Popular Music BA(Hons)

Penryn Campus
3 years full-time
Direct line
01326 213730

Falmouth's Popular Music course is designed for musicians who wish to develop an impressive portfolio of work through a diverse range of studies. The course welcomes multiple, eclectic musicians, so that whatever your current frame of reference or genre - hip hop artist or singer-songwriter, post-grunge or folktronica - you'll be looking to invigorate your output and to forge innovative ways of making your living as an entrepreneurial artist in a digital age.

Popular Music at Falmouth has established a reputation for creativity and critical thinking. The course encourages experimental and commercial work by presenting challenging artistic briefs and a well-connected environment in which students benefit from experienced artists, musicians, producers, theorists, writers, music industry experts; all of whom specialise across a broad spectrum of mainstream and underground scenes. Students on this course possess a strong work ethic and want to make exciting and challenging contemporary popular music by crafting skills in performance and production, whilst working to progress through a contextual understanding of the music industries today.


  • Live performance and regular music showcases in our high-spec Performance Centre
  • Studio recording and production with state of the art equipment
  • Key industry links with studios, record labels, promotion companies and venues

How the course is taught

The course is delivered through practical and theoretical sessions, with technical and artistic guidance and feedback from staff and specialists. Lectures, seminars and tutorials will support you in developing your sound and extending your portfolio, while our excellent links with the music industry will inform your professional practice.

What you'll do

Year 1

Your first year focuses on learning skills that will help you to become a confident live performer who creatively works with technology and who can self-produce their own work. A typical first year will involve practical workshops based on improvisation, group dynamics, reinterpretation, stage presence, visuals, live sound and listening. You will also explore the possibilities of music technology as an important medium and sessions will introduce you to electronic instruments, vintage equipment and the recording studio as a compositional tool.

You'll be encouraged to draw from other art forms, such as poetry, film and visual art, as a way of developing an innovative and exciting practice that's influenced by the creative approach of key groundbreaking popular musicians.

Lectures will focus on entrepreneurial strategies to get you thinking about how to effectively launch an independent practice in today's music industry. Alongside music business studies, you'll be introduced to different ways of thinking about music through philosophy, critical thinking and debate.

Year 2

Your second year immerses you into the depths of your core modules. In Dark Sound, you'll produce an EP that embodies dark themes that recur in 'outsider' pop. In the studios you'll focus on the finer craft of songwriting while you hone your technological skills in music production. A strong emphasis will also be placed on developing visual material and artwork to represent your sound for promotion.

Enterprise is an in-depth study on the workings of the music industry including publishing, digital marketing, distribution, internet radio and music law. An incredible array of visiting speakers will help you gain a vital understanding of the music industry and guide your ability to network and strategically plan. You'll put what you've learnt into practice by conducting a mini-tour that will launch your music into the live performance network.

Year 3

Your last year gives you freedom to develop your own projects. Some students focus on music education in schools, while others develop music community projects for charity organisations in the UK and abroad. Alternatively, students undertake internships at major management companies or independent record labels, finding innovative ways to build on their acquired skills as artists or industry specialists. Many students decide to pursue their music careers by writing, launching and promoting albums as well as undertaking UK tours.

Like previous Popular Music students, your final project will see you producing excellent work, which may lead to you supporting the likes of Primal Scream, Sigur Rós and Kaiser Chiefs. Or you may wish to pursue the Island Records/Darcus Beese Internship Award. This is a one-year paid internship at Island Records for a graduating music student who has shown promise in working in the recorded music industry. As part of this process, four third year music students are offered work experience at Island Records each year.


The Performance Centre has everything you need, including:

  • High-spec performance studio designed for acoustic music
  • High-spec studio designed for amplified music
  • Recording studio complex
  • Music practice rooms for bands and solo work
  • Some of the best studio hardware, software and collection of microphones in any UK higher education institution


There are three core lecturers on the course: Dr D Ferrett, vocalist, creative writer and cultural theorist; Rick Rogers, music industry expert and ex-music manager; and Dr Johny Lamb, musician, producer and theorist.

Other visiting speakers and artists include music industry lawyer Helen Searle, Radiohead's Ed O' Brien, and Island Records President, Darcus Beese.


We assess creativity, evidence of learning and rigorous research. In core Popular Music modules, we will often ask you to develop interesting visual ways of presenting your thinking around your projects through journals, notebooks and blogs, rather than essays.

  • 100% coursework
  • Performance and musicianship
  • Portfolios


  • Musician and songwriter
  • Artist/production manager
  • Music journalist
  • Music educator
  • Music community worker
  • Music researcher
  • Music/cultural theorist and writer
  • Creative marketing
  • Record companies

Student Mentor Scheme

Falmouth's Student Mentor Scheme matches new starters with a second year student, to help you settle in and find your feet. Our student mentors are now on Facebook. To chat to a mentor about the course, living in Cornwall or what to expect at Falmouth, check out the Music courses group. You'll need to join the group before you can post.

If you don't have access to Facebook please email your name and proposed course to: studentmentors@falmouth.ac.uk

For more information about the application process, portfolios, interviews and selection days, please contact our admissions team using our enquiry form