Jazz is one of the most complex and creative musical forms. If you are an ambitious musician, this advanced degree will enable you to develop your technique, skills and experience, ready to launch a professional career in the music industry.
Why study BA Jazz at Middlesex?
“When students come to Middlesex they get the chance to develop their individual voices. Because of that they come out with a distinctive edge and style”.
Chris Batchelor, course leader and acclaimed Jazz trumpeter
BA Jazz is an exciting and practical course where you get to play all the music that you study in class. Performance, improvisation and composition are intrinsically linked in jazz music so they are embedded within all areas of our course. We encourage you to develop your own voice whilst acknowledging the jazz tradition and you will examine a wide range of music and artists each year, giving you a diverse and exciting course of study.
Did you know
Our BA Jazz degree was the first in the UK and has a 93% student satisfaction rating (NSS, 2013)
This degree requires a high standard of musicianship. You will learn to work quickly, effectively and flexibly by joining a range of ensembles and performing at London jazz venues.
Our London location puts you at the heart of the capital’s thriving music scene: where you can access promoters, labels, concerts, gigs and the wealth of musical opportunities that London holds. You will also benefit from the expertise of a team of successful professional musicians, currently active in the music industry, who will help you build the contacts and experience required for a music industry career. Successful graduates from the BA Jazz degree include Led Bib, who received a Mercury Prize nomination for their album Sensible Shoes. You can find out more about our graduates in the Careers tab.
Watch Led Bib's music video for Is that a Woodblock? here.
- You will benefit from the expert teaching, training and support of our four dedicated jazz lecturers (find out more in the Profiles tab), as well as our wider music staff, who are leading academics, musicians, composers and producers
- We offer work placement options, visiting lectures from industry and regular masterclasses, opening up a wide range of viewpoints from professionals such as music industry specialists, concert pianists and music agency staff
- You will have access to world-class facilities, including: a concert hall, two performance halls, soundproofed practice rooms, pianos (including two Steinway grands), hybrid analogue-digital sound recording facilities, a recording studio, a mixing studio and music computer workstations
- The music department hosts a weekly series with regular guest speakers - guests have included: Mark Lawrence (Director of Membership, PRS), Geoff Travis (founder, Rough Trade), Tom Robinson (BBC Presenter, renowned singer-songwriter), James Threlfall (A&R, Champion Records) and Dave Tomberlin (Music Publicist, Interscope-Geffen-A&M)
- You have the opportunity to study abroad in your second year - recently students have studied in New Orleans, Sacramento and Helsinki
- Year 1
- Introduction to Ethnomusicology (30 Credits) - Compulsory
- The module aims to give students an introduction to ethnomusicology, surveying its history, methods, and methodologies; illustrating how ethnomusicology deals with world musics, classical , popular and traditional. Students are also introduced to a range of skills required for the study and practice of non-Western musics through a series of mini-courses on specific musical cultures. Exploring ethnomusicology and the music of non-Western cultures will allow the student to develop their understanding not only of the systems and traditions of these musics, but also of the context of Western music in the world.
- Jazz Harmony and Theory 1 (30 Credits) - Compulsory
- This module aims to give students a broad harmonic knowledge to inform their practice, as well as the practical application of this knowledge and the conventions of jazz notation. For example, four-part realisation of song book harmony e.g. I Remember You and the formal design of common chord sequences such as the II V I and its variations . Through the analysis of standard jazz repertoire, students will examine form and gain an understanding of chord/scale relationships. Practical application is actively encouraged in the weekly lecture/workshop. This module will prepare students for further study in MUS 2083.
- Jazz Performance 1 (30 Credits) - Compulsory
- This module aims to prepare students for further study in jazz performance by giving them a grounding in the conventions of jazz performance through repertoire such as Autumn Leaves, Take the A Train, major and minor blues , simple arrangements, aural analysis and providing broad knowledge of common practice.
- Stylistic Studies 1 (30 Credits) - Compulsory
- This module aims to lay a firm foundation for the further study of jazz through a range of specific musical skills, with a focus on the execution of melodic patterns relating to harmonic sequences, sight reading skills and rhythmic fluency, and an understanding of musical analysis. These analytical skills are then used to examine paraphrase, motivic and formulaic improvisation.
