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Music at Cambridge

Over recent decades many of the most significant figures in British music have studied or taught at Cambridge: composers such as Alexander Goehr, Judith Weir and Thomas Adès; performers like Joanna MacGregor and Thomas Trotter; and conductors including John Eliot Gardiner, Christopher Hogwood and Edward Gardner.

Our undergraduate course has a strong academic component, particularly focusing on history, analysis, composition (including screen and media composition) and performance, but also offering a range of other topics (see the course outline).

All lectures for the Music Tripos take place in the Faculty of Music on the Sidgwick Site, which is a 15 minute walk away from Sidney Sussex.

Music at Sidney

Sidney Sussex has a friendly and vibrant musical community and possesses some of the finest facilities in Cambridge, including dedicated music rooms, a beautiful chapel, and exquisite gardens. The College maintains a number of fine musical instruments from concert grands, harpsichords and organs, to a professional drum kit and double bass for jazz combos. Sidney is also home to one of the finest mixed-voice choirs in the UK.

Some supervisions are arranged centrally in the Faculty; all others are take place either at Sidney, or at another college for specialist papers not covered by the expertise of the Sidney music staff.

Sidney Sussex College Choir

The Choir of Sidney Sussex College is one of the finest mixed-voice choirs in the UK, and tours regularly at home and abroad. In recent years the choir has visited Italy, Spain, Germany, the United States and the United Arab Emirates. Their recordings have been received with critical acclaim, including Gramophone magazine's Record of the Month and Editor's Choice.

For more information about the choir, please see the dedicated choir webpage (, or find us on Facebook ( or YouTube (

Sidney Sussex College Music Society

Sidney Sussex College Music Society (SSCMS) is a vibrant, student-led organisation which supports musical life for all members of the College. Our regular free concert series, A Little Night Music (ALNM), runs one evening a week in the Chapel during full term. SSCMS also runs various other larger musical events throughout the year. The Music Society enjoys the patronage of Richard, Duke of Buccleuch, whose ancestors were amongst the earliest patrons of the College.


Sidney Sussex boasts one of the finest mid-sized chapels in Cambridge, and this serves as the musical centre of the College, with a Steinway Model D concert grand, a Mietke 'Bach' harpsichord, an historical chamber organ by Taylor and Boody, along with the main chapel organ. Other grand pianos are found in the Mong Hall, often used for recitals, and the Master's Lodge. In addition, all Music students receive pianos in their College rooms.

Music practice facilities

In the Jesus Lane building just adjacent to the College there is a dedicated music room, named after Sidney's former Bursar Charles Larkum. The beautiful College gardens often serve as an idyllic venue for evening chamber concerts and larger-scale productions.

Mixing with professionals

Since 2007 Sidney Sussex has hosted a number of professional Musicians in Residence, who work and mix with the student body. Previous holders of the post include the renowned viol consort Fretwork, harpist  Andrew Lawrence-King, the Tippett Quartet, and the Grammy Award-winning American composer Eric Whitacre. Eric Whitacre currently holds a five-year position as Composer in Residence at Sidney.

Hear from a student... 

     You'll have plenty of opportunity to study whichever aspects of music interest you the most. The first year course gives you a firm grounding in all the most useful aspects of studying music. Aside from the Tripos, there's lots of other music going on in Cambridge. Auditions for university orchestras ensembles and bands normally take place during freshers' week. We also have the SiJim Cooper, Music undergraduate at Sidneydney Sussex College Music Society (SSCMS), and we put on a series of weekly concerts on Wednesday evenings as well as frequent larger productions.

Jim Cooper, Sidney Music undergraduate


Director of Studies (DoS) and Fellow

Dr Martin Parker Dixon


Dr David Skinner is a specialist in Medieval, Renaissance and early Baroque music and issues in performance practice. 

Dr Ceri Owen (Research Fellow)

All of our undergraduate students are allocated a Director of Studies and learn from specialists in particular areas of their subject. From time to time, individual teaching staff may be away on leave.


Typical Intake

2 - 3

Standard Entry Requirements

A*AA at A Level

41-42 points in the IB, with 776-777 at Higher Level

Please see the University website for standard entry requirements in other qualifications.

Please note that offers are set on an individual basis using all of the information available to us in context of the entire field of applicants.

All Colleges require A Level/IB Higher Level Music.

At Sidney, candidates can offer ABRSM Grade 8 Theory of Music as a substitute. Grade 5 Piano is also useful, but not essential. Applicants should be acquainted with at least some of the standard repertory and have experience of writing about music. You are likely to have a good musical ear, some facility at the keyboard, and some proficiency in harmony and counterpoint.

Admissions Process

Written work

One essay on a musical topic, and one marked music theory exercise (harmony or counterpoint) or an original composition. We will send out more specific information about what is required after the UCAS deadline.

Admissions Assessments

Candidates will be asked to do some aural dictation and/or basic counterpoint exercises in one of the interviews.


Two interviews. The first will be a more general interview; the second will be subject-related and include a discussion of a selection of musical examples given to the applicant beforehand, and some aural dictation and/or basic counterpoint exercises.

Find out more

Faculty of Music website

University website Music course page

Skype interviews may be considered for international applicants on a case-by-case basis in certain subjects. If you wish to enquire further, please contact the Admissions Office (