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Undergraduate course

Music: Community Music BA (Hons)

Enhance your musical abilities and experience the powerful exchange of sharing music in a community or education setting.

Music students playing in The Chapel

Experience first-hand how you can use music to positively impact people’s lives and discover your strengths as a community musician and educator with our Community Music degree. You will become part of a vibrant musical network and make full use of The International Centre for Community Music, based at York St John University, to enrich your experience and opportunities during the course.

York campus

  • UCAS Code – W3Z4
  • Duration – 3 years full-time | Part-time options available on request
  • Start date – September 2021
  • School – School of the Arts

Minimum Entry Requirements

    96 UCAS points

    3 GCSEs Graded at C/4 or above (or equivalent) including English Language

Tuition Fees

    UK and EU 2021 entry £9,250 per year full time

    International 2021 entry £12,750 per year full time

Discover why York St John is The One

Course overview

Discover more about the role that music plays and the power it can have when applied in educational and community contexts. As the oldest Higher Education institution in the city, York St John has been at the forefront of teaching and education for over 175 years. The University is rooted in the principles of fairness and social justice, which apply equally to the way that we work alongside local businesses and communities.

You will experience work-related learning in settings like schools, day care centres, nurseries or hospitals and you will have opportunities to use music with children, elderly people, the homeless and mental health service users. You will explore community music as a means of promoting health, wellbeing, and quality of life. Through a long-term placement with a local community music provider, you’ll be able to develop your educational and community music practice, documentation and evaluation.


We teach music through practice, whether in performing, composing, listening, or analysing. Our degrees challenge you to realise your potential for creativity and individual expression, to develop a deeper understanding of music and its place in society and to gain and refine skills which are highly-valued by employers. All students take a common first year in which everyone receives individual instrumental or vocal tuition, providing a firm basis for specialist study in subsequent years. Many of our graduates have chosen to work in music as performers, teachers, community musicians, administrators or therapists.

All of our music programmes share a common first year in which you will build a foundation of skills, understanding and practical experience. In the second year you are encouraged to explore, innovate and broaden the range of your work in music, whilst the third year provides a springboard into professional music, centred around your individual interests and needs.


Course structure

Year 1

Compulsory modules include:

Musicking (30 credits) 

On this module we will help you develop your technical ability in music. You will do this by performing, listening and composing for a series of projects. While doing this, you will explore rhythm, melody, harmony, texture and form in music. You will look at these elements across different genres and styles. Gain experience in composing, arranging and performing music and receive individual tuition in voice or your chosen instrument. We will introduce you to the creative application of music sequencing, notation and the use of audio software.

Perspectives on Music 1 (30 credits) 

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

Ensembles and Teamwork (20 credits)

On this module you will focus on your ability to work together 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.
Vox (20 credits)

On this module you will focus on developing your vocal abilities. Workshops will explore basic breathing and voice production techniques. We will look at diphonic singing, the spoken voice and vocal ensemble performance too. 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.
Drumming (20 credits)

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 devise 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

Compulsory modules include:

Ensemble Strategies (20 credits) 

On this module you continue to develop your ability to create music with others. Together we 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.

Perspectives on Music 2 (20 credits) 

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 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.
Musical Exploration (20 credits) 

This module is your chance to try experimental 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 and technical skills in performing music unconventionally. Together we will investigate improvisation and consider how you can include it in your work. While doing this, you will also think about the philosophical issues that surround the creation of music.

Professional Context and Practice (20 credits)

On this module you will focus on your future and the professional applications of what you have learnt. The module is split into 2 parts. In the first you will conduct research into different employment opportunities related to music. This might involve interviewing professionals working in the arts industries or reading related literature. The second part of the module will see you working with your classmates to plan, rehearse and perform a repertoire show. This gives you experience of managing the entire process of producing a large stage performance. You will take on a role such as:

  • Music editor
  • Music director
  • Set designer, stage manager or script editor
  • Performer
  • Rehearsal pianist
  • Arranger or Orchestrator.
Principles of Community Music (20 credits) 

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 look at the main theories and concepts. You will then learn how to set out basic workshop structures including the planning, implementation and evaluation of sessions. Apply this learning and gain experience by working in a local community music setting. This is your chance to refine your skills in running workshops. Practising community musicians and music therapists will have input during the module, helping you think about your future engagement in the field.

