School of Humanities and Performing Arts

BA (Hons) Music

Find your groove. 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.

You will 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. You’ll also give your creativity free rein in our rehearsal and recording facilities, including individual practice rooms, a professional recording environment, audio computer workstations, and instrumental facilities.

School of Humanities and Performing Arts Academic Excellence Bursary

This £1,000 bursary is awarded in recognition of outstanding academic achievement to all first year students enrolling in 2019 who achieve 144 UCAS tariff points or above. 

Key features

  • Take advantage of our unique Professional Opportunities scheme 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 with our specialist exit award pathways in composition, performance, ethnomusicology and technology.
  • 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.
  • 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, audio computer workstations, and instrumental facilities ranging from Steinway and Bosendorfer pianos to guitar amps, electronic keyboards and midi-guitar synthesisers.
  • Benefit from assessment by coursework.
  • Branch out and try gamelan - Plymouth is home to one of the few full gamelan orchestras to be found in UK universities.
  • 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.
  • Tailor your time at university to meet your needs by fitting your study around work and personal commitments. This part-time route gives you the flexibility to study at a pace which suits you.
  • Enrich your study of other cultures with field trips and the chance to study abroad.

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 technology. You will be involved in group music activities designed to develop both your composition and performance skills, and some small and large group performances. 
    Core modules
    • MUS401 Performance 1

      This module is designed to deliver the selection of fundamental musicianship skills and understandings of repertoire and musical practice that underpin the BA music programme. This short intensive course initiates students into the standards and procedures of musicianship that they will draw on throughout their degree.

    • MUS402 Western Music History

      This module explores European musical practice from the late ninth century to the time before musical recording (roughly the early years of the twentieth century). It emphasises the cultural significance of popular, vernacular, religious and high art musical traditions during this long historical period, and samples its wide variety of musical styles.

    • MUS403 Composition 1

      This module generates an overview of a variety of compositional forms and starting points for creating music. Through a combination of taught sessions, workshop sessions and autonomous student creative activity, these ideas are explored in a hands-on fashion, laying a foundational facility with some compositional strategies, devices and practices.

    • MUS404 Ethnomusicology 1

      This module will develop students¿ understanding of the emergence of non-western and western music and its global soundscape. We will embrace music in its cultural context through both critical and practical investigation/fieldwork techniques. It will introduce pioneers of ethnomusicology and also include a research and study skills element.

    • 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.

    • MUS407 Music Technology 1

      Students are introduced to the principles underlying computer music applications, covering such topics as file formats, midi, and professional software platforms. They will be introduced to recording, editing, software instruments and audio manipulation including specific instruction in the creative use of relevant audio software packages from the practising musician's perspective.

  • Year 2
  • In your second year, you’ll develop competency in your specialist area, for example, in performance, composition, ethnomusicology or technology. You’ll hone your critical research skills and reflective thinking, and further enrich them by studying the psychology of music (including music therapy). 

    The modules displayed 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.

    • MUS506 Music Aesthetics and Analysis

      This module aims to provide students with a selection of resources for approaching analytical and aesthetical themes in music. 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.

    • 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.

  • Final year
  • In your final year, you’ll gain more independence in your musical practice and analysis through a combination of taught sessions and tutor-led development of your own skills. With a wide range of opportunities available - including work-facing modules - you will locate your musicianship in one of the five specialist strands leading to exit awards in performance, composition, ethnomusicology, technology or an inclusive combination.

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

    Optional modules
    • MUS608 Jazz

      This module allows students to gain a thorough understanding of the social and stylistic history of jazz through historical scholarship, analysis and recordings, and to engage with some of the key contemporary debates in jazz scholarship. This is supported by practical tasks: students will be assessed on their listening skills, and have the option to support their final essay with a performance or composition project.

    • 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

    • MUS613 Composition 3

      This module explores a range of stimuli, techniques and skills appropriate to students creating individual folios of honours level compositions. Students are expected to make a recording or full score of all their work, and music technology is accepted as a forum for creative work. A range of contexts and audiences will be considered and addressed.

    • MUS621 Researched Performance

      This module is appropriate for those students who consider themselves instrumental specialists, confident that they can demonstrate a variety of playing styles, or stylistic variations, alongside their core performance practice. It supports engagement with musical performance as a suitable topic for substantial honours level critical enquiry.

    • MUS622 Dissertation/Project (40-credits)

      This module provides a structured learning environment in which to build on personal subject specific specialisms (depending on exit award i.e. Ethnomusicology or Music), culminating in either a practice-based project with a substantial critical underpinning or a written dissertation.

    • 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.

    • MUS637 Technology Dissertation / Practice-based Dissertation

      This module provides a structured learning environment in which to build on personal subject-specific specialisms, culminating in the development of an extended piece of work through engagement with practice based and written research.

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 2018 19 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
A minimum of two A levels, including grade C or above in Music, general studies accepted. Note if the student is not studying A level music but indicates that they have the ability to play at Grade 6 or above then the admissions tutor will accept with alternative A levels.
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.

For a full list of all acceptable qualifications please refer to our tariff glossary.

Fees, costs and funding

New Student 2018 2019
Home/EU To be confirmed To be confirmed
International To be confirmed To be confirmed
Part time (Home/EU) To be confirmed To be confirmed
Full time fees shown are per annum. Part time fees shown are per a number of 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.

School of Humanities and Performing Arts Academic Excellence Bursary

This £1,000 bursary is awarded in recognition of outstanding academic achievement to all first year students enrolling in 2019 who achieve 144 UCAS tariff points or above. The bursary takes the form of a cash payment and will be paid in three instalments over the year.

Eligible students can only receive one bursary in any given academic year. Should you qualify for two or more, you will only be entitled to receive whichever has the highest value.

Find out more

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

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Music with University of Plymouth

One of our Music students discusses his experiences and where he hopes they will take him.

BA (Hons) Music - student voice, Anandi Sala Casanova

The best thing has been the positive learning environment created by the staff. The course develops you as a well-rounded musician. It gives a lot of room for individual expression, and also introduces you to many new, diverse ideas.

Find out more about Anandi’s experience of studying music at Plymouth

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

Sam Harrison – BA (Hons) Music graduate

Studying at University of Plymouth has allowed me to develop as a musician... It’s really important to follow your passions, and university not only allows you to do this but it also allows you to explore new areas of interest.
Learn more about Sam Harrison

Jessica Clarke – BA (Hons) Music graduate

University of Plymouth helped me to realise, reach, and go beyond my potential, whilst encouraging and supporting me to climb the next academic step and go for my dream career!
Learn more about Jessica Clarke

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.

More about the Gamelan

BA (Hons) Music - Career opportunities

Let your creativity flourish and develop the skills that will help you forge an interesting, fulfilling career path.

Find out more about your career options

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

Interdisciplinary Centre for Computer Music Research (ICCMR)

Professor Miranda explains more about his research in computer music


*The results of the National Student Survey (NSS) and the Destination of Leavers from Higher Education survey (DLHE) are made available to prospective students and their advisors through the Unistats website.