Wondering whether a Western Sydney University Music degree is right for you?
Are you an aspiring songwriter? A determined band member hoping to refine your craft? Or just a music fanatic wanting to learn everything there is to know?
Well, look no further because we’ve got you covered. We’ve compiled everything there is to know about the culture, units, assessments and what it’s really like to study a Bachelor of Music at WSU.
Let’s dive in!
What is a Bachelor of Music at Western Sydney University?
The Bachelor of Music at WSU is a 3-year degree that teaches the function, role and impact of music throughout different communities, histories and cultures. WSU offers a course that teaches practical skills and theoretical knowledge that transcends a standard music degree.
You’ll have access to advanced studios and extensive resources to gain the hands-on experience and understanding of music performance, sound technologies, composition, music theory, musicology, music analysis and arranging music. Think of a word, stick ‘music’ on the end and you’ll be learning it.
The Bachelor of Music at WSU covers everything there is to know so that you’ll be taking the music world by storm! Once you enrol in the Bachelor of Music at WSU, you’ll be choosing a sub-major of Composition, Music Performance or Music Production to complement your degree — but we’ll get to this in more detail later.
Can this degree be studied in conjunction with another?
A double degree made up of a Bachelor of Music and a Bachelor of Creative Industries is the main undergraduate degree that WSU offers its music students.
A double degree is a type of program that allows students to study two courses simultaneously. It’s a great option for those who are extra enthusiastic about increasing their career flexibility, those wanting to fast-track their studies or for students having trouble specialising in one area.
Keep in mind that there is absolutely no requirement at WSU to study a double degree. Studying a Bachelor of Music in conjunction with a Bachelor of Creative industries would involve a much larger and tougher workload.
A Bachelor of Creative Industries is a broad humanities course that can be combined with degrees in Music, Design, Arts, Communication and Law. You may like to use your Bachelor of Creative Industries to major in Journalism, Creative Writing, Graphic Design, English, Screen Media or Advertising — just to name a few.
You could also utilise a Bachelor of Creative Industries to major in music if you’re looking for a more broad, humanities-based approach.
If you’re wanting to know more about the Bachelor of Creative Industries at WSU click here!
Once you graduate from a Bachelor of Music degree at WSU, you’ll be prepped for a world of career possibilities. You may want to get involved in:
- Audio Engineering
- Music Journalism
- Vocal Coaching
- Producing Music for Game Development
- Music Historian
With some further study, you could also begin teaching music at a secondary, primary or high school level.
A music degree at WSU will provide you with all of the theoretical and practical skills necessary for a position within the music world. You’ve just got to find out what that looks like for you.
Core Units and Sub-majors
To graduate from a Bachelor of Music at WSU, you’ll need to successfully complete 240 credit points worth of subjects. While they tend to differ across universities, credit points are used to measure the workload of particular subjects.
Most of the subjects that you’ll complete at WSU are worth 10 credit points each. This means that you’ll be taking 24 subjects overall and 4 subjects each semester.
The Bachelor of Music at WSU is a relatively structured degree. All up, you’ll be taking 16 core subjects as well as 8 subjects that are split into electives or sub-major units. This means that you’ll be scoring some long-term pals since the program will remain pretty consistent across your cohort.
We’ll take you through your core subjects now!
In your first year, you’ll be slightly limited in your choice of subjects. You’ll be taking 8 subjects that will introduce you to the fundamentals of music and performance. Once you progress to second and third year, half of the subjects that you’ll take will be either your sub-major units or electives.
|Western Art Music History
|This unit will provide an introductory historical lens into the world of music from the Middle Ages to modernity. You’ll be learning how music has changed and adapted to suit particular ideals and cultures. In this subject, you’ll also be introduced to music analysis, music vocabulary and key terminology.
|Music Theory Fundamentals
|This is going to be your first practical unit at WSU. You’ll be reintroduced to basic theoretical knowledge like intervals, chords, scales and progressions. You’ll also learn about software like Finale and you’ll be beginning to analyse harmony and compose melodies.
|Music Performance 1
|In your second largely practical unit, you’ll be brushing up on your performance skills. Your classes will be taught through workshops and you’ll be focusing on improv, reading and arranging music and creating your own compositions. To finalise the unit, you’ll get to select one of the pieces that you have created to perform.
|This unit will introduce you to the basic concepts and processes of electronic and digital music production in the current industry. You’ll learn all about stereo recording, mixing techniques, musical acoustics and sequencing.
