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What is Music?

Cardinal Newman has a well-equipped and thriving music department with fantastic facilities and enrichment opportunities. If you are interested in analysing music in a variety of different styles, developing more of an in-depth knowledge of music theory, as well as improving performance skills, then A Level Music could be for you. A great number of our students also gain ABRSM Grade 5 Theory whilst studying with us, which is essential for studying Music at university.

What Will You Study?

COMPONENT 1 – In this unit, you will present at least 10 minutes of performance work across a minimum of three pieces through either solo or ensemble work on your first study instrument. This unit is completed with a recital of performance work presented to a visiting examiner at the end of two years of study.

COMPONENT 2 (25%) – In this unit, you will complete a minimum of 4 minutes worth of composition and technical exercise work across two tasks. You will study a range of music theory and harmony elements, as well as the basics of working to a set musical brief. This unit is completed with a two-piece externally assessed portfolio in May at the end of two years of study.

COMPONENT 3 (40%) – In this unit, you will analyse two Western Classical Tradition orchestral works (1790-1850) in much depth, using a score/theory analysis and historical knowledge. You will also analyse a range of tracks from the Rock & Popular Music repertoire from 1960-2000, as well as two set works from the Twentieth Century. You will develop a range of listening and analysis skills plus essay writing skills across the course. This unit is completed with a written examination in June at the end of two years of study.

What Next?

Many of our students progress onto a Music degree at university with a view to a music related career. In the past, students have secured places on undergraduate courses in Performance Studies and other related courses at prestigious music colleges such as: The Royal Northern College of Music, Royal College of Music, Royal Academy of Music, Trinity College of Music, Leeds College of Music and The Birmingham Conservatoire. Music is a useful subject for a variety of different careers, not just for those wishing to pursue a career in music, and many of our students also go on to study a wide range of other courses at university, such as Business, History, Economics and Chemistry.

Exam Board


Entry Requirements

At least two Bs and three Cs at GCSE, including at least a grade B in GCSE Music (if studied). You will need to have a minimum standard of grade 5 practical or above on your instrument. The ability to read and understand written musical notation in at least two different clefs is absolutely essential.

Course Type

A Level


Practical Exam (Performance): 35%-25%
Written Exam: 40%
Coursework: 25%-35%

Interesting Fact

Former students have supported bands such as The Kooks, Puddle of Mud and Noah & The Whale on tour.

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