Music BA (Hons)

Full-time undergraduate (3 years)


January 2019, September 2018


Stand out in the music industry with our ‘learn by doing’ culture and modern study of music relevant to today.

Full description


Combined with your own specialisms, the practical and vocational skills you’ll gain from our Music course will help you stand out in the music industry. Many of our recent graduates now enjoy successful careers as performers, composers, technologists, arts administrators and music teachers.

But you will also be well equipped for any role that requires quick thinking, self-reliance, imagination, and teamwork.

If you have an interest in arts therapy, you could go on to take our MA Music Therapy after you graduate.


In your final year, we’ll help you arrange a work placement that interests you, whether it’s music education, instrumental teaching, artist management, music marketing, recording and studio work, film composition or events management.

Modules & assessment

Year one, core modules

  • Music Performance 1A
    The Music Performance modules form the backbone to your experience on our music courses, giving you the chance to develop your performing skills; to explore a variety of performance occasions and scenarios; to develop your understanding of what it is to perform; and to build your confidence. The modules are conceived as a three-year whole, encouraging you to think progressively deeply about musical performance issues and to extend your knowledge of music through a process of discovery and collaboration. You will encounter a range of performance opportunities from solo playing through small ensembles to large-scale productions in venues within the university, local venues and nationally. Your development will be supported by weekly performance workshops, including masterclasses and sessions on various aspects of performing. You will also enrol for ensembles within the programme offered by the department, aiming at a schedule of rehearsals and concerts totaling a minimum of 40 hours. These ensembles vary from semester to semester, and some will require an audition. For assessment you are required to write a reflective report of 2,500 words that (i) describes your individual progress as a performer during the semester, (ii) explains what you have gained from involvement in Anglia Ruskin’s ensembles programme, and (iii) sets realistic future goals for your individual and ensemble performance activities including repertoire for the solo recital at the end of the second semester.
  • The Languages of Music 1a and 1b
    The primary purpose of this module is to revise or introduce concepts that form the basis of musicianship skills. By analysing and completing technical exercises and examining relevant extracts, you'll explore issues relating to the juxtaposition of tension and release. You'll adopt a similar approach in the exploration of rhythmic patterns and the notion of cadence (openness and closure). By studying these concepts through both practical application and the examination of appropriate examples, the module will encourage your critical appraisal skills, and develop your powers of self-expression, both verbally and in written form, as well as your understanding of fundamental issues of musical style and aesthetics.
  • Music and Technology
    This module will introduce you to the use of electronic technology in the composition of music. Using digital audio workstations, you will learn to apply principles of sound design and computer-based sequencing within the context of a wider understanding of the historical and aesthetic issues relating to the composition of technology-based music. You will prepare an original composition using specific techniques, via a number of prescribed tasks designed to lead you systematically through the processes of computer operation. Through detailed step-by-step explanation and hands-on experience in class, you will become familiar with a range of compositional techniques. The module tutor will also discuss and demonstrate a wide range of technology-based music and associated topics, encouraging you to question and examine traditional ideas of sound and music, and also developing your skills of aural analysis.
  • Composing and Improvising
    Whether or not you consider yourself a potential composer, you can deepen your understanding of music by experiencing the processes of composition. Furthermore, the notion of improvisation - 'real-time' composition - is a vital complementary area to foster and, in this respect, a direct route to tap musical intuition. On this module, you'll learn how composition and improvisation cross-fertilise each other by exploring and examining a range of different techniques and compositional styles.

