School of Humanities and Performing Arts

BA (Hons) Music

Explore music from different cultures and traditions and create your place in today’s rapidly changing musical landscape. Develop your own interests with specialist pathways in composition, performance, ethnomusicology and technology. With a focus on performance and creative practice, you will gain the practical, critical and technical skills to expand your understanding of music in all its forms. The breadth of this course will equip you for a variety of music-related careers.

We welcome musicians with mixed abilities and offer a wide range of opportunities for students to explore varied interests pertaining to music. Our optional extra-curricular musical activities are diverse: from classical to jazz, singing to West African drumming, gamelan, taiko and more.

Careers with this subject

With a degree in music you can pursue a variety of careers. Many of our music graduates are employed in music-related roles, including: singing teacher, musician, performer, music teacher and music therapist. Others work in the publishing, media and performing arts sectors, as well as within the fields of education, health and information services.

Discover more about the options available to you

Key features

  • Take advantage of our unique professional development programme that provides invaluable work placement and performance opportunities. You'll get the chance to work in primary and secondary schools giving instrumental lessons, and running band development sessions and workshops. You can also use our local contacts to set up regular live mic and gig nights around Plymouth, or get involved in our University songwriters project.
  • Customise your study and specialise in areas that really interest you within our specialist exit award pathways in composition, performance, ethnomusicology and technology.
  • Stay ahead with a course designed in consultation with working musicians to ensure you leave ready for the rapidly changing music environment, including knowledge of the latest digital technology. Get exclusive insights into theory and practice with talks and workshops from visiting speakers and musicians.
  • Give your creativity free rein in our rehearsal and recording facilities, including individual practice rooms, a professional recording environment, digital audio workstations and instrumental facilities ranging from Steinway and Bosendorfer pianos to guitar amps, electronic keyboards and midi-guitar synthesisers.
  • Get involved in societies and groups, such as our gospel choirconcert band, ukelele societygamelan group, orchestra and more.
  • Enjoy a great lifestyle in the South West with its active live music and festival scene. Get involved in the wider musical life of the University with the annual Contemporary Music Festival and the music programme with The Arts Institute.
  • Learn from teachers with world-class reputations for research expertise, many who have come from industry and are acclaimed in their field, and benefit from links with the University’s exciting Centre for Computer Music Research.
  • We are one of the few music degrees in the UK who facilitate intercalated music degrees (where medical students join and enjoy our final year).

Course details

  • Year 1
  • In your first year, you’ll lay the foundations for an intelligent engagement with creative practice and the world of music through studies in developing musicianship, Western music tradition, the music of diverse cultures, composition and music technology. You will also be involved in group musical activities designed to develop your performance skills. 
    Core modules
    • MUS406 Foundations of Music Theory

      This module represents an introduction to basic music theory. This primer course is designed to encourage students to learn and use necessary theoretical skills for honours level study. This will be achieved by a series of short assessed tasks and tests based on each learning curve.

    • MUZ401 Practical Musicianship

      During this module, students will embark on a real-world performance scenario. Learners will be expected to professionally engage in the process of organising and realising a musical performance. This will encompass the entire organisational process of practice, rehearsal, stage preparation and delivery.

    • MUZ402 Illustrating Music History

      This semester-long twenty-credit module allows students to gain an overview of the history of Western music through historical scholarship, analysis and recordings. The module incorporates a narrative survey of Western music from medieval times to the present-day, and sessions that step outside the chronology to discuss genres, forms and idioms that cross eras. The factual content of this module is intertwined with an exploration of how to study music and musicology.

    • MUZ403 Composition and Arrangement

      This module introduces some fundamental skills for music composing and arrangement. Students will explore compositional strategies, devices, and practices through a combination of sessions.

    • MUZ404 Exploring Ethnomusicology

      This module introduces the student to ethnomusicology (a fusion between anthropology and musicology). We explore `What is Ethnomusicology?¿ and gain an understanding of fieldwork. We embrace a range of musical cultures through a number of specialist workshops as well as engaged research.

    • MUZ405 Audio Engineering

      This module introduces students to the fundamental skills and techniques they need to become an effective audio engineer. Students will learn how to relate subjective and objective measures of sound to inform their practice. Taught sessions will explore topics such as psychoacoustics, small room acoustics, digital and analogue recording consoles, signal flow, microphone concepts and positioning, and advanced use of professional software platforms.

  • Year 2
  • Stage two broadens your musical horizons; this prepares you to engage wholeheartedly toward your final year and embrace a specialism you enjoy (e.g. music as therapy).

