Music BA (Hons)

On this programme you will engage with the broadest span of musical activities, developing versatility and flexibility in musical practice. You will benefit from an array of experiences across specialisms and have the choice of composition or advanced instrumental tuition. This rich approach to musical learning will prepare you for the widest range of career opportunities.

UCAS course code
York St John University
Course fees
2019 - 2020: Home & EU students: £9,250 per annum, International (non EU) students: £12,750 per annum
3 years full-time | Part-time options available on request
Study Abroad
Yes - see our study abroad web pages for more information
Start date
September 2019
Performance & Media Production

Course overview

This is a course for all musics and musicians, irrespective of style, background, and culture: we believe the study of music should be eclectic and embrace a variety of genres. Study Music at York St John University and you will learn not only about classical, jazz and rock but also music from many different cultures.

All of our students learn through making music, often in a wide range of ensemble settings from samba band to string quartet, madrigal to metal and big band to barbershop. On our music courses you will actively collaborate with experienced musicians, community members, artists and arts organisations in order to develop performances, skills and professional networks.

If your musical interests span several musical disciplines and you are looking to gain a broad-based experience in music, this course provides options in performance, composition, education and community alongside a range of other stimulating, relevant and contemporary modules in which you learn through practical engagement with the subject.

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.

Our staff are professional performers, composers and community musicians who are active educators and practitioners locally, nationally and internationally.

We want to work with open minded, motivated and creative students who possess strong practical skills.

Follow us on Facebook at YSJ Music or on Twitter at @YSJMusic.

Our other Music courses

89% of Graduates from our Music courses are in employment or further study.

DLHE 2017

Course structure

All of our music programmes at York St John University 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 and innovate, to 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. 

Level 1

Students on this programme choose freely from a broad range of options, including performance, composition and community specialisms. It offers a rich, exciting and varied musical experience designed to help you to achieve your full potential as a musician.

Modules include:

  • Music Skills: This is a year-long module which helps to build your understanding of melody, harmony and rhythm through a broad range of practical work. It also includes opportunities to develop skills in performance as a soloist and ensemble musician, and you will receive individual instrumental or vocal lessons to support your development. It is assessed by a performance and portfolio of work. (40 credits)
  • Perspectives on Music: The module develops our knowledge and understanding through an exploration of music, art and culture. It comprises a series of short projects which cover a wide range of musical styles and genres, investigating them from many different perspectives. Previous projects have included studies of music and the brain, female composers, Bach, authenticity, how music conveys emotion, the concept album, David Bowie, semiotics and many others.  (40 credits)
  • Vox: This module offers an innovative combination of practical work and academic study; it introduces learning through practice coupled with the progressive and creative development of performance technique, inclusive group work and establishes an eclectic range of musical experiences from a wide range of global and social cultures. It is based around vocal music but is inclusive and accessible to all musicians. (20 credits)
  • Drumming: This module continues and develops work begun in Vox but here the medium is percussion; students have the opportunity to explore performance skills using gamelan, African djembe drums, samba and Japanese taiko, in addition to Western drums and tuned instruments. Like Vox it is a very practice-based study – hands on, literally! (20 credits)

Level 2

Compulsory modules include:

  • Ensemble Performance: This year-long module introduces fundamental skills required for playing in ensembles, an essential part of musicians’ professional toolkits. Focusing on teamwork and rehearsal techniques, students play in ensembles led by themselves and staff members in a wide range of genres, instrumentations, and contexts. It is assessed by a portfolio of evidence and a critical reflection. (20 credits)
  • Improvisation: This module, taken by all music students, explores practical and theoretical approaches to improvisation. It not only includes practice in genre-specific improvisation such as jazz and blues, but working with graphic scores, classical improvisation, and improvisation in non-Western cultures. It is assessed by a performance and an essay. (20 credits)

Optional modules include:

  • Composition: This year-long module encourages the growth of students’ individual voices as  composers. Expanding the range of techniques students use when writing music, this module focuses on working with specific instruments and voices, as well as using notation effectively. It is assessed by a portfolio of scores and recordings with written commentaries. 
  • Film Music: This module introduces students to practical and theoretical issues around writing music for film. Through analysing soundtracks, narratives, and the elements of film, students will work towards working with a director in writing their own music for a short film. The module is assessed by a written analysis and a completed film soundtrack. 
  • Music in Education & Lifelong Learning: This module looks at learning and teaching music in a variety of contexts, drawing on the students’ own experiences, current practice, appropriate literature, and professional music education networks. As with Music in the Community, this module offers students placements working in a range of locations around York. It is assessed by a presentation and portfolio of evidence. 
  • Music in the Community: This module introduces community music as a vibrant and exciting part of today’s society. In parallel with class workshops and lectures, students will undertake ongoing work-based learning in a community music setting, designed improve their understanding and technique in workshop practice. It is assessed by a presentation and a critical reflection. 
  • Experiments in Music: This innovative module explores experimental methods of creating, performing, and presenting music. Students will examine how their relationships with musical content, their fellow performers, and their audiences may be manipulated, changed, broken, or subverted – and how that affects the overall impact and meaning of the music. It is assessed by a group performance and a reflective essay. 

