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Undergraduate Course

Music BA (Hons)

In studying music at York St John University, you will join a vibrant and welcoming musical community, where the emphasis is on practical engagement in music making.

This course prepares you for professional music making: performing, composing, and facilitating. Through collaborating with your peers, staff members, and other creative practitioners, you will develop into the artist you want to be.

Top 25 in the UK for Music (Guardian University Guide 2023)

94% Music and Theatre students responded with a 94% positivity score for how good teaching staff are at explaining things. (National Student Survey 2023)

York campus

  • UCAS code – W300
  • Duration – 3 years full time, 6 years part time
  • Start date – September 2024, September 2025
  • School – School of the Arts

Minimum entry requirements

    104 UCAS Tariff points

    3 GCSEs at grade C/4 (or equivalent) including English Language.

Tuition fees

    UK 2024 entry £9,250 per year full time

    International 2024 entry £11,500 per year full time

Discover Music

Dr Murphy McCaleb, Course Lead for Music, introduces us to Music at York St John University.

Course overview

When you join our music course, you choose to embrace the challenges of modern employment in music. In order to be prepared for whatever opportunities come your way, you will explore different ways of creating music, different instruments, different genres, different contexts of music making, and different ways of thinking about music. This course helps you explore how you can most effectively react to a rapidly-changing creative world.

You will take a practical approach to your learning, as we believe you learn best by doing. Receive one-on-one teaching in your specialist instrument, individual support in devising large-scale projects, and learn from your peers and external professionals through workshops. You will perform regularly in different venues across the city, from local pubs and independent venues, to York Minster and beyond.

Alongside your practical learning, you will also explore the theory of music - not just notes and chords, but also the many ways that music intersects with other fields such as psychology, philosophy, and cultural studies. Working alongside your classmates, postgraduate students, and your lecturers, you will develop skills in researching and critiquing ideas.

The course will introduce you to key areas of modern musical study, including topics such as:

  • Music’s impact on society
  • Advanced and experimental techniques of making music
  • Techniques for leading ensembles
  • Ethical dilemmas around music and justice
  • Collaborating with creative practitioners across the arts
  • How to best market yourself as a professional musician

Our enthusiastic and supportive team of experienced music tutors include performers, composers, teachers and community musicians. Their musical interests include everything from jazz and metal to choral music and brass bands. A large group of instrumental and vocal teachers who cover all instruments and musical styles will also support you through your studies.

Course structure

Year 1

Our academic year is split into 2 semesters. How many modules you take each semester will depend on whether you are studying full time or part time. 

In your first year, if you are a full time student, you will study: 

  • 5 compulsory modules across semesters 1 and 2

If you are a part time student, the modules above will be split over 2 years.

You can find out which modules are available in each semester on the Course Specifications.


Credits: 40

Compulsory module

On this module you will develop your technical ability in music by performing, listening and composing for a series of projects. Through this you will explore rhythm, melody, harmony, texture and form in music, considering these elements across different genres and styles. You will gain experience in composing, arranging and performing music, as well as receiving individual tuition in either voice or your chosen instrument. You will also learn about the creative application of music sequencing, notation and the use of audio software.

Credits: 20

Compulsory module

On this module you will develop your research and writing skills, preparing you to study music at university level. By completing several short projects, you will explore music from a range of genres, appreciating how music connects with societal, cultural and political issues. These projects will also allow you to develop musical skills such as score reading and production analysis. The vocabulary and skills you gain on this module will help you throughout your degree.

Credits: 20

Compulsory module

On this module you will develop your ability to work collaboratively to create music. You will take part in different musical ensembles, rehearsing together in preparation for weekly lunchtime and evening concerts. These ensembles will cover a range of genres and styles and be overseen or directed by staff members and students. We offer many different ensemble groups, so you could find yourself playing in:

  • Chamber and gospel choirs
  • Jazz vocal improvisation groups
  • The Musical Production Society
  • Samba, soul, concert and brass bands
  • Ukulele or classical orchestras

