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Undergraduate

Popular Music BA (Hons)

What is Popular Music BA (Hons)?

Our forward-thinking Popular Music degree prepares musicians to build sustainable and diverse careers in the creative industries. You’ll develop creative music-making skills including production, songwriting, performance, composition for screen media, studio techniques, marketing, business enterprise and more.

If you like playing live, you’ll have opportunities to perform at festivals like Wychwood, Cheltenham Jazz and 2000trees, or at our annual European Capital City Showcase in cities such as Barcelona, Amsterdam and Berlin. You’ll also work on industry projects, for example with the BBC Introducing team, and enhance your CV through client briefs and placements with the likes of Universal Music, Sony ATV and independent Grime label, No Hats No Hoods.

Our award-winning tutors are all industry active, as songwriters, producers, performers and researchers. They curate independent labels and festivals, and run community and digital music projects. Their extensive connections ensure you get the latest industry insights and hear regularly from guests from organisations like International Talent Booking, Warner Chappell and Keychange.

You’ll have 24-hour access to our music studios, production labs and rehearsal spaces, and will make music videos in our film, TV and VFX studios. Working closely with other media students, you’ll create music for film, animation and games, and develop live events and business solutions with students from across the university.

Study style

In lectures and workshops, you’ll hear from professional content creators and taste-makers who tour, record, design and produce music and media projects. You’ll be assessed 100% by coursework.

In Year 1 you’ll explore composition, performance and creative music production. With a market-focused approach you’ll write and record songs, develop audio-visual content and play gigs as part of a vibrant community of musicians. You’ll also examine music’s place in cultural, economic and political contexts.

In Year 2 performance continues with regular live events on and off campus. You’ll explore the potential of web and broadcast technologies as a live performance platform, as well as music for moving image. You’ll also develop expertise in business relevant to your musical area. This includes licensing and royalties, label management, live event management, marketing and global music opportunities. You’ll be able to choose from a range of optional modules to match your interests and career goals.

In your final year you’ll demonstrate your creative, commercial and academic expertise, creating a product and live performance in your final year – as well as undertaking a placement and dissertation.

Get Popular Music BA (Hons) course updates and hear more about studying with us.

Entry requirements

    • 96 – 120 UCAS tariff points, CCC – BBB at A levels, MMM – DDM at BTEC, or a Merit in your T-Level.

      Entry to this course is by interview. Check out our Interview Guide to learn what to expect and help you prepare.

    • English Language or Literature and Maths Grade 4/C in GCSE (or equivalent) are normally required.

    • We welcome applications from mature students (aged 21 and over) and do not necessarily require the same academic qualifications as school leaving applicants, although some entry requirements may still apply for Professionally Accredited Courses. We accept Access to Higher Education Diplomas and make offers on an individual basis.

Course modules

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Fees and costs

See the further details of fees and potential extra costs when studying a course at the University of Gloucestershire.
Start date Location UCAS code Fee (UK)
per year
Fee (international)
per year
Sep 2023 Park, Cheltenham W300 £9,250 TBC
Sep 2024 Park, Cheltenham W300 TBC TBC

Possible careers

Graduates from this course can go on to work as:

  • Musician
  • Live Performer
  • Songwriter
  • Music Entrepreneur
  • Music Leadership: Community, Education and Health
  • Media Composer
  • Session Musician
  • Music Teacher

Industry links

As a Popular Music student you’re at the heart of a thriving live music sector that includes Cheltenham Jazz, 2000Trees and Wychwood festivals, as well as a host of venues across Cheltenham, Gloucester and Stroud. If you’re wanting to build up your live performance experience – as a band, as a singer songwriter or with an electronica project – as a Popular Music student, you’ll have three years of professional gigging experience to build up your stage presence, repertoire and creative identity.

Our students also take up a range of work experience opportunities and respond to live briefs set by our industry partners, including Reading and Leeds Festivals, Download, Superdry, BBC, Gloucester Guildhall and a number of regional educational and community development organisations, such a The Music Works and Gloucestershire Music.

Our staff have a huge range of combined industry experience as signed recording artists and performers, and have played major UK festivals such as Glastonbury, Latitude, Bestival and Green Man. You’ll also work with music managers, A&R professionals, music journalists and academic researchers, whose work explores music in relation to identity, migration, sustainability, blockchain technology and immersive sound.

We’re part of the Music Academic Partnership (MAP)

MAP is a ground-breaking collaboration between educational institutions and the membership of UK Music.

Its focus is on linking industry and academia more effectively to: nurture collaborative projects such as research and careers events; inform and engage with the next generation of industry professionals; develop expert knowledge-base to feed into education & skills policy work, and; provide individuals who want to build careers out of their passion for music with extra opportunities.

MAP is designed to maximise the relationship between the industry and the educational institutions involved. UK Music provides links and experiences that will help the employability of the students enrolled in those institutions.

Find out more about MAP

Industry, award-winning lecturers

We have a wealth of industry, award-winning lecturers at the University. They have been involved in musical direction for Blur and Gorillaz, music production for Broken (2013) and 8 Minutes Idle (2012), producers for Sony and Universal and BAFTA award winners.

We recently welcomed, musician, audio-visual artist and events promoter, Teddy Hunter to the Music and Sound team. Teddy has performed live on the BBC’s Horizons: The Sessions and also won the ‘Green Man Rising’ award in 2021 at Green Man Festival.

Produce your own European tour

You’ll work with musicians, artists and music producers to gain valuable experience, taking part in our annual European Capital City Showcase in cities such as Barcelona, Amsterdam and Prague.

Work in state-of-the-art facilities

This includes industry-standard technologies and a digital suite. Using our ground-breaking Dante Audio Networking system, you’re able to compose, perform and record your work in a dynamic range of spaces that are suited to individual, small and large-group projects.

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Ranked in the top 10 in the UK for feedback satisfaction (Music)

Our Music courses are ranked in the top 10 in the UK for feedback satisfaction by the Guardian University Guide 2022.

Placements

In your final year you’ll gain experience through a work placement – which will also inform your dissertation, relevant to your career plans. Recent destinations have included EMI, Universal Music, ITV, Warner Bros and the BBC.

Music & Sound Graduate Futures Day 2022

We hosted ‘Music & Sound Graduate Futures Day 2022’ – an event designed to help launch our final year students into the next stages of their careers.

Hosted by Dr Oli Morris of UK Music (who we work closely with owing to our Music Academic Partnership) with a panel of industry experts including Silv Gargiulo of BIY, Hannah Eakins of Production Futures, Nathan Barley Phillips (A&R at Nuclear Blast Records) and recent graduate Kane Peters (Live Nation).

So much valuable insight was shared from the panel with themes and talking points emerged around audience development, professionalisation, building contacts and networks.

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