Challenge Your Mind


Music - A Level

Special Entry Requirements:

Music is a demanding course and is a strong A Level for applications to competitive universities. We prefer you to have studied GCSE Music and any instrument or voice to at least Grade 5 standard, as well as ABRSM Grade 5 theory, which can be taken during the first year of the course, if necessary.

Course Introduction:

The new AQA specification develops listening, performance and composition and values all music styles, skills and instruments. This flexibility means you can focus on areas of personal interest, play to your strengths and be assured of an accurate measure of your achievement. The course supports progression to higher education in music and related subjects, as well as providing all students with a platform to inspire a lifelong interest and enjoyment of music.

Course Modules:

Component 1: Appraising Music
Here you will develop listening, analytical and essay writing skills, culminating in a written exam paper.
The areas of study can also provide a rich source of material to work with when developing performance and composition skills. There are seven areas of study, of which three are studied:

1. Western classical tradition 1650–1910 (compulsory). This includes studying set works from the Baroque, Classical and Romantic periods.
2. Pop music
3. Music for media
4. Music for theatre
5. Jazz
6. Contemporary traditional music
7. Art music since 1910

• All students will study Music for media in the lower sixth year.
• Students may then choose from the remaining areas of study 2-7 for their upper sixth year

Component 2: Performing Music
Here you will perform music in one or both of the following ways:

Instrumental/vocal: as a soloist, and/or as part of an ensemble.
Production: via music technology.

You will have support from your instrumental teacher to devise a recital programme of 10 minutes, at the end of the A Level course. The performance is recorded and submitted to the examination board.

Component 3: Composing Music
Here you apply your knowledge and understanding of the musical elements, leading to the composition of two pieces. You may use Sibelius or Cubase
computer software, if you wish.

Composition to an externally set brief: The briefs may include different stimuli, such as:
• A poem or a piece of text.
• A photograph, image or film.
• Notated extract of music.
Free composition:
• This need not reference the areas of study or a given brief.

Together, the two compositions must total four and a half minutes in duration and are notated, recorded and submitted to the examination board. You will also submit a 150-word programme note, detailing:
• Your compositional intention, including the intended audience/occasion.
• Details of the software and hardware used in the compositional process.


As with all linear A Levels, you will complete your coursework and written exam in the final year of study, meaning you have plenty of time to develop your skills and understanding and practice the techniques for appraising, performing and composing music.

Career Opportunities:

Studying Music can give you a great mix of employability skills, including social, technical and business skills. Transferable skills, which enable you to work in careers not directly related to music, include critical thinking, problem solving, research, self-discipline, communication and teamwork, not to mention staying calm under pressure and organisational skills!

Careers using musical or related skills are varied and include Orchestral or Session Musician, Music Therapist in NHS or private sector, Sound Engineer and Musicologist.