9 Sep 2024

Study mode

Full Time


Framwellgate Moor Campus


1 Year


Level 6

Awarding body


Course code


Fee Information

Standard Fees of £9250.00

Please note, these prices are for the current academic year and may be subject to change for our courses starting in future years. Many of our students are eligible for financial support when studying at college, please see Fees and funding for more information.

Student Finance

All fees are payable (no fee remission/reduction applies). However, eligible students can apply to Student Finance England for a student loan, which could cover both tuition fees and living costs. Student Finance England can be contacted directly Student Finance England or call 0300 100 0607.

Course details may be subject to change.

This top-up programme will provide you with interdisciplinary and collaborative working opportunities, and an opportunity to explore the aspects of popular music that interests you most. You will develop your own music practice within a variety of professional contexts, whilst refining your academic skills and technical understanding.

The programme aims to reflect the professional reality of the contemporary music industry, preparing you to creatively respond within a range of professional situations.

You will be provided with opportunities to study projects that explore performance, analysis and the creative practice necessary to produce technical professionalism and application.

You will engage in entrepreneurial activities that are likely to support future work in the field of music, such as work in music performance, creative practice, freelance work and music education. With a teaching team that combines practitioners and academics, it is intended that you will be supported to develop confidence in conceptual thinking, problem solving, presenting ideas and project management.

Entry Criteria

To gain entry to the programme, you will be required to satisfy the standard or non-standard entry requirements.

Standard Entry Criteria:

  • A Level 5 qualification in music or a related creative arts discipline
  • A successful audition and interview where level of music ability and experience will be assessed
  • Completion of short academic response to text provided (external applicants only)
  • To have or be working towards Level 2 or equivalent in English Language (or a minimum 5.5 IELTS in each band for international applicants).

Non-standard Entry Criteria:

  • Evidence of appropriate creative or performance experience or employment within the industry
  • An audition and interview to determine working level of music ability and experience. International applicants can be auditioned via internet/email (e.g. Skype)
  • Completion of short academic response to text provided (external applicants only)
  • To have or be working towards Level 2 or equivalent in English Language (or a minimum 5.5 IELTS in each band for international applicants).

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 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.

What are the next steps?

You will perform two pieces of an appropriate standard and you will be invited to demonstrate evidence of appropriate creative or performance experience or employment within the music and creative industries. On arrival please report to the Music Department which is on the 1st floor of the Music & Sport Building.

Please ensure you bring your instrument with you and be prepared to perform the pieces to demonstrate your performance skills.

Study Aims

This programme aims to:

  • Encourage the development of professional, innovative and creative outcomes in a supportive work-focussed learning environment
  • Allow you to engage in academic activities and projects, as simulated or live client briefs, underpinned by personalised learning and individual focus
  • Promote engagement in industry focussed work, supporting the acquisition of professional skills relevant to employment or self-employment opportunities within the music industry.

Modules Studied

  • Creative Practice - This module aims to facilitate opportunities to explore, expand and deliver a project/product based upon creative practice within music. You will demonstrate advanced skills in the realisation of a creative project and to apply an understanding of the processes involved in the delivery of a successful venture. You will work individually to realise a creative project to a professional standard, synthesising a range of techniques and skills, critically evaluating your product against concepts in line with industry expectation.
  • Individual Recital - The module provides opportunities for you to establish a mature understanding and capability as a solo performance specialist. You will develop musicianship through professional performance practices that refine individual performance skills within vocal and/or instrumental performance.
  • Ensemble Performance Project - This module provides the opportunity for you to function as a professional within a music ensemble. You will be expected to achieve professional standards in the context of music ensemble performance. You should consider developing a repertoire base which demonstrates versatility, adaptability, insight, imagination and creative flair.
  • Working to a Client Brief - The module aims to build professional skills through the application of musical skills and knowledge. You will independently pursue a client brief to gain experience of an example of practical real world musical activity and to develop the skills and understanding necessary to appropriately respond to a prescribed set of requirements in the form of a commission.
  • Research Project - The module aims to develop academic research and promote the analysis and critique of a topic based on the interest of individual students. You will develop arguments and rationales to support theories and concepts that are relevant to an area of music linked to their expertise.

Times of Delivery

  • Wednesday - 9 - 4pm
  • Thursday - 9 - 4pm

Any times indicated are based on current courses and may be subject to change in future years. Full timetables will be confirmed at the start of each course.

Teaching and 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:

  • Practice diaries
  • Recorded performances (sound and visual recordings as required)
  • 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 your practice diaries and evaluation feedback in order to assess yourself qualitatively.

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 BA(Hons) Popular Music, however, students are encouraged to gain skills for the workplace through paid or un-paid work experience.

Where can it take me?

Musicians £42,120 Potential salary

More info