Music offers a variety of specialisms to choose from, including musical performance, composition, and production. There are many genres of music, with lots of opportunities to gain practical experience through large networks.

Graduate destinations

20,315 students were studying music in 2014/15.

Top five graduate destinations:

  1. Education
  2. Arts, entertainment, and recreation
  3. Wholesale and retail
  4. Accommodation and food services
  5. Information and communication

Where can I study music?

You can study music at a university, college, or conservatoire.

  • Conservatoires specialise and focus on performance-based study, with a strong emphasis on one-to-one tuition, group work, and performance. 
  • University and college courses tend to focus on theory-based disciplines such as analysis, harmony and counterpoint, music technology, and psychology of performing, as well as performance itself.

Entry requirements to study music at a conservatoire

Entry requirements for conservatoire courses could be qualifications, auditions, other skills and interests, and more. Selection is principally judged by a practical audition or a portfolio of work. Some conservatoires also ask for a minimum of two A levels, though a strong audition may mean academic entry requirements are relaxed.

International students need to demonstrate skills in spoken and written English too.

Studying music at a conservatoire

Entry requirements to study music at a university

For a first undergraduate degree, you will usually need a minimum of two A levels or four Scottish Highers, but this varies between course providers. In addition, you normally require five GCSEs at grade C or above, including maths and English.

Entry requirements range from CCC to ABB, with the universities and colleges most commonly asking for ABB.

Scottish Highers – Entry requirements for Highers (the most common qualification) range from BBBB to AABBB, with universities or colleges most frequently requiring AABBB. Occasionally, universities ask for Advanced Highers to supplement Highers. If Advanced Highers are requested, universities or colleges typically ask for ABB.

Applicants taking a performance music course will often be expected to have achieved a minimum of grade 7 ABRSM (or equivalent) in their main instrument or voice.

Studying music at a university or college

Many providers use UCAS Tariff points in their entry requirements, where A levels and other qualifications have been converted into points.

Vocational courses – other Level 3 qualifications (e.g. BTEC extended diploma in performing arts) may be accepted as an alternative to A levels by many universities and performing arts colleges. Check each course provider’s entry requirements carefully.


Personal statement

Personal statements form an essential part of the selection process, and in general, admissions tutors are looking for:

  • a sense of what drives your interest and passion for the subject
  • evidence that you have a real enthusiasm and are highly motivated, which could be demonstrated by:
    • relevant work experience or voluntary work
    • additional research, training, and relevant qualifications
    • membership of related societies/clubs
  • a well-written statement that shows you have something to contribute to the university or college
  • the ability to work collaboratively and share ideas with others

How to write your undergraduate personal statement

How to write your conservatoire personal statement


If you want to combine work and study while earning a salary, you could consider an apprenticeship. Which apprenticeships are available, and how you apply, depends on where you live.

Find out more about apprenticeships across the UK.

Each apprenticeship sets out occupational standards for specific job roles, designed by employers. The standards outline the skills, knowledge, and behaviours required to demonstrate that an apprentice is fully competent in the job role.

Higher apprenticeships (Level 4)

Degree apprenticeships (Levels 5 – 7)

Key areas of employment

This subject area has a strong vocational link, with the key areas of employment being:

  • education
  • orchestras
  • live band
  • opera company
  • cruise ships
  • musical theatre company
  • recording studio
  • music journalism
  • session studio

Related careers

Examples of related careers include:

Where can I find out more?

Visit the websites of the following professional bodies to find out more about courses and careers in music.

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