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Music

Frequently asked questions

Here you will find answers to questions frequently asked by applicants to our undergraduate courses. If you have any further questions, please contact ug-music@manchester.ac.uk.

What are your entry requirements?

You can find up-to-date information on our entry requirements on the MusB Music course page (2019 entry).

I haven’t taken A-level Music. Can I still apply?

Yes. If you have passed ABRSM Grade 8 Theory at Merit or above and have at least AAB predicted grades in your A levels, you can still apply.

You can find up-to-date information on our entry requirements on the MusB Music course page (2019 entry).

I’m taking the International Baccalaureate: what points do I need?

You will need to have a total of at least 35 points (including core points), with a 6 in Music at Higher Level and two further Higher-Level subjects at 6 and 5.

You can find up-to-date information on our entry requirements on the MusB Music course page (2019 entry).

I’m over 21: how does that affect my application?

We welcome mature students onto our courses and we will consider them on an individual basis. We usually interview mature applicants with non-standard qualifications. For more information, contact the Admissions Administrator at ug-music@manchester.ac.uk

Will I have to attend an interview or do an audition for the MusB course?

Yes. If we are interested in your application, we will invite you to one of our Visit Days for interview. These normally take place on Thursdays during term-time and our Admissions Office will notify you of the next available dates. In addition to attending an introductory talk and lunchtime concert, you will have a 20-minute one-to-one informal interview with a member of the academic staff. You will not need to undertake an instrumental or vocal audition. During your visit you will have the opportunity to meet current students and staff. Formal offers are normally issued in the week following interviews.

You can see more information about interviews on the MusB Music course page (2019 entry).

Will I have to attend an interview or do an audition for the Joint Course?

Yes: both. You will do your audition at the Royal Northern College of Music and your interview will take place at one of our Visit Days at the University. The dates for the Joint course auditions and interviews are usually in mid-November, and are announced the previous academic year, so keep an eye on the website.

You can see more information about interviews on the MusB Music course page (2019 entry).

What written work do I need to submit for my interview?

We ask that you submit: a written essay preferably on a topic related to music (1,500 words max.), an analysis exercise (such as a harmonised Bach chorale), and an original composition (this is required only if you are looking to direct your degree towards composition).

You can see more information about interviews on the MusB Music course page (2019 entry).

How many hours of instrumental or vocal tuition will I get?

If you are enrolled on one of our Solo Performance course-units (or Recital in your final year) you can expect to have 18 hours of one-to-one tuition across the academic year in years 1 and 2 and 20 hours in year 3 in your first study. You will also attend a series of specialist performance workshops or master-classes.

Will the department pay for my instrumental lessons?

Yes. If you are taking Solo Performance, the department will pay for 18 hours of tuition across the year (20 hours in year 3). If you wish to take extra lessons, or to have tuition on a second instrument, you will need to cover the additional cost yourself. 

Can I have tuition on more than one instrument?

Yes. The department can help you find a teacher for your second instrument, but you will need to pay for the lessons yourself. You may, of course, opt to play your second instrument in an orchestra or ensemble. If you take the chamber or vocal music option in Ensemble Performance, you may expect to attend occasional coaching sessions and/or performance workshops as an ensemble.

Can I choose my instrumental teacher myself?

You will normally be allocated a teacher by the department. Our instrumental and vocal teachers are drawn from a large pool that includes players from the BBC Philharmonic, Hallé and Royal Liverpool Philharmonic orchestras, as well as freelance players associated with ensembles such as the Manchester Camerata. Many of our teachers also teach at the Royal Northern College of Music. If you wish to stay with your present teacher, or go to somebody else in the area who has been recommended to you, this may be possible but it may involve additional costs for you. Experience shows that it is unwise to have an arrangement that entails you having to travel away from Manchester on a regular basis.

How many practice rooms are there?

There are seventeen Music practice rooms in the Martin Harris Centre, one of which also houses the gamelan degung. In addition, there is a Percussion Room and Early Keyboard Room.

Will most of my course-units be compulsory?

