Blonde singer with sunglasses stood at microphone

Popular Music BA(Hons)

Carve out a distinct and sustainable music career.

Key details
Location
Penryn Campus
Course duration
3 years / 4 years
Attendance
Full-time / Professional Placement
UCAS code
W340 / PY07

Course overview

Develop your creative skills in songwriting, production, performance and promotion while learning how to navigate the legal, ethical and financial aspects of the industry.

Whether it’s DIY or commercial, underground or mainstream, acoustic or electric, you’ll work on your musicianship and craft an artistic identity under the direction of music industry experts and scholars. In collaboration with songwriters, singers, producers, dancers, filmmakers and more, you’ll experiment with approaches and genres to create an innovative audiovisual portfolio and build your audience.

You will:

  • Become part of a vibrant creative community of songwriters, musicians, producers, DJs, composers and sound artists 
  • Discover how to write and perform original material in relation to a unique artistic identity 
  • Learn to deploy instruments and technology with skill and imagination in live performance and the recording studio 
  • Develop an awareness of music business, including legal, ethical and financial considerations 
  • Gain a framework to explore innovative ways of promoting and disseminating work, independent self-release and building networks 
  • Learn from staff and visiting lecturers with wide-ranging experience and valuable connections across the music industry 
  • Bring your projects to life by tapping into expertise across the university, including dancers, filmmakers, writers and designers

Course details

BA(Hons) Popular Music course video

On this Popular Music degree, you'll have the opportunity to gain a BA(Hons) degree over three years or study Popular Music BA(Hons) with a professional placement option.

As part of this Popular Music degree, you’ll develop creative skills in musicianship, performance and songwriting as well as technical skills in recording, production and performing technologies. You’ll also gain a critical understanding of the music industry, learning how to represent artistic work and shape a unique identity.

In your first year, you’ll reinforce and expand your knowledge of music technology, music theory, studio practices, songwriting and performance, while embedding yourself in our creative community through collaborative projects with students and staff. The skills, experiences and self-awareness gained in this first year will help you to confidently progress to the next level of study.

Modules

Playing Live: Songwriting & Performance

Working in an environment that nurtures creativity, critical listening and collaboration, you’ll work in groups to write, arrange and perform new material – developing your skills in live performance, enhanced musicianship and songwriting along the way. 

Pop Synthesis: Technology, Songwriting & Performance

In this module, you’ll explore the possibilities of writing and performing with technology. You'll be encouraged to push the boundaries of your style and sound by integrating hardware and software instruments into your current musical approach.

Expanding Musical Vocabularies

This module will introduce you to a range of musical terms, theories, techniques and notations before helping you to apply them in creative and practical scenarios.

Specialist Music Practice 1

In this module, you will increase your knowledge and skills in your area of specialist practice and develop co-creation, collaborative and communication skills through collective music making and studio practice sessions. 

Music and Sound: Context and Cultures

You’ll examine key concepts and debates in music and sounds studies whilst thinking critically about the relationship between music, sound, and culture.

Studiocraft

You'll learn to record, edit, mix and master audio in a recording studio environment using microphones, audio interfaces, mixing desks and digital audio workstations (DAWs).

In your second year, you’ll be able to tailor your learning to your developing interests and expertise through a range of optional modules covering performance, music business, artistic identity and songwriting. You’ll also have the opportunity to collaborate with students from within and beyond the Music subject area on cross-discipline projects, such as sound and music for film and games, digital arts or multi-modal performance.

Modules

Professional Creative Artist & Songwriter

In this module, you’ll gain a core practical understanding of popular music as both craft and commercial exercise. You’ll apply methods and approaches used in commercial and artistic ventures within popular music to a project brief.

The Business of Music & Sound

You’ll be introduced to intellectual property regulations and the subsequent risks of exploitation across the creative industries. You’ll learn the necessary business skills to work sustainably within the music and sound sectors with confidence.

Specialist Music Practice 2

Building upon the work undertaken in the Specialist Practice 1 module in your first year, you will continue to increase your knowledge and skills to further develop co-creation, collaborative and communication skills through collective music making and studio practice.

Music & Sound: Resonant Futures

In this module you will question and explore the relationship between music, sound, technology, context and culture in ways that seek to imagine and speculate on the future of music and sound.

Optional modules

Enterprise: Innovative Music Business Practice

Within the context of the ever-changing and shifting music business, this module enables you to approach your practice with agile, innovative, sustainable and ethical business skills and knowledge; from legal to financial, marketing to planning. 

A/V Radical Artistry & New Media Aesthetics

This module unleashes the potential of multimodal creation, encouraging you to re-imagine your artistic identity by exploring the rapid acceleration and monumental shifts of the contemporary media landscape. You will explore the dynamic creativity of social media, vlogging, AI, TV, music videos, advertising, and graphic design.

