Bachelor of Music

Course B-MUS (2013)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2013.

This is a
New Generation course
, part of the
Melbourne Model
and is available from 2008
Year and Campus: 2013 - Parkville
CRICOS Code: 058837J
Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Level: Undergraduate
Duration & Credit Points: 300 credit points taken over 36 months full time. This course is available as full or part time.


Professor Ian Holtham


Contact Centre
T: 13 MELB (6352)

Melbourne Conservatorium of Music
VCA and MCM Student Centre

Course Overview:

The Bachelor of Music program is a three year, full time degree that offers pre-professional music training, including intensive one-to-one practical teaching, a wide range of solo and ensemble performance opportunities, specialist studies in composition, musicology and ethnomusicology, opportunities for international exchange and study abroad, and for industry internships.

The BMus is a highly flexible degree, enabling students to tailor the degree to match their musical interests and pathways. Majors are available in performance, composition, musicology and ethnomusicology.


Graduates of the Bachelor of Music should be able to:

  • contextualise their performing within the best practices of local, national and international standards;
  • demonstrate a sound knowledge and understanding of their discipline;
  • pursue musical knowledge and skills independently, with intellectual honesty and rigorous methods of inquiry both in a specialisation and in the discipline as a whole;
  • use and assimilate the potential of technologies to facilitate the dissemination of musical skills, knowledge and information;
  • make critical, informed and sophisticated responses to new musical ideas, methodologies and theoretical frameworks, both in their specialisation and in the discipline of music as a whole;
  • show empathy, self-reflection and critical intelligence in the dissemination of skills and knowledge in their specialisation;
  • work competently and productively in a musical setting, both alone and in groups;
  • integrate a holistic view of music from different times and places into their working and intellectual lives;
  • participate with integrity, discrimination and sound knowledge and understanding in national and international debates, dialogues and discussions in their area of specialsiation and in the discipline as a whole;
  • communicate effectively;
  • qualify for employment in a wide range of occupations in the music profession;
  • have a lifelong commitment to learning.
Course Structure & Available Subjects:

The Bachelor of Music requires the successful completion of 300 points comprising:

  • 225 points of music subjects
  • 50 points of breadth subjects including at least 12.5 points at Level 2 or 3 (and no more than 37.5 points at Level 1)
  • 25 points of free subjects (either music or breadth) at Levels 1 to 3
  • No more than 125 points may be taken at Level 1.
  • It is recommended that free subjects are undertaken in the third year.

All students in the Bachelor of Music undertake a common first year experience in which four areas of study in music are pursued:

  • Performance skills
  • Historical, theoretical and contextual studies
  • Aural studies
  • Applied skills

From second year, students can follow a major pathways, retaining capacity to tailor subject selections, move between majors and keeping graduate study and career options open.


Bachelor of Music Majors


Music Electives

Subject Options:

First Year

All students take the following subjects in the first year

Study Period Commencement:
Credit Points:
Not offered in 2013
Not offered in 2013
Not offered in 2013

PLUS one of:

Study Period Commencement:
Credit Points:
Not offered in 2013
Not offered in 2013
Not offered in 2013


Two Applied Skills Electives 12.50

Breadth subjects* 25.00

*to include Academic English subject/s as directed

Second and Third year

From second year, students can follow major pathways, retaining capacity to tailor subject selections, move between majors and keeping graduate study and career options open.

To view major structures and subjects, please follow the major links above.

Breadth Options:

Breadth subjects offer you the opportunity to choose additional subjects from outside your major study area (learn more about breadth subjects) .

View breadth subjects for this course.

Breadth Tracks:

Available Breadth Tracks

Entry Requirements:

In addition to University entry requirements, applicants are required to pass an audition and complete a musicianship test.

