Studying Oxford’s Music course at Hertford means that you will engage with music as a rich, multi-textured subject, comprising many different aspects. You will be able to study music history, analysis, composition, performance, orchestration and the philosophy of music, to name but a few. This variety is what makes studying Music here so rewarding, while also helping to develop your critical thinking skills.
Your degree in Music can be tailored to your interests and expertise, meaning that although everyone studies the same core syllabus your own experience will be unique. If you’re interested in the creative processes behind music, you can study options which will give you the opportunity to develop your own style and idiom. If you’re inspired by a historical period or particular composer, you can research and write a scholarly dissertation with the guidance of our tutors. Whatever you choose to study, we will arrange for you to work with academics across the Music Faculty so that your ideas can be developed in collaboration with experts in your field.
It’s important to note that performance is only one part of a Music degree at Oxford, which involves reading and writing about music as much as playing it. This doesn’t mean that passionate performers will regret coming to Hertford – many wonderful performers have benefited from the Oxford course and it is common for Music graduates to attend conservatoires or perform professionally directly after graduation.
At Hertford the college music society arrange weekly sung evensong and concerts, offering you an opportunity to sample the musical life of the college outside of official open days. As an applicant you would be more than welcome to come along – contact Dr Benjamin Skipp, Hertford’s Music Tutor, for more information.
Teaching and learning
Alongside lectures and classes in the Music Faculty, we will teach you in college tutorials. Tutorials are something like a conversation centred on a particular topic between a tutor and one or two students. In a tutorial we’ll challenge your views and ask you to defend and develop them, helping to develop your self-organisation and motivation. The central role that you will take in your own teaching means that there’s plenty of opportunity to explore what excites you most within the broad framework of the course.
We don’t teach practical music at college or faculty level, but every student can benefit from a certain amount of money to be spent directly on music lessons. For more information on performance opportunities and teaching, please see the Faculty website.
Many former Music students have progressed to exciting careers as performers, teachers, and arts administrators. In recent years, the vast majority of Hertford Music students have gone on the further study at Oxford, conservatoires and other universities. We will encourage you to explore what inspires you and will do everything possible to help you when applying to jobs and postgraduate study.
Like any humanities degree at Hertford, studying Music will sharpen your critical thinking and hone your application of intelligence and rationality. These transferable skills can be employed in all sorts of careers, and it isn’t unusual to see our former students working in the financial, legal and management sectors.
Making an application
If you decide to apply, we will carefully consider all aspects of your application, including your UCAS form. You’ll need to submit two essays and one piece of harmony or composition work too. More details can be found on the faculty website.
If you are invited to interview, you will be interviewed at least once and possibly twice by our Music Tutor and you may have an interview at a second college too. Your initial interview will last around 35 or 40 minutes. An hour before, we’ll give you a piece of music to analyse (without the aid of a piano) and a piece of writing relating to music.
During the interview we’ll discuss the formal design and harmonic framework of the given piece. You will be asked about the music’s character, to suggest a possible composer and to talk about any other characteristics which you deem significant. After this, you will be asked to respond to the written extract – whether or not you agree with the writer’s argument and how it can be applied to different types of music with which you are familiar. Although there might be issues of disagreement in the interview, this is no bad thing – we’re looking for applicants who will thrive in tutorials and your interview helps us to glimpse how you might work in this system.
As part of the admissions process, we’ll also ask you to submit a pre-recorded performance. It is not a requirement to be a fantastic performer – your performance helps us to build a picture of your overall musicianship. We’ll also take your keyboard facility into account. Although we recommended that you are Grade 5 standard on keyboard when you apply, everyone is assessed on an individual basis and you shouldn’t be put off applying if you have not reached this level yet.
Hertford will appoint an Organ Scholar to begin in 2024 and in addition will welcome deferred entry candidates for 2025. We accept deferred entry applications and we welcome applications from candidates who will use that year to develop their musical gifts. Further information about Oxford’s organ awards can be found on the University website and more details about the Hertford position on our Chapel Music page.