true

Popular Music BA (Hons)

Key Facts

  • UCAS Code

    BA: W340
    BA with Foundation: W341

  • Level

    UndergraduateUG

    BA (Hons)
  • Duration

    Full Time: 3 years
    Full Time Foundation: 4 years
    Part Time: 4 - 6 years

  • Starting

    September

  • BCC at A-Level or,
    DMM at BTEC

  • Fees UK 24/25

    Full Time: £9,250
    Part Time: £1,540 (per 20 credits)
    Integrated Foundation Year: £9,250

  • Fees International 24/25

    Full Time: £15,200
    Integrated Foundation Year: £15,200

  • Location

Get in touch


For questions regarding study and admissions please contact us:

UK/EU Students enquiries

study@northampton.ac.uk
0300 303 2772

International Students enquiries

international@northampton.ac.uk
+44 (0)1604 893981

Overview


The Popular Music BA (Hons) course at the University of Northampton is designed and run to invest you with a variety of skills, knowledge and experience. When you graduate, you’ll have the know-how to navigate an ever evolving 21st Century music industry.

You’ll have the skills for wider employment, including in the teaching profession and further study should this be something you wish to pursue.

This course is Industry Accredited by JAMES representing APRS, MPG and associate industry bodies. Accreditation of a course by relevant industry bodies provides assurance to students and employers of its potential and value.

JAMES accreditation logo

Updated 03/07/2024

Highlights


  • Opportunities to perform live on stage, including at Northampton Music Festival and Open Mic Nights
  • Learning to use a professional grade recording studio
  • Accredited by Joint Audio Media Education Support (JAMES)
  • Introduction to a network of music businesses
  • One-to-one instrument/vocal coaching sessions (on your main instrument in year 1)
  • Innovative and exciting performances in a variety of venues
  • Taught by industry professionals and highly trained academics
  • Specialised guest lectures and masterclasses for popular music and composition
  • Guaranteed paid internship with the Northampton Employment Promise.*
  • HP Laptop and software included with this course. Terms and Conditions apply

Course Content


  • Our Popular Music BA (Hons) degree equips you with the skills your need to perform popular music, read and write music, compose songs and make tracks, use music technology equipment including recording and producing music in our professional grade studios. As well as starting you off as a self-reliant musician working in an ever-evolving music industry.

    You will graduate with a 360° view of the music industry, your place within it and how you can move forward from here. The course follows several strands:

    • Performing, solo, technical work and live on stage.
    • Composing, songs and for media.
    • Music technology, including Logic Pro X, Musescore, Ableton and Pro Tools.
    • Recording, mixing and producing.
    • Researching, thinking and academic writing.
    • Develop music industry insights and skills.

    When you graduate, you’ll have the skills to understand why music is important culturally and economically as well as know how the popular music industry operates in relation to your own artist persona.

    Our popular music graduates have the skillset to take advantage of the incredible opportunities the future holds. And to succeed after graduation. This stems from the support and guidance of academics, some of whom have worked with global icons and international artists within the music industry.

    Open Mic Nights

    List of Modules

    Please note the modules shown here relate to the academic year 24/25. The modules relating to the academic year 25/26 will be available from June 2025.

