The Music Tripos intends to equip students with a sophisticated understanding of music and its cultural contexts, while helping them to develop fundamental practical and critical skills.

It covers a broad range of disciplines, from the history and analysis of Western music to popular music studies, ethnomusicology, performance studies, composition and music and science. Teaching is provided through a mixture of Faculty lectures and small group supervisions. This mixture will enable you to gain mastery in all aspects of the course, including subjects which are new to you when you arrive. Music students at Emmanuel come from a wide variety of backgrounds, and go on to pursue a range of different musical and non-musical careers after graduating.

The structure of the Tripos allows students to develop their own interests throughout the course. In the first year, you will take core courses in music history, analysis, music in contemporary societies, as well as tonal skills and general musicianship. You will also be able to choose two optional short courses out of performance, composition, history workshop (a practical how-to-do-it course), or writing an extended essay. In the second and third years, students choose from a wide range of more specialised papers, from music psychology to notation, from advanced composition to individually supervised dissertation on a topic chosen by the student. Further information about the Tripos is available on the Faculty website.

Emmanuel College has a long musical tradition, benefiting from the generous endowments of various former members which provide funds for College awards, music lessons and concerts by students and professional musicians. Opportunities for music-making at the College are many and varied, overseen by our Director of Music. The Music Society runs a choir, jazz band and orchestra. Another important aspect of the College’s musical life is the Chapel Choir. This is a mixed choir which sings for two services each week as well as at special College occasions. The College Chapel, the Old Library, and the auditorium in the Queen’s Building provide excellent venues for rehearsals and concerts. The Chapel Organ (34 stops) is one of the finest tracker-action instruments in Cambridge, built in 1988 by Kenneth Jones within the restored and extended 17th-century case. The College also owns a new Steinway grand piano, a Bösendorfer grand piano, and a two-manual harpsichord made by Milan Misina of Oxford. Three soundproof rooms, each housing an upright piano, are available for practice sessions. In addition, music students are provided with pianos in their own rooms.

As well as the Organ Scholarships and Choral Awards, the College also offers Instrumental Awards through the Inter-College Instrumental Award Scheme. For students reading Music, the cost of individual lessons is covered by the College.

Admissions Information

Standard Offer: A-level - A*AA; IB - 776 at Higher Level, 42 points overall; Advanced Highers: A1A2A2; other exam systems.
Course Requirements: A-level (or equivalent) Music. Please note: ABRSM Grade 8 Theory at Merit and above may be accepted as a substitute for A-level (or equivalent) Music.
Course Outline: Further details are available on the Department's website.
Applying: For information on how to apply: University application process and Emmanuel application timeline.
Submitted Work:

Applicants will be asked – following receipt of their application – to submit two pieces of written work: one essay and one sample of technical work, such as a piece of four-part harmony/counterpoint or an original composition. The essay format has a word limit of up to 2,000 words per sample. The work can be extracted from coursework or an EPQ. All work must be original and not re-written or corrected for Cambridge. The deadline for submission will be early November.

Admissions Assessment:

This College does not require applicants to take an assessment for this subject.


Candidates should normally expect two interviews. The interviews will take place during the period Monday 4 - Wednesday 13 December 2023. Specific subject dates will be emailed to applicants in November.

The interviews will include discussion of a musical passage as well as a text excerpt distributed 20-30 minutes before the interview.

Course Enquiries: Emmanuel Admissions Office