York College

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Entry requirements

Please see our Entry Requirements page for general entry requirement guidance. You should be able to play an instrument, including voice, to grade 5 standard and be at or working towards grade 5 standard in theory.

music a level WEB


Two years.

What will I study?

If you have a keen interest in music or are looking to pursue a career in music, A Level Music teaches students to develop performance and composition skills and to further develop knowledge of a variety of music including classical, film, jazz and popular music.

The course is designed to extend the GCSE skills of performing, composing, listening and appraising. Throughout the course students also develop skills in the handling of music technology.

The course is aimed at those who have previously attained some knowledge in music or aspects relating to it, either through a GCSE qualification or equivalent. Students may have also acquired suitable experience through less formal means as a performer or as an attentive listener.

Year 1

Performing (30%)

Students will perform a 6-8 minute recital made up of playing or singing solo, in an ensemble, improvising, or realising music using music technology.

Composition (30%)

Students will demonstrate their ability to create and develop musical ideas with technical control and expressive understanding, making creative use of musical devices, conventions and resources by creating two compositions. One will be set to a brief and one will be a free composition.

Listening Exam – 90 minutes (40%)

This will be based on both familiar and unfamiliar music. Students will study 12 set works within the following 6 areas of study:

  • Vocal Music
  • Instrumental Music
  • Music for Film
  • Popular Music and Jazz
  • Fusions
  • New Directions

The exam structure is as follows:

Section A: Areas of study and dictation (45 marks)

  • Three questions related to the set works (audio and skeleton score provided)
  • One short melody/rhythm completion exercise

Section B: Extended response

  • Two essay questions – essay one (15 marks) and essay two (20 marks)
  • Essay one asks students to draw links from their study of the set works to the music heard as an unfamiliar extract
  • Essay two gives a choice of three questions that ask students to evaluate the musical elements, context and language of one set work. Each option will be from a different area of study

The second year follows a similar pattern to the first year, including performing, composing and a listening exam based on general listening skills, the six areas of study, the set works studied in the first year and an additional six pieces of music.

Good course combinations

Music Technology, Media Studies, Film Studies, Dance, Drama and Theatre Studies and Maths.

What could it lead to?

The course provides a sound foundation for music courses in higher education with students progressing on to study at university and some of the country’s top conservatoires. Employment possibilities include the music industry, teaching and other related careers.

Need some help?

If you have any further questions about this course, or would like us to help you with your application, please contact the Schools Liaison team on 01904 770239 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this webpage, the content is subject to change where necessary.

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