      • Module code: MUS1125
        Status: Compulsory
        The purpose of this module is to introduce students to the field of Professional Music Studies. The module focuses on production, consumption, and understanding of popular music and students will engage with a variety of approaches that help us to understand popular music?s cultural, social and economic value.
      • Module code: MUS1127
        Status: Compulsory
        This module develops general musicianship in a variety of contexts such as popular music, genre and performance. It includes ensemble playing, improvisation and performance work and practice based composition/arrangement. The emphasis of this course is in the development of practical skills in music making.
      • Module code: MUS1129
        Status: Compulsory
        This module introduces students to theoretical approaches afforded by cultural studies. Students will experience a range of complementary and competing theoretical positions related throughout the module to popular music and culture more broadly. The skills learnt here will act as a foundational scholarly base for analysis in later modules.
      • Module code: MUS1143
        Status: Compulsory
        This module introduces students to the fundamentals of digital audio workstation use through the application of Logic Pro and/or Ableton 10 software. The module teaches students the skills required to use a DAW effectively and professionally. It introduces MIDI, audio, and navigation of the DAW.
      • Module code: MUS1144
        Status: Compulsory
        This module allows the students to creatively apply the fundamentals of digital audio workstation use through the creative application of Logic Pro X and/or Ableton 10 software. The module teaches students creative and musical applications within the DAW.
      • Module code: MUS1145
        Status: Compulsory
        This module introduces students to the recording studio. Its focus is on safe and accurate use of the analogue mixing console, and on the effective use of microphones and communication between musician and engineer in a professional recording studio.
      • Module code: MUS1146
        Status: Compulsory
        This module continues in the recording studio. Now the students have completed the Driving Test, the focus is on completion of a recording session in small groups. The groups must demonstrate good microphone placement, routing, gain structure, dynamics processing, and basic approaches to mixing a session. This module will equip all students with the ability to use the recording studio flexibly and effectively to capture, process and mix sound.
      • Module code: MUS1147
        Status: Compulsory
        The module introduces students to the foundations of music theory and composition. Given the inherent diversity within student cohorts abilities, this module will be subject to APL for students with Grade 3 already. Students that are exempted are still required to attend these Mac Suite sessions. All students are supported in this module by weekly instrumental lessons.
      • Module code: MUS1148
        Status: Compulsory
        The module continues to develop the students foundations within music theory and composition. It builds upon students' knowledge of music theory, developing it to the equivalent Grade 5 standard. Students continue to be supported in this module by weekly instrumental lessons.
      • Module code: MUS2127
        Status: Designate
        This module allows the students to deepen their performance skills, composing and/or arranging of music in a practical context. This module seeks to strengthen the performance skill of students within contemporary context across sub-cultural traditions and develop their instrumental skills, techniques and approaches related to the performance of contemporary music.
      • Module code: MUS2129
        Status: Designate
        This module seeks to develop skills in interpretation, criticism and evaluation of musical practice. The module examines theoretical and musicological analytical models and provides students with a context for developing their understanding of musical debate.
      • Module code: MUS2130
        Status: Designate
        The Composition module will develop students understanding of techniques and processes in music composition. Our focus is on developments in composition from the 20th Century onwards and how these innovations relate to music in the present day.
      • Module code: MUS2132
        Status: Designate
        This module introduces the student to approaches to performance with technology including the application of music software such as Ableton?s Live combined with mapped MIDI controllers. The module also considers approaches to music making beyond the DAW including working with analogue synthesis, drum machines and hardware effects.
      • Module code: MUS2140
        Status: Designate
        Understanding how music ? sound ? behaves both acoustically and psychoacoustically is a necessary requisite for a successful career in music performance, music production and sound engineering. Many areas of work within the music industry require knowledge of sound processing and acoustic principles including studio recording, live sound engineering, the design of musical instruments, music production studios and synthesis. This module is therefore one that will underpin everything you do during this course. The module will enable the musician to understand the science behind their craft so as to better navigate their musical careers.
      • Module code: MUS2141
        Status: Designate
        This module develops professional skills relevant to working both in the music industry and further afield. With a focus on enterprise, entrepreneurialism and professional development, students will explore a variety of ways by which they might manage their professional careers. Students undertake an industry placement.
      • Module code: MUS2150
        Status: Designate
        Students are introduced a crucial production method found in popular music production and sound design: synthesis. The advanced use of a digital audio workstation is integral to the completion of the production tasks, where students will develop their knowledge and understanding of synthesis and sound design.
      • Module code: MUS2151
        Status: Designate
        Students are introduced to a key production method found in popular music production: sampling. The advanced use of a digital audio workstation is integral to the completion of the production tasks, where students will develop their knowledge and understanding of digital audio and sampling.
      • Module code: MUS3125
        Status: Designate
        This module examines the relationship between popular music and the political sphere. In the first instance the focus will be on the role of the state in providing legislative frameworks that inform musical practice. Secondly it will examine how popular music has engaged with protest music, political activism and censorship.
      • Module code: MUS3127
        Status: Designate
        This module is designed to develop skills in audio production and sound design. Through lectures, seminars and workshops, students will gain an understanding of the context of sound design in media applications including location based media, film and computer games.
      • Module code: MUS3128
        Status: Designate
        This module gives the student the opportunity to apply their musical knowledge in areas such as performance, song writing, composition and/or arrangement. The focus is towards collaborative work with accompanying musicological analytic write ups.
      • Module code: MUS3130
        Status: Designate
        The Music Education module has been designed to bridge between undergraduate study and post-compulsory teaching qualifications. Much of the content is drawn from PGCE level accompanied by a placement. This module prepares students for teaching by providing information about a wide range of teaching and learning methodologies, theories and practice.
      • Module code: MUS3135
        Status: Designate
        Continuing from the work done in Cultural Theory, this module broadens the study beyond the postmodern culture and into the realms of the analytical and the metaphysical. This module explores the lasting legacy of Enlightenment philosophy on contemporary popular music. In particular students will examine how analytical and metaphysical philosophical traditions and approaches have shaped contemporary popular musical practice across a broad range of styles and genres. Critical thinking is the process of active engagement with texts, theories, ideas and information, and it is the basis for any success in the battle of ideas.
      • Module code: MUS3143
        Status: Designate
        The module will enable students to develop their recording and production skills to an advanced level in order to produce recordings which are ready for commercial release on our NN1_Records label. Projects will be achieved by working at the University studio and through working with external partners.
      • Module code: MUS3144
        Status: Designate
        The module will enable students to ensure their recording and production skills are to an advanced level by producing recordings which are ready for commercial release on our NN1_Records label. Projects will be achieved by working at the University studio and through working with external partners.
      • Module code: MUS4121
        Status: Designate
        This module is for students intending to work in practice-based areas of contemporary music and for students interested in developing a project in a related field of popular music that may be either more entrepreneurial or theoretical.
      • Module code: MUS4125
        Status: Designate
        This module provides an opportunity for students to develop, at length, a particular disciplinary interest. This may derive either from study in the first two years of the degree, or from reading and/or practice activities on their own initiative. In either case, they will bring to bear on their subject matter the analytical techniques learnt during their degree.
  • A typical offer for Popular Music is:

