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Popular Music

BA (Hons)

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What is Popular Music BA (Hons)?

On this course you’ll embrace diversity and celebrate original ideas. You’ll explore and enhance your creative voice, developing a range of practical skills and building an industry-facing portfolio and network of contacts to help you to launch your career. You’ll develop skills in songwriting, performance, music production, visual media, live events and community music practice.

You’ll be able to work with musicians, artists and music producers across our music degrees, and take part in our annual European Capital City Showcase in cities like Barcelona, Amsterdam and Prague. You’ll benefit from links with BBC Introducing (hosted on campus each year), EMI, and Gloucestershire-based Wychwood and 2000trees music festivals.

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

    • Because we want to offer this course to creative students with talent and potential (and because we know that exam grades don’t always tell the whole story), we invite all applicants to audition.

      Your suitability for the course is assessed and we will confirm your place after we’ve had a chance to meet you, if we feel you are a good fit. As well as unconditional offers for the right applicants, we make conditional offers based on your achieving certain grades in your A-levels or BTEC qualifications.

      Check out our Audition Guide to learn what to expect and help you prepare.

    • We welcome applications from mature students (aged 21 and over) and do not necessarily require the same academic qualifications as school leaving applicants though the entry requirements still apply.

      Some courses require several years of working experiences in the relevant industry.

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

Course modules


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 2021 Park, Cheltenham W300 £9,250 £14,700
Sep 2022 Park, Cheltenham W300

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.

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


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.

A man poses for a photograph outdoors

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