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Course Title
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

Jazz and Contemporary Music Performance

BA in Jazz and Contemporary Music Performance

  • CAO CodeDC014
  • Course Type Undergraduate
  • NFQ Level 8
  • Delivery Modes Full-time
  • Duration 4 Years

The BA in Jazz and Contemporary Music Performance is a four-year, full time Honours degree which trains learners for a life as a professional performing musician. The programme covers a wide range of musical techniques including performance, instrumental technique, improvisation, composition, computer music, aural training, arranging and pedagogical studies, giving the participants the skills necessary to operate in a wide area of contemporary music, not just jazz. All of the subjects in the course are geared towards training young musicians to the highest international standards and to be fully equipped to work in the world of contemporary music both here and abroad.

A key feature of this programme is an opportunity for students to transfer into Berklee College of Music in Boston (www.berklee.edu), one of the most prestigious music schools in the world in the field of contemporary music. Programme modules include Instrumental and Vocal Tuition, Aural Training, Ensemble Performance, Composition and Arranging, Jazz History, and Music Business.

Application to the programme is through the CAO, with the audition/performance assessment, taking place on Saturday 24th of March and 7th April for September 2018 entry.

An aural/theory test is not required.  As entry will be by audition, this will be a restricted entry programme, meaning prospective students will need to have selected this as one of their choices when completing their CAO application in February – availing of the CAO Change of mind facility will not be an option.

Why do this course?

  • Acquire the skills to become a high level performing musician
  • Play and perform extensively as part of the programme
  • Learn how to compose and arrange for a wide range of ensembles
  • Make international connections including, with the renowned Berklee College of Music
  • Prepare yourself for life as a professional musician
  • Work closely with some of Ireland’s most highly regarded performers

About the course

The course offers intensive jazz and contemporary music education within a focused, supportive learning environment. It is designed to provide a balance of “traditional” jazz techniques alongside contemporary approaches to improvisation, so that students can experience the full breadth of the contemporary music world and develop into creative, versatile and employable musicians.

The degree focuses on giving students the practical skills they must acquire in order to function well in the professional milieu of contemporary jazz, and other musical settings. Due to its very broad nature, jazz is an ideal training for contemporary musicians and students experience the practical benefits of the various techniques undertaken throughout the programme.

A diverse and rigorous programme of study is organized throughout all four years of the programme. The course is concerned with five principal areas of study: 

  • Ensemble Studies
  • Instrumental Studies
  • Arranging and Composition Studies
  • Aural and Theoretical Studies
  • Contextual Studies

Ensemble Studies

The aim of these modules is to give students the skills to perform in ensembles at a high professional level in the world of contemporary music. Through working in ensembles, participants will be made aware of the techniques and traditions of jazz and related musics, such as funk, Afro-Cuban, Brazilan music.

Instrumental Studies

The aim of these modules is to provide learners with the instrumental and technical skills necessary in order to perform at a professional level in the contemporary music world. Learners will work on practice methods, identify goals, and acquire essential vocabulary through the study of the master soloists, and stylistic interpretation.

Arranging and Composition Studies

The aim of these modules is to introduce learners to the skills necessary for modern arranging, and to allow them to be conversant with the history, ethos and techniques of jazz and contemporary composition. Learners will become familiar with vital professional skills to enable them work as composers and arrangers in the field of modern music. Learners will also be introduced to the use of music technology as an arranging and composing aid.

Aural and Theoretical Studies

These modules will give learners a thorough grounding in contemporary harmony and theory, and give them the means to understand the theoretical and harmonic underpinning of contemporary jazz practice. In addition, the course will give learners the techniques to hear and identify all the common melodic, rhythmic and harmonic patterns used in jazz and other, related musics.

Contextual Studies

These modules will help learners understand the history of the development of music, of many genres, and their place in contemporary society. They will also give learners an insight into the methodology and philosophy of teaching. In addition they  will aim to develop musicological and critical thinking skills which will enable learners to have a sense of music in their own lives and how music is reflected in society.

Please click here for more information on the structure of the programme

Course Life

We have a unique and vibrant culture on our modern campus close to Dublin city centre. We provide state-of-the-art study facilities for all our courses and everything else you need for a healthy, fun and active student life.

Exceptional Facilities

DCU students enjoy exceptional teaching and learning facilities across our 3 academic campuses. These include purpose built music teaching and practice rooms, modern learning theatres, research centres, television and sound studios, classrooms, computer suites and advanced laboratories in the areas of languages, engineering, physics, chemistry and biotechnology, as well as a sports performance centre and a virtual hospital ward.

A Vibrant, Dynamic Social Environment

Student facilities include a superb sports complex with a 25 metre pool, two libraries and The Helix, our renowned performing arts centre. In 2016 we announced plans to invest over €230m in developing new, world-class facilities across our three academic campuses. Already building has begun on an exciting, new €14m Student Centre that will be home to the more than one hundred and twenty student clubs and societies. This commitment to student facilities means that our world-class learning experiences are complemented by a vibrant, dynamic social environment.


Leaving Certificate

There are no additional entry requirements for this programme apart from the general entry requirements for admission to the university.  Applicants will be expected to take an audition/performance pre-registration audition. The auditions will take place on the 24th March and the 7th April.  An aural/theory test is not required.  For more details on the Audition/Performance please click here.

GCE A Level

There are no additional entry requirements for this programme apart from the general entry requirements for admission to the university.  Applicants will be expected to take an audition/performance pre-registration audition. The audition will take place the 24th March and the 7th April.  An aural/theory test is not required.  For more details on the Audition/Performance please click here.

Transfer Applications

No Entry Path

International Applications

International candidates are expected to have educational qualifications of a standard equivalent to those outlined above. In addition, where such candidates are non-native speakers of the English language they must satisfy the university of their competency in the English language. For further information on international applications click here

How to Apply and Closing Dates

Applicants presenting EU School Leaving examinations

Apply through the Central Applications Office. This is a restricted course.  Apply through the Central Applications Office (www.cao.ie) by 1st February.   No applications can be made after this date.

Applicants presenting examinations from outside the EU

Applications must be submitted directly to DCU by 1st February 2017.  All Non-EU candidates are advised to apply early as possible, as places are limited.

Mature Applicants

All mature applicants apply through the CAO by 1st February.  For further information and for special application procedures click here

Make an Application

Applicants presenting EU School Leaving/FETAC Level 5 examinations:  Apply through the Central Applications Office (cao.ie) by 1st February.

 Applicants presenting examinations from outside the EU should apply directly to DCU by 1st February.  

 Candidates required to apply directly to DCU can download, print and complete a direct application form, available here.