Year one, optional modules

  • Music Business
    This module will develop your understanding of the popular music business in the broadest sense, including the environments in which the sector operates, its performance within these areas and the factors that influence the operation of organisations. You'll explore the impact of political, social and economic factors and consider the legal and ethical frameworks that inform the popular music sector through an examination of specific case studies relating to publishing, copyright law, distribution systems and marketing. You'll also reflect on your current role, or potential roles, within popular music.
  • Introduction to World Musics and Ethnomusicology
    The advent of the internet and various forms of social media, together with the increasing mobility of individuals around the globe, are increasingly accustomising us to the sounds of musics from a wide diversity of cultures. Despite this, relatively few of us possess either an appropriate level of technical understanding, or familiarity with the origins and contexts of most such musics. This module will introduce you to a selection of musical styles from around the world, highlighting some of the important features and explaining their organising principles. You will also learn how understanding of the music itself is inextricably linked to understanding the people who make that music. Some of the questions you will ask are: "What is music, and what do people think it is for?"; "When and where is music made and how is the nature of the music determined by its context?"; "Who are the musicians, and what is their role in society?" and "How is music passed on from one generation to the next?". During the module, you will deliver an assessed presentation on an appropriate aspect of World Music, to be agreed by the Course Leader. Additionally, you will produce an assessed portfolio to demonstrate your level of understanding of various aspects, both technical and contextual, of some of the musics considered during the module. You may elaborate and enhance this portfolio by including reviews of music and documentary sources. This module is both a self-contained course of study and preparation for further specific studies in non-western music (see World Music and Globalisation at Level 6). It will equip you with a range of employability skills including the understanding of cultural diversity, insight into changing global patterns of migration, presentation skills and public speaking.

Year two, core modules

  • Music in Context 2a and 2b
    This module will expand your musical experience and familiarise you with a variety of musical styles and genres. You'll learn about the contextual development of music and the importance of political and social aspects of the creative environment. In considering these issues, you'll examine music from a range of times and cultures in order to place them within an appropriate historical, cultural and aesthetic framework. These include: Music and the Enlightenment; Jazz and Afro-American Music; The Electrification of Music; Popular Music Analysis. You’ll also develop your listening skills and learn to use appropriate methodologies, demonstrating your awareness of a range of technical aspects appropriate to the repertoire under consideration. You'll be assessed by the submission of a portfolio of stylistic exercises that will show your stylistic familiarity and technical competence, as well as an independently-researched essay.
  • Music Performance 2
    On this level 5 Music Performance module, you must gain experience in at least one small-scale ensemble. You will need to show your emerging reliability and maturity in performance, particularly in university concerts and productions. Your assessment will comprise an end-of-module designated ensemble performance, which must be agreed by the module tutor.
  • Composing and Improvising 2a
    On this practical module, you'll examine selected compositional issues in some depth. We see composition and improvisation as two sides of the same skill and we want to show you how they can complement each other. You'll be introduced to the concepts and techniques of a selection of tonally-based compositional and improvisational styles, with projects that might include exercises in contrapuntal writing, harmonisation techniques, songwriting, arrangement, basic jazz and free improvisation and related small-ensemble compositional techniques. You'll undertake three projects, and, at the end of each, perform your compositions/improvisations in a workshop. These projects will be complemented by seminar discussions, individual and group tutorials. You'll be able to choose from a range of projects to suit your own needs. For your improvisation, you will be expected to perform from an agreed range of stimuli.

Year two, optional modules

  • Composing and Improvising 2b
    On this practical module you'll cover selected compositional issues in some depth. This module is a companion to Composing and Improvising 2A. You'll examine more harmonically advanced styles of composition, appropriate to your course of study. You'll undertake three projects, which may examine subjects as diverse as stylistic modal composition and improvisation, vocal setting and arranging for small groups. Each of these will culminate in a workshop, during which you'll perform your compositions and/or improvisations. Specific times will be set aside for you to rehearse and revise before your final submission, while individual and group tutorials will help you ensure that you're making satisfactory progress. For the improvisation, you'll be expected to perform from an agreed range of stimuli.
  • Electroacoustic Composition
    This module will introduce you to the composition of electroacoustic music. You'll approach the work through a mixture of practical sessions and guided reading, listening and discussion, being introduced to key works from the repertoire in both acousmatic music as well as electroacoustic music. You'll take part in group discussions on spatialisation, timbral transformation and spectromorphology and you'll be introduced to elements of analysis. You'll need to be well organised with more than a basic understanding of computer music sound processing, computer music sequencing, recording techniques and production & mastering experience. Your assessment will comprise a portfolio containing two contrasting compositions accompanied by brief notes that document your sound sources and processes applied to sound, as well as the formal concepts that underpin your work.
  • Music for the Moving Image
    On this module you’ll compose and realise original music to accompany a film, video or other type of digital moving or still image. You may either work with supplied material or with other students undertaking complementary work within related media production modules. By undertaking a series of practical exercises, you'll examine a range of techniques, and consider the approaches to film music composition of various commercial and non-commercial film composers. Using appropriate editing software, you'll better understand how your music will fit in to the overall scenario of audio-visual collaboration. You'll be assessed by the submission of a portfolio of materials, accompanied by a brief critical evaluation.
  • Music and Performing Arts in Education
    This module will introduce you to a number of key principles, concepts and methodologies of music and performing arts education. Topic areas may include: introductory philosophies of education; the application of music and performing arts education in a variety of contexts; the sociological and psychological elements of music and performing arts pedagogy. You’ll also evaluate the role, function and practice of music and performing arts education within a number of familiar scenarios, such as its provision in schools. You will examine current educational methodologies and policy frameworks, including the implications of national curricula, and issues of equality. The practical side of this module will involve you teaching a group of students some basic performing arts skills, with clear guidelines and assessment criteria provided by the tutor. You will also write an essay on a given topic.
  • World Music Regional Studies
    This module will allow you to study the music of one particular region of the world in depth. Examining the variety of musical styles within this society will allow you to pose certain questions: What are the historical backgrounds of the various musics within the society? Who performs and who listens to the music, and what role does music play in the lives of the people of the region? With an emphasis on practical music-making, you'll gain an understanding of the organisational principles of the music. In addition to examining rhythmic and tonal structures, you'll consider the role of the individual within an ensemble, the relationship of music to movement and dance, and the relationship of music to language. Your assessment will consist of a presentation and a portfolio. The region studied may differ with each delivery of the module, so it's a good idea to ask the Course Group Leader or Module Leader about this before enrolling.

