Popular Music BA(Hons)
Whether underground or mainstream, DIY or commercial, acoustic or electric, this course is focussed on developing your unique artistic identity in a creative live and studio environment.
|Course Duration||3 years|
As an independent performer, songwriter and self-producer, you’ll learn how to promote and release your own work, creating innovative portfolios based on experimentation, musicianship and a confident understanding of the music industry. You’ll study contemporary popular music as a media-based art form, while proposing informed ideas and materials for pop’s analogue and digital futures.
- Develop songwriting techniques and performance/ production skills.
- Perform live and record in our hi-spec AMATA studios as well as become part of the vibrant Falmouth music scene.
- Forge key industry links with studios, record labels, promotion companies and venues.
- Benefit from visiting lecturers like Ed O’Brien (Radiohead), Adrian Utley (Portishead), Darcus Beese (Island Records), Fiona Bevan and Mary Hampton.
- Establish innovative approaches to music making, the music business and technology.
- Define a practice that’s stylistically sophisticated and ahead of the curve.
What our students do
What our graduates do
As well as setting themselves on the path to becoming music journalists, researchers, and production managers, our students have gone on to support Primal Scream, Kaiser Chiefs and Sigur Rós.
Making Music: The Talent Behind the Scenes
It might be the musicians that get the spotlight, but the music industry is bursting with...
Meet AMATA’s Homegrown Music Industry Experts
Musicians are the face of the music industry, but behind them stands an army of professionals...
Graduate Composes Music for New BBC Drama
Music graduate Joe Donohoe has composed additional music for Baptiste - the new BBC One...
Popular Music Alumni IDER on the Verge of Greatness
From supporting Tegan & Sara in front of 2,000 people at KOKO and featuring on the FIFA 18...
Popular Music Alumni Launches Debut Album
Nikhil Pahwa, Popular Music graduate and music producer, has released his impressive debut EP...
Music Graduates Set Up Recording Studio
Equipped with only his industry insight and entrepreneurial drive, just two years after...
Industry-ready with Island Records
A visit from Darcus Beese OBE, President of Island Records and one of the most influential...
What you'll learn
You’ll develop a sustainable professional practice in live and studio settings. By learning about music, production and the industry, you’ll learn essential creative and entrepreneurial approaches for your career.
You’ll study improvisation, songwriting, aesthetics, recording, group dynamics, reinterpretation, stage presence, visuals, live sound, and listening. We’ll introduce you to electronic instruments, vintage equipment, and the recording studio. Taking inspiration from popular musicians, you’ll develop an original style and approach based on art forms like poetry, film and visual art.
We’ll explore music through philosophy, critical thinking and debate. And you'll focus on improving the quality of your output through a combination of musicianship skills, creative experimentation and by developing an understanding of the contexts in which you wish to work as a creative specialist in popular music.
Audio Culture and Critical Theory
Playing Live: Creative Performance
Making Popular Music: Technology and Aesthetics
Core Music Practice
Signs & Lyrics: Making Meaning in Popular Music
Creative Recording: Studio Practice
You'll produce an EP expressing dark themes in mainstream and outsider pop, while honing your songwriting and technical studio skills. On top of learning about publishing, digital marketing, distribution, internet radio and music law, you’ll push your networking and strategic planning skills through talks from visiting industry speakers.
You’ll get involved in the live performance network as you take your work on a mini tour or specialise in managing another artist or band. You’ll also have the chance to study abroad with one of our partner institutions.
Creative Writing and Research in Virtual Music Cultures
Dark Sound: Reading Desire in Popular Music
Professional Music Practice
Enterprise: Innovative Practice in Contemporary Music Industries
The Working Musician: Reproduce; Arrange; Mutate
The Hit Machine
The Music Educator
Music and the Moving Image
Creative Performance Technology
We'll support you as you develop your professional practice and push your skills and projects - whether you write and promote an album, go on a UK or European tour, or take on an internship at a major management company or independent record label. You could also take take an alternative route, like an overseas charity project or leading music education in schools.
Specialist Practice in Context
The modules above are those being studied by our students, or proposed new ones. Programme structures and modules can change as part of our curriculum enhancement and review processes. If a certain module is important to you, please discuss it with the Course Leader.
From module information to course aims and assessment criteria, discover the full course details.
How you'll learn
You’ll receive artistic guidance and feedback from staff and specialists through a mixture of practical and theoretical sessions. Lectures, seminars and tutorials will help you develop your sounds, while our visiting speakers have included Portishead’s Adrian Utley and Island Records President Darcus Beese. You’ll also get to attend live performances and music showcases at the Academy of Music and Theatre Arts.
How you'll spend your time
Timetabled teaching and learning activity
Guided independent study
How you'll be assessed
The above percentages relate to 2019/2020 data.
