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Undergraduate Qualifications

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The Open University provides a wide range of opportunities to study music at undergraduate levels. Students studying music modules may be working towards a variety of qualifications, from the credit for passing a single course, up to a full degree within the BA (Honours) Music (R25) or BA (Honours) Arts and Humanities (R14) degree schemes. Follow this link for an overview of undergraduate qualifications which include Music.

Undergraduate Music Modules

  • A224 Inside Music

    This module is an introduction to the creative principles of music. You’ll begin by examining the fundamental elements of Western music and comparing them with those of other musical cultures (such as India). In later units you will develop a more detailed understanding of western rhythm, melody, harmony, polyphony, instrumentation, structure and form. You will learn how to use these elements in song composition and – by the end of the module – will have written a complete song with piano accompaniment, using the Sibelius music notation software widely employed in the creative industries.

    A224 assumes basic music literacy– knowledge of pitches, rhythms, staves, key signatures etc. The level of music theory needed to start the course is roughly equivalent to Associated Board Grade 3, but students need to be aware that the material progresses beyond this level very quickly. Students who have taken TA212 The Technology of Music will have already learned the music-reading skills needed to start A224. Online preparatory material – An Introduction to Music Theory – is available, free of charge, on OpenLearn and it is strongly recommended to students progressing from AA100 and A105.

    This video features lecturer Robert Samuels in conversation with Karen Foley about studying music with the OU and focuses especially on Inside Music.

  • A232 Music, Sound and Technology

    This module explores the nature of musical sound and the ways that technology can be used by musicians working in the creative industries. You'll be introduced to the skills needed for making recordings, and the module resources include software packages for analysing and editing recorded sound. You'll study how the physics of sound underlie musical experiences, and investigate the acoustic properties of different instruments. The module aims to deepen your understanding of the nature of sound and to equip you better as a musician, whatever your background and musical interests.

  • A342 Central Questions in the Study of Music

    What does music mean? What does it do? These are the queries at the heart of A342, Central questions in the study of music. The module explores how music communicates meaning, and how it reflects and responds to its social circumstances, considering a wide array of pieces, practices, performances and ideas, and ranging across several historical eras and cultural contexts. A342 also offers an opportunity to engage with a number of fascinating areas of musical study, including film music, the practice of recording, creative approaches to music notation, and the history of western music.

  • The Practice of Music Making

    This Certificate, offered by Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in collaboration with the Music at the OU, is aimed at practising musicians engaged in degree-level study of music. Students may be active in any genre of music, and there is no specific level of technical attainment required to register. Students examine their own and other musical practices, methods of developing and improving technical and practical skills, and the cultural place and value of different performance contexts. The Certificate includes a residential school.

    As I travel around meeting and working with musicians, amateur and professional, I am always struck by the quality they share in common, regardless of attainment or situation: they want to improve their skills. It’s wonderful news that the OU, in collaboration with Trinity Laban, is opening up a channel so they can do just that.

    John Rutter, composer and conductor

Undergraduate Interdisciplinary Modules with Music Components

Interdisciplinary modules including musical components do not assume prior musical knowledge, but make excellent choices to complement the modules specific to the Music discipline. There is a significant music component in the following interdisciplinary modules:

  • AA100 The arts past and present includes units on the diva (looking at Madonna, Maria Callas, and the Concerto delle donne of Ferrara), Shostakovich (examining some of his chamber music), Victorian seaside music, and The Beach Boys and The Who.
  • A105 Voices, texts and material culture This module includes a range of musical topics including canons (focussing on Beethoven, Dvorak and John Adams), protest music, hymns, folk songs, and music in Victorian Manchester.

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