Music has been added to My Courses


Course specifics

Entry Requirements

  • A minimum of 5 GCSEs at grade 4 or above (including English Language). Level 2 vocational qualifications (e.g. BTEC/OCR) must be a merit grade or above and only one will count as one GCSE equivalent.
  • GCSE Music is desirable but not essential
  • The ability to perform at grade 5 standard on an instrument or voice is essential
  • Entry via successful audition
  • Must be able to read standard musical notation
  • Must be prepared to take regular voice / instrumental lessons



Exam board: Edexcel


You do not need to have studied GCSE Music to study A-level.

If you haven't taken GCSE Music please see the advice under Entry Requirements regarding standard of performing and music theory/notation required. A-level Music has a structure similar to GCSE and is taken over two years. A wide range of music is studied and performances and compositions can be in any style or genre. 

The areas studied and the scheme of assessment is outlined below                         


Component  1

Performing - performing for solo and or ensemble performance are developed throughout both years.

Coursework: eight minutes of performing in a recital environment


Component 2

Composing - two compositions, one free or to a brief given by the exam board lasting no less than 4 minutes.

Composing – developing compositional techniques across both years including four-part chorale and free composition.


Composition 1 – to a free brief or one provided by the exam board

Composition 2 – assessing technique through 4-part chorale

Total composition time: 6 minutes minimum


Component  3

Appraising (40%) – learning a series of set works across both years.

Section A:  Aural tests and dictation based on areas of study

Section B: 2 essay questions based on areas of study and one unheard piece from an area of study


Methods of Assessment

The course will be assessed through a combination of coursework, written examinations and performances.

Music Theory

The A-level Music course requires a high standard of music theory. You will have to take additional music theory to support your studies. We offer additional Music Theory support classes for you to work through ABRSM Music Theory graded workbooks, leading to an exam in Music Theory, with accompanying UCAS points for grade 6 and above. You should aim to be at grade 5 Music theory by the middle of the 1st year of study.

Instrumental Lessons

As performing to a high standard is such an important aspect of the course it is essential that you have instrumental/voice lessons. Lessons are available in College and further information is available for tutors.  We have a wide range of peripatetic music teachers at College, but can also recommend teachers with specific specialisms if required. You must continue with these external lessons throughout the duration of the course.


St Brendan’s has a well-equipped Music Suite that includes:

  • Extended practice facilities
  • A recording studio and related equipment
  • A range of scores and recordings
  • Instruments including a Yamha Grand Piano, guitars, drums, keyboards etc.
  • Computer Suite with relevant music software for sequencing (Logic Pro), score production (Sibelius 7) and ear training software (Aurelia)
  • A wide range of peripatetic support specialists
  • Fully equipped performance space including substantial sound and lighting systems for recitals and performance workshops. 


The A-level provides a sound basis for students wishing to proceed to Higher Education courses in Music or Performing Arts.  It can lead to careers in teaching, performing, composition and music therapy as well as related areas in publishing and media. A-level Music is highly regarded by universities as it requires a high level of academic and also creative skill. It is on the list of subjects favourably looked upon by Oxford and Cambridge. 


There is a charge for instrumental lessons (private or in college) and you are expected to be taking these throughout the course, although bursary funding may be available where appropriate. You will be expected to provide your own stationery (including manuscript paper) memory sticks, headphones and theory books.