Marking up a sheet of music - Photo: © John Cairns - www.johncairns.co.uk

Studying Music at Merton

The Music course at Oxford covers a very wide range of different practices, methodologies, and periods. Particular areas of strength include the historical study and analysis of European repertoires, ethnography and ethnomusicology, performance, and composition.

"Merton was a beautiful and inspiring place to pursue my studies in music at Oxford. The time I spent here was incredibly formative of the ways I think about music as a performer and as a scholar, and has provided me with a great foundation on which to build."
Anna Steppler (2010)

Course structure

The first year provides a broad grounding in a range of foundational critical skills, and there is a broad selection of optional papers in years two and three that allow students to pursue their own specialist interests.

Teaching takes place in small groups of one to three students, with larger classes and seminars organised by the faculty close by. There are no preferences for particular musical idioms or styles: music students at Merton have a very wide range of academic and creative musical interests.

The teaching team
Graduate mentors (current postgraduate students) are available to provide additional help and support with all aspects of the course.
Facilities and resources at Merton

The thriving College Music Society offers opportunities for students from all subjects to be involved in practical music-making whether it be as an orchestral player, instrumental soloist, or singer. The Music Society promotes regular concerts featuring the Fidelio Orchestra, the Kodály Choir and a recently-formed all-female a cappella group. The College's Choral Foundation includes a College Choir (with scholarships for all voice parts) which sings three services each week in the world-famous Chapel, and a Girls' Choir (24 girls from local schools) who sing one service each week. Students have the opportunity to conduct the orchestra and choir, to take part in chamber music, and to give solo recitals.

The College boasts excellent communal facilities for musicians including five new acoustically-designed music practice rooms, each equipped with a Yamaha b2 piano, and available to students between 8:00am and 11:00pm.

Music practice room, with Benjamin Nicholas, Reed Rubin Organist & Director of Music, Stipendiary Lecturer in Music, at the Yamaha piano

The College Chapel is regularly used for performances and the TS Eliot Theatre has a Steinway Grand Piano and is used for solo and chamber concerts. The Music Faculty building, with its library and other facilities, is a 5-minute walk from the main college site.

All Music students are provided with a Clavinova with headphones in their rooms.

The benefits of studying Music at Merton
  • Music at Merton is a vibrant and diverse community, with a strong record of academic study and practical performance.
  • Our students all have access to outstanding, modern facilities.
  • Merton music students go on to a broad range of careers in education, further study, practical performance, composition, and arts administration, as well as other non-musical related activities.
  • The Choir of Merton College is one of Oxford’s leading mixed-voice choirs: they tour annually (in recent years to Italy, France, and the USA) and they have made a series of recordings for the Delphian label. A number of discs have been in the Classical Charts, and a recent recording led Gramophone to describe the choir as "one of the UK's finest choral ensembles". The choir regularly appears on BBC Radio 3, with the latest broadcast being from St Peter's Basilica in The Vatican.
Video: Music at Oxford University
Course information
Key facts
Average intake at Merton:

Three.

Test:

No written test, but candidates invited for interview will be asked to give a performance of a prepared piece.

Written work:

Two pieces of marked school or college work, one of which should be on music, one or two examples of marked harmony and counterpoint, and (optionally) examples of original composition.

Specific subjects:

Music is expected. If your school does not offer Music at A-Level or equivalent, A-Level Music Technology and Grade 7 or above Music Theory (ABRSM) are accepted substitutes, alongside two other A-Level subjects. If neither Music nor Music Technology are offered, Grade 7 or above Music Theory (ABRSM) plus three A-Level subjects would be required. Keyboard ability of ABRSM Grade V or above is also highly recommended.

Deferred entry:

Applications for deferred entry will be considered on their merits.