Music A Level

Course Content

The specification aims to encourage students to develop a range of skills, knowledge and understanding needed to communicate through listening, performing and appreciation. It provides a worthwhile course of study to broaden experience, foster creativity and promote personal and social development through musical communication. Through coursework components, students should be able to interpret musical ideas with technical and expressive control, and a sense of style and awareness of occasion and/or ensemble (performing); Develop musical ideas with technical and expressive control making creative use of musical devices and conventions (composing), through music technology and traditional methods; demonstrate understanding of, and comment perceptively on the structural, analytical, expressive and contextual features of music.

The A Level course consists of 3 Units:

Unit 1: Performing Music (Externally assessed, 30% of total A level Mark).  This unit gives students the opportunities to perform as soloists and/or as part of an ensemble. Teachers and students can choose music in any style. Any instrument(s) and/or voice(s) are acceptable as part of an 8 minute recital.

Unit 2: Composing (Externally assessed, 30% of total A level mark).  This unit encourages students to develop their composition skills leading to the creation of two original compositions. One composition is in response to a brief set by Edexcel, the other a free choice composition or in response to a second brief set by Edexcel. The total time for both compositions is 6 minutes.

Unit 3: Developing Musical Understanding (Externally assessed by examination 40% of total A level mark).  This unit focuses on listening to familiar music and understanding how it works. Areas of study include Vocal Music, Instrumental Music, Music for Film, Popular Music and Jazz, Fusions and New Directions. The exam is divided into two sections:

Section A: Three questions related to the set works (audio and skeleton score provided), one short melody/rhythm completion exercise.

Section B: Extended response: Two essay questions, essay one asks students to draw links from their study of the set works to the music heard as an unfamiliar extract. Essay two gives a choice of three questions that ask students to evaluate the musical elements, context and language of one set work. Each option will be from a different area of study.


A minimum of Grade 6 in Music, or a Grade 6 practical award and Grade 5 theory.

Examination Board: Edexcel.  Course Number: 9MU0