- Year 2
- Jazz Harmony and Theory 2 (30 Credits) - Compulsory
- Building on the specialist body of knowledge gained in Harmony and Theory 1, this module aims to further students exploration in analysis and realisation of jazz chord construction and chord type. For example, exploring the modes of the melodic minor scale and various approaches to diminished harmony. The module also contains an aural component which will develop the skills needed in order to study the sounds of jazz harmony and to relate them to their written representations and to their context.
- Jazz Performance 2 (30 Credits) - Compulsory
- Building on the broad knowledge base gained in MUS 1082 Jazz Performance 1, this module aims to develop students command of specialised performance skills. Students will also learn about researching, adapting and arranging material for jazz ensembles and this will prepare students for further jazz performance study.
- Jazz Repertoire (30 Credits) - Compulsory
- Building on the broad knowledge base gained in MUS 1082 - Jazz Performance 1 - this module is more specialist in its demands on the student. An ability to learn more complicated sequences as blocks of harmony and demonstrate a practical understanding of the harmony of jazz standards through improvisation. Repertoire at this level e g Green Dolphin Street, Body and Soul will demand an increased level of sophistication and understanding, and will prepare students for further jazz performance modules.
- Stylistic Studies 2 (30 Credits) - Compulsory
- This module aims to use skills and knowledge gained in MUS1081 for study of later styles of jazz. It enables the student to develop: 1 Knowledge of the styles and techniques of small group bop and hard bop, an awareness of the roles of instruments in these styles and their inter-relationships, and understanding of the concepts of extended motivic and formulaic improvisation through processes of analysis and pastiche composition. 2 Notation and aural skills
- Year 3
- Advanced Jazz Improvisation (30 Credits) - Compulsory
- Building on the knowledge gained in the series of Stylistic Studies modules at levels 1 2, this module aims to provide students with a deeper understanding of the conventions and practice of improvisation in Jazz, to extend students practical improvisation skills and aural awareness, and to provide techniques for the development of musical ideas through improvisation.
- Independent Project (30 Credits) - Optional
- This module develops further knowledge, understanding and skills in an area of study that particularly interests the student, whether arising from previous learning or enabling the student to pursue an interest not other otherwise catered for in taught modules. Because of the diversity of Independent Projects, their specific aims will vary according to the nature of the project and will be defined by the student in their proposal, subject to the approval of the Module Leader.
- Jazz Major Project (30 Credits) - Optional
- Building on the knowledge base gained in MUS 2082 Jazz Performance 2, this module aims to consolidate and extend the specialised performance skills already established. Students are expected to apply these creative skills and to accept responsibility for researching and developing their performance material. This is done in combination with learning about jazz composition for small ensembles, and exploring the relationship between composition and performance in jazz.
- Stylistic Studies 3 (30 Credits) - Compulsory
- This module is a study of post-bop developments in jazz, including the electric music of Miles Davis and John McLaughlin, and European jazz by musicians such as Kenny Wheeler and John Taylor. Through analysis, transcription and critical evaluation of key works, students will examine the broadening of the modern jazz palette as some elements of various cultures rock, Indian classical music, folk music and Western classical music have been absorbed. This module will also give students an understanding of more advanced developments in harmony slash chords and rhythmic concepts.
- Un-American Activities (30 Credits) - Compulsory
- This module aims to use skills and knowledge gained at levels 1 2 for study of the interactions between jazz and Afro-Cuban styles, and jazz and Brazilian styles. It enables the student to develop: 1 Knowledge of some of the styles and techniques of Afro-Cuban and Brazilian music, an awareness of their interaction with jazz, and understanding of the concepts of the resulting styles through aural analysis and pastiche composition. 2 Idiomatic notation and aural skills
What will you study?
In your first year you will study Harmony and Theory, giving you a broad knowledge of harmony and jazz notation to inform your practice. In Jazz Performance 1 you will learn the conventions of small band playing and look at approaches to practise and memorising material. Stylistic Studies 1 is "jazz boot camp", where you will develop a jazz vocabulary, as well as instrumental and aural facility by playing patterns and scales through chord sequences. Finally, in Introduction to Ethnomusicology, a module shared with other music courses, you will explore how ethnomusicology deals with diverse world music.
In your second year you will begin to develop you own voice by playing your own compositions and arrangements in Jazz Performance 2. You will be given feedback from tutors in weekly sessions as well as composition lessons and instrumental lessons with specialist instrumental staff. Jazz Repertoire is a further study of jazz standards using more complicated chord sequences. By the end of this module you will have learnt more than 30 jazz standards from memory. Harmony and Theory 2 builds on knowledge gain in your first year and Stylistic Studies 2 is an in depth study of Bebop and Hard Bop through performance and analysis.
In your final year you will study Advanced Jazz Improvisation, working on techniques relating to form, melody, harmony and rhythm. In Stylistic Studies 3 (acoustic post bop and fusions) you will explore post-bop developments in jazz, including the electric music of Miles Davis and John McLaughlin, and European jazz by musicians such as Kenny Wheeler and John Taylor. Un-American Activities, despite its slightly subversive title, is the study of Afro-Cuban and Brazilian music, taught by one of the UK’s leading specialists in this field. The Jazz Major Project builds on your previous jazz performance modules and leads towards an end of year recital, with composition and instrumental lessons given alongside weekly performance classes. Students can elect to replace this module with an Independent Studies Module.
You can find information about teaching and assessment on this course in the programme specification
Teaching and learning
One-to-one instrumental lessons, musicianship skills sessions and performance and composition classes will hone your musical abilities. You will attend workshops, lectures, seminars and tutorials, where you will learn about composing both original and pastiche music, study and analyse different works and styles of music, take part in discussions and give presentations. You will perform both individually and in a group. You will supplement all this with your own independent study and practice.
You will be assessed in a variety of ways, through both coursework and tests. Live performances, your own compositions, analytical and critical essays and presentations will all contribute to your mark. There will also be practical musicianship assessments, performance and skills tests, written harmony tests and a viva voce assessment for one element. Some of the projects and performances will be done in groups.
You will receive feedback on your work from other students as well as your tutor.
We normally make offers on a minimum 240 UCAS tariff points or overseas equivalent.Applicants need to demonstrate instrumental and aural ability naming/singing/hearing different intervals ,harmonic knowledge,and experience of performing jazz,as well as some keyboard ability,sight reading and sight singing ability.Applicants will attend interview/audition.
International Entry Requirements
We accept the equivalent of the above from a recognised overseas qualification. To find out more about the requirements from your country, see further information under support in your country. For details of other equivalent requirements that Middlesex accepts see entry requirements.
English language requirements for international students
You must have competence in English language and we normally require Grade C GCSE or an equivalent qualification. The most common English Language requirements for international students are IELTS 6.0 (with minimum 5.5 in all four components) or TOEFL internet based 72 (with at least 17 in listening & writing, 20 in speaking and 18 in reading).
Middlesex also offers an Intensive Academic English course (Pre-Sessional) that ranges from 5-17 weeks depending on your level of English. Successful completion of this course would meet English language entry requirements.
We are looking for the following:
- instrumental ability
- aural ability (naming/ singing/ hearing different intervals)
- harmonic knowledge
- experience of performing jazz
- some keyboard ability
- sight reading and sight singing ability
What are the career options with a degree in Jazz?
The performance, compositionand arranging aspects of the course see our students go on to play jazz and other types of music at a professional level. Graduates have become professional musicians across jazz and other genres, as well as music teachers and instrumental teachers, or taken management roles within the music industry.
Middlesex BA Jazz graduates
Led Bib was nominated for the Mercury Prize in 2009 - all five band members are former Middlesex students, nominated for Mercury Prize 2009
Kelly Dickson (vocals) recorded in New York 2003 with George Garzone
Hans Koller (piano) has recorded with Bill Frisell, Steve Swallow and Steve Lacy and is in post at Birmingham Conservatoire
Michael Olatuja (bass) is currently based in New York and playing in Terence Blanchards band
Femi Temowo (guitar) is a solo artist and session player and was Musical Director for Amy Winehouse www.femiguitar.com
Stian Westerhus (guitar) is a solo artist who also works with Nils Petter Molvaer and Sidsel Endresen
Jason Yarde (saxophone) won the 2010 Paul Hamlyn Foundation Award for Composers
Ruth Goller (bass) is a member of award winning Acoustic Ladyland and leader of Madame Ruthhttp://www.myspace.com/amadameruth
Holly Slater (saxophone) was awarded the British Telecom Rising Star in Jazz award in 1996 and now lives in New York where she teaches at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music.