In your second semester of your first year, you’ll be taking 4 core units:
- Popular Music Histories
- Music Theory and Songwriting
- Music Performance 2
- Sound Design and New Electronic Media
As we said, your second year is where you can start selecting the electives that you’d like to take and the sub-major that you’d like to graduate with. The 4 core units that you’ll take will be:
- World Music
- Composition and Creativity
- Music, Culture and Discourse
- Arranging Music
The core units that you’ll take in your third and final year will look like this:
- Music Careers Research
- Music and Analysis
- Music and Critical Though
- Applied Professional Music Contexts
If you’d like to take a more extensive look at your core subjects, check out WSU’s Handbook!
There are 3 sub-majors that you can choose from to complement your Bachelor of Music degree at WSU. These include:
Throughout your degree, you’ll be required to take 40 credit points or 4 subjects towards your sub-major. These classes are offered in your second and third year and will give you a chance to get to know your peers with similar interests to you.
WSU also gives its students the opportunity to use their remaining 40 credit points to go towards the completion of either 4 electives or a second sub-major. This means that you can either complete another sub-major from the list or choose out of any undergraduate elective unit that you qualify for.
Are there any placements?
Music students at WSU aren’t required to undergo any placement or work experience opportunities.
This is mainly because a lot of the experience that you need in a future profession will be emulated through your classes or other opportunities offered at WSU. For example, if you’re studying music to hone in on your performing skills, you may look into joining a uni band or ensemble.
You’ve also got plenty of opportunities to find internship experience through the uni. You may want to get involved in the workforce over your holidays or by using one of your elective units.
You can look more into the work experience opportunities at WSU here!
How to Get into a Bachelor of Music at WSU
Because WSU understands that your talents and abilities go far beyond an ATAR, your prospective position into the Bachelor of Music program is instead offered on the basis of an audition, your HSC Music results, practical experience or TAFE Qualifications. If Music at WSU is what you want to do, there’s a way to get you there.
If you receive a Band 4 or higher in the HSC Music subject, you’re not required to complete an audition. If you haven’t quite gotten the marks, you have the opportunity to be offered a place at WSU by applying through the audition process.
To audition, you can either submit 2 videos of your past performances or you can submit a composition portfolio to showcase your work.
There aren’t any particular HSC subjects that you should graduate with to be eligible for the Bachelor of Music program. All you need is a passion for the practical and theoretical components that make music what it is.
You can have a deeper look at WSU’s avenues into a Bachelor of Music here!
WSU offers plenty of scholarships for all sorts of undergraduate students. Whether that’s on the basis of financial hardship, academic excellence, disrupted learning, community engagement, elite athleticism or any other individual circumstance, WSU has the scholarship to suit you. Check them out here!
For high performing potential Bachelor of Music students, the Dean’s Scholars Award is the most sought after scholarship. If you’ve gotten an ATAR of 90 or over then you should definitely look into applying.
What’s the Teaching Format?
As a Bachelor of Music student at WSU, you can expect to undergo your studies in a two-semester system. You’ll have 2 large study blocks throughout your year with some pretty long breaks in between.
If you’re studying as a full-time student hoping to graduate in 3 years, you’ll need to be taking 4 classes each semester.
You can expect your classes to be divided between tutorials, lectures and workshops.
Classes run from 1 to 2 hours each so you can expect to be on campus for up to 20 hours a week. This will account for your lectures, tutorials and workshops while also making time for some individual study that you may want to complete in the campus library.
Lectures generally explain the content and material that you’ll cover over the next week. You will attend a lecture for each subject you take and you can expect around 150 students in each lecture theatre.
Your four lectures each week will typically follow the same format. A lecturer will stand at the front of the theatre discussing material from a presentation.
These sessions are generally for passive engagement and are a great chance to jot down some introductory notes. It’s good to have a decent understanding of lecture material because you’ll rely on this knowledge to get through the tutorials and workshops in the coming weeks.