No, only in your first year: this is because you need a broad foundation for the different paths you are able to chart through your degree from that point on. In your second and third years, you are free to choose from a wide range of options. (The choice will vary from year to year.) The only thing you will need to bear in mind is that some course-units have a pre-requisite: for example, if you want to take composition in year 3 you will also need to have taken composition in year 2, and if you plan to write a dissertation in your final year you will need to take a minimum of 40 credits in essay-based course-units in your second year. 

You can see more information about the course content for each year on the MusB Music course page (2019 entry).

Does the course include popular music?

Yes. A popular music topic is often included in one of our first-year course-units.  Many students take Understanding Popular Music in the Digital Age in their second year and may go on to write their final-year dissertation on some aspect of popular music as well. Non-western popular music also features in our ethnomusicology course-units.

Does the course include ethnomusicology?

Yes. We have two specialists in ethnomusicology who teach course-units in ethnomusicology, world music and global popular music, including the wide-ranging second-year option Music Cultures of the World. Students taking World Music Ensemble Performance may also learn to play gamelan and klezmer.

If I am a composer, what opportunities are there to get my music played?

Every composition you write as part of the MusB will be performed and recorded as part of the course. There are also numerous opportunities to get your music played, by both students and professionals, outside the course. The city of Manchester offers a wealth of opportunity in the form of professional musicians, venues and special events.

Will I have to compose in a particular style?

No. No more ‘in the style of’ pastiche, that is: our aim is to help you develop your own personal style and voice as a composer. With six composers on our full-time staff we are able to cover an unusually wide range of approaches and our curriculum embraces everything from concert-hall and film-music composition to electroacoustic, interactive and multi-media composition, and game audio.

Can I take courses outside the Music Department?

Yes. As a student on the MusB course, in each year of study you may take up to 40 credits of ‘free choice’ course-units from outside Music. If you choose to follow the more formal Flexible Honours route, you may take 40 credits each year (a third of your credits) in a second (Minor) subject.

How many hours of lectures will I have every week?

That depends on which options you choose because teaching methods vary according to the nature of the course content. A typical pattern for 20-credit musicology and other essay-based course-units is a weekly two-hour lecture plus a one-hour seminar or small-group tutorial. (You will take a total of 120 credits each year – normally 60 in each semester.) Performance and composition modules have a different pattern because they include one-to-one lessons or small group tutorials as well as larger group lectures or seminars.

You can find more information about teaching and learning on the MusB Music course page (2019 entry).

Will I be expected to buy all the books I need?

No. We recommend a modest number of purchases for your first-year core courses, when it will benefit you to have your own personal copy of key texts and scores. Apart from that, it’s up to you. Our University Library is one of only five National Research Libraries. With more than 4 million printed books and manuscripts, over 41,000 electronic journals and 500,000 electronic books, as well as several hundred databases, it is one of the best-resourced academic libraries in the country. For most courses, your lecturers will also arrange for the library to digitise key book chapters that you will need to read for seminars: all you will need to access these electronic resources (either on or off campus) is your username and password.

Can I study abroad for part of my degree?

Yes. You can apply to study at one of our worldwide partner institutions, normally for the second semester of your second year. Australia, Canada and the USA are the most popular destinations. 

Find out more by visiting the University's study abroad page.

Will I be able to have a paid job while I am studying?

Some of our students do a modest amount of work alongside their degree. Others maximise their earnings over the summer so that they are free to focus on their university work and to make the most of extra-curricular performance opportunities during term-time. If you do take on paid work, you will need to manage your time very carefully and make sure you don’t take on too much. You are, of course, expected to prioritise your timetabled classes at all times.

Will a Music degree still be useful if I decide I don’t want to be a professional performer or a teacher?

Absolutely! With the specialist knowledge and practical experience you gain as part of your degree you will be ideally positioned for a range of careers in the creative industries and arts management, including marketing, education, outreach and community work.

A Music degree also equips you with an enviable set of skills that will serve you well in any profession. Research has shown again and again that musicians are well ahead of the game when it comes to cognitive skills, for example.

You will also have had ample opportunity to develop skills in time-management, events management, communication, teamwork, creative and analytical thinking, problem solving, perseverance and more.

Find out more on the careers and employability page and read about the career paths of some of our recent graduates in the graduate profiles section.