Pursue excellence at a professional level  

By studying music at UNSW School of the Arts & Media, you’ll learn that music isn’t just an art form. Music-making requires technical and stylistic mastery and engagement with the key issues that underline the complexity and universality of music. You’ll develop skills in music that are global in their application while enabling you to build a thriving artistic practice at home. 

Discover new ways of creating & presenting music  

The music program at UNSW will help you develop the skills and knowledge to make music with confidence, artistic conviction and social commitment. Our program nurtures your aspirations to develop your ability to the highest standards in performing, composing, researching, producing or teaching. 

Be inspired by our internationally recognised academics   

UNSW music staff produce high-quality work across the spectrum, from mainstream academic research to creative artistic practice. Their scholarly work is recognised internationally, with our staff publishing, composing, performing and recording in Australia, New Zealand, the US, the UK and Europe.  

Join our team of outstanding researchers   

Music research at UNSW investigates music analytically, culturally, philosophically, psychologically, pedagogically and through practice-based research. We boast international leaders in the performing arts and equally outstanding researchers in empirical musicology and ethnomusicology. Much of our research aligns with the research strengths of other subject areas within the school.

You’ll learn from performing arts researchers who are leaders in jazz and improvised music, who regularly perform in national and major international festivals. They’re also performers of new classical music at major Australian and international festivals and compose works that are performed by orchestras and major ensembles in Australia, Europe and the US.  

A thriving community with a rich history

Music has been a thriving activity at UNSW for more than 50 years. The founder of the original Department of Music, Professor Roger Covell, joined the academic staff in 1966 and taught courses across several faculties, established concerts, and developed a chamber opera company and vocal ensembles.   

The inauguration of the resident chamber group, the Australia Ensemble, followed in 1980, as well as the university’s Collegium Musicum Choir, and eventually the UNSW Orchestra and the Wind Symphony. With our passionate staff and strong music history at UNSW, we offer an extensive range of courses and performance opportunities for every creative.


  • To study music* at UNSW, you must:

    When you register for the audition, you can then complete a musicianship test online and upload performance audition material. 

    *Applies to the Music creative practice, Musicology, Sonic arts, and Musicology specialisations in the Bachelor of Fine Arts. For other programs, see how to apply.

    Register here for the UNSW Music Audition


      • This test is designed to assess your skills and knowledge in basic music theory, score reading, musical style and general knowledge of music.

        To prepare for the test, it's recommended that you review music theory and general musical knowledge to the level of Grade 5 AMEB Theory. There will not be any history component. 

        All questions will be multiple choice and cover basics such as all scale constructions, triads, cadences and basic four-part harmony. Simple score reading will also be included. 

      • Applicants must submit the following:

        If Performance is your intended specialisation, you must provide two contrasting performances. They can be any two short pieces of your choice, as long as they contrast in some way (tempo, technical difficulty, expression, style and so on). Each piece must be between three and five minutes in length. 

        If Composition is your intended specialisation, you must provide two scores of contrasting compositions (along with the two composition scores, we also require accompanying audio files [mp3 is best] – so please also upload audio files that are either MIDI-based recordings or recordings of live performances of your compositions.) We recommend you also submit two contrasting performances on your individual instrument or voice. If not accepted as a composition specialist, you may possibly be accepted as a performer. 

        Short song to be sung unaccompanied
        The short song can be any song of your choice. It is for the examiner to test your sense of pitch. A traditional song or folk song would be most preferable and must be a minimum of one minute in length. 

        500-word essay about yourself
        The essay can be about something that you've enjoyed doing, studying or learning about aside from music. The essay is important because it illustrates what you think and how well you express yourself. It also gives you an opportunity to tell us about who you are beyond your musical qualifications and will help us further distinguish you from other applicants. So try to write your essay in a way that lets your voice come through. 

        We don't expect extensive experience; this is merely to give the examiner an idea of what, if any, extra-curricular activities you may be involved with within the sphere of music. 

        You will be asked to submit the name and email address of a referee. This will generate an automatic request to your Referee to submit one directly to your application.

    • For 2023 entry, you can still apply for a late-round online audition from 22 November 2022 – 3 February 2023, with two waves of results released.

      Submissions entered by 10 January will have results released Wednesday 18 January 2023, and submissions entered after 10 January 2023 will have results released February 10 2023.

    • We offer intensive pre-professional training in performance or composition in a self-selected musical style or tradition, including classical, jazz and world music. You’ll focus on all aspects of performance-making, including creative programming, project design, audience development and entrepreneurship.

    • We provide a rigorous specialisation centred on historical musicology, ethnomusicology, performance studies and analysis.

    • We combine research into sound studies with performance, recording and composition opportunities to promote innovative practices in music and media. In this specialisation, you’ll develop skills in studio recording, synthesis and sound design, soundtracks, live and experimental electronic music, immersive audio and post-production techniques.

    • Music Pedagogy addresses the scholarship and practice of one-on-one instrumental or vocal teaching in the studio. You’ll draw on the psychology of education, and you’ll learn to teach your own performance skills.

    • The music studies major is for students with less formal training in music, with no audition required, and for those who wish to pursue broad music studies with a liberal arts program. Music Studies (Extension) provides a more comprehensive range of prescribed music courses and is intended as basic preparation for careers in music teaching. 

  • Studying music in the Bachelor of Fine arts enhances your core music skills and knowledge while developing a specialisation.

    You'll experience extensive training in your choice of performance, ensemble skills and professional practice, musicianship and musicology.

    Whether you choose a single or a double degree, you'll have the flexibility to combine your music specialisation with other subjects such as English, creative writing, film, media or theatre and performance studies.

    An audition and an application are required to study the Bachelor of Fine Arts.


    Our degree options

    We offer the below undergraduate courses with a specialisation in Music:

    Students and graduates in all four major specialisations can also pursue qualifications in music education. 

    We offer the below undergraduate courses with a major or minor in Music Studies (within the Bachelor of Arts):

    The music studies major is for students with less formal training in music, with no audition required, and for those who wish to pursue broad music studies with a liberal arts program. You can combine it with a variety of other areas of study in the following programs:

    Music Studies Extension provides a more comprehensive range of prescribed music courses and is intended as basic preparation for careers in music teaching. This course is undertaken within the B Arts/B Education (Secondary).

    A minor in Music Studies is also available in the following degrees:

  • Qualified students may undertake an embedded honours program, including a thesis or creative practice work and thesis. 

  • Higher research degrees involve conducting research in a range of subjects that include musicology, ethnomusicology, composition, performance, the psychology of music, popular music, music aesthetics and music education. You’re also free to move between the various subjects within the School of the Arts & Media.

    Our research strength in Australian music and modernism is of the highest standard and aligns with strong scholarship in English and other subject areas within the school and the faculty. Our performing arts researchers are leaders in jazz and improvised music, performers of new classical music and composers whose works are performed by orchestras and major ensembles in Australia and abroad.

    Our empirical musicology researchers are leaders in applying interdisciplinary methods, drawing in particular from experimental and cognitive psychology, information retrieval, engineering, statistics and qualitative methods to understand important and interesting questions about music.

    Our ethnomusicology researchers produce internationally recognised work in the music of South and Southeast Asia, as well as undertaking applied work in overseas and local communities, and participating in the creation of new intercultural performances.