With around 20 to 30 students in each class, tutorials provide students with a space to consolidate their knowledge by asking questions, participating in discussions and actively engaging with the tutorial content. As mentioned, these too will last around 1 to 2 hours (depending on the content that you’re covering that week) and since these classes remain the same for the entirety of the semester, it’s a great chance to get to know your peers and start fostering some friendships with other maestros like yourself!
Tutorials will often involve some group work where you’ll be broken up into smaller collaborative groups to facilitate discussions and projects.
Workshops will allow you to really hone in on your practical skills throughout your music degree. You’ll be given the chance to participate in self-directed work to either practice performances or work on assessments.
Similar to tutorials, there’ll usually be around 20 students in each workshop and they provide an important chance to get some more help from your tutors and classmates. Workshops are usually more practical-based while tutorials won’t neglect the theoretical components.
As a music student, you can expect your assessments to be very practical and usually quite performance-based.
You’ll be perfecting your musical craft through consistent stage performances and composition writing assignments. You’ll learn to become comfortable performing in a range of different situations so that you’ll be confident wherever your music aspirations take you.
Alongside the majority of your practical assessments, you’ll have a few theoretical tests and quizzes to ensure that you’re around music history and its impact on society and culture. Either way, all of your assessments will be extremely relevant to the music world that you now inhabit.
Skills That You Refine and Learn
“Over my time of studying, some of the skills that I have developed are sight reading, music theory knowledge, working and performing in a group setting like on stage and in rehearsals as well as gaining the relevant skills that I need to work within the music industry.” — Aaron Oo
As we have mentioned possibly far too many times, this degree is almost wholly practical-based. You’ll learn about music history, its role and how it’s changed over time but for the most part the skills that you will develop throughout your degree will remain relevant in your music career.
Some of the skills that you will refine and learn as a Bachelor of Music student at WSU include but are not limited to:
- Ability to perform under pressure
- Planning and organisation
- Critical thinking
Possibly the most telling skill that you’ll develop as a music student is your ability to remain confident and perform under pressure despite varying crowds, circumstances or stakes. Since a lot of your assessments revolve around performance, you’re going to become more and more confident in your musical abilities, style and taste.
You’ll also be learning essential transferable skills that will be appreciated in any position that you decide to pursue. The ability to commit to self-directed learning and to motivate oneself no matter the circumstances are traits that employees are always looking for.
Once you graduate from a Music degree at WSU, you can be sure that the life skills that you’ll pick up will always be in high demand.
What’s the Faculty and Culture Like?
The Music faculty and cohort and WSU are a branch of the School of Humanities and Communication Arts. Alongside visual design, literature, languages and media, the Music Faculty has an important role to play at WSU.
You’ll be in safe hands as a music student at WSU with the wisdom and experience of knowledgeable and accomplished staff and academics. You’ll be learning from experienced performers, composers, producers and musicologists to ensure that you get the most out of a Bachelor of Music program at WSU.
The Music cohort at WSU are a group of confident, creative and welcoming musicians who are always supportive and encouraging to their peers. You can take comfort in knowing that you’ll be networking and making friends with people who, like you, are working their way up in the music world.
Societies and Clubs
As a student at WSU, you’ll have the opportunity to get involved in over 130 clubs and societies. The best part, if you can’t find one that you like, you can make your own!
You may like to sign up for a social club, a political society or a business group. The choice is yours!
Check out WSU’s clubs and societies for yourself here!
WSU is always there to provide assistance and support to current and future students at the university. WSU has got you covered whether you need a hand emotionally, some support financially, or some help academically.
You can find out a bit more about the student resources that WSU offers here!
Gemma Billington is a Content Writer at Art of Smart and an undergraduate student at the University of Technology Sydney. While studying Journalism and Social and Political Sciences, Gemma enjoys spending her time at the gym or reading about Britain’s medieval monarchy – ideally not at the same time. She currently creates and administers social media posts for Central News and writes for the student publication, The Comma. After completing her undergraduate degree, she hopes to study a Masters of Medieval History and is very excited about the prospect!