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Music at The Open University

Welcome to the Music Department at the Open University. We teach a wide range of musical styles and techniques at all levels, offering you the opportunity to engage with music from the medieval period to the present day, from Purcell, Schubert and Wagner to film scores, jazz and Joni Mitchell. You can include interdisciplinary courses that feature as part of your degree. You can also study for an MA in Music or for a PhD on a research topic of your choice. Why study with us? See 10 reasons to study Music at The Open University.

Why Study Music at the Open University?

Members of staff based in the Music Department at the Open University have expertise and experience in preparing open and distance learning materials. Our degree modules are recognised as among the best in the country, offering in-depth and up-to-date study of a wealth of musical styles, historical periods and themes. They include a variety of textbooks, printed musical scores, CDs, DVDs and online resources to provide a learning experience that is fresh and exciting. You have the flexibility of studying at home, but there are opportunities to meet fellow-students and tutors at face-to-face sessions, and to communicate by means of online forums. All of our modules are taught by talented and enthusiastic Associate Lecturers with experience of supporting part-time students.

New Curriculum Collaboration

The Music Department is currently developing new curriculum in collaboration with Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, as part of its degree-level studies, aimed at practising musicians. Find out more about our new Level 3 music module The Practice of Music Making.


Research excellence

REF 2014REF2014 has confirmed the excellence of Open University Music research. The OU’s Music submission was rated joint 1st in the UK in the ‘Music, Dance and Drama’ Unit of Assessment in the Guardian’s analysis and 8th in the Times Higher Education’s table. In addition, the Music submission ranked highest of all those put forward by the OU. 94% of our submissions were rated 3* (‘internationally excellent’) or 4* (‘world-leading’). The impact of our research and our research environment scored 100% 3* and 4*.

Our teaching is underpinned by extensive research and scholarship – for details of the specific interests and publications of members of the Department follow the links on the left. We have particular strengths in western music from the Renaissance to the present day, in ethnomusicology, in jazz and film music, in music editing techniques and the history of musical instruments. Some of these innovative areas of study are incorporated in our undergraduate and taught Masters courses. You can write a song from scratch and learn how to create your own Handel edition. You can see how Beethoven composed and what techniques are used in a gamelan orchestra. And you can see music performed in all sorts of different venues. Within our degree modules you can listen to Ella Fitzgerald, look at Elgar’s manuscripts, watch performances of Indian music and study the principles of sound and acoustics.

The Department includes a thriving community of full-time and part-time postgraduate research students, and we are always keen to recruit more.

Find out more

If you would like a taste of some of the things you will study, see our Taster Material. You can also read our latest news on our department blog.

Postgraduate research degrees

If you are interested in postgraduate research, see the Research Degrees Prospectus  for application forms and details of our research areas.

Getting to know music at the OU

The short video Getting to know Arts features two members of the music department, Catherine Tackley and Robert Samuels. Catherine talks about her work on A224 Inside music as well as how her research on jazz fits with her own musical practice [06.12]. Robert explains the way his role involves finding out about music, teaching students about music and communicating about music with people outside the OU [08:25].

See the latest department news from our blog