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Music AQA at Bradfield School

Course description

Our A-level Music specification enables students to extend their knowledge and understanding of music, to create and develop their own musical ideas and to demonstrate technical, interpretative and communication skills through performing music.

This six-unit course helps students to develop aural, theoretical and analytical skills and enables them to explore a significant set work and an area of study selected to suit their preferences. They can choose to study compositional techniques, to create music which draws on their own experience and enthusiasm or to arrange a given piece of music. In their performances, students can present solo and ensemble pieces and can work with music technology.

A-level Music builds on the knowledge and skills gained from GCSE Music as well as musical experience gained outside the classroom. It recognises the interdependence of different aspects of musical activity. This specification provides a sound preparation for the study of music in higher education, as well as providing opportunities to develop strengths and interests leading to music-related and other careers. It encourages students to develop a wide range of transferable skills such as critical thinking, research, communication and team-work.

Course content


Music AQA 


Unit 1 – Appraising Music

  1. Students explore and analyse music from three of the following Areas of Study: Western classical tradition 1650–1910 (compulsory)
  2. Pop music
 Music for media

  3. Music for theatre
  4. Jazz

  5. Contemporary traditional music
  6. Art music since 1910.

Exploration of the chosen Areas of Study will include:

  • learning to aurally recognise musical ideas, devices, and characteristics related to the elements of music (ie. Melody, Harmony, Rhythm etc)
  • describing, using technical musical language, previously unheard excerpts of music
  • analysing two set works from first Area of Study
  • analysing two pieces from each of the other two chosen Areas of Study

Unit 2 - Performance

Students will work towards being able to peform music using one or both of the following ways:

  • instrumental/vocal: as a soloist, and/or as part of an ensemble
  • production: via music technology.

 Students must perform for a minimum of 10 minutes and a maximum of 12 minutes in total.

Unit 3 - Composition

Students will learn how to develop musical ideas and compose music that is musically convincing. They will compose two pieces as follows:

  • a response to one of seven externally set briefs. The response should include a written description of the process
  • a free composition

The compositions can be for either of the following:

  • instrumental/vocal: produce notated score, written accounts and/or lead sheet by traditional means or by using music software as appropriate
  • production: generated entirely digitally, by using music software, without notated score but with accompanying annotation.


Unit 1: Appraising music – 40% of the total mark
Students sit an externally marked exam in three sections:

Section A: Listening
Students will be assessed on their ability to analyse and evaluate the music heard in the exam and demonstrate knowledge and understanding of musical elements and musical language to make critical judgements.

Section B: Analysis
Students will be required to answer two sets of questions relating to the set works from Area of study 1.

Section C: Essay
Students will be required to answer one essay question on one area of study from a choice of Areas of study 2–7.

Unit 2: Performing music – 35% of the total mark (externally assessed)
Students must perform for a minimum of 10 minutes and a maximum of 12 minutes in total.

Unit 3: Composing music – 25% of the total mark (externally assessed)
Students will submit their two compositions for assessment. The combined duration of the compositions must be a minimum of four and half minutes, and a maximum of six minutes.

Mr R Whale, Mrs K Carter

Entry requirements

Entry Requirements - B Grade in GCSE music
Minimum grade 5 or equivalent on an instrument or voice

In addition it will be helpful if applicants have the ability to:

  • use music software – Cubase and/or Sibelius
  • read music

Further information

Our ambition is for the students we teach to ‘be the best they can’ and, where students want to, that they progress to the top Universities to maximise their employment and career prospects. In partnership with Russell Group Universities, we continue to work hard to realise this ambition and to ensure that, as well as excellent teaching, our students receive the correct guidance and support needed to make successful applications to Higher Education.

We are very proud of the achievements made by last year’s students. 92% of the students progressed to a University course of their choice. 91% of our students gained 3 or more A-Levels and 46% of the grades were A*-B. Students were also successful in their applications to competitive programmes such as Cambridge University, Dentistry and Medicine. We look forward to building on this success with the students who choose to join us in the future.

We offer a range of 23 different A-Level subjects, enabling students to choose subject combinations to progress to all available Higher Education courses. All of our courses are taught by subject specialists with degrees in the subjects they are teaching, and with strong track records in A-Level teaching. Students are also encouraged to integrate work experience placements with their studies in order to gain the practical and transferable skills required for many careers.

Students have the choice of choosing three or four A-Level subjects. We expect that most students will specialise to three subjects by the time they enter Y13. All students are also given the opportunity to complete the Extended Project Qualification over the two years, and we are increasingly finding that this improves the quality of student’s applications to University and employment opportunities.

Sixth Form is not solely about the study of the academic subjects. We offer students a range of enrichment opportunities, improved social facilities and privileges so that our students can enjoy life as a Sixth Form student both inside and outside of the classroom and that they can play a leading role in helping to develop the school. By providing these opportunities alongside a strong curriculum, we believe that Bradfield Sixth Form is an environment ‘where people thrive’ and where people can make the most of their talents and realise their potential.

We hope that you will consider studying your chosen subjects at A-Level at Bradfield School Sixth Form.

If you require any further information please do not hesitate to get in touch with us.

Patrick Beaumont
Head of Sixth Form
0114 2865002

How to apply

You can apply for this course through UCAS Progress. Add this course to your favourites so you can start making an application.

Last updated date: 17 November 2016

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