    The modules displayed below are those currently being studied by our students:
    Core modules
    • MUS501 Performance 2

      This module is aimed at those students who are beginning to consider themselves to be an instrumental or vocal specialist with a close idiomatic relationship to their first, or chosen, instrument. It offers an opportunity for specialised support, as well as group sessions in which students can develop their performance practice through critical engagement.

    • MUS503 Composition 2

      There are many ways of being a composer, it's all about putting your own musical ideas together. This module aims to enable students to establish some fundamental skills in the manipulation and organisation of sonic materials and apply them in an independent creative project.

    • MUS507 Music Technology 2

      Students are introduced to advanced principles underlying contemporary music technology applications, covering such topics as audio quantisation, time stretching, pitch correction and advanced use of professional software platforms. They will be introduced to recording in a studio environment, software synthesis, sampling and the extension of acoustic instruments via interaction with technology.

    • MUS508 Psychology of Music

      This module will inspire students to embrace and debate a number of topics from a psychological perspective. It will consider music as a human need, recent research studies and potential professional applications for modulating affective states with music.

    • MUS509 Independent Study for Musicians

      This module allows students to further develop their musical understanding in an area of their own choice. Students will be encouraged to negotiate a programme of study and assessment mode related to a musical topic of interest. There is scope in this module for students to put an emphasis on practical and/or theoretical engagement with the chosen topic.

    • MUZ506 Music Analysis and Culture

      This module aims to provide students with a selection of resources for discussing the relationship between music and culture. Detailed analysis of key works and/or stylistic features of genre will be included. Aesthetic ideas will be approached in a number of ways, including group discussion, in order to improve our ability to explain our thinking about music; techniques of analysis will be introduced and practised to develop our insight into musical construction and perception.

  • Final year
  • In your final year you gain independence in your creative musical practice throughout a combination of taught sessions and tutor-led development. The programme offers specialist pathways leading to an exit award (i.e. performance, composition, ethnomusicology, technology or an inclusive combination). As such, you will be able to specialise in a music-related area of your choosing in negotiation with your dissertation supervisor. Intercalated medical students (or those interested in music therapy), can find significance in an area within music and medicine/healing. Those interested in teaching might pursue pedagogy. Film composers could creatively embrace a collaborative project; performers can perform. Similarly, students eager to excel in music technology can produce an inspiring project (which may even facilitate them onto our ResM in Computer Music following graduation). Some engage in community music projects or something more traditional. 

    The modules displayed below are those currently being studied by our students: 

    Core modules
    • MUZ602 Negotiated Dissertation/Project

      This module provides a structured learning environment in which to build on personal subject specific specialisms, culminating in either a practice-based portfolio with a substantial critical underpinning or a written dissertation. Students can work towards one of five exit awards: BA (Hons) Music, Ethnomusicology, Performance, Composition, and Technology.

    Optional modules
    • MUS610 Ethnomusicology 3

      This module teaches ethnomusicology at an advanced level and considers music in its cultural and everyday context. It will include practical engagement with specialist practitioners as well as keynote lectures that expand on methodology/theories of selected pioneers in ethnomusicology. It will also investigate the anthology of world music.

    • MUS611 Performance 3

    • MUS631 Sound of Music

      This module explores the relationships between technological constraints, formal constraints and creative processes. Changing and developing practices in composition, recording and transmission implied by these constraints will be explored and used to create new pieces and inform working processes.

    • MUS632 Sound and Vision

      This module explores the theoretical relationship between sound and image which will form the basis of practical investigation. Lectures and workshops will provide both experimental and vocational contexts to this relationship. Attention will be paid to issues of scale, format, duration and perceptual, sensual and aesthetic effects.

    • MUS633 Interactive Sound Environments

      This module will enable students to explore the possibilities of interactivity through live programming environments and/or web-based technologies. Through experimental engagement, students will be required to develop their practice considering both the technological constraints and the critical requirements of interactivity, interface and the engagement with potentially remote audiences.

    • MUS634 Collaborative and Contextual Practice

      Students are expected to collaborate with individuals, groups, organisations and businesses external to the Sound & Music Production course, on a creative project that has a public output. The overall emphasis will be placed on working processes and methodologies, group interaction and the planning and completion of the collaboration within a defined context.

Every undergraduate taught course has a detailed programme specification document describing the course aims, the course structure, the teaching and learning methods, the learning outcomes and the rules of assessment.

The following programme specification represents the latest course structure and may be subject to change:

BA Hons Music programme specification 2019 20 2399

The modules shown for this course are those currently being studied by our students, or are proposed new modules. Please note that programme structures and individual modules are subject to amendment from time to time as part of the University’s curriculum enrichment programme and in line with changes in the University’s policies and requirements.

