MusB Music / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course description

What does Music mean to me? [Freya]

MusB Music was the first taught course of its kind in the UK, and it was a co-educational course from the start. But it certainly isn't stuck in the past!

The MusB today is diverse in content and flexible in structure, enabling you to choose the course units that interest you the most.

It allows you to build upon existing interests while discovering new forms and traditions of music and new ways of understanding, performing, and creating music.

The course offers excellence in Performance , Composition and Musicology , incorporating specialisms in Music, Culture and History, Music Theory and Analysis, Applied Music, and Ethnomusicology.

Our course content is regularly updated based on our research to reflect the latest findings in music scholarship.

You will also receive support in preparing for the workplace; our graduates go on to work in the music profession, the creative industries and beyond.

You will learn from internationally recognised academics and a roster of professional instrumental and vocal tutors drawn from Manchester and the wider north-west.

Our teaching and music-making takes place in the Martin Harris Centre for Music and Drama.

You will rehearse, take masterclasses and perform in the Cosmo Rodewald Concert Hall and can get your hands on the latest digital audio technology in the award-winning NOVARS studios for electroacoustic music and interactive media.

You will also benefit musically, academically, and socially from the extensive music-making and management opportunities provided by the Music Society , the Choral Programme and the department , with 100+ concerts and events taking place each year.

And this is to say nothing of the diversity of music to be experienced in cosmopolitan Manchester, a global and highly connected city for the performing arts with a rich heritage of professional and amateur music-making.

Find out more on the Music website.

Special features

"The electro-acoustic and sound design courses have definitely been a highlight, as you learn new skills from scratch that have obvious real-world uses.

"The performance module has also stood out for me because the individual instrumental lessons have been outstanding."

Sarah Keirle / 2017 graduate
Performance-focused environment

You will benefit from a combination of academic excellence and conservatoire levels of performance at Manchester.

You will receive 18 lessons each year in one-to-one practical tuition on your first study (when taken for credit).

On our Conducting programme there are 6-7 student positions in the Music Society and 4 in University Chorus, all mentored by Rob Guy, Head of Conducting.

The Music Society and the Martin Harris Centre (including the superb Cosmo Rodewald Concert Hall) presents many events annually.

We have many practice rooms, 13 with pianos, and specialist percussion and keyboard rooms.

Composition training

We have six full-time composers with expertise in a range of styles, encompassing instrumental and vocal, interactive media, electroacoustic and film music composition with teaching focused on originality and professional training.

Your work will be performed by fellow students in composition courses throughout the degree. You can also benefit from our dedicated studio, with ProTools suite for electroacoustic composition, film composition and interactive media.

Musicological expertise

From early music to jazz, string quartets to African pop, we have expertise in a vast array of areas, including music theory and analysis, sketch study, reception studies, performance studies, aesthetics, critical theory, cultural studies, community music and ethnomusicology.

Placement year option

Apply your knowledge in a real-world context through a placement year in Year 3, enhancing your employment prospects, career goals and building networks.

Study abroad

You may apply to study abroad for one semester during Year 2.

Teaching and learning

With a mixture of lectures, seminars, tutorials, workshops and one-to-one performance coaching, our learning environment is open, friendly and designed to inspire.

Our research-based teaching places students at the heart of the learning process, enabling you to ask complex, original questions and to apply different methods for answering them.

We understand that making the step up to university study can be quite a challenge, especially if you have limited experience of independent study. We offer a range of support to help you make the transition:

  • In Year 1, all Music students are assigned to a small tutorial group which meets most Mondays during term-time. The group is run by your academic tutor and provides you with an opportunity to try out new ideas and receive feedback on your progress.
  • All academic staff run two weekly consultation hours, where the office door is open for any question relating to your studies, progress or university life.
  • We also host an active peer support network, including weekly study sessions organised and run by Year 2 and 3 students.

You'll be encouraged to develop knowledge and skills beyond your course, including extra-curricular opportunities with the Music Society. These range from performance and rehearsal to concert management and marketing.

Instrumental tuition is provided by the University for your first instrument or voice. 

Prominent players  from outside the University provide this tuition, and include visitors from the Halle Orchestra, BBC Philharmonic and the Royal Northern College of Music. 

Eighteen hours of one-to-one tuition is provided per year, with 20 hours in the third year. 

Expert performers provide coaching on our ensemble performance units.  

You'll be encouraged to attend our weekly programme of Thursday research forums, including performance and composition masterclasses. 

You'll also be encouraged to develop knowledge and skills beyond your course, including extra-curricular opportunities with the Music Society.  

These range from performance and rehearsal to concert management and marketing.

Coursework and assessment

Coursework is regularly assigned and assessed either continually or at the end of the semester, depending on the course units taken.

You will have opportunities to take classes in which presentations may count as an assessed element.

Many of our students choose to present a formal recital for assessment on their instrument.

Methods of assessment are clearly published six months before each unit begins.