Audition requirements

  • applicants should prepare three pieces demonstrating their skill on the instrument they wish to study
  • the pieces should be chosen from the Western Art Music repertoire (except for electric guitar and bass)
  • the pieces should be of contrasting style, period and composer (eg works from the Baroque, Romantic and 20th century repertoires)
  • the program should be no longer than 20 minutes
  • the audition panel will hear approximately 15 minutes of selected repertoire and may also ask to hear technical work (scales, arpeggios, etc).

Repertoire presented at AMEB Grade 7 standard for instrumentalists and Grade 5 for singers, generally makes for a competitive audition. These standards are given as an indication only, to guide your choice of audition repertoire. AMEB examinations are not a pre-requisite for entry to the BMus.

Live auditions are usually held from late November into early December. Applicants from overseas, interstate or regional Victoria can submit an audition recording.

Musicianship Test: a diagnostic test of aural and theory skills. The test is held multiple times during the live audition period and for those that audition via recording, again in the Orientation period, prior to the commencement of classes.

For full details, go to

Core Participation Requirements:

The Melbourne Conservatorium of Music welcomes applications from students with disabilities. It is University and Melbourne Conservatorium of Music policy to take reasonable steps to make reasonable adjustments so as to enable the student’s participation in the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music’s programs, especially the Bachelor of Music. The Music degree is a degree which involves acquisition and refinement of musical knowledge and practice. All students of Music must possess intellectual, ethical, physical and emotional capabilities required to participate in the full curriculum and to achieve the levels of competence required by the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music.

A candidate for the BMus degree must have abilities and skills which include the following:

a) Well developed existing proficiency in at least one musical instrument. This instrumental or vocal proficiency is initially measured at the application stage by audition into the Bachelor of Music. This proficiency will involve appropriately developed physical skills to achieve a well developed level of physical control of the instrument;

b) Well developed music literacy. A candidate must be capable of reading music notation fluently whether in standard musical notation or Braille musical notation;

c) Aural discrimination skills. A candidate needs to have well developed hearing to ensure that the aural requirements essential to the study of Music can be met;

d) The ability to comprehend complex music information and material independently. A candidate needs to possess an appropriate level of cognition to deal with required material relating to the theory and history of Music. This material may exist in written, and aural and schematised forms;

e) The capacity to communicate clearly a knowledge and application of music principles and practice in assessment activities and the ability to function as part of a musical team. A candidate must possess the emotional health required for full use of his/her intellectual abilities, the exercise of good judgment and the prompt completion of all responsibilities required by the course. All candidates need to be aware of their personal limitations and be aware of when and where to seek professional advice or supervision. Candidates must be able to tolerate physically taxing musical practice and to function effectively under stress and isolation in musical preparation. They must also be able to function effectively as part of a musical ensemble, to adapt to changing environments and to display flexibility.

f) Behavioural and Social Attributes. A candidate must possess behavioural and social attributes that enable them to participate in a complex learning environment. Students are required to take responsibility for their own participation and learning. They also contribute to the learning of other students in collaborative learning environments, demonstrating interpersonal skills and an understanding of the needs of other students. Assessment may include the outcomes of tasks completed in collaboration with other students.

Students who feel their disability will prevent them from meeting the above academic requirements are encouraged to contact the Disability Liaison Unit.

Further Study:

The Melbourne Conservatorium of Music offers a wide range of study options including:

Bachelor of Music (Honours) - specialisations available in Performance, Composition, Musicology, Ethnomusicology

Graduate Research programs:

  • Master of Music - specialisations available in Performance, Conducting, Composition, Musicology, Ethnomusicology and Music Therapy.
  • Doctor of Philosophy - Music

Graduate Coursework programs:

  • Master of Music (Performance Teaching) - a specialist coursework degree enabling graduates in Western classical and contemporary music to work as performer-teachers in a variety of situations including community, private provider and further education settings and as instrumental/vocal instructors in schools.
  • Master of Music (Opera Performance) - a specialist coursework degree, offered in conjunction with Victorian Opera, delivering elite-level training for opera performers.
  • Master of Music Therapy - a coursework program leading to professional registration as Music Therapists (RMT) with the Australian Music Therapy Association (Inc.).
  • Graduate Diploma in Guided Imagery and Music - an intensive mode program providing advanced level training in Guided Imagery and Music (GIM) therapy.
  • Graduate Certificate/Diploma in Music - designed for university graduates in any field who wish to undertake university-level study in music. Specialisations available in Practical Study, Composition, Musicology and Ethnomusicology.