Year three, core modules

  • Enterprise in the Creative Arts
    This module will provide you with an element of work experience in preparation for your future employment. You'll identify an individual area of work placement before the semester begins and make sure your proposal is doable. You'll need to be critical in your approach, to establish clear parameters for evaluation. You’ll also develop entrepreneurial skills. Early on, you'll give an oral presentation focusing on your proposed content, and the opportunities and constraints of your chosen placement. As well as receiving tutor input at this stage, you'll benefit from the views of both your peers and employers, as well as gaining an insight into how others plan to work within comparable contexts. You'll undertake the work placement element itself either in a 'sandwich' mode during the semester or in a 'block' during the Christmas vacation or January inter-semester period.
  • Intertextuality in Music
    You'll examine the nature of music in the context of the other arts and explore the character of musical form and identity. When talking about music, we often take for granted the terms that we use. For example: What do we mean when we describe a musical work as Baroque, neo-Classical or Impressionistic? What is it for a piece to have 'form' and what would a work without form be like? You'll consider these issues and examine music from a range of periods and cultures, positioning it within an appropriate historical, cultural and aesthetic framework. Your studies will be supported by a number of guest lectures from experts in related fields, and also by group visits to relevant concerts, exhibitions and talks at local museums/art galleries. Your assessment will consist of a mid-semester presentation and a prepared essay.
  • Major Project
    The individual Major Project will allow you to undertake a substantial piece of individual research, focused on a topic relevant to your specific course. Your topic will be assessed for suitability to ensure sufficient academic challenge and satisfactory supervision by an academic member of staff. The project will require you to identify/formulate problems and issues, conduct research, evaluate information, process data, and critically appraise and present your findings/creative work. You should arrange and attend regular meetings with your project supervisor, to ensure that your project is closely monitored and steered in the right direction.

