The Cambridge Music Tripos is intended to deepen your understanding of music and its historical and cultural context, and to help you gain fundamental skills in writing and analysing music. The core of the course involves studies in history, analysis and compositional techniques.

Students spend their first year intensively studying harmony and counterpoint, as well as taking courses in music history, analysis, and musicianship and keyboard skills. The final two years of the degree allow greater choice, with students able to select from a wide range of more specialized historical, theoretical and practical papers, from music aesthetics to ethnomusicology, and from notation to advanced composition; third-year students also have the opportunity to offer a recital as part of their final exams.

The musical life of Cambridge is extremely lively and varied and involves a very large number of students – those reading the Music Tripos and many more who read other subjects. Whatever your musical interests you are sure to find someone else who shares them. There are also superb facilities for performing and studying music, including the University’s chapels and concert halls as well as its various libraries, which house collections of recordings, scores and books covering anything a musician might need. 

Academic Requirements:

Applicants for Music should ideally have an A grade at Music A level (or equivalent). Further to this no particular subjects are more desirable than others. Modern Languages and History are useful but so are virtually all other subjects, including Mathematics and sciences, in different ways. ABRSM Grade VIII theory is regarded by the Faculty of Music as an acceptable substitute for A level Music in some cases.

What we are looking for:

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.

Musicians arrive for interview with a very wide range of skills and interests. If you see yourself primarily as a performer it is important that you begin to engage with the context of the works that you play – the historical context in which they were composed, the discipline of analysis that will enable you to understand their structure and content better, or the performance history associated with them. If your musical interest is primarily academic (which is more unusual) you will need to gain some basic composition skills in traditional areas – the harmonisation of Bach chorales, the completion of two-part keyboard pieces, or the completion of string quartet extracts make good starting points.
Whatever your particular interests and skills, it is important that you learn to study independently; you will benefit most from the course in Cambridge if you are able to pursue your own lines of enquiry and interests.


Candidates will be asked to sit an essay based test before interview. At interview, engagement with and enthusiasm for the subject will be explored by the course Director of Studies and Admissions Tutor.

Director of Studies: Dr Delphine Mordey

Find out more about the Music course on the department website and the University Undergraduate Prospectus.

Instrumental Award scheme

Wolfson College participates in the Intercollegiate Instrumental Awards Scheme. Applicants who are gifted performers on one of the eligible instruments and have a serious commitment to chamber music playing, are encouraged to apply for such an Award.

Award holders benefit from professional chamber music coaching from established professional musicians. In addition, the scheme is normally able to offer Award-holders modest subsidies towards the cost of individual instrumental lessons.