The undergraduate Music course at Oxford is rich and broad, and aims to give you a solid grounding in the historical, practical and creative aspects of music, as well as offering you the chance to explore your own interests.
In your first year (known as ‘Honour Moderations’) you will be introduced to a range of musical studies in the history of Western classical music, the social and cultural contexts of music around the world, techniques of composition (harmony & counterpoint), keyboard skills, and musical analysis. In addition, you can take options in solo performance or free composition, or you can write an extended essay on a topic of your own choosing.
In the second and third years (known as ‘Final Honour School’) you have a large array of courses to choose from (which change each year). You are required to study topics in music history from medieval times to the present day, but otherwise you can choose from among such diverse topics as musical analysis, musical thought & scholarship, ethnomusicology, dissertation, solo performance, edition, techniques of composition, free composition, orchestration, special topics (in recent years students have been able to study medieval song to contemporary experimental music, Handel’s operas to The Beatles, music theory to music psychology, and much else besides), chamber music performance, choral studies and choral conducting.
What does the weekly routine of a Music student look like? Well, to an extent that depends on the options you take, but during term you will be writing one or two essays a week, plus completing an assignment such as a composition exercise or an analysis. This work is submitted to your college tutor (either in advance or in the tutorial) and then you meet, usually with one or two other students, to discuss your work with the tutor. In addition, you will be attending lectures and classes in the Music Faculty. The Faculty also gives you a generous grant towards instrumental or vocal lessons. This may sound a lot! It’s true that Oxford undergraduates work hard, but they know how to play hard too, and all find time to take part in college and university musical activities, and to participate in all manner of activities from debating to rowing, from drama to caving.
The one-year taught graduate course at Oxford leads to the Master of Studies in Music. There are core modules in musicological disciplines, and you can follow pathways in musicology, composition or performance. The two-year MPhil programme is also available. The Music Faculty supports a very wide range of DPhil topics according to the interests of the Faculty postholders. Further details can be found on the Faculty website
Graduate teaching is all Faculty-based, but Christ Church graduate students are all allocated a college advisor, who is available to support all aspects of graduate study.
Applying to Christ Church – Undergraduates
We welcome applications from every kind of student to study Music at Christ Church. We are not interested in where you come from or what kind of school or college you attended. All we want is committed, hard-working and enthusiastic musicians. If you think this is you, then put in an application!
Before you apply we strongly recommend you attend a College or Faculty Open Day. These are designed to give you as much information as possible about the course and life at Oxford, as well as about the application process. You will also have the chance to meet tutors and current students.
All applications are made via UCAS, and you have to apply by 15 October in the year before you plan to begin your studies (or two years if you are planning on taking a Gap Year). At Christ Church we call the vast majority of applicants to interview. We ask you to send two marked school essays plus some composition work in advance. When you come to Oxford (in early December) you are asked to play a short piece on your first-study instrument or voice. You usually have two interviews in Christ Church, and are also guaranteed at least one other interview in another college. Most people say how much they enjoy the experience, whether or not they are offered a place!
Our standard offer is AAA (including Music) at A-level, 38 points in the IB (with a 7 in Music), or the equivalent in other schemes. Oxford is not currently making offers on the basis of A* grades at A level. We also suggest that you should be of around grade 5 standard on the piano, but it does not matter if you do not have a formal keyboard qualification. We do not make any requirements about your performance level, but most applicants are working at around grade 8 level on their first-study instrument.
More details about the application process, and about the access and outreach events Christ Church runs can be found here.
Applying to Christ Church – Graduates
All graduate applications are handled initially by the Music Faculty. If you are offered a place by the Faculty, then you are guaranteed a college place, though not necessarily at your first choice college. If you wish to make Christ Church your first choice, then you need to state this clearly on your graduate application. Further details can be found here.