“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.”


Entry requirements

Automatic entry onto Level 3 courses includes students achieving 4 x Grade 9-4 or equivalent at GCSE alongside a Grade 4 or above in English and/or Mathematics. Students with either English and/or Mathematics at Grade 3 or below will have individual meetings to determine the most suitable pathway within the Sixth Form.

As well as the general entry requirements for the Sixth Form, we would recommend that students applying for this course have a grade 5 or above in GCSE Music or play an instrument at Grade 5 standard – Associated Board or equivalent and read music competently.

Course description

This new A Level course will allow students to develop knowledge and understanding of many different styles of music, through in-depth study and analysis. It brings listening, performance and composition to life in new and engaging ways, and links to the world around us.

Every student has different learning styles and musical tastes, which is why our A Level course values all music styles, skills and instruments. This course will broaden students’ minds and foster a love of all music with a qualification that students of all abilities and backgrounds will enjoy. This course allows students to develop particular strengths and interests and encourages lifelong musical learning.

The Subject content is divided into three components:

  • Component 1: Appraising Music (which involves listening, analysis and an essay question based on a wide variety of musical styles and is 40% of the A Level)
  • Component 2: Performance (recorded during the course and is 35% of the A Level)
  • Component 3: Composition (which involves harmony and composition and is 25% of the A Level)

Within the performance module students will develop instrumental technique and the ability to interpret the performance details of their chosen pieces.

Performance Opportunities

In addition to practical work in class and the extra-curricular programme, you will have many opportunities to perform in:

  • Concerts throughout the year in School and in external venues such as York Minster
  • School Shows
  • Visits to festivals, competitions, and playing in the community
  • Master classes with visiting professional musicians

Exam board

Past papers


Component 1: Appraising Music (40% of A Level, 120 marks)

What’s assessed?

  • Listening
  • Analysis
  • Contextual understanding

How it’s assessed

  • Exam paper with listening and written questions using excerpts of music.


  • Section A: Listening (56 marks)
  • Section B: Analysis (34 marks)
  • Section C: Essay (30 marks)

Component 2: Performance (35% of A Level, 50 marks)

What’s assessed?

  • Music performance

How it’s assessed

  • Solo and/or ensemble performing as an instrumentalist, or vocalist and/or music production (via technology).
  • A minimum of ten minutes of performance in total is required.
  • Non-exam assessment (NEA) will be externally marked by AQA examiners. Work must be completed between 1 March and the specified date given at

Component 3: Composition (25% of A Level, 50 marks)

What’s assessed?

  • Composition

How it’s assessed

  • Composition 1: Composition to a brief, harmony exercise (25 marks)
  • Composition 2: Free composition (25 marks)


  • A minimum of four and a half minutes of music in total is required.
  • Non-exam assessment (NEA) will be externally marked by AQA examiners.

What this course leads onto

An A Level in Music gives you a strong foundation for higher education in the subject and a career composing or performing music. Some students go on to work in the music industry for TV, radio or in companies, others go on to be music teachers or instrumental/vocal teachers or use their musical skills and knowledge in other careers, such as event management or leisure and tourism. This is both an academic and practical subject that will develop transferable analysis and essay writing skills and its relevance is not just limited to a musical degree or a career in Music.

Ways to help my child succeed

  • Performance, composition and analysis are of the highest importance. Students will need to practise their own instrument regularly and complete composing and written assignments.
  • It is expected you will already have a high level of music theory knowledge, be able to read staff notation fluently and have experience both studying and performing music. You will be required to complete an audition prior to enrolment.

Useful websites