Entry requirements

UCAS tariff


A levels
104 points, (or equivalent) including grade C or above in Music or Music Technology, General Studies accepted as an A level. Note if a student is not studying A level Music but indicates that they have the ability to play/sing at Grade 6 (Practical) or above then the admissions tutor admissions tutor will review on a case by case basis.
18 Unit BTEC National Diploma/QCF Extended Diploma
Pass DMM in a music related subject.

BTEC National Diploma modules
If you hold a BTEC qualification it is vital that you provide our Admissions team with details of the exact modules you have studied as part of the BTEC. Without this information we may be unable to process your application quickly and you could experience significant delays in the progress of your application to study with us. Please explicitly state the full list of modules within your qualification at the time of application.
International Baccalaureate
26 overall to include four in music at higher level plus a second subject at higher level. Please note, if you are not studying higher music but have the ability to play at Grade 6 or above then alternative subjects may be accepted by the admissions tutor.
All Access courses
Pass a named Access to HE Diploma (preferably music or combined), with at least 33 credits at merit and to include at least 12 credits in music related units with merits
(including GCSE English and maths grade C or above or equivalent).

Non-standard qualifications
We welcome mature students, those with music industry experience and high level instrumental skills. If you fall into this category and are not sure whether you qualify for the course, please submit an application so we can advise you.

RSL's qualifications
UCAS points can be obtained from theory/practical grades. See the table for the UCAS points awarded for a given music theory or practical grade and mark.

We welcome applicants with international qualifications. To view other accepted qualifications please refer to our tariff glossary.

Fees, costs and funding

EU applicants should refer to our dedicated Brexit webpage for details of the implications of the UK’s plans to leave the European Union.

New Student 2019 2020
Home/EU £9,250 £9,250
International £13,400 £13,800
Part time (Home/EU) To be confirmed £770
Full time fees shown are per annum. Part time fees shown are per 10 credits. Please note that fees are reviewed on an annual basis. Fees and the conditions that apply to them shown in the prospectus are correct at the time of going to print. Fees shown on the web are the most up to date but are still subject to change in exceptional circumstances.

Undergraduate scholarships for international students

To reward outstanding achievement the University of Plymouth offers scholarship schemes to help towards funding your studies.

Find out whether you are eligible and how you can apply

Additional costs

This course is delivered by the Faculty of Arts and Humanities and more details of any additional costs associated with the faculty's courses are listed on the following page: Faculty of Arts and Humanities additional costs.

How to apply

All applications for undergraduate courses are made through UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service).

UCAS will ask for the information contained in the box at the top of this course page including the UCAS course code and the institution code.

To apply for this course and for more information about submitting an application including application deadline dates, please visit the UCAS website.

Intercalating students wishing to apply for the final year of this course should complete a direct entry form.

Support is also available to overseas students applying to the University from our International Office via our how to apply webpage or email

Develop your own interests with five subject pathways to choose from:

Think about your future

Professional development programme

We have developed a unique professional development programme that aims to equip every motivated and proficient student with an employable CV upon graduation.  Every year several students graduate directly into music related jobs or further education as a direct result of their professional development.

"My CV is now full of music-relevant work experience"

Learn more about the opportunities available at Plymouth

Career opportunities

With a degree in music you can pursue a variety of careers. Many of our music graduates are employed in music-related roles, including: singing teacher, musician, performer, music teacher and music therapist. Others work in the publishing, media and performing arts sectors, as well as within the fields of education, health and information services.

Discover more about the options available to you

Let our graduates inspire you

What are our current students doing?

Balinese Gamelan

Experience music from sources other than western cultures and understand how the way people think about music differs around the world.

The 20 instruments of the Gamelan – which originate from Indonesia – are made of bronze and are built and tuned to be played together as an orchestra.

Find out how you can learn to play the Gamelan

Interdisciplinary Centre for Computer Music Research (ICCMR)

Cutting-edge research in topics including the interface between music, computers, and the brain within a vibrant contemporary music community.

Access our well-equipped studios, open plan lab and annual research seminar series.

Find out more about the centre and what we do

The University of Plymouth BA (Hons) Music Junior Academy

The Junior Academy provides instrumental music lessons and theory tuition from the most experienced teachers in the South West of England.

Membership is free and we welcome young musicians within the South West region who have aspirations to study music at degree level.

Learn more about becoming a member


English Language Centre

We offer a range of courses to help you develop your academic English language skills.

These include pre-sessional academic English courses for undergraduates, taught postgraduates and research students along with insessional language classes, tutorials and activities to support students who have English as a second language.

Find out how we can help you reach your potential.

* These are the latest results from the National Student Survey. Please note that the data published on Discover Uni (Unistats) is updated annually in September.