Credits: 20

Compulsory module

On this module you will focus on developing your vocal abilities. Workshops will explore basic breathing and voice production techniques, as you will learn about diphonic singing, the spoken voice, and vocal ensemble performance. Alongside this practical exploration of voice you will examine vocal styles from around the world, including:

  • German and French Cabaret
  • Arabic singing
  • Religious chanting in Tibet, Egypt, Greece and Rome
  • Bulgarian female singing
  • Italian operatic tenors

Credits: 20

Compulsory module

On this module you will explore the world of drums and percussion across a mix of styles, genres and cultures. You will listen to and compare different music styles and start to devise your own pieces. This is an opportunity to develop your awareness of rhythm and pulse as you work with new percussion instruments and develop your own work. This module will see you explore and practise:

  • West African djembe drumming
  • Brazilian samba
  • Javanese gamelan
  • Japanese Taiko drumming
  • Western contemporary percussion

Year 2

In your second year, if you are a full time student, you will study:

  • 4 compulsory modules across semesters 1 and 2
  • 2 optional modules across semesters 1 and 2

If you are a part time student, the modules above will be split over 2 years.

You can find out which modules are available in each semester on the Course Specifications.


Credits: 20

Compulsory module

On this module you continue to develop your ability to create music collaboratively. Together you will explore different strategies for effective ensemble rehearsal, both in groups and individually. You will then apply these techniques as you continue to work with ensembles in a range of genres and styles. Your engagement in weekly concerts will continue throughout this module.

Credits: 20

Compulsory module

On this module you will continue your exploration of research in the field of musicology. You will start researching independently, and exploring complex ideas in more detail. Through a series of projects you will explore different themes, while also developing and fine tuning your musical skills. These themes might include:

  • Music and film
  • Newness in music
  • Identity in music
  • Musical fusion
  • Creativity in music
  • Music ownership and originality

Credits: 20

Compulsory module

On this module you will have the opportunity to experiment with ways of creating and distributing music. We want you to blur the lines between composer and performer to gain a wider understanding of how music is created. You will develop creative skills in crafting music, along with technical skills in performing music unconventionally. This will involve investigating improvisation and considering how you can include it in your work. Alongside this, you will also think about the philosophical issues that surround the creation of music.

Credits: 20

Compulsory module

On this module you will focus on developing as a professional in a modern musical context. You will form a production company with classmates and colleagues on Musical Theatre BA (Hons) to plan, rehearse, and perform a large-scale musical event. You will take on roles such as assistant director and musical director, front of house manager, publicist, or stage manager. To support this, you will also conduct research into different employment opportunities related to music, and interview professionals working in areas of your interest.

Credits: 20

Optional module

On this module we will help you to develop your understanding of compositional techniques. You will investigate song writing, music technologies and the multimedia applications for music, including films, games and installations. As you apply these new techniques to your own work, you will continue to develop your musical notation abilities, exploring lead sheets, text scores and more. You will have the chance to work with students who specialise in performance as you develop your work, and to write for visiting professional performers.

Credits: 20

Optional module

This is your introduction to the vibrant and exciting practice of community music. We start by considering the history of community music in the UK, as you explore the main theories and concepts. You will then learn how to set out basic workshop structures, including the planning, implementation and evaluation of sessions. Finally you will apply this learning and gain experience by working in a local community music setting. Practising community musicians will have input during the module, helping you think about your future engagement in the field.

Credits: 20

Optional module

This module will help you to develop as a solo performer across a range of styles and genres. You will enhance your technical and interpretative abilities on an instrument of your choice in weekly instrumental lessons. Alongside this, we will introduce you to effective performance preparation strategies. This includes finding an effective practice routine, and finding ways of dealing with tension and anxiety in performance.

Year 3

In your third year, if you are a full time student, you will study:

  • 4 compulsory modules across semesters 1 and 2, including a Dissertation module
  • 1 optional module worth 30 credits, or 2 optional modules worth 15 credits, across semesters 1 and 2

If you are a part time student, the modules above will be split over 2 years.

You can find out which modules are available in each semester on the Course Specifications.