Level 3

Compulsory modules include:

  • Enterprise & Employability in Music: This year-long module bridges the gap between the worlds of academic and professional music, allowing students to research areas of interest which might provide outlets for their skills and career aspirations, including as performers, composers, community workshop leaders, teachers, managers, and so on. Through developing research skills to investigate career interests, the module provides opportunities to make links with professional musicians, businesses, and institutions, prepare for interviews or business pitching opportunities, and develop a professional online presence. It is assessed by a written research report and a portfolio of evidence. (20 credits)
  • Ensembles & Leadership: This year-long module not only continues to develop students’ ensemble skills within a range of contexts, but also provides the framework them to understand musical leadership. Students lead their own ensembles and are supported by staff in finding how their personal leadership style might be applied to a variety of contexts, and how they might continually improve as leaders. This module is assessed by a portfolio of evidence and a critical reflection. (20 credits)
  • Dissertation: This year-long module gives students the opportunity to specialise on an element of artistic interest and explore this through analysis, experiment, theory, practice and reflection. In working on this large-scale piece of writing, students not only learn the intricacies of their chosen area, but also work individually with tutors to clarify their thought processes and writing skills. It is assessed solely through the dissertation. (20 credits)
  • Collaborative Project: This year-long module is the culmination of students’ undergraduate study as musicians. They are given freedom to create a significant artistic project which reflects their interests and strengths. Working in collaboration with other musicians, filmmakers, visual artists, dancers, producers, and so on, students are supported through individual tutorials to design, implement, and evaluate strategies for making a large artistic work. It is assessed via a portfolio of evidence and a written reflective evaluation. (40 credits)

Optional modules include: 

  • Advanced Solo Performance: This year-long module is the culmination of students’ undergraduate study as solo performers. After a performance of new music in the first semester, they plan a final programme of their choice with tutorial support and the individual instrumental or vocal tuition necessary to perform it to a high standard. It is assessed through these two solo performances. (20 credits)
  • Advanced Composition: This year-long module focuses on composing for larger groups such as bands and choirs, and in creating large-scale musical structures. It is intended to help students reach professional standards when presenting compositions developing vocational skills. It is assessed by a portfolio of scores and recordings with written commentaries. (20 credits)
  • Community, Education & Wellbeing: This year-long module helps students 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, students develop their educational and community music practice, documentation, and evaluation. It is assessed by a presentation and a portfolio of evidence with commentary. (20 credits)

Programme specification

Further information on this course is available in the programme specification. Please note that the programme specification relates to course content that is currently being studied by students at the University. For new programmes, the programme specification will be made available online prior to the start of the course.

Disability Advice

York St John University works hard to create an inclusive environment for all our students. We offer a range of disability advice services to assist students throughout their studies.

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:

88-104 UCAS Tariff points

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

Calculate your tariff points.

Personal statement

Essential criteria

We are seeking students with an interest in, and awareness of, a wide range of musical styles and genres. This can be shown in a variety of ways, for example, through performance, composition, previous study and/or working with community groups. A good standard of written English is also expected.

Valued criteria

Candidates can demonstrate a real enthusiasm for the subject that goes beyond achieving good grades in exams. Examples of this could include:

  • Demonstrating a wide range of musical interests/experience
  • Showing creativity through composition, musical arrangements, improvising or song writing
  • Playing/singing in ensembles or collaborating in performance and/or rehearsals showing a flair for team-work and cooperation
  • Listening to live performances
  • Using music technology
  • Demonstrating an interest in other arts subjects e.g. dance, theatre, art, etc.
  • Doing voluntary work

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.

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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 will depend on whether you're a UK & EU student or an international (non-EU) student. Tuition fees are charged for each year of your course.

Find out more about funding for Foundation Year and/or Placement Year by visiting the Funding Advice pages of our website.

York St John offer special reductions to students graduating from York St John University Undergraduate degrees in 2019 and continuing directly onto Postgraduate study. Find out more about discounts and scholarships.

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


Tuition fees

UK & EU 2019 / 20

The York St John University tuition fee for the 2019 entry to Foundation Degree, BA and BSc, PGCE Primary and Secondary and UG Health Programme degrees is £9,250 per year for UK/EU, Jersey, Guernsey and Isle of Man students.

Tuition fees may be subject to inflation in future years.

Fees & Funding

Overseas 2019 / 20

The York St John University tuition fee for the 2019 entry to Foundation Degree, BA and BSc, PGCE degrees is £12,750 per year for international students.

Tuition fees may be subject to inflation in future years.

International Fees & Funding

International students

We welcome international students from all over the world at York St John University and have a vibrant international community. You can find out more on our International Pages about how you can study with us and what it’s like to live and learn in York, one of the UK’s most historic cities.

Unistats data for this course

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