Key Stage 3

Programme of Study

Music is a universal language that embodies one of the highest forms of creativity. A high quality music education should engage and inspire pupils to develop a love of music and their talent as musicians, and so increase their self-confidence, creativity and sense of achievement. As pupils progress, they should develop a critical engagement with music, allowing them to compose, and to listen with discrimination to the best in the musical canon.

During KS3, students receive a grounding in music. This should lead on, ideally, from KS1 and KS2 musical experiences at primary school, following the National Curriculum for England.

Over the two years, the students will study the following:

  • Rudiments of Music Theory
  • Vocal music (supported by mandatory Y7 junior choir)
  • Basic keyboard (piano) skills
  • The Elements of Music
  • Instruments of the Orchestra
  • Melody-writing
  • Music technology (including MIDI sequencing)
  • Structure and Form
  • Popular Music (including Blues, Jazz and Rock 'N' Roll)
  • Music for Musical Theatre
  • World Music/Ethnomusicology (music from other cultures)

Learning/Teaching Approach

Students will develop skills:

  • Performing – ability to perform as a soloist, as well as in groups of different size (up-to and including our mandatory Y7 junior choir).
  • Composing – creating new music, based on given stimuli and from their own experiences and interests in music.
  • Listening & Appraising – through the development of a good subject-specific vocabulary, students will be able to talk coherently and succinctly about music they have heard, giving opinions with sound musical reasoning.
  • Musical Literacy – an understanding of the rudiments of music theory, i.e. the ability to read and write music using a five-line stave, as well as understanding how chords are formed and appropriate vocabulary relating to dynamics, tempi and articulation.


Assessment at KS3 is now organised in-line with the Edexcel 9-1 GCSE in Music since the demise of National Curriculum Levels of Attainment. This will allow students to become accustomed with the language and grading criteria used at higher key stages.

Students will be assessments in a range of skills:

  • Strand 1 – Performing*
    • Technical Control & Technique
    • Expression & Interpretation
    • Accuracy & Fluency
  • Strand 2 - Composing
    • Developing Music ldeas
    • Demonstrating Technical Control
    • Musical Coherence
  • Strand 3 – Listening, Appraising & Music Theory
    • Making Judgements
    • Rudiments of Music Theory

*Performing marks are scaled according the difficulty of the piece performed

Key Stage 4



Exam Board and Syllabus

Edexcel 1MU01

Programme of Study

Music is something encountered by everybody during their day-to-day life, whether it is through music broadcast on the radio, television or internet, accompanying a film or performed in rehearsals and concerts by individuals. GCSE Music aims to develop students' musical skills which have emerged through KS3 and enable them to build upon these through performing, composing and listening and appraising.

During the course, students will study for different Areas of Study, each with two prescribed 'set works'. Additional wider listening is highly recommended in all areas.

  • Area of Study 1: Instrumental Music 1700-1820
    • J. S. Bach: 3rd Movt. Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 in D Major
    • L. van Beethoven: 1st Movt. Piano Sonata No. 8 (Pathétique) in C Minor.
  • Area of Study 2: Vocal Music
    • H. Purcell: Music for a While
    • Queen: Killer Queen
  • Area of Study 3: Music for Stage and Screen
    • S. Schwartz: Defying Gravity (from "Wicked")
    • J. Williams: Main Title/Rebel Blockade Runner (from "Star Wars")
  • Area of Study 4: Fusions
    • Afro Celt Sound System: Release (from "Vol. 2: Release")
    • Esperanza Spalding: Samba Em Preludio (from "Esperanza")

Learning/Teaching Approach

The three areas of performing, composing, listening and appraising, are integrated and the flexibility of approach allows pupils to capitalise on their special interests. The course is designed for a wide range of musical abilities and follows on from KS3 work.


GCSE Music is assessed into three units or components, with the first two being operated as 'controlled assessment', which are internally assessed and externally moderated:

  • Component 1: Performing (30%)
    1. Solo Performance - A performance at least one minute duration, which may be accompanied or unaccompanied. For solo performance, students must perform an undoubled part.
    2. Ensemble Performance - A performance of at least one minute duration, in which the student must be performing an undoubled part, with at least one other musician.

    Students are marked for each performance out of 30, where marks are distributed between technical control, expression & interpretation and accuracy & fluency.

  • Component 2: Composing (30%)
    Students in this section will compose two different compositions, with a combined duration of at least three minutes.
    The brief for one composition will be set annually by Edexcel, with the remaining being 'free choice' set by students and supported by their GCSE Music teacher.
  • Component 3: Appraising (40%)
    This section refers to the 'terminal examination' completed at the end of the final year of the GCSE Music course, and considers each student's understanding of the elements of music, focussing on the four Areas of Study. This examination is marked out of 80 with 68 marks being awarded for questions regarding six of the eight 'set works', an aural dictation exercise and one question regarding an unfamiliar piece. The remaining 12 marks are awarded for a compare and contrast response regarding one set work and one unfamiliar piece.

What it leads to

GCSE Music can lead on to many different career choices for the future. From performing as a professional musician to conducting, teaching (instrumental or classroom) or composing, to arts administration or working in a recording studio, GCSE Music can help to take you there. GCSE Music helps lead onwards to GCE Advanced Level qualification in Music (Music Technology as well as BTEC Level 3 Music qualifications) and towards degrees in Music and Music Technology. Employers view music as a favourable subject as it necessitates the use and development of both creative and academic skills.

Additional Points

Music is a highly enjoyable subject to study and the "New Wave" GCSE 9-1 will help to develop an understanding of music as well as a general awareness of music. With a wide range of music under the Areas of Study, we believe students' interest will be maintained and developed throughout the course.

To further develop knowledge of their own performance skills, it is an expectation that students seeking to follow GCSE Music will actively participate in music - practicing regularly and participating in one or more of the many musical ensembles that operate here at BUCHS.

Tier of Entry

Single Tier.