Female listening to music with headphones

BA (Honours) Music

On our music degree, you'll learn how music is created, study a wide range of styles, and unlock your own creativity. This degree will broaden and deepen your understanding of musical practices, encompassing western art music, jazz, popular music, and non-western musics. You'll develop the technical skills to analyse music in different styles, and the critical skills to discuss music in relation to its cultural contexts. You'll also acquire critical and reflective skills to develop your own musical practice. Add to that some expert guidance in the use of technology to create and record music, and you’ll not just gain a degree but a passionate pursuit.

“Studying music could transform your life. Now, as an OU student, you can focus in depth on key aspects of music in an innovative, up-to-the-minute single-honours degree course.”  John Rutter, Composer and Conductor

Key features of the course

  • Study a wide range of musical repertoires and practices, informed by world-leading research.
  • Create, analyse, perform and study the social contexts of music.
  • Develop practical music making and performance skills at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance.  
  • Open to musicians working in any tradition and at any stage of their musical development.
  • Relevant to a wide variety of musical and non-musical careers including teaching, arts administration, community music, and sound recording.
We also offer a Diploma of Higher Education in Music (W65) that is the same in structure as the first two-thirds of this degree.

Course Summary

+Shortlist Course

Degree

Degree

  • Also known as an undergraduate or bachelors degree.
  • Internationally respected, universally understood.
  • An essential requirement for many high-level jobs.
  • Gain a thorough understanding of your subject – and the tools to investigate, think critically, form reasoned arguments, solve problems and communicate effectively in new contexts.
  • Progress to higher level study, such as a postgraduate diploma or masters degree.
Course code
R25
Credits

Credits

  • Credits measure the student workload required for the successful completion of a module or qualification.
  • One credit represents about 10 hours of study over the duration of the course.
  • You are awarded credits after you have successfully completed a module.
  • For example, if you study a 60-credit module and successfully pass it, you will be awarded 60 credits.
360
How long it takes
Part time – 6 years
Full time – 3-4 years*
Time limit – 16 years
*See How much time do I need? for more details
Study method
Distance learning

Course details

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.

Prepare for OU study with an Access module

We offer two starting points depending on how confident you are or how long it’s been since you last studied. Choose to dive straight in at Stage 1, or if you’d prefer some extra preparation, you can get started with an optional Access module. See Entry requirements for more details.

Stage 1 (120 credits)

In Stage 1, you'll 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.
ModulesCredits
You'll start your degree with:
Discovering the arts and humanities (A111)60
You'll complete Stage 1 with one from:
Revolutions (A113)60
Cultures (A112)60
We recommend that you choose Revolutions (A113) for this qualification.

Stage 2 (120 credits)

At Stage 2, you'll 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.
ModulesCredits
You'll study both of the following:
Understanding music (A234)60
Music, sound and technology (A232)60

Stage 3 (120 credits)

At Stage 3, you'll 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.
ModulesCredits
You'll study both of the following:
Central questions in the study of music (A342)60
Creative music making (CTLU302)*60

*This module is offered in collaboration with the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance. For further information see the Trinity Laban website and our Collaborative schemes website. Note you will not be able to study both modules within the same academic year if you fund your study with a Student Loan. See How much time do I need? for the minimum time it will take to complete this qualification. 


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 5 August 2022.


Accessibility

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
  • using technology for research purposes involving access to online catalogues and databases 
  • 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 Dorico 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

Credit transfer

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 course, we’ll award you our BA (Honours) Music.

The class of honours (first, upper-second, lower-second or third) will depend on your grades at Stages 2 and 3.

You’ll have the opportunity to attend a degree ceremony.

International recognition

If you intend to use your Open University qualifications to seek work or undertake further study outside the UK, we recommend checking whether your intended qualification will meet local requirements for your chosen career. Find out more about international recognition of Open University qualifications.

Regulations

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. 


Compare this course

Entry requirements

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?

  • Most of our students study part time, completing 60 credits a year.
  • This will usually mean studying for 16–18 hours a week.
  • If you wish to study full time, it will take you a minimum of: 
    – 3 years if you fund either of the Stage 3 modules by any means other than a Student Loan 
    – 4 years if you fully fund this qualification with a Student Loan.
    This is because the Student Loans provider will not provide a loan for two Higher Education Institutions in the same Academic Year, as required within Stage 3 of this qualification.

Find out if you have enough time to study with our time planner

Preparing for study with an Access module

Students who start their study with an Access module are more likely to be successful when they advance to Stage 1 of their qualification. They’re specially designed to give you a gentle introduction to OU study, boost confidence in your study skills, and help you gain a broad overview of your chosen subject area.

You’ll also benefit from:

  • feedback from your tutor through regular one-to-one phone tutorials
  • support from a dedicated team throughout your study
  • detailed written feedback on your work.
The Access module we’d recommend studying in preparation for this qualification is our:

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. From the perspective of its central theme, ‘popular protest’, it explores a range of subjects, including art history, English, English language studies, history, and popular music, all through its central theme of ‘popular protest’. The module also offers an opportunity to explore other subjects, such as modern languages, classical studies, religious studies and creative writing.

