FdA Roots and Popular Music

Start date(s):
21 Sep 2020
2 years
Level 5
Credit Value:
Course Code:
Ucas Code:
Study Mode:
Full Time
Attendance Type:
Attendance Pattern:
Framwellgate Moor Campus
Course costs:
£9000 per year
This programme is validated by New College Durham


This exciting new programme is ideal for musicians who want to further their knowledge of roots and popular music.

You will explore the origins of various styles and contextualise them through performance and theory workshops. You will study music performance and theory in addition to developing valuable enterprise skills that will support your career as a performer, music service provider and in music education.



The programme aims to promote the development of key skills derived from the following areas of music practice:
  • Musicianship - encompasses all elements of music practice – technical ability, stylistic interpretation, feel and all aspects of a well-rounded musician.
  • Creativity - the source of all new music and aptitude, which all musicians develop as a way of expression. Creative writers are among the highest earners and most sought-after professionals within the industry.
  • Theory knowledge - feeds into every aspect of the course. It informs practice, synthesis, analysis and can be related to written, aural and investigation of all established and new music.
  • Context Knowledge - helps musicians understand where music came from. The course will allow students to delve into its effects on society, its character as an industry and the part they play as musicians.
  • Employability - focuses on presenting transferable skills as sellable skills. Whether for employment or self-employment, students will analyse strengths and development points and forge them into a functioning musical package.

All the skills developed relate directly to the music industry and help to promote employment opportunities.


At Level 4:
  • Work Related Learning 1 - Work Related Learning 1 gives you the opportunity to explore and develop fundamental industry specific employability skills. The rehearsal processes are essential aspects of the music industry; therefore, this module develops and refines the necessary skills involved in appropriate preparation for performance and efficient rehearsal.
  • The Showcase - The Showcase gives you the opportunity to explore and develop live performance skills. This module places focus on the performance process, inclusive of the technical rehearsals in a professional venue.
  • Writing and Arranging Roots and Popular Music - Through exploring creativity and originality, this module will give you the chance to construct musical concepts from existing stimulus and generate stylistically accurate original works.
  • Roots and Popular Music in Context - This module provides the opportunity for you to take a close look at contextual influences and the development of popular music through British and Americana Roots. Informed by economical, sociological, political and technological analysis of the first popular music.
  • The Language of Popular Music - Musicians communicate in a universal language which is constantly evolving. This module will promote the importance of musical literacy, develop the skills needed to communicate effectively with other musicians and equip you with high functioning music theory skills.
  • Professional Practitioner Skills Development - The module aims to promote the development of wider professional practitioner skills that will be essential for a successful transition into the music industry.

At Level 5:
  • Work Related Learning 2
  • Major Music Project
  • Roots and Popular Music in Context 2
  • Music Theory in Practice
  • Personal and Professional Development.

Time commitment

Average number of hours per week

Work Placement
Assignment Feedback
Independent Learning


*Days and times of study are subject to change. Timetables are confirmed at the start of term.

Teaching & assessment

You will engage in the following:
  • Lectures
  • Seminars
  • One-to-one tutorials
  • Group tutorials
  • Workshops
  • Performance projects.

Management and organisation skills are essential for successful performing and recording musicians, therefore, you will be required to plan and manage your own projects, workshops and individual and ensemble sessions. Modules will be assessed through a combination of:
  • Recorded performances (sound and visual recordings as required)
  • Portfolios
  • Presentations
  • Written reports
  • Essays.

All of the above will be supplemented and further developed through the incorporation of visits from industry specialists.

Research skills will be delivered and assessed via review and modelling of several analytical models. You will be able to utilise personal reflection and evaluation feedback in order to assess yourself qualitatively.

You will have access to several student support services, including Higher Education academic support, Personal Learning coaches and our Additional Learning support team.

Maths and English

Industry links:

A selection of employers and current practitioners working within the music and creative industries are involved in the development of our higher education music courses. This includes music agencies, freelance performers and educators, singer songwriters, colleagues at Durham BID and artist managers.

Our music department has established links with the Gala Theatre in Durham to provide you with opportunities to perform on the main stage as part of your core assessment. Your tutors are practicing professionals who have links with professional venues, studios, producers, theatre companies, musical directors and agencies.


There are no formal placement requirements for the FdA Roots and Popular Music, however, you will be encouraged to gain skills for the workplace.

You could progress to a relevant top-up degree programme at New College Durham, such as BA (Hons) top-up Popular Music, to gain a full honours degree.

Alternatively, you could progress into employment as a musician or music educator. You will have the skills to choose to work self-employed.

Meet our students

Meet the lecturers

What else?


Additional Costs

You will need your own instrument for your first instrument of study. Much of the required equipment, such as PA systems, microphones, guitar and bass amps, drum kits, and keyboards are provided in the rehearsal rooms.

We plan to visit the Colorado Roots Music Camp every two years. This is not a compulsory component of the foundation degree but is an outstanding opportunity to further develop your roots music knowledge and experience. The fee per student for the current visit was £1000 but this could be subject to change each time we plan the visit. The next visit is planned for June 2021.

We would advise you invest in a laptop with music software and a music interface as past graduates have expressed that they have found this to be beneficial. Again, this is not compulsory as we are fully equipped in the department for you to complete assignment work.

Interview Instructions

You will be invited to attend an interview where you will be required to perform two contrasting pieces. You will also be required to recite rudiments on your first study instrument.

To assess your suitability for the programme, you will also be asked a set of standard interview questions, and will submit a 500 word personal statement, to assess your academic writing, attributes and aspirations.

European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System Credits:


Entry Criteria

UCAS tariff points:
To gain entry to the programme, you must satisfy the standard or non-standard entry requirements to the course.

Standard entry requirements:
You will hold a relevant Level 3 qualification in a music related subject – attaining a minimum of 32 UCAS points. You will hold Level 2 qualification in maths and English Language (or a minimum 5.5 IELTS in each band for international applicants).

Non-standard entry requirements:
You will hold relevant work experience and attainment of skills, which demonstrate an ability to study at this level. You will display your knowledge and understanding of music in the interview.

Applications for Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) and Recognition of Experiential Learning (RPEL) are welcomed in accordance with the College FDAP Academic Regulations. However, these must be discussed as part of the admissions process.