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
You’ll learn from ex-music managers, professional vocalists, cultural theorists and producers. Our visiting speakers and artists have featured music industry lawyer Helen Searle and Radiohead's Ed O' Brien.
Some members of staff only teach on specific modules, and your course might not feature every member shown here.
Dr D Ferrett
Dr D Ferrett is course leader for BA(Hons) Popular Music and a senior lecturer in Music. Since...
Samuel Murray is a guitarist, researcher and lecturer whose current projects include playing...
Dr Simon Poole
Simon has been making, selling, collecting, managing and writing about music for 30 years....
Dr Antti Saario
Dr Antti Sakari Saario is an award-winning post-acousmatic composer, educator and an audio ...
Andrea Rushton is a lecturer in Music focusing particularly on voice studies and performance....
Danielle Meunier's origins lie in classical singing and voice & speech with a BMus...
Dr Chris Best
Dr Christopher Best has been senior lecturer and principal tutor in music composition at...
Dr Chris Morgan
Chris is lecturer in formal and non-formal music education, co-ordinator of the Making Music...
Professor David Prior
David joined Falmouth as associate professor in Music and Sound Art in 2010. Now as Director of...
Dr Johny Lamb
Johny is a lecturer specialising in the study of popular music. He is a songwriter, composer,...
Jim Aitchison's practice as a composer is unique in initiating encounters with work by a range...
Rick is senior lecturer in music at Falmouth, teaching mainly within the field of popular music...
Will Parker is a lecturer, researcher and composer specialising in technology and aesthetics...
Since graduating in ‘Broadcast Studies’ from Falmouth College of Arts in 1996, Paul has spent...
Dr Simon Waite
Si Waite is a songwriter, producer and educator. He has written, recorded and performed as a...
- 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 and virtual analogue synths and drum machines.
- Professional theatre venue hosting visiting companies and artistes.
How to apply
Apply via UCAS
Ready to join us? If you're applying through UCAS Apply and Track, you'll need to reference the university and course codes below.
- University code: F33
- Course code: W340
We consider all applications on their own individual merit and potential. We invite all applicants to an interview day or audition to give them the opportunity to demonstrate this along with what inspires and motivates them in their field. Applicants will also be able to show their portfolio or give a performance depending on the course. We welcome applications from all subject backgrounds, whether you’ve specialised in STEM, the arts or humanities.
As a guide our typical offer at undergraduate level is 104 – 120 UCAS Tariff points, primarily from Level 3 qualifications such as but not limited to A-levels, a BTEC Extended Diploma or a Foundation Diploma.
For applicants whose first language is English we require you to have or be working towards GCSE English Language Grade 4 (C), or equivalent.
If English is not your first language you will need to meet the same standard which is equivalent to the IELTS Academic 6.0 overall score, with at least 5.5 in Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening. We accept a range of in country equivalencies and approved tests.
If you need a Tier 4 student visa to study in the UK, you’ll need to take an approved Secure English Language Test (SELT). You can read our English Language Requirements for more information.
UK/EU applications: 15 January 2020 (for equal consideration)
Late applications will be considered if there are places available.
International fee payers can apply throughout the year. But we recommend applying as early as possible, to make time for visa and travel arrangements.
Audition information & application advice
How to Apply
Get application information including personal statement advice, interview tips and what to include in your portfolio.
What is a portfolio and how do you make one? Read our guide.
Personal Statement Guide
How do you write a personal statement and what should you include? Read our advice.
Interview Information: Popular Music BA(Hons)
Find out what to expect from your Popular Music Degree interview.
After You Apply
Find out what happens after you apply to Falmouth and what you'll need to do.
What we're looking for
We want someone who:
- Shows ability in the skills and craft of music.
- Is creative and imaginative.
- Shows technical skill and musical awareness.
- Is expressive, with performance presence.
- Can articulate verbally and in writing.
- Engages with interview questions and discussion.
- Critically discusses portfolio examples or other musical examples.
- Has music experience and contextual knowledge.
- Shows sustained engagement, motivation and creative potential.
Fees, costs & funding
Tuition fees 2020-21
£9,250 - full-time UK/EU
£16,000 - full-time international
Tuition fees are set annually and are subject to review each year. The University may therefore raise tuition fees in the second or subsequent years of a course, in line with inflation and/or the maximum permitted by law or Government policy. Students will be notified of any changes as soon as possible.
Typical course costs
- £150 - Recurring annual costs
- £550 - Optional study visits and placements for the course duration
If you need to bring equipment or materials with you, these will be outlined in your Welcome Letter.
The figures above don't include accommodation and living costs
For information about funding available, please visit our undergraduate funding page.
Ask a student
What better way to find out about life at Falmouth University than by asking our current students?
From course details, our facilities and the local area to the social scene and settling in, our students are ready and available to answer any questions you might have. Simply set up your account, send them a question and they'll get back to you within 24 hours.