Music courses

Our music courses focus on the context/history of western classical music and also on the skills of composing, providing a rich contrast to other HE music courses which tend to focus on performance. The composing music courses enable you to develop tools and techniques in melody, rhythm and harmony – skills which can be applied in the jazz, folk and rock genres, as well as within the ‘classical’ tradition.


Level 1 (HE4)

Level 2 (HE5)

Level 3 (HE6)


A good starting point is Music 1: From the Present to the Past. This is a non-technical course, designed to explore western classical music. We explore contemporary influences and techniques first and then work back through previous generations asking similar questions about the leading composers; for each of the principal periods we look also at repertoire, form and instruments.

The focus of the other courses is on composing music. They are ideally studied in sequence as the next levels build on the earlier work. They were written for us by award winning British composer Patric Standford. You will become proficient with the tools and techniques of composition – and these are equally relevant whether your principal interest is in mainstream ‘classical’ music or genres such as jazz, popular music, folk, or world music. Some prior knowledge of music theory is important – such as Grade 5 of the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music.

Obtaining a degree

All the music course modules can be studied as part of the BA (Hons) degree programme in Creative Arts. You will also need to choose some options from other subject areas such as Creative Writing, Fine Art, or Photography. You can also use the credits gained at the OCA towards courses at another institutions if you are keen to obtain a specialist degree in music. We would recommend you seek advice from the other institutions you are considering.

OCA Award in Composing Music

If you complete all three Composing Music courses at Levels 1, 2 and 3 and your work has been successfully assessed then you will be eligible for an OCA Composing Music Award. This is an internal OCA award in recognition of your achievements.

Further information

For more detailed information on the music courses at the OCA, please visit our FAQs on Music.

Choosing your course

We have a range of courses to match your interests. Choose from the list of courses available, enrol online and within a few days you will receive your course materials and you can start you creative arts journey with the OCA.

If this is your first course we would recommend you start with Music 1: From Past to Present to give you a strong foundation.

If you are interested in studying the BA (Hons) Creative Arts click here to find out more about the programme.