• Intake: 2 
  • Typical Offer: A*AA 
  • Essential Subjects: Music or ABRSM Grade 8 Theory (merit and above)
  • Desirable Subjects: None 
  • Assessment: Cambridge College registered Assessment
  • Faculty website:


Our undergraduate programme gives you an exceptionally solid foundation in the Western classical tradition, but you will also find courses in popular music, ethnomusicology and film music. The first year (Part IA) provides a broadly-based introduction to the subject, while the second (Part IB) and third (Part II) years offer increasing opportunities for specialism, including substantial self-directed projects such as dissertations and composition portfolios. 

Part IA

Part IA consists of three major components:

  • Historical and Critical Studies - two papers covering issues in understanding music and its relationship to society and culture. This includes one paper examining the historical developments of Western music from the medieval period to the present, and one paper on music in contemporary societies.
  • Techniques of Tonal Music - two papers giving you a thorough technical grounding in music of the Western tonal tradition, through arrangement, acquisition of basic harmonic skills at the keyboard, aural work, and writing music in a range of historical styles. This is a foundation for more advanced work in all musical fields. 
  • Music Analysis - one paper which gives you an understanding of how music works through hands-on familiarity with a range of styles. This creates a bridge between your work in Historical and Critical Studies and Techniques of Tonal Music.

Alongside these, there are opportunities to study composition, performance, or to conduct historical source-work.

Part IB

In Part IB you will take a further compulsory paper in each of the core areas (History, Techniques, Analysis), as well as choosing three papers from a range of different topics. Subjects available change from year to year but normally include:

  • Advanced historical topics 
  • Jazz and popular music 
  • Scientific approaches to music 
  • Composition 
  • Advanced analysis 
  • Ethnomusicology 
  • Performance studies 
  • Dissertation of 5,000 - 7,000 words


Part II

There are no compulsory papers – you can choose from a wide selection of options which reflect your own interests and which may also develop the skills and knowledge needed for your chosen career path. Examples of options available in recent years include: 

  • Beethoven: the Late String Quartets
  • Music and Globalization
  • Music and Worship in England from the reign of Henry VIII to William Byrd
  • The Music of Chopin
  • Brahms Ein deutsches Requiem in Context
  • The Music of Olivier Messiaen, 1949-1964
  • Issues in Ensemble Performance from 1800 to the Present
  • Issues in Music and the Moving Image
  • Pop, Politics, and Protest
  • Decolonizing the Ear
  • Music Psychology in Practice

 You can also work with individual staff members on your own projects, whether as an advanced performer, composer, historian, analyst, ethnomusicologist, or music scientist. In this way, while our course gives you the solid understanding of the subject which a music degree should guarantee, it also offers you the flexibility you need to prepare for life after Cambridge. 

Music at Queens’ 

  • Queens' has an extremely lively musical tradition with a particular character of its own, based on the activities of the St. Margaret Society, the Chapel Choir, Queens’ Jazz and College chamber music. 
  • The Chapel Choir is run by two organ scholars under the supervision of Ralph Allwood, Fellow Commoner of Queens’ advising in music. Together they are responsible for maintaining high standards of music-making in Chapel and College.
  • The student-run St Margaret Society (MagSoc) supports a chorus of 150 singers who perform in the city twice a year. The society also organises weekly recitals, and co-ordinates music-making within the College. 
  • Queens’ has excellent concert and rehearsal facilities, including the Chapel, Old Hall and Fitzpatrick Hall, and three practice rooms. There are two grand pianos, five other pianos, a harpsichord, and the recently restored Binns organ. 
  • Two individual supervisions per week, and most other supervisions in groups of 2 or 3. 
  • Candidates are asked to send, in advance of the interview, photocopied examples of their recent essay writing and harmony and counterpoint work.
  • Candidates will be required to sit a music test and also read a preparatory text before the interview.


Dr Peter McMurray, Director of Studies

‘Studying Music at Queens' is amazing! We have a vibrant music society (MagSoc) with various music ensembles including orchestras and choirs of different levels. The Chapel Choir also provides an amazing platform to sing in Evensong (twice a week) and other Chapel events (including weekly Compline). Whatever your specific interests are, Queens' provides the ideal situation to make music. It is also conveniently located very near the Music Faculty and UL, a fact that makes many students from other colleges very jealous’.

Ali, 1st year Music