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Undergraduate

Popular Music BA (Hons)

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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

    • 104 – 120 UCAS tariff points, BCC – BBB at A levels, MMM – DDM at BTEC, or a Merit in your T-Level.

      If you are using a combination of qualifications to achieve the required UCAS tariff points, they must either include at least 2 A levels, a BTEC or an equivalent qualification.

      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. Also please note – some courses require several years of relevant work experience.

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 2022 Park, Cheltenham W300 £9,250 £15,000
Sep 2023 Park, Cheltenham W300 TBC TBC

Possible careers

Graduates from this course can go on to work as:

  • Recording Artist
  • Live Performer
  • Songwriter
  • Music Entrepreneur
  • Community Music and Education Practitioner
  • Media Composer
  • Sound Engineer
  • DJ.

Industry links

You’ll work on live business briefs and graduate with a rich production portfolio and industry contacts, ready for a successful music career.

Across our music and media courses, students have undertaken work placements with EMI, Universal Music, ITV, Warner Bros and the BBC.

They’ve also worked technical sound roles for local festivals, 2000Trees and Wychwood, and work with the Media School’s BBC Introducing broadcasts. Our staff have a huge range of combined business experience including working with the BBC, Universal, Sony, Virgin, Orange and O2.

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

Learn from the experts

You’ll learn from lecturers with diverse industry experience including musical direction for Blur and Gorillaz, producer of music for Broken (2013) and 8 Minutes Idle (2012), producers for Sony and Universal and BAFTA award winners.

Students on the Music Business course playing a keyboard

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.

festival crowd outside

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.

Student at a piano in a recording studio
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Ranked in the top 10 in the UK for feedback satisfaction

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.

Academic Course Leader for Popular Music: Mark Daman Thomas

Mark Daman Thomas is a practising musician based in Wales. Active as a songwriter, performer and recording artist since 2004, he has released a large body of music with his bands Islet and Attack + Defend and his solo project ‘Farm Hand’. Explorative, experimental pop trio Islet signed to Fire Records in 2019 and their latest album ‘Eyelet’ was released in March 2020 to critical acclaim including being shortlisted for the Welsh Music Prize.

Based in rural mid Wales he has over 15 years live and touring experience, including USA, South Korea, Japan and Europe. He has played international festivals such as Primavera, SXSW and Eurosonic. Mark has recorded live sessions for BBC Radio 1, BBC 6Music and BBC Radio 3. Mark co-founded and runs independent label Shape Records.

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