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Degree type


Course length

3 years full-time


Durham City

UCAS code


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Typical offers

Typical offers
A Level AAB
International Baccalaureate 36

Course details

The Music and Philosophy joint degree enables you to pursue your interest in both disciplines, explore the fascinating intersection between them, and enjoy belonging to two particularly vibrant departments.

In Philosophy, a wide selection of modules is on offer, addressing the most fundamental questions that arise in diverse areas of human concern, from religion and politics, to morality and the sciences.

In Music, the learning of techniques such as harmony, counterpoint, and aural skills are juxtaposed with an investigation of the most up-to-date thinking in musicology, critical theory, composition (acoustic and electroacoustic), analysis, ethnomusicology, cognitive musicology, and performance.

Year 1

In the first year, you will take the Philosophy core modules of Ethics and Values and Knowledge and Reality. These concern the two broad divisions of Philosophy, delving into Metaphysics and Theory of Knowledge on the one hand, and Moral Philosophy on the other.

First-year students also get to choose one of the following Philosophy modules:

  • Introduction to Logic
  • Introduction to the History and Philosophy of Science
  • History and Theory of Medicine
  • Reading Philosophy.

Reading Philosophy is a text-based course which examines in depth classic works by writers such as Plato, Hume, Murdoch and Sartre.

In Music, you will take Historical Studies 1 and two other modules from the following list:

  • Introduction to Ethnomusicology
  • Analysis 1: Elements of Tonal Theory and Practice
  • Historical Composition Techniques
  • Composition
  • Performance 1 – either with recital or essay.

Years 2 and 3

In the third year, you will take the Aesthetics Philosophy module. In the second and third years, you will also have a choice of a wide range of topics within Philosophy.

In previous years these have included:

  • Moral Theory
  • Philosophy of Mind
  • Modern Philosophy I and II
  • Gender, Film and Society
  • Issues in Contemporary Ethics
  • Philosophy of Religion
  • Political Philosophy
  • Metaphysics
  • Language, Logic and Reality
  • Twentieth Century European Philosophy
  • Philosophy of Science
  • The Philosophy of Economics: Theory, Methods and Values
  • Science and Religion
  • Applied Ethics
  • Philosophical Issues in Contemporary Science
  • History and Philosophy of Psychiatry
  • Biomedical Ethics

There is an equally broad choice of modules within Music. You will also have the opportunity to study a subject in depth, by writing a substantial dissertation of your choice.


You may be able to take a work placement. Find out more.

Study abroad


As part of an extensive curriculum review we have created lots of exciting new opportunities for a year's study abroad for those on the BA (Hons) Music. Exchanges take place after the second year of the degree with our partner institutions, which include the University of Oslo, the Sorbonne in Paris, La Sapienza in Rome, alongside many others.


We participate in exchange schemes through which you may spend a year of your studies abroad with the University of California.


As a student on the course, you will receive around 7½ hours of timetabled contact per week on average over the course of the degree. This will include a combination of lectures, seminars, and tutorials (including one-to-one supervision), as well as instrumental or vocal tuition and performance and composition workshops. The number and balance of these activities will change over the course of the degree as you develop your knowledge and abilities as an independent learner.

Timetabled contact is only the beginning of your learning. It provides a starting-point for your development as an independent, self-motivated learner. Typically, classroom teaching and learning will form around 25% of the time that you will spend on your studies during the 22 teaching weeks; you will be expected to spend the remaining 75% of your time on independent research. You will also be encouraged, as an integral part of your studies, to take advantage of other opportunities including participating in performance groups (including staff-led ensembles) and attending research and composition seminars.

In the first year, you will receive about 9 hours of timetabled contact each week. For each module, weekly lectures will introduce you to the broad questions and current issues in Music and Philosophy. Seminars will give you the opportunity to engage with the topics introduced in lectures, discuss key issues in small groups, and look in detail at musical and philosophical works. Instrumental or vocal lessons will help you develop your abilities as a performer, while composition seminars and workshops will allow you to explore approaches to composing. Practical training in both generic study skills and music-specific skills such as using notation software, recording equipment and transcribing music are embedded within the core modules.

