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Music has been part of the intellectual and cultural life of Oxford for more than eight centuries.

Today, there are 15 academic staff in the Faculty (all professorial staff) all of whom have internationally distinguished reputations as musicologists, performers or composers. Their work is complemented by that of 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.

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.

The Music course lasts for three years, with formal university examinations at the end of the first and third years. Further details can be found here.

The first year

The first year ends with the First Public Examination, Preliminary Examination in Music (‘Prelims’).  In the first year, students study a mix of compulsory papers and options.

The second and third years

The final year ends with the Second Public Examination, the Final Honour School in Music (‘Finals’). A candidate must be examined in eight modules, in which some are compulsory. You can tailor your degree to suit your strengths and interests in terms of topic or the way you submit your work. Up to 25% of the degree can be performance-based.

College collections

Colleges also set internal exams called ‘collections’. These are designed to give focus to an undergraduate’s studies, to monitor progress, and to provide practice in examination technique. The forms of assessment vary from examination to examination, and from college to college. The results of the collections do not form part of the University examinations.


Professor Suzanne Aspden

Professor Suzanne Aspden, Fellow and Tutor in Music at Jesus College, is a University Lecturer and Associate Professor 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.

Dr Robert Laidlow

Dr Robert Laidlow, Career Development Fellow, is a composer.


Dr Esther Cavett

Dr Esther Cavett is a College Lecturer in Music at Somerville College and Jesus College, Oxford. She teaches Theory and Analysis of Western art music from 18th to 20th centuries, Women in 19th century music and Classical Concerto.

The deadline to submit your application for undergraduate study via UCAS is 16 October (please note that this date is usually 15 October, except where this date falls on a weekend). Please refer to the University’s webpages for detailed information on how to apply.

Places available at Jesus College

In a total College entry of about 100 undergraduates, 2 are offered places in a typical year to read Music.

Academic requirements

Academic requirements for this subject can be found here.

Selection Criteria

The specific selection criteria are given on the Faculty of Music’s website.

Admissions tests

Please refer to the Music Faculty’s website for more information on Admissions tests.

Written work

Candidates must submit two recent, marked essays, and one or two examples of teacher-marked harmony and counterpoint (e.g. Baroque chorale, 16th-century counterpoint, 2-part invention, string quartet, Romantic songs). Candidates may also submit one or two short examples of original composition, which should be in some form of notated score.

The deadline to submit written work is 10 November 2023. Further information on the written work requirements can be viewed here.

Candidates are required to submit a video recording audition of up to 5 minutes performing on their chosen instrument in advance of their interview.


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.

Deferred Entry

Please refer to the Departmental website for subject-specific advice.

The Tutors have no objection in principle to offering a place to a candidate who wishes to defer entry for a year, provided this intention is made known at the outset. You must apply for deferred entry at the time of application to Oxford: you cannot change your mind after an offer has been made.

You should be aware that applicants who are offered places for deferred entry will generally be among the very strongest of the cohort for their subject, and the College limits its offers of deferred places in order not to disadvantage candidates applying in the following year. In some cases, an applicant for deferred entry may be offered a place for non-deferred entry instead.

Joint Schools

There are no Joint Schools for Music.

Oxford has excellent facilities for graduate studies in music. The following degrees are offered at postgraduate level:

  • DPhil Music
  • MPhil, MSt in Music (Composition)
  • MPhil, MSt in Music (Musicology)
  • MPhil, MSt in Music (Performance)

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.

If you have any questions about entrance requirements, or about applying to study at Jesus College, please contact the Admissions Officer: