The Course

Music is a subject that embraces a wide variety of musical styles, covering potentially one thousand years of development. GCSE students encounter ‘serious’ Western music from the seventeenth century to the present day – including the ‘classic’ composers Handel, Mozart and Chopin, and the ‘modern’ composers Arnold Schoenberg, Leonard Bernstein and Steve Reich – as well as a range of the ‘popular’ music of the twentieth century, and also indigenous music from India and Africa plus folk-rock. 

Students are expected to have reached a minimum performing standard equivalent to Grade 3 by the end of this course – it will therefore be extremely advantageous if they have already achieved that level in advance. Students generally need to have an active and wide-ranging interest in listening to and studying music, as well as the self-motivation to carry out independent study. 

What skills do I need?

For Unit 1 you need to possess performance skills of at least Grade 3 in your chosen instrument.

How is the course assessed?

There are three units. Unit 1 (Performing Music) is a coursework unit. It involves one solo performance (with accompaniment) and one as part of a group chosen from the general repertoire of your instrument or voice. It is worth 30% of the total marks. 

Unit 2 (Composing Music) is another coursework unit. It involves two pieces, lasting around 3 minutes in total. Each piece must make a connection with a different Area of Study (see Unit 3 below). A score and a recording of each piece are required. It is worth 30% of the total. 

Unit 3 (Music – Listening and Appraising) is a written examination. Twelve set pieces of music arranged into four Areas of Study form the basis of this written examination. The areas of study are (i) Western  classical  music 1600-1899; (ii) music in the 20th century; (iii) popular music in context; (iv) world music. It lasts 1 hour 30 minutes and is worth 40% of the course. 

Students should make their own arrangements to have weekly individual instrumental lessons, as MPW is not able to offer such tuition. They should also be regularly involved in some form of group music-making, eg at a Saturday music school or in a band with friends. It is highly desirable for students to have their own copy of the Sibelius music-processing software (‘Student’ version) so that they can transfer composition coursework effectively between home and college.


Anthology of Music for Edexcel GCSE
By J. Winterson
Published by Peters Edition, ISBN 978-1901507782

Set of CDs for Edexcel GCSE Music
By J. Winterson
Published by Edexcel, ISBN 9978-1846904066

A Student’s Guide to Edexcel GCSE Music
By D. Bowman, P. Terry
Published by Rhinegold, ISBN 978-1783050307

Exam Board and Specification Code

Pearson-Edexcel 2MU01

John Cameron
Head of Department