Workshop for young viola players at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge


Musical life at Fitzwilliam is active, varied and stimulating, and we aspire to the highest standards in both academic and practical music. Each year we normally admit three students to read for the Music Tripos, while an Organ Scholar (who read any subject) is elected every other year.

The College has five members of music staff, excellent performance and practice facilities, and the largest college music library in Cambridge.


Students reading Music are supervised singly or in small groups by the Director of Studies in Music and his colleagues, according to their subject specialism. These weekly sessions are designed to support and complement the instruction offered by the Music Faculty, which provides a wide range of lectures together with some practical classes in Aural.

Course structure

For first-year examinations (Part IA of the Music Tripos), students take courses in Tonal Skills (harmony & counterpoint), Music History, Analysis, Practical Musicianship and several more general topics. Most of the repertoire examples are drawn from the periods Renaissance to Romantic, and in the second year (Part IB), this range is expanded by date and by the introduction of specialist options covering particular composers or genres, and historical survey courses. There is also a Dissertation option, and a longer version of this is available in the third year (Part II), where students select their own particular options of interest, which can include portfolio analysis or notation projects. Composition and performance are an option for all three years, although only a minor component at Part IA.


The typical A Level offer for Music is A*AA, including Music.  The typical IB offer is 40-42 points with 776 at Higher Level.  In exceptional circumstances, ABRSM Grade 8 Theory may be accepted instead of A Level (or equivalent) Music.

Applicants are required to submit two pieces of recent written work as part of their application.

Successful applicants with a strong interest in traditional chamber music and a high standard of performing ability on an eligible instrument are also eligible to apply for a Chamber Music Instrumental Award tenable at the College, which is awarded on the basis of a university-wide competition held at the beginning of the academic year.

Musical life at Fitzwilliam

Fitzwilliam provides a wide range of opportunities for instrumentalists and singers of all varieties and interests. The College Music Society organises frequent concerts, which take place in the outstanding 240-seat Auditorium (which houses a Steinway grand piano, a three-manual digital organ, a two-manual Goble harpsichord and a harmonium), or in the Chapel, where there is a fine two-manual Peter Collins organ and a Bechstein grand piano.

The College offers numerous music scholarships, including organ, piano, piano accompaniment, strings, saxophone, voice and conducting, and all music Scholars are members of the Music Society Committee.

The most prominent ensemble in the College's musical life is the Chapel Choir, which performs both at weekly Chapel services and at other functions. Other Fitzwilliam ensembles include the long-established Fitz Barbershop (men) and Sirens (women) vocal ensembles, the CU 'Fitz' Swing Band and a number of rock bands. There is also a strong tradition of music theatre in the College: Fitzwilliam Chamber Opera (founded 2007) is Cambridge's only permanent college-based opera company, and has given productions of Purcell, Handel and Mozart, as well as a number of new music world premieres. Fitzwilliam’s practice facilities are among the best in the University, including a band room and four dedicated music practice rooms, with a further pianos and harpsichords available in other spaces.

The musical life of Fitzwilliam is enriched by friendly co-operation with the music societies of the other 'Hill' Colleges, with whom we share the intercollegiate Orchestra on the Hill.

Director of Studies and Fellows

Francis Knights, Fellow and Tutor.

Dr Martin Parker Dixon, Bye-Fellow in Music.

Catherine Groom is Director of Music and Bye-Fellow.

More information

Faculty of Music >>