University of Durham Music Exercises

Scope and Content

The extensive series of music exercises submitted for degrees includes early compositions of a number of candidates who were to become well-known figures in the English musical establishment, among them Sir Edward Bairstow, John Ireland, and SirMalcolm Sargent. Changes in the degree regulations eventually led to the phasing out of these external degrees, and the last compositions under the old regulations were submitted in 1980.

Administrative / Biographical History

At Durham degrees in music by examination were initiated in 1889. They were designed to meet the needs of professional musicians for a test of professional competence rather than an academic course. Whereas music degrees by examination at Oxford,Cambridge and London in the 19th century all required candidates to show competence also in other subjects such as classics and mathematics, Durham degrees demanded high musical ability but only general educational qualifications, and had noresidential requirement. Exercises in original composition were required for both the B.Mus. and D.Mus., and later the M.Mus. These degrees proved popular with professional musicians, and by the inter-war period Durham music graduates probablyoutnumbered those of the other English universities put together.


By year of degree, subdivided by type of degree, then (mostly) in alphabetical order of composer.

Access Information

The collection is not currently available, and will be inaccessible until May 2017. Due to building work in the area around where it is stored material cannot be produced for consultation.

Acquisition Information

Deposited by the candidates in fulfilment of the degree regulations.


Part of : University of Durham Records

English (vocal settings where relevant in several languages).

Other Finding Aids

List, in chronological order with index by composer, now available online at online catalogue

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to make any published use of material from the collection must be sought in advance from the Sub-Librarian, Special Collections (e-mail and, where appropriate, from the copyright owner. The Library will assistwhere possible with identifying copyright owners, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material.

Corporate Names