GCSE music allows pupils to show that they can offer a wide range of qualifications at KS4 level. It promotes individual and group learning both essential for young people in today’s economic climate. The GCSE Music syllabus builds upon the knowledge, skills and understanding promoted by the programmes of study for music at Key Stages 1 – 3 of the Northern Ireland Curriculum. It reflects the key experiences placed within the context of listening, performing and composing activities.

This specification gives students opportunities to:

  • develop their knowledge, understanding and appreciation of a range of different kinds of music;
  • take part in music-making and communicate through music;
  • develop their creativity;
  • make informed judgments about musical quality;
  • develop a lifelong interest in music; and
  • learn about music-related careers.


Pupils will study the core component Western Classical Music 1600–1910, Film Music, Musical Traditions of Ireland and Popular Music 1980–present day.

Composing: 30%           

Pupils make up two contrasting pieces which are recorded in the studio.

Performing: 35%       

Candidates must present one solo and one ensemble performance.

Listening: 35%                    

Students answer questions based on familiar and unfamiliar music relating to the Areas of Study.


Music plays an important part in the economy of the UK and well over 600,000 people work in the arts and cultural industries.  In the field of music there is a wide and diverse range of career opportunities requiring an equally diverse and wide range of skills and training.


www.artscouncil.org.uk – Arts Council

www.bmic.co.uk – British Music Information Centre

www.bsmt.org – British Society for Music Therapy

www.ccea.org.uk/music – CCEA Music Site

www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize music – GCSE revision website