Year three, optional modules

  • Music Performance Studies 3A and 3B
    Building on Music Performance Studies 1 and 2, this module emphasises the development of an accelerated learning curve, and you'll be expected to demonstrate your developing maturity in performance and autonomy, as well as your initiative in group music-making. You'll enrol for elements within the programme of Music Ensembles offered that semester, some of which by audition, aiming for a schedule of rehearsals and concerts no less than 35 hours in total across the semester. Your assessment will comprise your involvement, in a leading capacity, within a designated ensemble, and your participation in the department's programme of ensemble activities.
  • Composition 2
    This practical module covers selected compositional issues in some depth, allowing you to produce a portfolio of original compositions submitted as notated sheet music. You will be introduced to the concepts and techniques of a wide range of compositional styles through projects that might include exercises in contrapuntal writing, harmonisation techniques, instrumentation and orchestration, modal composition, vocal setting, arranging for small instrumental groups, or combining electronic and acoustic resources. The module will be divided into three projects, which may vary from delivery to delivery. Each project will culminate in a workshop, during which you will perform your compositions. Your understanding will be developed through seminar discussions, in turn informing and improving the range and depth of your compositions. Specific times will be set aside for you to rehearse and time will also be allowed for you to revise and improve before your final submission. Your progress through the module will be supported by individual and group tutorials.
  • Art, Music and Performance
    This module will give you an interdisciplinary perspective on performance, music and the visual arts. This might include interrogating diverse practices (performance art, opera, music(al) theatre, dance, site-specific performance and a wide range of hybrid forms) through both critical study and practical exercises. You'll explore various theories, devices and links between differing artistic genres, as well as experimenting with your own artistic pieces. You'll question the purpose and function of a creative work and enquire into the significance and meaning which arises out of making artistic projects for and within specific contexts. You'll receive both scholarly and practice-based research training, and undertake a creative research project in which you'll collaborate with other students to create a live piece that explores the relationship between at least two different art forms.
  • Principles of Music Therapy and Dramatherapy
    This module will provide you with an intensive introduction to the theory and practice of music therapy or dramatherapy, as practised by registered professionals in the UK. It will not train you to be a therapist, but equip you with knowledge of the clinical field and some introductory skills that are useful in considering music therapy or dramatherapy as a vocation. You'll attend experiential workshops that are linked to theoretical lectures, and possibly a field trip, as well as giving audio-visual presentations. Through these activities you'll be able to evaluate, develop and analyse your musical/dramatic potential and explore the application of different media to therapeutic situations. Your assessment will consist of a written essay, and musical/dramatic improvisations (as appropriate) in small groups, in which you'll actively demonstrate an understanding of the use of music/drama as a therapeutic tool.
  • Radiophonica
    Radiophonic techniques are essential tools in the creation of content for media broadcasters involving the spoken word. A knowledge of radio genres, including those of an experimental nature, goes hand in hand with principles of compositional design, structuring, editing and realisation, and experience in this area will prepare you for involvement with the media industries. This module will give you practical experience with the aesthetic issues and unique characteristics of radio. You'll also be introduced to key moments in the history of experimental, documentary and dramatic radio English language broadcasting and encouraged to respond to the spoken word in a musical way, integrating into your work concepts of sound design that originated in radio. Your assessment will take the form of a portfolio including radiophonic work and an evaluative critical commentary including evidence of project planning.
  • Music in the Global Marketplace
    The invention of recording technology has been the key not just to the commodification of music, but also to its easy distribution around the globe. The standardisation of formats has allowed people to buy and listen to music from a range of cultures. On this module, you'll trace the dynamics of the relationship between the music industry and the foreign 'other', from the early appropriation of blues and African genres, through reggae, rai and other 'world' styles that have entered the Western mainstream. You'll also examine the evolution of the modern 'world music' circuit and look at the notion of authenticity. You'll investigate the role of Western pop music in other societies, the politics of culture, censorship, and the extent to which traditions have survived or been altered in the face of competition from Western record companies. You'll explore some of the hybrids produced by the collision between Western pop and other musics, from the fusion of 1940s jazz bands with ancient gamelan chimes in Java to the guitar styles of West Africa and their basis in traditional mbira music. Throughout this module you’ll challenge the distinctions between pop and classical or traditional musics and the identities that they define.

Optional modules available all years

  • Anglia Language Programme
    The Anglia Language Programme allows you to study a foreign language as part of your course. You'll take one language module in the second semester of your first year in order to experience the learning of a new language. You must select a language you've never learnt before from the following: Chinese (Mandarin), French, German, Italian, Japanese, and Spanish.


For a full breakdown of module options and credits, please view the module structure.

You’ll show what you’ve learned on the course through a combination of performances, creative projects, presentations, portfolios, essays, and a special Major Project in your final year, which can include creative work.

Thanks to this ongoing assessment, you’ll improve your ability to improvise, sight-read and think on your feet, and you’ll develop skills in reflective thinking, researching, drafting, and revising your work.

We’ll also encourage you to use self-help packages, particularly for aural training, and undertake an extensive listening programme.

Where you'll study

Your department and faculty

The School of Performance is a community of over 400 students and staff, working together in a supportive environment to create new and challenging compositions and performances. Our lecturers are research-active practitioners and recognised experts in their field, so our students always have access to the latest theories and practice, as well as invaluable career guidance.

