Application Procedure

Oxford seeks to attract the best and brightest applicants irrespective of background. We encourage and welcome applications from all kinds of candidates, whatever their age, nationality or schooling. There is no such thing as an ‘Oxford type’: the only two essential criteria are a dedication to and passion for your subject, and a dedication to learning. If you think you meet these criteria, then we are interested in you, and you should seriously be considering applying to us!

The Faculty of Music admits students with A-Level qualifications, as well as students who have sat the International Baccalaureate and other equivalent UK and international examinations. The Faculty of Music prides itself on being inclusive and diverse.

As part of its commitment to a broad recruitment drive, it has in recent years participated in various summer school programmes for UK state school applicants. For more detail regarding the University’s UNIQ summer school initiative, which the Faculty supports, and to see a copy of the e-brochure, please click here.

No matter what your background, if you are a promising musician you should consider applying to Oxford.


Applicants wishing to read music at Oxford will normally have taken or be about to take one of the four options below:

  • A-Level Music plus two other A-level subjects.
  • If your school does not offer A-level Music: A-level Music Technology and Grade 7 or above Music Theory (ABRSM), plus two other A-Level subjects.
  • If your school does not offer A-level Music or A-level Music Technology: Grade 7 or above Music Theory (ABRSM), plus three other A-Level subjects.
  • If your school does not offer A-levels, you will need to take equivalent qualifications (including in Music); the University Admissions pages specify the standard you will need to attain.

The majority of candidates are A-Level students applying in the autumn preceding the year in which they hope to begin the course. Each year, some candidates apply for deferred entry.

All candidates wishing to apply for an undergraduate place at Oxford must submit a UCAS application online. UCAS is the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, the central organisation that processes all applications for entry to higher education in the UK.

Applications for entry in 2020 begins on 1 September 2019.

For further details about the application procedure, including how to choose a course and a college, please refer to the Undergraduate Admissions pages of the University website.



Shortlisting Criteria in Music

Candidates will normally be invited for interview unless the first-choice college believes beyond reasonable doubt that the candidate would find the Oxford Music course too demanding and too difficult for it to be of value to them.

Shortlisting decisions are normally based on some, or all, of the following criteria:

  • results in GCSE and/or equivalent examinations,
  • predicted results for A Level and/or other impending examinations,
  • results at A Level and/or equivalent examinations if an application is made after A-Level or equivalent examinations,
  • school report and submitted written work
  • interest in the subject in the candidate’s application.

It should also be noted that the standard offer made to candidates is AAA at A2 Level with an A in Music: if a candidate is predicted, or has been awarded, grades lower than AAA, that will under normal circumstances constitute grounds for not inviting a candidate to interview in itself. The first choice college (or allocated college in the case of open applicants) will consult other colleges and will only take the decision not to interview an applicant if all colleges agree. All decisions are reviewed by the Music Faculty Admissions Co-ordinator to ensure consistency of standards and procedure across the gathered field. However, requests for feedback about individual decisions should normally be directed towards the first-choice college.

If we decide to offer you a place and you already have appropriate passes at A-level (or equivalent), then we normally make you an unconditional offer of a place.

Sending in Written Work

Please send in the  following:-

  • Two pieces of teacher-marked written work, at least one of which should normally be on music. The emphasis in on quality of thought, not on quantity: c. 1500 words per essay is entirely sufficient;
  • and one or two examples of teacher-marked harmony and counterpoint (e.g. Baroque chorale, 16th century counterpoint, 2-part invention, string quartet, Romantic songs);
  • and, if you wish,  one or two short examples of original composition, which should be in some form of notated score.

The  written work should be sent to the Tutor for Admissions at the college considering your application to arrive at the college by 10 November 2019.  Many colleges prefer to receive the work in electronic format (please check with your college). If you send in the work in hard copy each piece of work should have its own cover sheet and should be fastened together (not stapled). Please print on only ONE side of the paper.

Interviews and Audition

The majority of Music applicants are called for interview in December. You will be invited to stay in Oxford for three or four days. During this period you will attend a minimum of two interviews.

Here are the Interview criteria:-

  • Knowledge acquired though a current or completed A-level Music course (or equivalent)
  • Powers of reasoning: ability to reason and think critically
  • Communication: ability to engage in debate and use appropriate terminology
  • Potential to engage with the undergraduate course

You will also  be asked to play on your first instrument or sing.  You should choose a piece (or pieces) lasting to about 5-6 minutes. We will provide an accompanist if you wish (and, if you are going  to be accompanied, you must send in a photocopy of your sheet music the week before). You will be listened to by representatives of several college.

The interview process all might sound rather daunting, but it should not put you off.  Most people who come here for interview – whether or not they are offered a place – say how much they enjoyed the experience. We try to make it as comfortable for you as we can.

If you are invited by the college for interview here is the letter-that-candidates-will-receive-in-november which explains the admissions procedure and tells you more about the audition.  There is a form at the end of it which you need to fill in and return to the Faculty about your  audition programme.  You may wish to prepare a copy of the form and a photocopy of your sheet music in advance.

So, find out more.

Read our prospectuses.

Come to one of our Faculty Open Days (20 September 2019) or attend a college Open Day. Check out the admissions pages of the University website. And if you are at all interested in what we have to offer, then put in an application. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

If you have further questions firstly have a look at our frequently asked questions on how to apply.

Or contact the Academic Administrator, Jade Murphy.