Music Level Descriptors

EQF Level Descriptors Music


The document, EQF Level Descriptors Music, is an attempt to produce a set of statements about expected achievement levels for students in Music at EQF Levels 4, 6, 7 & 8. As such, it complements and expands the tables of Learning Outcomes published in the document, Reference Points for the Design and Delivery of Degree Programmes in Music (Deusto 2009). It complements that earlier document in the sense that it re-formulates the previous statements that were primarily based upon the termonology and conceptual framing of the Dublin Descriptors into language consistent with that employed in the European Qualifications Framework (EQF); it extends it insofar as it adds statements for EQF Level 4 to those for levels 6, 7 & 8.

The experts who produced this framework were all associated with the production of the earlier Learning Outcomes, which were validated through widespread debate and discussion across the European Association of Conservatoires (AEC) and, in particular, through the AEC-run ERASMUS Thematic Network for Music, Polifonia. They approached the challenge of devising these new level descriptors via an extensive comparison exercise that mapped the Learning Outcomes and the so-called Polifonia-Dublin Descriptors (in which the generalised level statements of the Dublin Descriptors are rendered in terms more specifically relevant for Music) against the terminology of the EQF.

In most respects, the exercise proved successful and relatively unproblematic. The only significant concern from the experts’ perspective was the use in the EQF of the descriptor ‘advanced’ to describe student achievement at Level 6 (the Bachelor Degree). In a framework that describes Lifelong Learning from the earliest stages, it is easy to see why degree-level work should appear as advanced; however, when viewed from a higher education perspective such as that employed in the Dublin Descriptors, much Bachelor-level achievement is more about laying the foundations for Masters, and potentially Doctoral, study. Despite these reservations, the experts felt it essential to adopt the EQF terminology, since the achievement levels expected of Music students at Bachelor level are certainly no less than those looked for in other disciplines.

The experts based their sense of the expected levels of achievement at EQF Level 4 upon their experience of students at the stage of interview/audition for entry to higher education (EQF Levels 5 and above). Because of the lengthy and concentrated nature of music study and, as a result, of the 1st-Cycle programmes in Music found across Europe, they also felt wary of attempting to define separate exit levels for a Short Degree (EQF Level 5). In both of these areas, they would especially welcome feedback, whether supportive or corrective, on their approach and the results it has generated. More generally, the experts are aware of the fact that the document they have produced still requires validation through a process of consultation and critical analysis by stakeholders across all disciplines represented - academic peers as well as students, graduates, prospective employers, etc. It is hoped that the comments and suggestions received during this consultation will help to fine-tune the document so that it may provide an accurate and also genuinely useful characterisation of expectation levels in the discipline of Music, and of how these conform to the overall scheme of the EQF whilst retaining certain distinctive features, such as the strong emphasis upon high-level practical skills acquisition.

Please direct any comments you might care to make in relation to this document to Ingrid van der Meer ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ).

Christopher Caine (Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, London)

Jeremy Cox (European Association of Conservatoires [AEC], Utrecht)

Jacques Moreau (Cefedem Rhône-Alpes, Lyon)

Jan Rademakers (Conservatorium Maastricht, Netherlands)

Ester Tomasi-Fumics (Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst, Wien)