Credits: 20

Compulsory module

Ensemble leadership is an important skill for all musicians, regardless of style, genre, musical ability or context. On this module you will explore different leadership styles, as well as learning to understand your own and others’ personalities and consider how they can impact your leadership. You will continue to engage with staff and peer-led ensembles, culminating in several performances throughout the semester. You will take part in ensemble leadership forums, which also give you a platform to reflect on and discuss issues you have come across when leading ensembles.

Credits: 20

Compulsory module

This is your opportunity to specialise in an area of music that you are passionate about. For your dissertation you will choose your topic, design the research, and complete an extended piece of written research. You will explore your topic through analysis, experimentation, theory and practice. This module includes a large portion of independent study, but you will be supported by a dissertation tutor throughout and receive feedback as you progress.

Credits: 30

Compulsory module

On this module you will engage with an extensive creative project. You can collaborate with artists across different specialisms and courses, bringing your expertise together to create your final piece, performance or product. For example, you might work with a dance or theatre performer, or a film production student. We will support you with your project through lectures that explore practice-based research methods, providing examples of effective collaborative practice. You will also receive individual and group tutorial support throughout the module.

Credits: 20

Compulsory module

On this module you will develop strategies for your future as a musician. We will help you to build skills in networking, continuing professional development, and marketing yourself. You will also hone your research skills in areas relevant to future professional opportunities. By the end of the module you will have created an individual portfolio showcasing your business and professional interests. This is a tool which you can use when seeking employment after your degree.

Credits: 15 / 30

Optional module

On this module you will further develop your compositional skills. You will start to focus on composing for larger groups such as bands and choirs, creating large-scale musical structures that are longer than you have created before. By studying the work of several composers, you will develop your understanding of approaches to writing for larger groups. You will also have the chance to hear your compositions performed live by working with performance specialists and student ensembles.

Credits: 15 / 30

Optional module

This module helps you assimilate all of your solo performance experience from across the whole degree. You will refine your technical and expressive skills on your first instrument with continued weekly instrumental or vocal lessons. 2 assessed recitals, where you choose the repertoire, will showcase your range as a solo performer and prepare your professionalism through practice. We deliver the module content through seminars and tutorials, where high level performance strategies are explored. Masterclasses across the year join the whole solo performance community, which is supportive and enthusiastic. Overall, you are encouraged to discover, and showcase, your individuality as a solo performer on this strand of the degree.

Credits: 15 / 30

Optional module

On this module you will negotiate your own long-term work-based learning. You will become more independent in developing both your research and practice in community music, engaging specifically with contemporary aspects of community practice. We will also consider the recent emergence of community music as a recognised field of academic research.

You will:

  • Develop your abilities in planning, implementing and evaluating community music work for specific settings
  • Critically reflect your practice
  • Develop a professional approach to your work, including networking
  • Situate your own practice within national and international discourses of community music

Teaching and assessment

Teaching and learning

We keep our group sizes small so we can get to know your creative personality and support your aspirations. We deliver your modules through:

  • Practical workshops
  • Seminars
  • Tutorials
  • Rehearsals and concerts
  • Individual instrumental or vocal lessons
  • Lectures.

Each module has 2 to 4 hours of contact time a week. We schedule our taught sessions between 9:00am and 8:00pm, Monday to Friday. Beyond your contact time, there may be concerts, rehearsals and tutorials to attend.

You will need to conduct independent study outside of this time. This might include individual practice, listening to music, reading, researching and completing assignments. You can also arrange academic tutorials with your module tutors throughout the year to receive feedback on your work and discuss the course content.

Our teaching draws on both our research and professional experience. This means your learning is informed by the most current thinking in the subject area. You can find out more about our research and backgrounds by visiting our staff pages.


There are no exams on this course. Assessment types are based on practical coursework and vary from module to module. Some of your assessments might include:

  • Performances
  • Presentations
  • Recordings
  • Online portfolios
  • Compositions
  • Essays and supporting evidence.

For each assessment you will have the chance to talk to a tutor about your work before submission. Each assessment will be marked and returned with feedback so you can improve your work.

Career outcomes

Your future with a degree in Music

On this course you will gain the technical and creative skills you need for a career in music. You will also build skills in communication, planning and teamwork that can lead to a range of other creative roles.