View full details of Arts and languages Access module

How much will it cost?

We believe cost shouldn’t be a barrier to achieving your potential. That’s why we work hard to keep the cost of study as low as possible and have a wide range of flexible ways to pay to help spread the cost.

  • Fees are paid on a module-by-module basis – you won’t have to pay for the whole of your qualification up front.
  • A qualification comprises a series of modules, each with an individual fee. Added together, they give you the total cost.
  • If, like most OU students, you study part time at a rate of 60 credits a year, you’ll take six years to complete an honours degree.
  • Our typical fee for 60 credits is £3,228* .
  • Our typical fee for 120 credits – which is equivalent to a year's full-time study – is £6,456*.
  • This qualification includes 60 credits of study with a higher than typical cost.
  • This means, at current prices, the total cost of your qualification would be £19,960*.

*The fee information provided here is valid for modules starting before 31 July 2023. Fees normally increase annually in line with inflation and the University’s strategic approach to fees.

Additional costs

Study costs

There may be extra costs on top of the tuition fee, such as a computer and internet access. If your income is not more than £25,000 or you are in receipt of a qualifying benefit, you might be eligible for help with some of these costs after you start studying.

Ways to pay for your qualification and other support

We know there’s a lot to think about when choosing to study, not least how you can pay. That’s why we offer a wide range of flexible payment and funding options to help make study more affordable than you might think. Options include Part-Time Tuition Fee Loans (also known as student loans), monthly payment plans and employer sponsorship.

Visit our Fees and funding page for a summary of the funding options available.

Please note: your permanent address/domicile will affect your fee status and therefore the fees you are charged and any financial support available to you.


How will I study this course?

With our unique approach to distance learning, you can study from home, work, or on the move.

You’ll have some assessment deadlines to meet, but otherwise you’ll be free to study at the times that suit you, fitting your learning around work, family, and social life.

For each of your modules, you’ll use either just online resources or a mix of online and printed materials.

Each module you study will have a module website, with:

  • a week-by-week study planner, giving you a step-by-step guide through your studies
  • course materials such as reading, videos, recordings, and self-assessed activities
  • module forums for discussions and collaborative activities with other students
  • details of each assignment and their due dates
  • a tutorial booking system, online tutorial rooms, and your tutor’s contact details
  • online versions of some printed module materials and resources.

If you have additional needs, we can also provide most module materials in alternative formats. Find out more about materials on our accessibility webpage.


Tutor support

You’ll have a tutor for each module, who will introduce themselves before the module begins.

Throughout the module, they will:

  • mark your assignments and give feedback to help you improve
  • guide you to learning resources
  • support you, whether with general study skills or help with a specific topic.

Tutorials

Tutorials throughout the course could be online, face-to-face or a mixture of the two, and they’re always optional.

Online tutorials are live presentations with module tutors in dedicated online tutorial rooms, and are sometimes recorded.


Assessment

Our assessments are all designed to reinforce your learning and help you show your understanding of the topics. The mix of assessment methods will vary between modules.

Computer-Marked Assignments

  • Usually a series of online, multiple-choice questions.

Tutor-Marked Assignments

  • You’ll have a number of these throughout each module, each with a submission deadline.
  • They can be made up of essays, questions, experiments or something else to test your understanding of what you have learned.
  • Your tutor will mark and return them to you with detailed feedback.

End-of-Module Assessments

  • The final, marked piece of work on most modules.
  • Modules with an end of module assessment won’t usually have an exam.

Exams

  • Some modules end with an exam. You’ll be given time to revise and prepare.
  • You’ll be given your exam date at least 5 months in advance.
  • Most exams take place remotely, and you will complete them at home or at an alternative location.
  • If a module requires you to take a face-to-face exam, this will be made clear in the module description, and you will be required to take your exam in person at one of our exam centres.

Progressing to a point where I felt more comfortable writing my assignments, and having my scores reflecting that, made me quite happy because it showed the hard work was being rewarded.

Patrick ‘Ricky’ Skene, BSc (Hons) Sport, Fitness and Coaching

Other support and resources

Throughout your studies, you’ll have access to our subject-specific Student Support Teams.

They’ll help you with any general questions about your study and updates to your OU account.

To help with your studies, you’ll also have access to:

  • our online library, with high-quality online resources to support your study
  • other university libraries in the UK and Ireland
  • the online Help Centre, which has general information about OU study and support, along with study skills advice
  • free Microsoft Office 365 software
  • IT and computing support from our Computing Helpdesk.

Find out more about student support and being a part of the OU community.

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.

Career relevance

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
  • education
  • 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

Other careers

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:

  • musician
  • teacher - private/secondary/primary
  • arts administrator
  • community music leader
  • music producer / sound designer 
  • sound recordist 
  • theatre stage manager
  • music therapist
  • event organiser 
  • journalist      
  • publisher      
  • public relations manager
  • media researcher
  • civil servant
  • marketing manager.

Register for this course

Start dates
Credit transfer: apply by 08/12/2022

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