For full details of graduate courses offered by the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, see

For other graduate courses offered by the University, see

Graduate Attributes:

Graduates of the Bachelor of Music will be:

  • Academically excellent as a result of:
    • intensive and rigorous one-to-one tuition in performance over three years and composition over two years
    • participation in a diversity of teaching and learning modes, including individual tuition, tutorials, masterclasses, performance and concert classes, on-line learning, seminars, large lectures and ensemble experiences
    • assessment practices that demand independent thinking, critical analysis and an openness to new ideas
  • articulate and authoritatively informed in musical discourse
  • familiar and competent with research protocols, written and spoken communication skills and the ethics of scholarship through a program of core and elective academic subjects over three years
  • artistically sophisticated with a high level of understanding of the aesthetic of their discipline
  • Competent across disciplines as a result of:
    • participation in a variety of "ways of knowing" within the discipline of music - solo, chamber and orchestral competency; theoretical knowledge of music, historical and contextual knowledge of music; aural acuity
    • participation in 75 points of breadth subjects
    • able to use the interaction of music and other disciplines with creativity and insight
  • Community leader through:
    • undertaking and developing new initiatives in community awareness and understanding of the place of music in society
    • a program of professional internships
    • a program of work placement through the Melbourne Musicians' Agency
    • leadership roles in University and community based public performances, workshops and outreach programs
    • high level development of teamwork and group dynamic skills through participation in music ensembles
  • Attuned to cultural diversity through:
    • a raft of academic elective and ensemble opportunities that involve thinking about difference in ways of being musical as well as participating in music from other times and places
    • familiarity with culturally diverse ways of conceptualising and talking about music
    • hands-on experiences of culturally diverse styles of music making and musical pedagogy
  • Global citizens through:
    • experiences gained through Study Abroad
    • participation throughout the course in the inherently international nature of music in all its manifestations
    • awareness as ambassadors for Australia through promotion of its cultural richness
    • facilitators and communicators between diverse cultural communities
Generic Skills:

As you progress through the Bachelor of Music you will acquire many specific skills, especially those related to your performance on your instrument or voice both solo and in ensembles, and those related to your learning about many different aspects of music history and theory.

Every subject you take in the BMus has a set of objectives which relate the content of the subject and its assessment requirements to your acquisition, not only of specific skills and knowledge, but also of generic skills. Generic skills will accompany you throughout your life and will provide you with the expertise to enter a huge variety of careers in or related to the music profession. For example:

  • Juggling your practice, study, leisure and work time commitments provides you with generic skills in planning and time management, an ability necessary for almost any employment you can imagine.
  • Playing in ensembles, and organising rehearsals and performances, involves you in the generic skills of teamwork and leadership, which you will also need in your future career.
  • Many of the assessment tasks in your music history and theory subjects involve you in the generic "thinking skills" including critical thinking skills, analytical skills and problem-solving skills. You will also gain a sophisticated attitude towards knowledge, and develop and enhance your abilities in seeking, evaluating and retrieving information.
  • Your written and spoken presentations in many subjects develop your communication skills.
  • Your life at the Faculty will bring you into contact with students from many different backgrounds with whom you will work closely in practical and academic tasks, increasing your skills in intercultural understanding and sensitivity.

With such a battery of specific and generic skills you will be set for lifelong learning and enjoyment of music. In addition, the words used to describe generic skills which you acquire during the BMus are very useful when you are preparing your resume or curriculum vitae for job applications.

Links to further information:

Download PDF version.