Composing Music for Media

You’ll develop a critical understanding of music-image relationships and conduct practical work across a range of media. You’ll also enhance your composition and production skills through being shown industry-standard workflows and techniques.

Session Musicianship

In this module, you’ll develop an understanding of the skills, techniques, communication methods and working practices of session musicians in a variety of genres and contexts.

Immersive & Interactive Audio

You’ll be introduced to a range of technologies, techniques and applications of immersive and interactive audio. The module is highly interdisciplinary and relevant to film sound, game audio, digital arts and experience design.

Advanced & Experimental Performance

This module aims to develop your abilities in the art of musical communication, flow, interpretation, expressivity, experimentation and versatility in performance. You’ll be introduced to improvisational and creative techniques to advance your practical skills and ideas.

Resounding: Situated Songwriting & Composition

This module encourages you to think about how your practice is entangled with various places—geographic, imaginary, speculative, utopian, abstract and psychological. You’ll be introduced to new critical frameworks and artists who process complex issues like the Anthropocene, the internet, dark ecology and the climate crisis through their music.

Voice and Listening: Life, People and Planet

The module will develop your vocal and listening skills alongside your creativity and in relation to an increased awareness of concepts in voice studies and relevant contemporary social, political and environmental themes.

You can choose to take an optional professional placement after your second year on a three-year programme, or after your third year if you’re studying for a degree with an Integrated Foundation Year. 

You’ll be responsible for finding your own placement, with support from the Employability team. 

Choosing this option will enhance your industry experience and skills while studying. 

How you’ll study during your professional placement 

You’ll spend time working in a professional context, as part of a business or organisation. This can be in one role, or up to three, and must be for a minimum of 24 weeks. 

You’ll develop in-demand workplace skills, deepen your insight into industry and grow your network of contacts, all of which could help you get ahead in your career after graduation. 

Throughout this year, you’ll develop a portfolio of work that includes critical self-reflection on what has been learned from the experience. You’ll be required to evidence your experiences, the skills you’ve learned and your professional growth. 

Your final year is geared towards refining your artistic and professional identity, while deepening your knowledge, skills and networks in line with your chosen specialism. You’ll develop your showcase portfolio, enhance your entrepreneurial practice skills and carry out career design work as you prepare to embark on a successful and creative profession in your chosen field. 

Modules

Music & Sound: Dissertation

In this module you will expand on your music and sound subject-based intellectual skills developed in your first and second years through an independently-driven written research project.

Professional Development

This module enables you to continue developing your specialist skills, contextual knowledge, experience and entrepreneurial mindset in preparation for the Showcase Portfolio module, careers and/or artistic practice beyond your degree.

Your Future 

This module enables you to understand, develop, practice and analyse skills pertinent to your chosen career path in sustainable ways; both now and in the future. You will further develop legal, financial, marketing and digital skills that relate to specialist areas of the music sector and be able to critically analyse trends and future opportunities that relate to your career.

Showcase Portfolio

This module is the culmination of your practice during your degree. You'll produce, showcase and evaluate a professionally and artistically competent and research informed portfolio of creative work.

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.

Popular Music students singing together
Popular Music

Mattie Shanton & Lily Shickle

How you’ll learn & be assessed

On this Popular Music degree, we combine creative practice and critical thinking to help you carve out your unique sound and artistic identity. You’ll learn through a combination of lectures, seminars, group and individual tutorials, and practice-based workshops and masterclasses. You’ll also explore future career aspirations and gain professional practice skills by collaborating on group projects, taking on live briefs and getting industry insights from practicing professionals.

At Falmouth, we use a 'digitally enhanced learning & teaching' approach. Your experience will always be predominantly in-person, including seminars, tutorials and studio teaching, with some, more targeted elements, being online either live (synchronous) or pre-recorded (asynchronous). You can read more here.

All modules involve varying degrees of student choice, allowing you to design projects and tailor assessment tasks to benefit your development and future aspirations. Assessment methods may include:

  • Portfolio   
  • Studio practice and performance 
  • Journals, case studies, essays and reports 
  • Dissertation  
  • Presentations 
  • Viva (oral assessments)

Facilities

Working within the Academy of Music & Theatre Arts, you’ll have access to incredible performance, practice and recording facilities as well as communal spaces that encourage connection and collaboration.

Facilities include: 

  • 11 performance and rehearsal spaces 
  • A flexible theatre space for live performances 
  • Recording suites / live production rooms 
  • Music practice rooms for bands and solo work 
  • A technical store housing professional digital and analogue recording and performance equipment
Performance Facilities Image
Performance - AMATA

Performance Facilities

The Academy of Music and Theatre Arts (AMATA) is a purpose-built live venue housing an assembly of f...

Performance Facilities
Library facilities
Library facilities

Library Facilities

Offering extensive collections, our two libraries provide a wealth of digital resources, magazines, ...

Library Facilities
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Sports Centre - Outside
Sports Centre

Sports Centre

Our Sports Centre, on Penryn Campus, includes a spacious gym with up to 90 of the latest, new statio...

