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 range of qualifications including 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.
No matter what your background, if you are a promising musician you should consider applying to Oxford.
Applicants wishing to read music at Oxford from the UK will normally have taken or be about to take one of the four options below:
- A-Level Music plus two other A-level subjects (AAA)
- If you do not offer A-level Music: A-level Music Technology and Grade 7 or above Music Theory (ABRSM), plus two other A-Level subjects. (AAA + ABRSM Music Theory 7+)
- If you do not offer A-level Music or A-level Music Technology: Grade 7 or above Music Theory (ABRSM), plus three other A-Level subjects. (AAA + ABRSM Music Theory 7+)
- 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.
- If you are an International student, you can find the equivalent qualifications here.
The Faculty of Music considers vocational qualifications in Music, such as the BTEC Extended Diploma in Music, however, an accompanying A Level in an essay subject is strongly recommended.
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 close in the October before the year you want to begin.
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 A 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.
Offer of a place is based on your performance at interview, followed then by meeting the academic entry requirements.
Sending in Written Work
Upon applying to Oxford, please send in the following:-
- Two pieces of teacher-marked written work, The emphasis is on quality of thought, not on quantity, so each of the two essays should be around 1500 words. Although it is preferable to submit two essays, students will not be disadvantaged if they can only submit one piece due to any limitations they have faced during their education from Covid-19. Students can submit essays from any subject, they do not have to be Music-based.
- 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). We understand that not all candidates will have the opportunity to study this formally in school or college. We ask simply that you try and attempt an example. This can be marked by a music, theory or your instrumental teacher. Please see our guidance for the exercise: Faculty of Music – Chorale harmonisation instructions.
- and, if you wish, one or two short examples of original composition, which should be in some form of notated score. This is not compulsory.
All written work should be clearly titled and labelled with your name and must include the university cover sheet which can be found here.
Please send your work to the admissions team of your first choice college. If you have submitted an Open Application, please send this directly to the Faculty of Music. You can send digital or hard copies, though digital copies via email are preferred. If sending digital copies, please ensure the files are clearly labelled with your name. 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 over two or three days in December. During this period you will attend a minimum of two interviews. In 2020, all interviews will be conducted online rather than inviting applicants to Oxford.
Here are the interview criteria that tutors are looking for:-
- 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
Applicants for Music are not required to register for a test. There is no written test for Music.
However, if you are invited to interview in Oxford you will be asked to email a 5-minute continuous video recording of a musical performance on your chosen instrument or voice. Videos can be made on any device such as a mobile (file type .mov or .mp4). Please upload the video and a scan of the sheet music to a shareable drive (for example, Google Drive) and email the link to firstname.lastname@example.org with the cover sheet. Please do not email the video file. The quality of the recording will not be taken into account.
The interview process all might sound rather daunting, but it should not put you off. Most people who are invited to 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 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.