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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Music specialisation allows you to enhance your core music skills and knowledge while developing an area of specialty. We provide extensive training in performance, ensemble skills and professional practice, musicianship and musicology, with the flexibility to combine subject areas such as English, creative writing, film, media or theatre and performance studies. An audition is required to enter this degree.
The choice of specialisations includes:
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.
Students and graduates in all four major specialisations can also pursue qualifications in music education. Qualified students may undertake an embedded honours program, including a thesis or creative practice work and thesis.
Your undergraduate study options include:
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 majors, including:
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).
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.