Undergraduate FAQs


Q1   Where can I get a prospectus?
A1   The University prospectus, which is revised every year, can be found on-line at: www.admissions.ox.ac.uk  The Music Faculty prospectus can be downloaded here.

Q2    I’m a UK citizen and want to study Music at Oxford, but I don’t have A2 Music.  I do have ABRSM Grade 8 Theory. Can I still apply?
A2    Although ABRSM Grade 8 Theory is helpful in providing useful theoretical background to the course, it is not a substitute for A2 Music at Grade A.

Q3    I’m doing A2 Music Technology, but not A2 Music. Is this acceptable as an alternative?
A3    No. Although Music Technology teaches many skills which are useful in an Oxford degree course, it is not a substitute for a Grade A pass at A2 level. It can be a useful 4th A level but will not be accepted as one of the three A grades at A level which make up the standard offer for admissions.

Q4    Does it matter what other A2 subjects I am doing, besides Music?
A4    The Faculty of Music has no preferences regarding choice of A2 subjects, other than Music.      However Music Technology,  Extended Projects, General Studies or Critical Thinking qualifications cannot be part of the standard offer of 3 A grades at A level. See the University’s policy on post-16 qualifications

Q5    Must I have taken AS Music to apply to Oxford?
A5    No, although you must be doing (or have already taken) Music at A2 level or the equivalent (e.g. International Baccalaureate).  A Level 3 BTEC in Music may be accepted by some colleges as an alternative (please check with the college admissions office concerned).

Q6    Must I have A* grades at GCSE to be considered for Oxford?
A6    Grades at GCSE are seen as an indication of likely potential at A2 level, but a certain number or proportion of A*s are not required.

Q7    I am a UK citizen, but instead of A2s I am doing the International Baccalaureate.  What is the minimum points level I need in order to apply?
A7    You will need to have a total of at least 38 points (including core points), with  6 6 6 at Higher Level including in Music.

Q8    How can I find out what are the educational requirements for EU and overseas students?
A8    See the University’s International Qualifications list.

Q9    Is it true that you have to be at ABRSM Grade 8 standard as an instrumentalist or a singer to be considered for Music at Oxford?
A9    No. Solo performance is an optional subject, both at Prelims (first-year exams) and at Finals. For application to Oxford, keyboard skills at ABRSM Grade 5 standard are desirable. Many fine performers do study at Oxford and are able to incorporate performance as a significant element of their course.

Q10  To what extent can I offer performance as part of my degree?
A10  Solo performance is a particularly popular option at Oxford. Students give fully professional diploma-standard recitals in the famous eighteenth-century Holywell Music Room (Europe’s first purpose-built concert hall) as part of their final examinations. The majority of first-year students offer performance as an option in Moderations (first year examinations). There are other Finals options besides Solo Performance which involve elements of performance and performance studies, such as Choral Performance, Choral Conducting and Chamber Music. It is therefore possible for performance to form a major part of an Oxford degree; it is equally possible to take Moderations and Finals without performing at all!

Q11  Who are the instrumental and vocal teachers on the Faculty staff?
A11  Students are free to choose their own teacher and tutors are always happy to offer guidance.  There are no instrumental teachers employed directly by the Faculty, however, the Faculty does keep a list of current teachers.

Q12  What are Instrumental Awards? When do I apply for one?
A12  Many colleges offer scholarships to students who excel in performance. Students audition for these after entry to Oxford. They are not organized by the Faculty of Music itself.  See the section on Instrumental Scholarships.

Q13  Do you have to be studying Music to receive a Choral or Organ Award?
A13  No.  Applications for Choral and Organ awards are welcomed from applicants reading all subjects, although there may be restrictions placed by individual colleges on selected subjects.  Find about more about these awards here,  and do attend the Choral and Organ Award Open Day on 28 April 2018.

Q14  What scholarships are available at the Faculty of Music?
A14  There are no full fee scholarships available.

Q15  I cannot come to the Faculty Open Days. Is it possible to visit at any other time?
A15  The Faculty Open Days – on 28 and 29 June and 15 September 2018 –  offer a unique opportunity to meet with tutors at all the colleges admitting students to read Music, but much information can also be obtained online.

Q16  Do you run Summer Schools?
A16  The Faculty of Music participates in the University’s UNIQ Summer School, which offers an academic programme in Music to sixth-formers each July. Find out more about UNIQ here.

Q17  I find the college system confusing. Can you explain what this means for a music student?
A17  The collegiate system can seem baffling to prospective students, but it is one of Oxford’s great strengths. The colleges are more than halls of residence: they are communities of academics, graduate students and undergraduates who interact with one another across subject areas to create the exciting environment which young musicians find so stimulating.  It is important to realise, however, that each college is not a sealed unit. An undergraduate is part of a close-knit tutor group under the academic supervision and pastoral care of a college Tutor, and has the opportunity to participate in the musical life (instrumental and choral) of their college; at the same time our students are part of the University-wide musical community centred on the Faculty of Music.

Q18  Will my choice of college affect my chances of gaining a place?
A18  No. Although initial application is made to a college, the Admissions process is centrally organised by the Faculty in order to identify the very best applicants. Tutors consider candidates as a group and exchange detailed information to ensure that the most able candidates are selected, regardless of the initial college preference. It is quite common for an applicant to be made an offer by a college which was not their first choice.

Q19  How is the teaching divided between the Faculty and the colleges?
A19  Teaching is delivered through Faculty lecture courses, when students from all colleges meet for lectures, and seminars. This is supported by small-group tutorials in colleges when individual feedback and discussion of weekly assignments provide the stimulus for sustained academic development.

Q20  Is there such a thing as a ‘typical’ Oxford music student?
A20  Not at all. Oxford admits between 65 and 70 undergraduates each year to read music. Students come from all sorts of backgrounds and from various countries, and are admitted entirely on merit.

Q21  When I apply, what written work do I need to submit?
A21 Please send in the following (each with its own cover sheet)

Two pieces of teacher-marked written work, at least one of which should normally be on music. The emphasis is on quality of thought, not on quantity: c. 1500 words per essay is entirely sufficient;

and where possible one or two example 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 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 2017.  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.

Please note that written work is NOT submitted with the application but in November (see the section on ‘How to Apply’)