    • BCC at A-Level or,
    • DMM at BTEC/Cambridge Technical or,
    • Pass (C and above) at T Level

    We welcome applications from students with a mix of A levels and BTEC/Cambridge Technical qualifications.

    All qualified applicants will be invited for interview. We welcome international applications and applications from students with a range of non-traditional educational or professional qualifications.

    For more more information on how to make an application, please visit our How to Apply page.

    If you are an International student and would like information on making an application, please see our How to Apply page.

    Integrated Foundation Year Entry Requirements

    Admission to this foundation programme is normally:

    • DEE at A-Level or,
    • MPP at BTEC/Cambridge Technical or,
    • Pass (D or E) at T Level

    We welcome applications from students with a mix of A levels and BTEC/Cambridge Technical qualifications.

    However, we would also like to hear from you if you have professional or industry experience instead, a range of other qualifications or self-developed subject knowledge that relates to the programme you wish to study.

    Interview

    Once your application has been reviewed, you may be invited to attend an interview with us.

    Prior to your interview, you will be required to send in a video of yourself, which will serve as your audition. The video should be footage of you performing on your strongest instrument – this can include playing an instrument or signing, live or produced etc. We’ll review your video during your interview.

    We interview will include a one-to-one chat with a member of the programme team, and it will be your chance to ask any questions you might have about the course.

    We hold our Popular Music interviews online and it will take around 30 minutes.

    English Language Requirements

    All International and EU students applying for a course with us must meet the following minimum English language requirements:

    • IELTS 6.0 (or equivalent) with a minimum of 5.5 in all bands
      for study at undergraduate level.

    For information regarding English language requirements at the University, please see our IELTS page.

  • 2024/25 Tuition Fees

    Fees quoted relate to study in the Academic Year 24/25 only and may be subject to inflationary increases in future years.

    • UK – Full Time: £9,250
    • UK – Part Time: £1,540 per 20 credit module
    • UK – Integrated Foundation Year: £9,250
    • International – Full Time: £15,200
    • International – Integrated Foundation Year: £15,200
    Additional Costs
    • Musical instrument & consumables: Price varies.
    • Vocalists – microphone: £80 (approx.)
    • Portable hard drive: £60 (approx.)
    • A good pair of closed back headphones: £60-100 (approx.)
    • Batteries for portable recording equipment: £30-50 (approx.)
    • Core textbooks and sheet music: £80 (approx.)
    • USB Flash drives: £10-20 for two (approx.)
    • And/ or SD card (£10-20 max)
    2023/24 Tuition Fees

    Fees quoted relate to study in the Academic Year 23/24 only and may be subject to inflationary increases in future years.

    • UK – Full Time: £9,250
    • UK – Part Time: £1,540 per 20 credit module
    • UK – Integrated Foundation Year: £9,250
    • International – Full Time: £14,750
    • International – Integrated Foundation Year: £14,750
    Additional Costs
    • Musical instrument & consumables: Price varies.
    • Vocalists – microphone: £80 (approx.)
    • Portable hard drive: £60 (approx.)
    • A good pair of closed back headphones: £60-100 (approx.)
    • Batteries for portable recording equipment: £30-50 (approx.)
    • Core textbooks and sheet music: £80 (approx.)
    • USB Flash drives: £10-20 for two (approx.)
    • And/ or SD card (£10-20 max)

     

    For information on the scholarships available to you, please see our scholarships page.

