Certificate in Arts
Bachelor of Arts
Bachelor of Arts with Honours
Graduate Diploma in Arts
Postgraduate Certificate in Arts
Postgraduate Diploma in Arts
Master of Arts
Doctor of Philosophy

Bachelor of Commerce (minor only)

Bachelor of Music
Bachelor of Music with Honours
Master of Music
Doctor of Musical Arts

Students singing, music


The music industry is a dynamic employment market, offering paid work to a vast array of practitioners around the world. This is befitting of an art form that has prevailed across even the most remote tribes and societies throughout history.

Much of the rapid development of the music industry has occurred very recently, in the last 25 years, and is the result of the explosion of digital technology and re-definition of social communities and culture. This has opened up new areas of expertise for music professionals, though not eclipsing the more traditional roles of teaching, conducting, music leadership and performing as a soloist, in a small group, orchestra or band.

Why study Music at UC?

The School of Music offers an exciting range of courses at all levels in performance, composition, digital music, ethno-musicology, music history and research, musicianship and music education.

The Bachelor of Music (MusB) opens up a wide number of study pathways for students and a broad range of career opportunities for aspiring professional musicians.

The three majors focus on:

  • Performance (features include weekly lessons and master classes)
  • New Music (features include composition, songwriting and digital music)
  • Musical Culture (features include music theory, musicology and community music).

Music courses are designed to be accessible across the university, providing a wide choice of high-quality courses for those studying other qualifications who wish to include music studies in their degree.

Should I study the Bachelor of Music or Bachelor of Arts?

Many students are undecided which degree to opt for; some know that they certainly wish to study Music, but are not sure whether they would prefer the more professional context of the Bachelor of Music (MusB) or the wider background of study offered by the Bachelor of Arts (BA).

The MusB is a specialist degree for those who want to concentrate all, or nearly all, of their studies on Music and acquire good practical training in Music, or for those who wish to study composition or performance to an advanced level.

The BA in Music gives you more flexibility to study non-Music subjects. BA students who major in Music can choose from a wide selection of Music courses. The full range of elective courses, including non-major performance, is available to all BA students and students from some other UC degrees.

If you are undecided you can do a first year which includes Music courses common to both degrees and leave your decision as to which degree to take until the end of your first year. A double degree eg, a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Music combination is also an option.

While some previous music study is necessary for some Music courses, many of the courses offered by the School of Music require no specific background.

If you intend to study composition or songwriting courses in your degree, you will need to have good musical literacy and notational skills. Some previous experience in the writing and performance of your own music is recommended. Submission of a portfolio is required for MUSA120 SongWriting 1 and MUSA121 Notated Composition 1A and should be made to the School of Music by 7 November 2017. See '100-level courses' below for more information on the submission required for these two courses.

Entry to all performance courses is by audition. Application forms are available on the School of Music website. Once you have completed your application form, you must send it to the Music Administrator at the School of Music Office. Applications should be submitted by 21 October 2017 for 2018 entry.

If you are unsure about how to plan your studies to cater for your background, please contact the School of Music.


See all Music courses

100-level courses

Compulsory 100-level courses for the Bachelor of Music are:

* Subject to Universities New Zealand CUAP approval, due December 2017.

In addition to these compulsory courses, UC is proud of the breadth and variety of music courses it offers at 100-level, including notated composition, songwriting, ensemble (large and small), New Zealand music and the music industry, music technologies, acoustics and recording techniques, chamber choir and performance (major and non-major).

A major in Music within the Bachelor of Arts requires:

Portfolio submission for some courses

Note: entry into MUSA 120 SongWriting 1 requires the submission of a portfolio that demonstrates the applicant's songwriting abilities. This portfolio may contain recordings and/or notated songs, and the notation format may include anything from a lead sheet to a fully notated music score. A typical portfolio will contain approximately three songs that demonstrate the stylistic breadth and songwriting strengths of the applicant.

Entry into MUSA 121 Notated Composition 1A requires the submission of a portfolio of approximately three notated works that demonstrate your composition style and strengths to date. It should include notated scores for each composition (handwritten or computer typeset), and may also include recordings and/or MIDI files.

200-level and beyond

The second and third years offer students the opportunity to specialise in areas of particular interest.

Compulsory courses for a MusB include:

Further study

Following a MusB, the Bachelor of Music with Honours (MusB(Hons)) allows for more advanced specialisation in composition, music education, musicology, ethno-musicology or performance. Subsequently, a Master of Music (MMus) is available in composition or performance. A Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA) is available in either music performance or composition.

Following a BA in Music you can continue on to the Bachelor of Arts with Honours (BA(Hons)). The Master of Arts (MA) is available in musicology, ethno-musicology or music education and you can study a Doctor of Philosphy (PhD).

Career opportunities

Music graduates are found in a wide range of occupations including positions in orchestras, choirs, opera houses, conservatories, universities, schools and other education contexts. They are prominent in areas of musical leadership.

Those who wish to work in education, find that the inclusion of some music in their degree can be beneficial.

UC Music graduates also work in fields such as journalism, television and radio (planning as well as production), publishing and in technical areas such as recording, computer instruments, sound engineering and music technology.

People with musical talent are sought after by festival organisers and arts organisations.

Find out more about what you can do with a degree in Music.

More information

School of Music

Phone +64 3 369 3377

See the School's website for up-to-date location information.

Postal address
College of Arts | Te Rāngai Toi Tangata
University of Canterbury | Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha
Private Bag 4800
Christchurch 8140
New Zealand

Nicolette Paul

Nicolette Paul

'I love that my research directly impacts on my job...'

Andrew withington

Andrew Withington

'My PhD is directly related to the work that I am doing within the community and throughout New Zealand...'