The music curriculum in UK universities has diversified significantly over recent decades as students have increasingly focused on popular music and music technology at school. Students still come to university with an A level focused on the ‘classical’ repertoire and a high level of proficiency on an orchestral instrument, piano or voice, but they are a diminishing part of a much more diverse group.

Gone now are the intimate university music departments with small numbers of students and staff. Numbers have increased, posing particular challenges in resourcing elements of the subject best taught in small groups or one to one. Furthermore, while research has the power to enrich the curriculum, the pressures upon staff to create research outputs has impacted on their ability to spend time with their students and diminished the sense of a musical community.

This chapter considers how quality in music provision is evident and examines the issues and challenges that face those designing, teaching, managing and quality-assuring music programmes. While some of these issues are unique (the teaching and examining of musical performance and composition for example) others, not least whether there is a core canon of works that should be at the heart of the curriculum, are issues in other arts subjects. Determining the right balance between breadth and depth, between knowledge and skills, and ensuring student satisfaction with feedback, are common to many disciplines.

As well as drawing on the author’s many years of experience teaching and managing music programmes, this chapter also draws upon the author’s research into peer learning in music and the process of transition from school to university in music.