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Why study A-level Music?

Few subjects draw on and develop as many skills as are needed for A-level Music. This course enables musicians to shine in performance, composition, and the listening and appraising module. We study works by a broad and eclectic range of composers in far greater depth than encountered at GCSE level, from the recordings of Ella Fitzgerald to experimental electronic music of the 20th century and Romantic orchestral works which explore themes of the supernatural. You will learn not only how composers conveyed their musical intentions but also how we can utilise similar skills in our own compositional work.

This rigorous analytical study is combined with a busy performance schedule, preparing recitals on solo instruments or voice, alongside ensemble playing, all of which lead to greater communication and expression as performers.

Composers have the opportunities to use the latest composition software as part of this course, exploring a diverse range of styles when creating their own music. A-level students will also record repertoire and participate in the many concert opportunities available at the College.

This course has musical understanding and enjoyment at its heart and offers you the chance to immerse yourself in the vibrant musical community at Queen's.

What will I study and how will I be assessed?


This is a coursework submission that involves the preparation and performance on your instrument or voice. This part of the course really plays to your strengths as a performer! The recital is externally assessed via audio-visual recording and the performance time must be at least 10 minutes.
(35% of the total A-Level.)


This is a coursework submission and involves composing two separate pieces of music. One composition is written to a brief set by OCR and the other is to your own brief. The total length of your compositions will be four minutes (25% of the total A-level).

Listening and Appraising 

The only part of Music that is an examination, this paper consists of four Areas of Study; the first two are compulsory and the other two are chosen from the four remaining options (Areas of Study 3 - 6):

  • Area of Study 1: Instrumental Music of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven
  • Area of Study 2: Popular Song: Blues, Jazz, Swing and Big Band
  • Area of Study 3: Developments in Instrumental Jazz, 1910 - present day
  • Area of Study 4: Religious Music of the Baroque Period
  • Area of Study 5: Programme Music 1820 - 1910
  • Area of Study 6: Innovations in Music 1900 - present day

The examination paper consists of unfamiliar listening, questions on prescribed works for AoS1 & 2, and essays on works you have studied for your two optional Areas of Study.

What skills will I can? Where can Music lead?

A career in the music industry is rich and varied. Music degrees can lead to work as a performer (orchestral, solo or chamber), composer, music therapist, sound technician, theatre stage manager, conductor, engineer, radio producer, broadcaster or to work in music education. Pursuing Music at degree level will provide opportunities to study not only performance through a conservatoire but also composition, musicology, ethnomusicology, sound engineering, conducting and music education at university.

Even if you choose not to study Music beyond A-level, you will develop a vast range of useful skills through the course, including but not limited to:

  • Communication
  • Leadership
  • Time management
  • High-level listening skills
  • Teamwork
  • Analysis
  • Software skills
  • Planning and delivering long-term projects
  • Creativity

A-level Musicians also significantly develop their self-confidence through the course.