    For more information about possible funding options, please visit our Fees and Funding pages.

  • At the University of Northampton, everything we do, from funded trips to paid internships, is to give you everything you need to make a difference when you leave.

    If you join this full time degree at Northampton, you will receive a laptop when your course begins*. The laptops are built to a bespoke custom specification ideal for use in the seminar room, collaborative group work or studying at home. In addition to this, first year Popular Music BA (Hons) students get free one-to-one instrumental lessons.

    Whatever your ambitions, we’re here to help you to achieve them. We’ll support you to identify the skills you’re learning during your course, find your strengths and secure practical experience so that when it comes to applying for jobs or further study you’ll feel confident in standing out from the crowd. We’ve created the Northampton Employment Promise because we are so confident that if you focus on your studies and complete one of our awards you’ll be highly employable by the time you graduate. Putting you in a great position to secure employment or continue your studies.

    To check out the full list of perks, visit our Student Perks page or dedicated International Perks page.

    *UK fee payers only (see Terms and Conditions for further details).

  • The Integrated Foundation Year (IFY) offers a new and exciting route into studying for a degree, attracting ambitious and driven students who are willing to learn and advance.

    If you have non-standard qualifications or do not quite meet the admissions requirements we can offer you a fantastic opportunity to study a four year programme which includes an Integrated Foundation Year. The Integrated Foundation Year will help you develop the theoretical/practical and academic skills you need, in order to successfully progress to the full award.

    Our four-year courses will enable you to successfully follow the degree pathway of your choice while gaining essential study skills. The foundation year of your chosen degree will be studied on a full-time basis and is aimed at supporting the transition to higher education. Years two, three and four are then studied as a standard degree programme.

  • How will I be taught on Popular Music BA (Hons)?

    You will be taught through, small group lectures, seminars, tutorials, online tutorials, workshops, independent and group study, one-to-one supervisions.

    How will I be assessed?

    Assessment includes practical project work, seminar presentations, essays, and examinations. All performance assessments take place in a public venue in Northampton in front of a live audience.

Staff


Tim Smart, Senior Lecturer in Popular Music
Tim Smart

Senior Lecturer in Popular Music


Faculty of Arts, Science and Technology

Discover

Careers and Employability


This course is an excellent foundation for careers in all parts of the music industry including: musician, performer, producer, songwriter, artist liaison and more.

Facilities


Your teaching will take place at Waterside Campus, specifically the newly renovated Development Hub.

Specialist facilities include:

  • Two Mac Suites: running Logic Pro X, Ableton 10, Native Instruments Komplete 12, Pro Tools, iZotope, FabFilter
  • Two recording studios: running Pro Tools and Audient 8024 mixing console, Neve 1073LB preamps, SSL VHD preamps, Apollo 8P, Apollo Satellite Octo, Rupert Neve Designs 5043, SoundToys bundle, Arturia V studio, Universal Audio Ultimate, Spitfire Audio Hybrid, Steven Slate Drums
  • Microphones: U87 condensers, AKG414s, Telefunken FET M60s, AKG 451s, Radial DI boxes, Radial SGI and re-amp boxes, and a full range of other industry mics
  • Hardware synthesisers such as Arturia DrumBrute, Novation Circuits, Roland TB303, Behringer Deepmind 12, Roland Juno DS, Novation Bass Stations, Ableton controllers – Launchkey 49s, Launcontrol XLs, Launchpad Mark 1 and Mark 2
  • Three fully kitted rehearsal rooms
  • Live performance hardware such as Vox amps, Marshall MG 4×12 amps, Orange Crush Pro amps, Peavey Amps, Ampeg PF500 Bass amplifiers, Yamaha Stage Custom kits, Gretsch Drum Kit, Studio AAX, full PA, three rehearsal rooms
  • Two grand pianos – Bechstein Boudoir Grand, Steinway Studio B, two Yamaha upright pianos
  • The Popular Music BA (Hons) course is supported by a fully ProTools HD enabled recording studio. Students also have access to three digital audio workstation suites and two live rehearsal rooms

Special course features include:

  • One-to-one instrument/ vocal coaching sessions (on your main instrument in year 1)
  • Performance, musicianship and theory training
  • Learning to use music technology
  • Research and academic writing skills
  • Exploring the music industry in the digital age
  • Using a professional grade recording studios
  • Top-notch facilities and equipment