Sports Centre

Staff

You’ll learn from songwriters, musicians, vocalists, producers, composers, industry experts and popular music scholars.

Some members of staff only teach on specific modules, and your course might not feature every staff member who teaches on the course.

Dr D Ferrett

Associate Professor in Music, Sound and Culture

Dr D Ferrett is Associate Professor of Music, Sound and Culture and the Research Lead for the Academ...

Dr D Ferrett

Dr Johny Lamb

Senior Lecturer, Music

Johny is a senior lecturer specialising in the study of popular music. He is a songwriter, composer,...

Dr Johny Lamb

Will Parker

Lecturer in Popular Music

Will Parker is a lecturer, researcher and composer specialising in technology and aesthetics - ...

Will Parker
Frankie Stevens staff image

Frankie Stevens

Lecturer in Music

Frankie Stevens is an operatic soprano, metal musician and academic. She has a diverse range of...

Frankie Stevens

Andrea Rushton

Lecturer in Music

Andrea Rushton is a lecturer in Music focusing particularly on voice studies and performance.  ...

Andrea Rushton

Samuel Murray

Senior Lecturer in Music

Samuel Murray is a guitarist, researcher and lecturer whose current projects include playing guitar ...

Samuel Murray

Dr Simon Poole

Course Coordinator & Senior Lecturer: Music, Theatre & Entertainment Management

Simon has been making, selling, collecting, managing and writing about music for 30 years. During th...

Dr Simon Poole

Dr Simon Waite

Course Co-ordinator & Senior Lecturer

Si Waite is a songwriter, producer and educator. He has written, recorded and performed as a solo ar...

Dr Simon Waite
Dr Antti Saario

Dr Antti Saario

Head of Music

Dr Antti Sakari Saario is an award-winning post-acousmatic composer, sound and audio practitioner, r...

Dr Antti Saario
Dr D

Got a question about this course?


If you want to know more about the course structure, our application requirements or what our graduates have gone on to achieve, our friendly course team is here to help.

Chat to Dr D Ferrett

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Careers

The Popular Music BA(Hons) course will prepare you for a wide range of career opportunities, including:

  • Songwriter-performer-producer  
  • Working musician (band/stage/studio)  
  • Songwriter for synch, production/library music, publishing companies  
  • Performer/demo/presenter for instrument company  
  • Session musician  
  • Creative content creator 
  • Music industry professional (eg. label management, events management, music supervisor)  
  • Music and sound equipment manufacture and sales  
  • Music educator
  • Postgraduate study & research

Four band members on stage, illuminated by a spotlight from behind them.
Popular Music_Main

How to apply

Ready to join us? You can apply for September 2024 through UCAS. You'll need to reference the course and University code (F33).

Apply via UCAS

Course route UCAS code
Popular Music BA(Hons) three year degree W340
Popular Music BA(Hons) with professional placement PY07

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.  

Course route Entry requirements
BA/BSc(Hons) three year degree 104 – 120 UCAS Tariff points
BA/BSc(Hons) four year degree with professional placement 104 – 120 UCAS Tariff points

Check the title of your course to see if it's a BA or BSc award. UCAS Tariff points will primarily be from Level 3 qualifications such as but not limited to A-levels, T Levels, a BTEC/UAL Extended Diploma or a Foundation Diploma. 

Check how many points your qualifications are worth

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 student visa to study in the UK, you may need to take a recognised language test. You can read our English Language Requirements for more information.

For starting your studies in 2024

UK applications: 31 January 2024 (for equal consideration)

Applications after the 31 January will be considered on a first-come, first-served as long as there are places available. Apply for this course now.

International fee payers

International fee payers can apply throughout the year. But we recommend applying as early as possible, to make time for visa and travel arrangements.

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

Annual tuition fee Student
£9,250 per year Full-time UK
£17,460 per year Full-time EU/international
£1,850 per professional placement year Full-Time UK and EU/international
Annual tuition fee Student
£9,250 per year Full-time UK
£17,950 per year Full-time EU/international
£1,850 per professional placement year Full-Time UK and EU/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. 

The figures above don't include accommodation and living costs

Typical course costs

  • A laptop will be an essential piece of equipment along with a reliable broadband connection to run professional Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) software
  • Your own instrument and associated equipment if there is not an equivalent available in the practice studios
  • £60+ - Physical file storage 
  • £80+ - Monitoring headphones
  • £50-£100 Maintenance costs for personal study items and instruments (eg. laptop, headphones, software upgrades, strings, picks, replacement tubes for amplifiers, drumheads, earplugs) 
  • Public Programme season tickets (student rate) costs found: AMATA Live Pass

If you need to bring equipment or materials with you, these will be outlined in your Welcome Letter.

Ask a student

What better way to find out about life at Falmouth University than by asking our current students?

From course details and academic support, 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.

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