We organise many activities to help our students prepare for the future, like concerts, theatre performances, work placements, study abroad opportunities, talks by acclaimed guest speakers, and research conferences.

We’re part of the Faculty of Arts, Law and Social Sciences, a hub of creative and cultural innovation whose groundbreaking research has real social impact.

Where can I study?

Lord Ashcroft Building on our Cambridge campus

Our campus is close to the centre of Cambridge, often described as the perfect student city.

Explore our Cambridge campus

Specialist facilities

You’ll work in our purpose-built music centre, which includes an extensive suite of computer music studios, recording facilities, band rooms, plenty of practice rooms, an audiovisual studio and a spacious recital hall. Our studios feature specialist music hardware and software, supported by extensive online facilities and resources.

You’ll also have access to five grand pianos, including a new Steinway Model D, and many orchestral instruments, as well as traditional instruments from India, China and Africa, and a Balinese Gamelan.

Every week, you will see performances by professional musicians at the Mumford Theatre in our free lunchtime concert series.

Fees & funding

Course fees

UK & EU students, 2018/19 (per year)


International students, 2018/19 (per year)


Fee information

For more information about tuition fees, including the UK Government's commitment to EU students, please see our UK/EU funding pages

How do I pay my fees?

Tuition fee loan

Most English undergraduates take out a tuition fee loan with Student Finance England. The fees are then paid directly to us. The amount you repay each month is linked to your salary and repayments start in April after you graduate.

How to apply for a tuition fee loan

Paying upfront

If you choose not to take out a loan you can pay your fees directly to us. There are two ways to do this: either pay in full, or through a three- or six-month instalment plan starting at registration.

How to pay your fees directly

International students

You must pay your fees up-front, in full or in instalments. You will also be asked for a deposit or sponsorship letter for undergraduate courses. Details will be in your offer letter.

Paying your fees

Funding for UK & EU students

Most new undergraduate students can apply for government funding to support their studies and university life. This includes Tuition Fee Loans and Maintenance Loans. There are additional grants available for specific groups of students, such as those with disabilities or dependants.

We also offer a fantastic range of ARU scholarships, which provide extra financial support while you’re at university. Find out more about eligibility and how to apply.

From September 2018, EU students starting an undergraduate degree with us can access an £800 bursary.

Meanwhile, our £400 Books Plus scheme helps with the costs of study. There's no need to apply for this: if you're eligible you can simply collect a Books Plus card when you start your course.

Funding for international students

We offer a number of scholarships, as well as an early payment discount. Explore your options:

Entry requirements

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You will be interviewed for 15-20 minutes by one of our lecturers and will have the opportunity to ask your own questions about the course and university.


You will be required to evidence your music making:

  • If you play live, you should bring your instrument with you to the audition (although pianos, drum kits, amplifiers and large percussion instruments will be provided). 
  • If you produce recorded music you should bring examples of recordings.
  • If you are a singer, please arrange with us to ensure that you have an accompanist. 

Please email with details of the instrument you will be performing on and/or if you require an accompanist. Remember to include your name, the course you have applied for, the date of your audition and your student ID number in any correspondence.

You should prepare one or two pieces lasting up to 10-15 minutes duration (a piano accompaniment or band will be provided if required). You can choose any material to play - we especially encourage original material.

You should also bring with you to the audition samples of any creative work (compositions, recordings, leadsheets) and one sample of your written work (from your A-level studies or similar). You are invited to bring any other examples of creative or written work, or provide links to online media.

For more guidance visit our auditions page and download our music audition pack.

Important additional notes

Our published entry requirements are a guide only and our decision will be based on your overall suitability for the course as well as whether you meet the minimum entry requirements. Other equivalent qualifications may be accepted for entry to this course, please email for further information.

International students

We welcome applications from international and EU students, and accept a range of international qualifications.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, you'll need to make sure you meet our English language requirements for undergraduate courses.

Improving your English language skills

If you don't meet our English language requirements, we offer a range of courses which could help you achieve the level required for entry onto a degree course.

We also provide our own English Language Proficiency Test (ELPT) in the UK and overseas. To find out if we are planning to hold an ELPT in your country, contact our country managers.

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Get more information

UK & EU applicants

01245 68 68 68

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International applicants

+44 1245 68 68 68

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