Popular Music BA(Hons)

Penryn Campus
3 years full-time
Direct line
01326 213730

Start your career as a creative and entrepreneurial musician. You'll respond to challenging artistic briefs while developing innovative, critically informed approaches to the business of making a living from your music.

This course offers the skills and opportunities to make unique and contemporary popular music that is commercially viable. As a performer, songwriter and self-producer, you'll play a diverse range of styles and explore how connecting with other art forms can enhance the future of your sound.


  • Live performance and regular music showcases in our high-spec Academy for Music and Theatre Arts
  • Studio recording and production with state-of-the-art equipment
  • Key industry links with studios, record labels, promotion companies and venues
  • Frequent, high profile visiting lecturers, eg Adrian Utley (Portishead), Darcus Beese (Island Records)

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.

Course outline

You'll focus on developing your own professional and sustainable practice in an atmosphere that is both industry facing and committed to creative and entrepreneurial innovation. You'll learn to think broadly and analytically about popular music and apply this skillset to your own output. The course works practically in live and studio contexts and demands a critical approach to the writing of and about music, performance, production, and industry themes.

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'll 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 both mainstream and '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.

You'll undertake in-depth study on the workings of the contemporary music industry including publishing, digital marketing, distribution, internet radio and music law. An impressive 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.

The second year will also be the point in the degree where you can choose to study abroad with one of our partner institutions through the Study Abroad and Erasmus Exchange programmes.

Year 3

Your final year gives you freedom to develop your own projects, having used the first two years of your studies to really get to grips with your practice. Many students decide to pursue their music careers by writing, launching and promoting albums as well as undertaking UK or even European tours. Students can also undertake internships at major management companies or independent record labels, finding innovative ways to build on their acquired skills as artists or industry specialists. Alternatively, some students may focus on music education in schools, while others develop music community projects for charity organisations in the UK and abroad.

Like previous Popular Music students, your final professional practice 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 Falmouth music student who has shown promise in working in the recorded music industry. As part of this process, four third year Falmouth music students are offered work experience at Island Records each year.


  • 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
  • A superb collection of analogue/virtual analogue synths and drum machines


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'll 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
  • Session player
  • Artist/production manager
  • Music journalist
  • Music educator
  • Music community worker
  • Music researcher
  • Music/cultural theorist and writer
  • Creative marketing
  • Working at a record label

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