Optional modules include:

  • Composition Strategies (20 credits) 
  • Solo Performance Strategies (20 credits) 

Year 3

Compulsory modules include:

Ensembles and Leadership (20 credits) 

Ensemble leadership is an important skill for all musicians, regardless of style, genre, musical ability or context. On this module we will introduce you to different leadership styles. You will learn to understand your personality traits 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. Our Ensemble Leadership Forum also gives you a platform to reflect on and discuss issues you have come across when leading ensembles.

Dissertation (20 credits) 

This is your opportunity to specialise in an area of music that you are passionate about. Choose your topic, design the research and complete an extended piece of written research. 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.

Collaborative Project (30 credits)

This module is your chance to engage with a large 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 and examples of effective collaborative practice. You will also receive individual and group tutorial support throughout the module.

Enterprise and Employability (20 credits)

This module lets you consider your future as a musician. We will help you to develop skills in self management, planning and organisation and give you multiple opportunities for work experience. You will also develop your research skills in areas relevant to future professional opportunities. By the end of the module you will have created an individual portfolio. It will span multiple platforms and be in both written and digital formats. The portfolio will be orientated to your business and professional interests and aid you in the future.

Professional Practices in Community Music (30 credits)

Take your understanding of community music even further. On this module you will explore community music in 2 ways. Firstly, as a way of promoting health, wellbeing, lifelong learning and quality of life. Secondly, considering how community music has emerged as a recognised field of academic study. You will take a professional approach to your work as you negotiate an individual work placement with the support of your tutors. This might be in a setting such as:

  • An early years group
  • A hospital
  • A youth and community centre
  • A prison.


Teaching & Assessment

Studying music at York St John University is characterised by leaning through practical experience, this course suits musicians from all different backgrounds who like to become involved and fully engaged in music activity.


Music is taught in many different ways, according to the subject. There are relatively few formal lectures, but more emphasis practical workshops, seminars, tutorials, rehearsals and individual instrumental or vocal lessons.

Contact hours

Most Music modules occupy 2-3 hours every week, but beyond that there are regular rehearsals, concerts, tutorials and individual lessons – all of which form an essential part of the musician’s learning experience.

Self-study time

Self-study time may include individual practice and listening to music (such as attending concerts and musical events) in addition to reading, composing, researching and completing coursework.


There is an enthusiastic and supportive team of Music tutors at YSJ who are all well-qualified and experienced professionals: they include performers, composers, teachers and community musicians, and their musical interests include jazz, metal, gamelan, choral music, brass bands and contemporary music of all types. They are supported by a large group of instrumental and vocal teachers who cover all instruments and musical styles.


Many modules include options to develop your music skills in work-related contexts. This is particularly the case in Education and Community modules which offer formal placement opportunities but Composition and Performance modules also offer work-based learning and professional simulation, and all students take Enterprise and Employability in the third year: a module which offers opportunities to undertake places related to your chosen profession.

Assessment methods

There are no formal examinations in Music. Instead, students are assessed on performances, presentations, work produced during the course and portfolios of evidence. For every assessment you are given an assignment brief which provides extensive information on exactly what is expected of you, the deadline and how you will be assessed, and academic tutors are available to offer support. Assessments are designed to allow you to demonstrate your learning, not to trick you or trip you up!

Entry Requirements


The minimum entry requirements for this course are:

96 UCAS Tariff points

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

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 your first language is not English you must show evidence of English language competence at IELTS level 6.0 (with no skill below 5.5) or equivalent.

International entry requirements

Terms and conditions

Our terms and conditions, policies and procedures contain important information about studying at York St John University. These can be accessed through our Admissions webpages.

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 EU, or internationally (outside the UK/EU). Tuition fees may be subject to inflation in future years.

UK and EU 2021 entry

The tuition fee for 202 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/EU, 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.

International 2021 entry

The tuition fee for 2021 entry to this course is £12,750 per year for full time study.

This price applies to all students living outside the UK/EU.

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

View our accommodation pages for detailed information on accommodation and living costs.

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. 

All undergraduates receive financial support through the York St John Aspire card. Find out more about the Aspire scheme and how it can be used to help you purchase equipment you need for your course. 

Aspire Card

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