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Physics and Music (BSc)

  • FW33

3 years (Full-time) / n/a (Part-time) / n/a (Distance / E-Learning)

At Cardiff we offer a unique degree programme designed to meet the needs of an increasing number of students who combine music with science subjects at A-level and who wish to continue this combination through to degree level. It is run jointly by the School of Music and the School of Physics and Astronomy. The programme involves a substantial element of music in all three years but is biased towards the science side and leads to a BSc Honours degree.

Physics and Music

The links between music and physics are especially close at Cardiff, where for more than 30 years there have been strong research interests in the physics of musical instruments and involvement in electronic and computer music systems. Both schools have well-equipped electronic music studios, where much of the course experimental and composition work takes place.

Both the schools lie close to Cardiff’s civic centre – one of the finest in Europe. Few cities are better equipped than Cardiff to offer students a wide range of musical experience to back up their formal university education. St David’s Hall and the Wales Millennium Centre are two of the finest concert halls in Europe and features regular performances by local orchestras such as BBC National Orchestra of Wales and the Welsh National Opera and are host to many national and international orchestras and renowned solo artists. The School of Music itself has a regular concert programme and the Sherman Theatre, Chapter Arts Centre, and the Motorpoint Arena provide further opportunities to experience both traditional and alternative artistic presentations.

Key Facts

UCAS Code FW33
Duration 3 years
How to apply
Typical places available The School admits 120 students each year to its undergraduate degree programmes
Typical applications received 550-600
Scholarships & Bursaries
Typical A-level offer AAA-ABB
Admissions Tutors

Dr Chris North, PHYSX

Dr Keith Chapin, MUSIC

Tel Number 029 2087 0537
Email address
School website

The BSc Physics and Music degree programme is designed to give a broad-based education in theoretical and experimental physics combined with knowledge of the practical and theoretical aspects of music. This programme of study will allow you to combine one third Music (40 credits) with two thirds Physics (80 credits) in each year of the programme.

You will cover the core Mathematics and Physics material throughout the three years of study. Most of the modules in Physics are prescribed, but in Music you have considerable choice from such areas as composition, performance, theory and analysis, ethnomusicology and music history. There is special tuition in studio techniques as well as the acoustical aspects of music and musical instruments. In addition there are practical sessions in Music and Physics and you are expected to take part in musicmaking.

Click here for more information on any modules.

In Physics, core knowledge and understanding is acquired via lectures, exercise classes, experimental laboratory classes, computing classes, tutorials and guided study. The first two years of the programme are designed to cover carefully chosen core material. These two years prepare students for their final year of study, which encompasses a wide range of contemporary subject material, some of which reflects research interests in the School. Throughout the delivery of the programme, wherever possible, recent research results are used to illustrate and illuminate the subject.

Tuition in Music involves a range of learning and teaching styles, including (but not limited to) lectures, small-group seminars and workshops, individual tutorials or solo instrumental tuition, ensemble instrumental tuition and practical rehearsals, and independent study. Supplementary resources are available through various channels, including Learning Central (the university’s Virtual Learning Environment) and from commercially available software for which the School holds licences. While students take fewer modules in Music, they have a greater choice, and can therefore opt for a greater focus on music theory, music history, composition or performance.

Typical A-level Offer

AAA-ABB, including Music, Physics and Mathematics

Consideration will be given to applicants who are not taking A-level Music but have Grade 8 Theory and Grade 8 Practical. Mathematics and Physics are required subjects at A-level.

Typical WBQ Offer  Not accepted as requires three compulsory subjects at A-level
Typical Int Bacc Offer  32 points, including 6 at Higher Level Music

Applications from those offering alternative qualifications are welcome. Please see detailed information about alternative entry requirements here

Please find here further information about admissions and selection criteria for this degree programme.

A list of commonly accepted alternative entry qualifications and admissions and selection criteria for this degree programme can be read <here.

This programme gives students a sound training in Physics and Music in preparation for a wide variety of employment, including work in sound engineering, acoustics, the media (including composition for film/TV), the technical aspects of music and music theatre, industrial or academic research and development, education, and diverse areas requiring a pragmatic, numerate and analytical approach to problem solving, such as business and finance.

The information provided by interviews and auditions is a crucial addition to that provided on UCAS forms, and they are an important means of seeing potential in individual candidates.

Candidates will be invited to attend one of five interview days that are held from November through to March. For each of these days, around 50 candidates attend. Anyone who does not attend will be rejected, unless they have contacted the School to make alternative arrangements, or to say that they are unable to attend for other reasons (e.g. distance to travel, exam commitments). In the case of exceptional mitigating circumstances, an offer can be made without interview.

The day will comprise an introductory talk from the Admissions tutor, a tour of the School of Music, a one-hour written test and a 15-minute interview/auditon with a member of staff.

Written Test

The written test consists of a choice of one of two musical extracts, which will be played twice, on which candidates are asked to write a general commentary concerning expression and meaning in the music.

The Admissions tutor will assess written work on the basis of:

  • Clarity of expression and argument
  • Knowledge of style, music history and theory
  • General ability to respond to the question.

Interview and Audition days

Interviews are conducted by individual members of staff. Applicants will initially be asked to perform or sing for around 5 minutes. The choice of repertoire is left to individual candidates. Assessment of performance is based on overall expressive and technical standards.

The interviewer will then ask questions of a specific nature, possibly relating to the music performed, and more general questions about musical interests and experience. The candidate will be assessed in terms of their enthusiasm and commitment to the subject, their wider knowledge, and their ability to respond to issues which they may not have considered before.

The aim of the interviews is not to test factual knowledge, or to judge candidates in terms of their likes and dislikes, but to encourage them in as relaxed a way as possible to talk about what they know and what interests them. The interviews are not designed to catch people out or expose their weaknesses, but it is expected that applicants will engage readily with the interviewer. Candidates may also ask the interviewer questions regarding the undergraduate programmes.

Members of staff involved in the interview process prepare written reports on each candidate. If the reports are unfavourable, a candidate may be rejected, otherwise the comments will be compared to the test and UCAS form.

Next intake: September each year

School Contact

Name: Dr Keith Chapin (Music) 

Telephone: 029 208 70925 

Fax: Fax: +44(0)29 2087 4379 


School Website:

School Contact

Name: Dr Chris North (Physics) 

Telephone: 029 2087 0537 



School Website:

More information