AmandaDrummond (viola) is playing in Courtney Pines Europa, and also in Jason Yardes Acoustic Bombastic
Gail Brand (trombone) is a band leader with several CDs under her own name, a regular contributor to BBC Jazz on 3 and a qualified music therapist, practising in the area of adult and child learning difficulties and dual diagnosis at the Guildhall School of Music and drama.
Dave Whitford (bass) is highly in demand as an upright bass player and has worked with many of the top names in the music world including Bill Frisell, Maceo Parker, Steve Lacy, Paul Carrack, Marc Copland, John Taylor, Dave Liebman, The NDR Big Band, The BBC Big Band, Mike Gibbs, Jack Bruce, Evan Parker, Kirk Lightsey, Ed Thigpen, Billy Hart, Kenny Wheeler, Josh Roseman and Gilad Atzmon.
Jack Pollitt is a drummer who has recorded and performed with Beyonce Knowles, Ed Sheeran, Pharrell Williams, Beverly Knight, Fran Healy, David McAlmont, Shapeshifters, David Arnold, Sam Brown, Brian May, James McCartney, Nigel Godrich, Dennis Rollins, Ola Onabule, Nelson Rangell, and many more. He has also played on many film and TV soundtracks, and in the West End. Jack is a member of the globally successful UK soul band Mamas Gun.
David Oliver (keyboards) is a member of the globally successful UK soul band Mamas Gun.
Jon Shone (keyboards) is currently musical director for One Direction.
Chris is a trumpet player, composer and bandleader who has featured as a versatile soloist in many highly regarded groups on the European jazz scene. He has played alongside international stars such as Michael Brecker, Sam Rivers, Hermeto Pascoal, Tim Berne and Uri Caine. In November 2009 he was selected to receive the prestigious Paul Hamlyn Award for Composers.
Rob is a saxophonist and composer. He has played alongside international jazz artists such as Randy Brecker, Sam Rivers and Eddie Henderson as well as working with rock/pop stars Rick Wakeman, Robbie Williams and Jamie Cullum. Rob also records and tours internationally with Steve Hackett and James Taylor, and writes and produces music for film, TV, computer games and other media.
Nikki is one of the most in demand jazz pianists in the UK. Playing highlights in the last couple of years include Julian Arguelles Octet, Kenny Wheeler Big Band, Anglo Canadian Project with Kenny Wheeler and Norma Winstone, Tony Coe and Tina May, The Printmakers with Norma Winstone and Mike Walker, and Renga with Rufus Reid. Nikki is also a composer and bandleader, and developed and edited the ABRSM Jazz syllabus.
Jazz Lecturer and Admissions Tutor
Stuart Hall mainly plays guitar, but also double and electric bass, violin, ud, kemence, mandolin, banjo, viola caipira, tres, bouzouki, gimbri, lap steel, mandola, a bit of pedal steel and various other gratuitously obscure string instruments. He has played with (amongst many others) Hermeto Pascoal, Django Bates, Steve Arguelles, John Dankworth, Cleo Laine, Lol Coxhill and Tim Berne as well as on countless Hollywood film scores.
What our students say
Band leader, drummer and composer for Led Bib
"Our formative year and a half was at Middlesex, even after that, we would go back and rehearse in the practice rooms. Soon after we finished Middlesex we started to get some press interest."
What our academics say
Course leader and acclaimed Jazz trumpeter
"Theres a very healthy scene amongst younger players in London and the Middlesex courses are part of that. We have a distinctive approach where students have the opportunity to study things like Afro-Cuban music and Fusion. When they come to Middlesex they get the chance to play day and night and develop their individual voices. Because of that they come out with a distinctive edge and style"