For each hour of timetabled contact, you will be expected to complete 3 hours of independent research to prepare for your classes, broaden your subject knowledge, and complete assignments. The teaching methods and coursework will be designed to help you achieve this; for example, you will receive reading lists, assignments, presentation briefs, and online materials to direct your research in preparation for seminars.

In the second year, there is an increased emphasis on the development of critical and analytical skills. As modules specialise more strongly in particular areas, the type of teaching varies more markedly between modules, so the kind of contact you experience will depend to a great extent on the modules you take. The total contact time you will receive will on average be similar to the first year, around 9 hours per week. As in the first year, you will be expected to complement this with about three times as much independent study as there are contact hours.

In the third year you will develop further your independent research skills, culminating in a double weighted project, which can be a composition portfolio, public performance recital, or dissertation (in either Philosophy or Music): this counts for one third of your marks for the year. This project will give you the opportunity to engage, at an advanced level, with creative cutting-edge research. On account of the time that you will need to undertake this research, during the third year you will receive timetabled contact of 4½ hours each week on average. This includes one-to-one supervision on your project (6 hours for dissertation, 6 for recital or 11 for composition) as well as group classes. The performance strand has 19 group seminars, as well as time for instrumental or vocal lessons. The contact time for dissertation supervisions reflects the text-based nature of the mode of study. Additional hours, in the case of the recital and composition projects, take account of their practical nature and the need to investigate and further embed student-specific advanced skills in areas including performance practice, notation and instrumental scoring, and the creative use of music technology. Other modules on offer include single-weighted projects in ethics, aesthetics, metaphysics, musicology, composition and performance. Overall, during the third year, you will be expected to spend at least 35 hours on independent research each week.

Throughout the degree, you will also have access to an academic adviser who will provide you with academic support and guidance. A student will meet with their adviser three times a year, in addition to which all members of teaching staff have weekly office hours when they are available to meet with students on a ‘drop-in’ basis.

Both departments also have exciting programmes of research events (seminars, guest lectures and workshops) which undergraduate students are strongly encouraged to attend. There is a busy programme of musical performance, both within and beyond the walls of the Music department, which complements students’ academic degree by providing opportunities both to listen to and to perform a wide variety of music. The many musical ensembles to which students can contribute includes both independent societies (including orchestras, choirs, opera and musical theatre as well as a Javanese gamelan) and department-run ensembles such as the New Music Ensemble and Korean percussion group.

Entry requirements

A level offer – AAB including Music. ABRSM Grade 7 Theory is acceptable in lieu of A level Music.

BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma/OCR Cambridge Technical Extended Diploma – DDD plus Music as above.

IB Diploma score – 36 with 665 in higher level subjects, including Music. Please see above for requirements.

  • We consider each application holistically. Whilst academic achievement is important, it is not the only factor that we consider when assessing applications and applicants who have achieved, or are predicted to achieve, close to our typical offer, but who have not met it exactly, will be welcome to apply if they have a strong application in other key elements, for example if they have practical music accomplishments or can demonstrate merit and potential through their personal statement or their reference.
  • We welcome applications from mature students with non-standard qualifications or who may have had a break in their study and may consider other experience in place of formal qualifications where applicable. Mature applicants may also be interested in our Music with Foundation programme (W301).
  • Grade 7 or 8 in first instrument is advisable but by no means essential.
  • Keyboard skills are advisable (but not absolutely essential), since they aid score reading and analysis.

Science A levels

Applicants taking Science A levels that include a practical component will be required to take and pass this as a condition of entry. This applies only to applicants sitting A levels with an English examination board.

Alternative qualifications

International students who do not meet direct entry requirements for this degree might have the option to complete an International Foundation Year.

