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Music at Oxford - Course Outline

First Year


Students need to take following six subjects (one chosen from a list of options)


  • Special topics
  • Issues in the study of music
  • Musical analysis
  • Keyboard skills
  • Techniques of composition: counterpoint and harmony


  • Performance
  • Composition
  • Extended essay


First University exams Three written papers and one 'take-away' paper, a practical exam and a portfolio/recital of essay/compositions

Second and Third Year


Students need to take eight subjects (six chosen from a list of options)



Topics in Music History after 1700 Topics in Music History before 1750

Optional Topics Studied

These topics may vary from year to year and have presently included the following.

Music Writing, Singing and Memory, c600-c1100; The Keyboard Concerto, 1740-1830; Opera in Purcell's England 1659-1705; Richard Wagner; From Tasso to Tapiola: the Symphonic Poem, c1850-1950; Beyond Modernism: Musical Analysis and Criticism; Music Since 1945; Musical Thought and Scholarship; Solo Performance; Techniques of Composition; Dissertation; Orchestration; Edition with Commentary; Composition Portfolio; Chamber Music Performance; Choral Conducting; Analysis Portfolio; Choral Performance. Special Topic papers (these may differ from year to year and have currently included the following): The Music of Guillaume de Machaut; Choral Studies; Film Music; Ethnomusicology and the Urban Encounter; Music in the Iberian World, 1480-1650; Handel's Operas and Oratorios in Context; Psychological Perspectives on Performance; 1966 and All That: the Popular and Beatles Music Culture; Before Silence and After: Experimental Music


Final University exams Three or more written papers along with a combination of 'take-away' papers, recitals and practical tests, portfolio submissions, depending on the options chosen

A Weekly Timetable

The course work is divided between classes and lectures in the Faculty of Music and college tutorials. There are four to six lectures per week, depending upon the selected options as well as tutorials and classes. Generally, there are fewer lectures in the final term and students have more time to study.

International Opportunities

Presently, the Faculty of Music has a Socrates association with the University of Dresden and University of Strasbourg.

Entrance Requirements

  • A-levels: AAA
  • Advanced Highers: AA/AAB
  • IB: 38 - 40 comprising core points
  • Or any other equivalent

The faculty expects candidates to have Music to A-level, Higher Level or Advanced Higher in the IB or any academic equivalent. Keyboard ability of ABRSM Grade V or above is recommended.

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