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Murray Edwards College
University of Cambridge

Music

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Music at Cambridge 

The Music course at Cambridge is an exciting and varied course.  The first year papers establish a thorough grounding in a range of academic skills: Music and Musicology Today, two Music History papers covering topics from the Middle Ages to the early 20th century, two Tonal Skills papers including instruction in harmony and counterpoint, keyboard skills and aural skills. The Analysis paper explores 18th- and early 19th-century repertoire.

Second Year students have compulsory papers in Advanced Tonal Skills, Analysis and 20th- and 21st-century Music History. Students may choose their remaining papers from a selection including music and science, ethnomusicology, popular music, opera, performance studies and notation. At least one historical paper includes a foreign language component. Students may also opt to submit a dissertation, take a recital option or submit a portfolio of compositions.

There are no compulsory topics in the final year. Students can choose coursework options, including a dissertation paper and portfolios in composition, notation and analysis. Other options currently available include papers in notation, ethnomusicology, opera studies, jazz, film music and pop. Students may also continue with tonal skills and performance.

Full detail about the structure and content of the course can be found at the Departmental website.  

Music in Murray Edwards College 

We welcome around 1-2 undergraduate students in Music each year.  Within the College as a whole this means we have up to 6 undergraduate students, 1 postgraduate student, and 1 Bye-Fellow interested in Music or in closely related subject areas. 

Individual and small-group supervisions are combined with lectures and seminars at the University Music Faculty. The Director of Studies in Music is responsible for appointing a team of supervisors who arrange and teach the individual and small-group sessions and who also regularly set and assess written work. The teaching team will include the Director of Studies herself, course lecturers, Fellows of other Colleges, external supervisors and post-graduate students of the University.

All undergraduate Music students at Murray Edwards College are provided with a piano in their room. The College has funds available to help meet the cost of instrumental tuition for students wishing to take the recital option in any year. All music students may apply for additional support though the Academic Needs Fund. Choral singers may apply for one of the 4-5 Choral Awards offered each year. Performers may also wish to consider applying for the annual Music Scholarship Competition, which awards two prizes of £400 each. Murray Edwards also participates in the Intercollegiate Instrumental Awards Scheme. The college also has an active Music Society, which puts on a range of events, including recitals, orchestral concerts, film screenings and masterclasses.

Our students achieve good results and speak highly of their experience. Phoebe MacFarlane blogged about her experiences and another student studying Music wrote:

"Murray Edwards has a supportive and friendly atmosphere which encourages every student to strive to achieve their full potential." Holly

The Director of Studies in Music and Director of Music is Dr Chloe Valenti. She supervises and lectures on a range of topics in Western music history, including 18th and 19th-century music, opera, music theatre, music criticism in the 19th century and reception history.

You may also be aware of one or two of our more distinguished alumnae who studied this (or a closely related subject) here, for example, pianist, conductor and composer Joanna MacGregor OBE

Applying to study here

We look for students who are enthusiastic about their subject, motivated to learn more and have achieved highly in their examinations to date.  At present, Music applicants receive a general interview and a subject-based interview. Candidates will be asked to submit an essay in advance of the interview, together with a musical composition or harmony exercise. Murray Edwards sets a written test before the subject interview. It tests basic harmony, counterpoint and essay-writing skills. The test will also include time to peruse a piece of music and a text extract, which will then form part of the discussion at the subject interview.

The subject-based interview is an opportunity for the college to get to know the candidate and to gain a sense of the breadth and depth of their musical knowledge and interests. You will be asked about your general knowledge of music and your musical interests and enthusiasms. You may be invited to discuss the musical and text extracts given to you during the written test.

We usually set typical/standard offers in A levels or their equivalent ie usually A*AA.  Full details of the entry requirements and selection processes in Music across all colleges can be found on the central University webpages.

Moving into your career 

Our students follow a wide range of careers when they leave: some will want to stay closely involved with their subject interest while others will be keen to apply the skills and attributes they have developed while studying here to a wide range of opportunities. Those who have studied Music have recently taken up a research masters place at King’s College London, performance masters places at Royal Academy of Music and the Royal College of Music, and internships and positions in youth work, arts administration and publishing.  

We support students in developing their skills and in exploring varied career options through our Murray Edwards Gateway Programme.

Find out more

Many students find it helpful to contact us by email or to visit us to find out more. You are welcome to do so.

Fellows in this subject