions. In your first year, you can typically expect to have six lectures, three supervisions, and aural and keyboard skills classes each week. In later years, lectures decrease to make way for more seminar, small-group and one-to-one teaching.

    Assessment takes place at the end of each year through written examinations; the submission of portfolios, compositions essays and dissertations; and through recitals.

    Year 1 (Part IA)

    The first year consists of three major components:

    • historical and critical studies – two and a half papers covering issues involved in understanding music and its relationship to society and culture. This includes the main historical developments of Western music from the medieval period to the present, and a selection of historical or contemporary case studies
    • tonal skills – two papers giving you a thorough technical grounding in music of the Western tonal tradition through the acquisition of basic harmonic skills at the keyboard, aural work, and writing music in a range of historical styles. This is a foundation for more advanced work in all musical fields
    • music analysis – one paper that gives you an understanding of what makes music work through hands-on familiarity with a range of styles. This creates a bridge between your work in historical and critical studies and in tonal skills

    For your final half paper, you have the choice of giving a 15 minute recital, submitting an original composition, or writing an extended essay.

    Year 2 (Part IB)

    You take a further paper in each of the core Part IA areas (historical studies, analysis and applied tonal skills), which together take up half of your time.

    For the remaining half, you choose three papers from a range of different topics. Subjects available change from year to year but normally include:

    • in-depth historical topics
    • jazz and popular music
    • ethnomusicology
    • notation
    • keyboard skills
    • music and science
    • performance studies (including recital)
    • composition
    • a dissertation of 5,000-7,000 words

    Year 3 (Part II)

    In the final year, you have even more choice. There are no compulsory papers – you choose six papers from a wide selection of options which reflect your own interests and which may also develop the skills and knowledge needed for your chosen career path. Examples of options available in recent years include:

    • advanced performance
    • a dissertation of 7,000-10,000 words
    • portfolios in analysis, composition and notation, and sources studies
    • Beethoven: the Late String Quartets
    • The Music of Miles Davis
    • Exploring Music Psychology
    • Fugue
    • Parisian Polyphony
    • The Music Industry in the Digital Age
    • Nationalism and Music in the Middle East
    • Latin American Music and the Politics of Representation
    • Boris Godunov and its Contexts
    • Perception and Performance

    You can also work with individual staff members on your own projects, whether as an advanced performer, composer, historian, analyst, ethnomusicologist, or music scientist. In this way, while our course gives you the solid understanding of the subject which a music degree should guarantee, it also offers you the flexibility you need to prepare for life after Cambridge.

    UK requirements for international applications

    Universities in the United Kingdom use a centralized system of undergraduate application: University and College Admissions Service (UCAS). It is used by both domestic and international students. Students have to register on the UCAS website before applying to the university. They will find all the necessary information about the application process on this website. Some graduate courses also require registration on this website, but in most cases students have to apply directly to the university. Some universities also accept undergraduate application through Common App (the information about it could be found on universities' websites).

    Both undergraduate and graduate students may receive three types of responses from the university. The first one, “unconditional offer” means that you already reached all requirements and may be admitted to the university. The second one, “conditional offer” makes your admission possible if you fulfill some criteria – for example, have good grades on final exams. The third one, “unsuccessful application” means that you, unfortunately, could not be admitted to the university of you choice.

    All universities require personal statement, which should include the reasons to study in the UK and the information about personal and professional goals of the student and a transcript, which includes grades received in high school or in the previous university.

    University requirements

    Program requirements

    • All applicants to the University of Cambridge must submit an application to UCAS (the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service) by the relevant deadline.
    • The Attestat o (polnom) Srednem Obshchem Obrazovanii (Certificate of Secondary Education) is not considered to be suitable preparation for a competitive application to the University of Cambridge. We strongly recommend that you undertake further study if you wish to apply for an undergraduate degree. Examples of the qualifications that would be considered suitable for admission to Cambridge are A Levels, the International Baccalaureate (IB), five or more Advanced Placement (AP) courses, or possibly the first year of an undergraduate degree at a university outside the UK. We recommend that you contact the College that you wish to apply to directly for further advice and guidance.
    • IELTS – normally a minimum overall grade of 7.5, usually with 7.0 or above in each element.
    • Cambridge English: Advanced – grade A or B.
    • Cambridge English: Proficiency – grade A, B or C.
    • Required by all Colleges: A Level/IB Higher Level Music (ABRSM Grade 8 Theory at Merit and above may be accepted as a substitute)

    Admission assessment

    There's no common format written assessment for Music – the Colleges will assess aptitude, knowledge base and potential through short tasks at the time of interview (if interviewed). See individual College websites for details and the Colleges provide details of arrangements in the letters inviting applicants to interview.

    Please note that your performance in the assessment at interview will not be considered in isolation, but will be taken into account alongside the other elements of your application.

    • Cambridge Commonwealth, European and International Trust

    Your living expenses may be higher than for a Home student (eg if you stay in Cambridge/the UK during vacations). The minimum resources needed in Cambridge for the year (excluding tuition and College fees) are estimated to be approximately £10,080 in 2017-18 and £10,310 in 2018-19, depending on lifestyle (you should allow for increases in future years).

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