Dr Suzanne Aspden, the Fellow and Tutor in Music at Jesus College, is a University Lecturer in the Faculty of Music, and teaches music history, criticism and aesthetics. Her research interests are in eighteenth-century opera, Handel, nationalism and identity politics.
About the Course
Music has been part of the intellectual and cultural life of Oxford for more than eight centuries. Today, the 13 academic staff in the Faculty comprise Professors, Readers and Lecturers, all of whom have internationally distinguished reputations as musicologists, performers or composers. Their work is complemented by that of many college Fellows and Lecturers, bringing the total staff number to about 30. The large number of visiting speakers and performing ensembles adds further richness and enjoyment to the experience of being a music student here. The Faculty building includes practice rooms for solo, chamber and orchestral work; there is an electronic studio; and the library holdings of scores, recordings and books and other research materials are probably the most extensive in the UK. The world-famous Bate Collection of Musical Instruments is also housed within the building, and many of these historical instruments are available for use by students.
The Oxford course offers the advantage of a very broad base without compromising the possibility of increasing specialisation in one or more areas – from performance to history, composition to analysis – as the student proceeds. Combined with the rich opportunities for personal development which arise from the musical facilities and activities sustained throughout the collegiate University and the city, this course helps every student to graduate as a mature and well-rounded musician with an informed and lively sense of the contemporary study and practice of the subject.
The Music course lasts for three years, with formal university examinations at the end of the first and third years. In the first year, music history, analysis, techniques of composition and keyboard skills are core elements, with history remaining compulsory through to the third year. Candidates also choose two options from: performance, composition, your choice of an extended essay topic, and current issues in musicology. In the second and third years there are a number of options available, including: solo performance, original composition, dissertation, ethnomusicology, music theatre (etc.), and diverse other historical, theoretical, and practical subjects. Further details can be found at the Faculty of Music website.
Tuition is by means of lectures organized by the Faculty of Music, and by tutorials (generally held in small groups) given by the Fellow in Music and other subject specialists. Financial assistance for those intending to take a performance exam is available from the Faculty for instrumental or vocal lessons.
There are no Joint Schools for Music.
Candidates will be asked to provide two essays (preferably but not necessarily on music coursework) and some technical exercises (harmony and/or counterpoint) from their school work. They may also submit original compositions if they wish. If called for interview, they will be asked to perform on an instrument of their choice or to sing. Those who have not attained Grade V or an equivalent standard on the piano may be asked to undertake a short test in keyboard skills (details are in the Undergraduate Prospectus). Candidates in Music will normally be taking, or have taken, an A2 or equivalent level course in music; candidates not taking an A2 or equivalent level music course will only be considered in exceptional circumstances, and if appropriate musical knowledge can be demonstrated in other ways.
The academic interview itself will focus on the candidate's interests as developed both within the school curriculum and outside it (e.g. performance, listening to music, reading about music). Credit will be given for initiative in developing personal interests that go beyond the school syllabus, though this will be evaluated in the light of the opportunities available to the candidate. Candidates will be asked to comment on a text and a music extract after a brief period of scrutiny (without a piano): note will be taken of ability to engage in critical discussion about both extracts, and to comment accurately and perceptively.
Preparation for the interview is best undertaken by extensive listening to a wide range of music, backed up where relevant by study of scores and as much contextual reading as is practicable. For elementary keyboard players, regular sight-reading practice would be useful.
In a total College entry of about 100 undergraduates, 2 are offered places in a typical year to read Music. Offers made to pre-A level candidates will be conditional upon A level results (normally AAA, with an A in Music). Offers made to post-A level candidates will usually be unconditional.
Deferred Entry: Applications for deferred entry to Jesus College are welcomed. You must apply for deferred entry at the time of application to Oxford: you cannot change your mind after an offer has been made. Please refer to departmental web sites for subject-specific advice. You should be aware that applicants who are offered places for deferred entry will generally be among the strongest of the cohort for their subject. We would not usually offer more than one or two deferred places per subject in order not to disadvantage the following year's candidates. In some cases, an applicant for deferred entry may be offered a place for non-deferred entry instead. If you require any further advice, please contact the Admissions Officer.
Postgraduate Studies and Careers
Oxford has excellent facilities for graduate studies in music. The following degrees are offered at postgraduate level:
- MLitt or DPhil Music
- MPhil in Music (2 years) (Musicology and Performance)
- MSt in Musicology (1 year)
Oxford graduates in Music enter many professions. Teaching and arts administration are among the more popular destinations, but others include broadcasting, publishing, politics and the civil service. Many graduates choose to go on to postgraduate study, either remaining in Oxford or moving elsewhere. The best performers win coveted places at conservatoires in the UK and abroad.
Preliminary Reading and Further Information
A list of recommended books may be sent to successful candidates at a later stage.
Last updated May 2013