This degree could be the first step toward your career as a:

  • Music performer
  • Touring musician
  • Music educator or facilitator
  • Community musician
  • Musical director or conductor
  • Composer
  • Music therapist
  • Radio producer
  • Digital sound artist

Discover more career options on Prospects careers advice pages.

You could also progress onto a postgraduate degree and take your learning even further.

Postgraduate degrees at York St John University

Music Composition MA

Community Music MA

Musical Leadership MA

PGCE at York St John University

Further your education and work towards a rewarding career in teaching by studying for a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) after you graduate. For over 180 years, we have worked with enthusiastic individuals who want to shape the future of young people across both primary and secondary school settings. You'll spend a lot of time in schools, developing your practice by teaching. You will graduate with Qualified Teacher Status and become part of the well respected alumni of York St John educators.

Discover more about PGCE

Whatever your ambitions, we can help you get there.

Our careers service, LaunchPad provides career support tailored to your ambitions. Through this service you can access:

  • Employer events
  • LinkedIn, CV and cover letter sessions
  • Workshops on application writing and interview skills
  • Work experience and volunteering opportunities
  • Personalised career advice

This support doesn't end when you graduate. You can access our expert career advice for the rest of your life. We will help you gain experience and confidence to succeed.

Entry requirements


Minimum entry requirements

    104 UCAS Tariff points

    3 GCSEs at grade C/4 (or equivalent) including English Language.

Calculate your UCAS Tariff points

International students

If you are an international student you will need to show that your qualifications match our entry requirements.

Information about international qualifications and entry requirements can be found on our International pages.

If English is not your first language you will need to show that you have English Language competence at IELTS level 6.0 (with no skill below 5.5) or equivalent.

International entry requirements

Mature Learners Entry Scheme

If you have been out of education for 3 years or more and have a grade C GCSE in English Language or equivalent, you are eligible for our entry scheme for mature learners. It's a scheme that recognises non-traditional entry qualifications and experience for entry onto this course. Information on how to apply can be found on our dedicated page.

Mature entry offer scheme

Terms and conditions

Our terms and conditions, policies and procedures contain important information about studying at York St John University. You can read them on our Admissions page.

Fees and funding

To study for an undergraduate degree with us, you will need to pay tuition fees for your course. How much you pay depends on whether you live inside the UK, or internationally (outside the UK). Tuition fees may be subject to inflation in future years.

UK 2024 entry

The tuition fee for 2024 entry onto this course is:

  • £9,250 per year for full time study
  • £6,935 per year for the first 4 years if you study part time

These prices apply to all UK, Jersey, Guernsey and Isle of Man students

You can find out more about funding your degree by visiting our funding opportunities page:

Funding Opportunities

Placement year funding

If you choose to take a placement year, and your course offers it, you can apply for the Tuition Fee and Maintenance Loan for your placement year. How much you are awarded is based on the type of placement being undertaken and whether it is a paid or unpaid placement. The tuition fee for your placement year will be reduced.

Tuition fees

    UK 2024 entry £9,250 per year full time

    International 2024 entry £11,500 per year full time

International 2024 entry

The tuition fee for 2024 entry to this course is £11,500 per year for full time study.

This price applies to all students living outside the UK.

Due to immigration laws, if you are an international student on a Student Visa, you must study full time. For more information about visa requirements and short-term study visas, please visit the International Visa and Immigration pages.

Find out more about funding your degree:

International fees and funding

Additional costs and financial support

There may also be some additional costs to take into account throughout your studies, including the cost of accommodation.

Course-related costs

While studying for your degree, there may be additional costs related to your course. This may include purchasing personal equipment and stationery, books and optional field trips.

Study Abroad

For more information on tuition fee reductions and additional costs for studying abroad, please visit our study abroad pages.

Accommodation and living costs

For detailed information on accommodation and living costs, visit our Accommodation pages.

Financial help and support

Our Funding Advice team are here to help you with your finances throughout your degree. They offer a personal service that can help you with funding your studies and budgeting for living expenses. 

For advice on everything from applying for scholarships to finding additional financial support email

Course highlights

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