English language requirements

Country specific information

Fees and funding

Full Time Fees

Tuition fees
Home students £9,250 per year
EU students £25,750 per year
Island students £9,250 per year
International students £25,750 per year

The tuition fees shown for home students are for one complete academic year of full time study and are set according to the academic year of entry. Fees for subsequent years of your course may rise in line with an inflationary uplift as determined by the government.

The tuition fees shown for overseas and EU students are for one complete academic year of full time study, are set according to the academic year of entry, and remain the same throughout the duration of the programme for that cohort (unless otherwise stated).

Please also check costs for colleges and accommodation.

Scholarships and Bursaries

We are committed to supporting the best students irrespective of financial circumstances and are delighted to offer a range of funding opportunities. 

Find out more about Scholarships and Bursaries

Career opportunities


Of those students who graduated in 2019:

  • 81% are in paid employment or further study 15 months after graduation across all our programmes

Of those in employment:

  • 67% are in high skilled employment
  • With an average salary of £18,000.

(Source: HESA Graduate Outcomes Survey. The survey asks leavers from higher education what they are doing 15 months after graduation. Further information about the Graduate Outcomes survey can be found here


Of those students who graduated in 2019:

  • 80% are in paid employment or further study 15 months after graduation across all our programmes

Of those in employment:

  • 69% are in high skilled employment
  • With an average salary of £30,000.

(Source: HESA Graduate Outcomes Survey. The survey asks leavers from higher education what they are doing 15 months after graduation. Further information about the Graduate Outcomes survey can be found here

Department information


Join the best music department in the UK and develop your creative, practical and critical skills in a unique and beautiful location.

Our courses are well balanced, covering everything from the music of the great composers to contemporary music and Indian ragas, studied from the perspectives of history, theory, aesthetics and ethnography as well as through composition and performance. The Department is located at the heart of a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Durham City – an extraordinarily beautiful place. But it is the juxtaposition of ancient and cutting-edge that makes Durham so unusual and inspiring; within the old buildings, we strive to forge fresh interpretations and create exciting new music, using state-of-the-art technology.

For more information see our department pages.


  • 1st in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2022
  • 1st in The Guardian University Guide 2022
  • 2nd in the Complete University Guide 2023.


For a current list of staff, please see the Music Department pages.

Research Excellence Framework

  • 6th in the UK for Research Output Quality in Music (REF 21).


The Music Department has excellent facilities. Besides the usual array of lecture rooms situated in the main building on Palace Green (virtually next to the Cathedral), there are three well-equipped electronic studios, a multimedia resource centre, and practice rooms (both in the Department and individual colleges). The University Library houses an extensive collection of books, scores, and CDs, and offers a rich range of online resources.


Philosophy studies profound and important questions that arise in all areas of human life. At Durham University, we offer a distinctive, research-led Philosophy curriculum, incorporating considerable levels of variety and choice. Whatever you choose, you will be taught by internationally renowned experts in the field.

We are one of the UK’s top philosophy departments. The exceptionally high-quality education you receive here will equip you with critical abilities that can be put to use in all sorts of ways and which are prized by employers.

For more information see our department pages.


  • World Top 50 in the QS World University Subject Rankings 2022
  • Top 10 in The Guardian University Guide and The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2022
  • Top 10 in The Complete University Guide 2023.


For a current list of staff, please see the Philosophy Department pages.

Research Excellence Framework

Top 20 in the UK for the quality of our research (REF 21).


Durham Philosophy department is amongst the most prestigious departments in the UK, and we pride ourselves on our excellence in research and teaching. The Durham Philosophy community is a lively, friendly group of people including undergraduates, postgraduates and staff, committed to the pursuit of philosophical knowledge and understanding. We are an open and friendly department, which accommodates work in both ‘analytic’ and ‘Continental’ Western philosophical traditions.


Find out more:

Use the UCAS code below when applying:



The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) handles applications for all undergraduate courses.

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