A level Music

What will I study in Music A level?

Music’s value as a subject lies in its breadth, and universities and employers recognise the unique benefits it offers. It encourages academic rigour through analysis of socio-historical issues relating to music’s place in history and right up to the present day. In addition, it recognises creative talent personal organisation and discipline in its composition and performance modules, requiring both a musically satisfying final outcome.


Pupils will study three units:

  • Unit 1: Performance
    Comprises the performance of a recital of at least eight minutes’ duration. Performances can be playing or singing solo, in an ensemble, improvising, or realising music using music technology.
  • Unit 2: Composition
    This unit consists of two compositions which together must total at least six minutes’ duration. One composition music be either taken from a list of briefs or a free-choice composition. The second must be from a list of brief and assesses compositional techniques.
  • Unit 3: Appraising
    The course covers a broad range of musical styles through the context of six areas of study, each with three set works associated with them. These are: Vocal Music, Instrumental Music, Music for Film, Popular Music and Jazz, Fusions, New Directions


  • Unit 1: Performance (30%) The recording must consist of a public performance of one or more pieces, performed as a recital.
  • Unit 2: Composition (30%) Compositions must be written in Year 13. The compositions are also externally assessed.
  • Unit 3: Appraising (40%) Assessment is via a 2 hour appraising exam, in which candidates must demonstrate and apply musical knowledge relating to eighteen pieces they have studied during the course.

Where could it lead?

Within the music industry is a broad range of career paths – not everyone involved in music ends up performing in front of an audience.

Careers include; music producers, composers, recording studio musicians, technicians, and sound engineers, agents and music lawyers.


Exam Board

Pearson Edexcel

Entry Criteria

  • Grade 6 performance standard
  • Proficient knowledge of theory (grade 5 standard)
  • GCSE Music (grades 7+) is desirable

For American Program pupils: at least two years experience playing an instrument and completion of a music theory course.

Career Pathways

Music degrees can lead to careers in performance, arts management and administration, music therapy and teaching.