This degree has three stages, each comprising 120 credits.
- You’ll start Stage 1 with a broad introduction to the arts and humanities followed by a choice of two modules.
- At Stage 2, you’ll study two compulsory modules which will introduce you to the principles of music and using music technology.
- Finally, at Stage 3, you’ll complete your degree with two compulsory modules exploring the impact of music in social contexts and the practice of music making.
Optional Access module – visit Entry requirements to find out about starting this course with a preparatory Access module.
In Stage 1, you will encounter a variety of musicians and musical works and practices alongside fascinating insights from across the arts and humanities. This broad foundation will help you develop the academic skills and confidence necessary for studying music at Stages 2 and 3.
At Stage 2, you will engage closely with musical materials in audio and notated forms and use your study of these as the basis for creating your own music with the help of specialist computer software.
At Stage 3, you will study music in a broad range of cultural and historical contexts, as well as developing critical and reflective skills to apply to your practice as a musician.
We regularly review our curriculum; therefore, the qualification described on this page – including its availability, its structure, and available modules – may change over time. If we make changes to this qualification, we’ll update this page as soon as possible. Once you’ve registered or are studying this qualification, where practicable, we’ll inform you in good time of any upcoming changes. If you’d like to know more about the circumstances in which the University might make changes to the curriculum, see our Academic Regulations or contact us. This description was last updated on 30 April 2020.
We make all our qualifications as accessible as possible and have a comprehensive range of services to support all our students. The BA (Honours) Music uses a variety of study materials and has the following elements:
- studying a mixture of printed and online material – online learning resources may include websites, audio/video media clips, and interactive activities such as online quizzes
- finding external/third party material online
- working in a group with other students
- working with specialist reading material such as musical manuscripts
- undertaking practical work
- using specialist software (for example the Sibelius music notation package).
For more detailed information, see the Accessibility Statements on individual module descriptions. If you feel you may need additional support, visit Disability support to find more about what we offer.
Learning outcomes, teaching and assessment
This qualification develops your learning in four main areas:
- Knowledge and understanding
- Cognitive skills
- Practical and professional skills
- Key skills
The level and depth of your learning gradually increases as you work through the qualification. You’ll be supported throughout by the OU’s unique style of teaching and assessment – which includes a personal tutor to guide and comment on your work; top quality course texts; elearning resources like podcasts, interactive media and online materials; tutorial groups and community forums.
Read the detailed learning outcomes here
If you’ve already completed some study at another university, you may be able to count it towards your Open University qualification – reducing the number of modules you need to study.
You should apply for credit transfer before you register, at least 4 weeks before the registration closing date. Just tell us what you studied, where and when, and we’ll compare this against the learning outcomes for your chosen course.
For more details and an application form, visit our Credit Transfer website.
Classification of your degree
On successfully completing this undergraduate course, you'll be awarded the BA (Honours) Music degree. The class of degree (first, upper second, lower second or third-class honours) depends on your grades at Stages 2 and 3.
You'll have the opportunity to attend a degree ceremony.
As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the qualification-specific regulations below and the academic regulations that are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website.
There are no formal entry requirements for this qualification.
Before starting Stage 2 of this degree it would be useful to have some knowledge of music theory equivalent to ABRSM Grade 3 level, as the modules begin at a basic level and quickly progress to more advanced musical concepts and techniques. If you have not yet learned music theory or notation, we recommend studying the OU’s free online course, Introduction to music theory. When studying the Stage 3 module The practice of music making (a module offered by our partner institution Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance) you are expected to be actively involved in some form of practical collaborative music making for the duration of that module. You will also be required to attend a residential learning week at Trinity Laban in Greenwich, London. Students at any level of practical musical skill are welcome to take the module.
How much time do I need?
Find out if you have enough time to study with our time planner
- Most of our students study part time, completing 60 credits a year.
- This will usually mean studying for 16–18 hours a week.
Preparing for study with an Access module
If your study skills are a bit rusty or you want to try out Open University study before committing yourself, don’t worry! The OU offers Access modules designed to introduce the subject area, build your confidence and prepare you for further study, and you may be eligible to study an Access module for free! You'll get:
- a personal tutor providing regular feedback with one to one telephone tutorials
- support from a dedicated team throughout your study
- detailed written feedback.
For this qualification we recommend:
Arts and languages Access module
What you will study
This multidisciplinary module is an ideal starting point if you have little or no previous knowledge of the arts, humanities and languages. It's perfect preparation for your study with The Open University as you'll develop both your subject knowledge and your study skills. It explores a range of subjects, including art history, English, English language studies, history, modern languages, and also touches on the areas of creative writing and religious studies.
View full details of Arts and languages Access module
Skills for career development
Studying music will provide you with an adaptable set of skills that can lead in many directions and which are greatly valued by employers. Broadly summarised these are critical thinking, analysis, collaborative working, communication, and expertise in working with abstract structures and processes. You will sharpen your IT, writing, and independent thinking skills, and develop an ability to assimilate and evaluate relevant information when constructing an argument. These are key skills in complex organisations, and are highly sought after in the world beyond study – whether you’re already working, volunteering, or changing career.
Study of the arts and humanities requires an understanding of human activities in diverse cultural environments and historical contexts. The breadth of study and range of musical repertoire and practice explored, combined with clear thinking and communication, make the BA (Hons) Music relevant to a wide range of careers, including:
- the cultural and creative industries
- public administration, local government, the civil service, art institutions, and social services
- advertising, journalism, publishing, and public relations
- business, banking and retail
- human resources
- charities and campaigning
Many graduate-level jobs are open to graduates of any discipline, particularly in business, finance, management consultancy and the public sector. Some careers may require further study, training and/or work experience beyond your degree.
Exploring your options
Once you register with us (and for up to three years after you finish your studies), you’ll have full access to our careers service for a wide range of information and advice. This includes online forums, website, interview simulation, vacancy service as well as the option to email or speak to a careers adviser. Some areas of the careers service website are available for you to see now, including help with looking for and applying for jobs. You can also read more general information about how OU study enhances your career.
In the meantime if you want to do some research around this qualification and where it might take you, we’ve put together a list of relevant job titles as a starting point. Some careers may require further study, training and/or work experience beyond your degree:
- teacher - private/secondary/primary
- arts administrator
- community music leader
- music producer / sound designer
- sound recordist
- theatre stage manager
- music therapist
- event organiser
- public relations manager
- media researcher
- civil servant
- marketing manager.