Course content for year 1

Gain a thorough grounding in all the fundamental areas of musical training: performance, composition, analysis and music theory, musicology and ethnomusicology, and most importantly make connections through synergies between studies in these areas. In the second semester you can choose from a range of optional units in addition to core units

Course units for year 1

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
Tonality: Form and Harmony MUSC10011 20 Mandatory
Sonic Invention A MUSC10311 10 Mandatory
Sonic Invention B MUSC10312 10 Mandatory
Approaches to Musicology MUSC10511 20 Mandatory
Music and Its Contexts MUSC10512 20 Mandatory
Solo Performance 1 MUSC10600 20 Mandatory
Tonality: Theory and Analysis MUSC10022 10 Optional
Techniques of Tonal Harmony MUSC10112 10 Optional
Musical Notation MUSC10212 10 Optional

Course content for year 2

Use our breadth of optional units to build on your interests and explore new areas, including themes you may wish to develop into your third year. Topics in musicology and ethnomusicology range from Early Opera to Music and Consumption in the Digital Age, while composition courses in both instrumental / vocal and electroacoustic composition build on techniques and understanding developed in the first year. Performance courses includes solo and varied range of ensemble performance options.

Course units for year 2

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
Analysis MUSC20011 20 Optional
Music, Literature, and the Visual Arts MUSC20042 20 Optional
Fixed and Electroacoustic Composition MUSC20061 10 Optional
Interactive Media Composition Environments MUSC20072 20 Optional
Instrumental Composition MUSC20321 20 Optional
Vocal Composition MUSC20362 10 Optional
Music and Consumption in the Digital Age MUSC20511 20 Optional
Solo Performance II MUSC20600 20 Optional
Ensemble Performance A (10 credits) MUSC20611 10 Optional
Ensemble Performance A (20 credits) MUSC20621 20 Optional
Ensemble Performance B (10 credits) MUSC20650 10 Optional
Ensemble Performance B 20 Credit MUSC20660 20 Optional
Conducting MUSC20670 10 Optional
Music Cultures of the World MUSC20721 20 Optional
Introduction to Participatory Music MUSC20802 20 Optional
Jazz Improvisation, Theory, and Analysis MUSC21501 20 Optional
Displaying 10 of 16 course units for year 2

Course content for year 3

You'll specialise more in the third year, and develop further your independent study skills. There are no compulsory course units but you'll select at least one 40-credit course unit from Dissertation, Composition Portfolio or Recital, and may opt to take two. An additional range of advanced 20-credit course units are available in music theory and analysis, aesthetics, musicology and ethnomusicology.

Course units for year 3

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
Advanced Analysis MUSC30011 20 Optional
Composition Portfolio MUSC30300 40 Optional
Dissertation MUSC30400 40 Optional
Aesthetics MUSC30502 20 Optional
Advanced study in Musicology A MUSC30510 20 Optional
Advanced Study in Musicology B (40) MUSC30520 40 Optional
Composition for Film or Game Audio MUSC30540 20 Optional
Recital MUSC30600 40 Optional
Music Performance Studies MUSC30711 20 Optional
Modern Spanish Music: A Cultural History SPLA31081 20 Optional

Scholarships and bursaries

New for 2024/25 - Exceptional Performer Music Bursary

The Department of Music will provide first-year bursaries to support undergraduate students who have demonstrated exceptional levels of achievement in their instrumental and/or vocal studies. These £1000 bursaries will be awarded in the first year of study (2024/25 academic year), paid direct to students in two instalments.

More information, including eligibility criteria, can be found here

What our students say

International student Iris talks about her MusB course experience

'My experience at The University of Manchester gave me a well-rounded musical education and provided me with the skillset needed to continue on my chosen path towards a career in performance.

'The fantastic instrumental tuition won me a place with a scholarship at the institution of my choice.

'The endless performance opportunities outside of the degree gave me not only ample experience, but they also allowed me to get involved with the organisation of concerts and events, furthering my understanding of our industry.'

Zahid Siddiqui, MusB graduate

'I left university with the skills and a very large amount of experience needed to forge a career in orchestral management.

'Manchester is excellent at giving students responsibility and experience, which is often highlighted to me by how many different Manchester graduates I bump into in my career - The University of Manchester is an astonishingly successful furnace for arts leaders.'

Seb Huckle, MusB graduate


The Martin Harris Centre for Music and Drama

Home to Music and Drama at Manchester, this purpose-built creative facility includes:

  • The Cosmo Rodewald Concert Hall - an acoustically designed auditorium seating up to 350 people
  • The Lenagan Library - our dedicated performing arts library
  • The John Thaw Studio Theatre - a flexible, fully equipped performance space with seating for 150 people
  • Specialist rehearsal and newly renovated (2021) practice spaces, including Steinway and Boston pianos, early keyboard, percussion, drum kits, amplifiers and ensemble space.

NOVARS Research Centre

NOVARS boasts state-of-the-art facilities for composition and performance, including award-winning electroacoustic composition studios.

Studios are equipped with digital recording equipment (Yamaha, Emagic, Akai, Alesis, Max/MSP and GRM technology), as well as Apple Mac workstations and the latest ProTools software in the Undergraduate Studio.

We own many specialist percussion and keyboard instruments, including a chamber organ, harpsichord, Gamelan Degung and a five-octave marimba.

We also own a full suite of replica Baroque instruments, and we offer tuition and performance opportunities on these instruments as part of the Baroque Orchestra concerts which we present every year.

Find out more about our Music facilities and learning facilities across the wider University

Disability support

Practical support and advice for current students and applicants from the Disability Support Office: