BA (Hons) Music (Popular)

Note: This course is found under the Undergraduate option when making a UCAS application NOT the Conservatoires option.

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Study BA Hons Music (Popular) at Leeds Conservatoire

In 2005, we became the first UK conservatoire to deliver a specialist course in Popular Music, and we’re still pioneers. We champion original material and encourage you to take creative risks. As well as focusing on your performance skills, you’ll develop composition skills and enrich your commercial expertise with practical guidance.

  • Starts:
  • Duration: 3 Years /
    4 years (with Foundation) /
    1 Year (Top-Up)
  • UCAS Course Code(s): Popular W302
    W3W2 Popular (with Foundation Year)
    2Q4A (Popular with Jazz)
    9Y5T (Popular with Production)
  • UCAS Institution Code: L30
  • Apply Via: UCAS Undergraduate
  • Study Mode: Full time
  • Validated By: University of Hull

Course Overview


If you haven’t already, you’ll start your music career whilst you’re studying, and be ready to take it to the next step after graduation. In addition to one-to-one tuition and band work, you’ll access masterclasses from professional performers, songwriters, producers, managers and promoters, supporting your artistic development as well as sharpening your creative voice.

Industry links

Strong links with the music industry mean that we are in constant contact with major labels such as Sony/ATV, Universal, Polydor and Decca, as well as local labels like Hide and Seek and Leaf Label, and we regularly welcome them here for student showcases and discussions. Our industry relationships have also seen our students perform at Sound City, Live at Leeds, Eurosonic and on the BBC.

Artistic Identity

We champion original material, and encourage you to take creative risks. By the end of your popular music degree, you will be a specialist in your chosen discipline and will have established your individual artistic identity and voice as a musician, whilst possessing a breadth of understanding, knowledge and transferable skills that will support you throughout your future career.

Live music scene

Leeds has an incredible live music scene, and our students are performing in it every day of the week, from support gigs at the legendary Brudenell Social Club and Belgrave Music Hall, to open mic nights at Oporto, Nation of Shopkeepers and a multitude of other venues. Our regular Friday night showcase, Crosswire, presents some of our best pop and production artists, and our students and alumni have taken the stage at major festivals, including Live at Leeds, Leeds Festival, Tramlines and SXSW.

Career destinations

Graduates from Popular degrees at Leeds Conservatoire have gone on to a wide variety of careers including Recording Artists, Award-winning Folk Artists, Session Musicians, and Producers. Find out more in our Alumni section.

“I launched myself as an artist in first year. I then recorded my debut EP, recorded sessions for BBC Introducing, played at Sound City Festival in Liverpool, supported artists on tour including Newton Faulkner and even had my own headline tour, and that was all in the first two years of studying at Leeds Conservatoire!” – Lauren Rycroft, Popular Music graduate

Our 3 year BA (Hons) Music (Popular) is designed for musicians who know they want to specialise in Popular Music. 

All Specialist Study and Specialist Group Study modules are Popular focused.

As with all our courses, studies in your specialist area will be supported by a broader curriculum designed to prepare you for your career in the music industry.

If you know that conservatoire study is for you, but you don’t think that you’ll meet the academic or musical entry requirements, our four-year courses are an excellent opportunity to start studying your degree while you focus on your musical development.

An extra year of access to our creative and collaborative environment, excellent facilities, expert staff and rich performance opportunities will build your confidence as a conservatoire musician.

Find out more about BA (Hons) with Foundation Year.

Popular Music can also be taken as part of a Combined Honours degree.

We are the only UK conservatoire to offer this type of combined degree where you will study both areas of music throughout all three years.

You will take specialist study modules (e.g. your 1:1 tuition) in your first area and specialist group study (e.g. ensembles) in your second.

e.g. for Popular with Jazz, you would have 1:1 Pop instrumental or vocal tuition and also be in a Jazz ensemble.

Course Options:

  • BA (Hons) Music (Popular with Jazz)
  • BA (Hons) Music (Popular with Production)

If you are interested in Pop but would like to specialise in another genre, you can choose to take your Specialist Study modules (including 1:1 sessions where relevant) in one area, and your Specialist Group Study (including ensembles) in Pop.

UCAS Undergraduate Courses

UCAS Conservatoires Courses

This 1-year course is for students with a relevant Foundation Degree, HND or equivalent who wish to 'top-up' their qualification to a BA (Hons).

What You Will Study (See Modules and Specifications)

Each year of the course is structured into three distinct strands:

  • Specialist Study – One-to-one tuition and group study in performance
  • Contextual Studies – Develop your composition, musicology and critical listening skills
  • Professional Studies – Develop your skills for working in the creative industries

Some examples* of Contextual Studies and Professional Studies modules:

  • Working in the Creative Industries
  • Songwriting
  • Music for the Moving Image
  • Introduction to Music Technology
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Self-Promotion and Music Marketing
  • Concerts and Touring
  • Working with Music in the Community
  • Instrumental Music Tuition
  • Music Journalism
  • Software Environments - Performance and Sound Creation
  • Live Music Management
  • Performance with Electronics

*The above examples are chosen to represent a selection of the kind of mandatory and elective module options offered, so you can tailor your degree to your area of interest. See the full list of modules currently available for this course, including mandatory and optional modules, plus detailed module specification documents.

If you choose to study the 4 -year Popular with Foundation Year programme, your first year will focus on developing your instrument/vocals through specialist one to-one tuition, and strengthening your music theory and academic skills, as well as your creativity and artistry.

You will also have access to a weekly programme of workshops and masterclasses, as well as regular individual tutorials with academic staff.

Upon successful completion of the Foundation Year, you will automatically progress to year one on your chosen BA pathway

If you choose a Combined Honours programme (e.g. Popular with Jazz), your Specialist Study (e.g. one-to-one tuition) would be in Popular and your Specialist Group Study (e.g. ensemble/band) would be in your second genre.

Popular with Jazz

  • Specialist Study - Popular
  • Specialist Group Study - Jazz

Popular with Production

  • Specialist Study - Popular
  • Specialist Group Study - Production

In addition to your chosen specialist instrument/voice, you can also choose to have additional 1:1 tuition in a second instrument/voice (for students at Grade 6 standard or higher in their second instrument/voice).

This is not part of your course, but there are a limited number of Instrumental, Vocal & Composition Bursaries available, or tuition can be arranged at additional cost.

Academic Requirements

BA (Hons) - 3 Years

96 UCAS tariff points from level 3 studies or equivalent, which normally include A Level Music or a BTEC Extended Diploma in a Music-related subject.

A minimum of three GCSEs including English Language at Grade C / Grade 4 or above or equivalent international qualification, eg IELTS 6.0 (5.5 in each component).

BA (Hons) - Top-Up

Foundation Degree, HND or equivalent in a relevant subject.

A minimum of three GCSEs including English Language at Grade C / Grade 4 or above or equivalent international qualification, eg IELTS 6.0 (5.5 in each component).

Performance and Musical Theory Standard

Read our full entry requirements to see more  detail on musical performance and theory standards.

Apply via: UCAS Undergraduate (not Conservatoires)

Read our step-by-step application guide

Applicants will need to audition, interview and/or submit a portfolio of work. 

Exact requirements vary depending on which programme you are applying for.

Find more detailed audition information for applicants.

Leeds Conservatoire does not charge audition fees for any Undergraduate or Postgraduate course.

In many cases, if you prefer to submit your audition online rather than attend in person, this is an option. However, we don't want travel costs to be a barrier to attending in-person auditions at Leeds Conservatoire, so help is available for many applicants where finances are an issue. Eligibility and bursary application information is available on our audition information page.

Visit our Fees and Funding section to find out more about Fees & Funding for International Students.

If you are an international applicant, visit our dedicated International section of the website for information on:

  • How To Apply
  • Auditions
  • International Entry Requirements
  • Fees & Funding

Study Mode: Full Time
Apply via: UCAS Undergraduate (not Conservatoires)
UCAS Institution Code: L30
Validated by: University of Hull*

*Note for applicants and offer holders for 2022/23 entry:

Leeds Conservatoire plans to apply to the Office for Students for Degree Awarding Powers. If we are granted Degree Awarding Powers, your degree may be awarded by Leeds Conservatoire rather than validated by the University of Hull.

Course Type: Undergraduate, Single Honours
Duration: 3 years
UCAS Course Code: W302 

Course Key Information Document 2021/22

Course Type: Undergraduate, Single Honours
Duration: 4 years
UCAS Course Code: W3W2

Course Key Information Document 2021/22

BA (Hons) Music (Popular with Jazz)

Course Type: Undergraduate, Combined Honours
Duration: 3 years
UCAS Course Code: 2Q4A

Course Key Information Document 2021/22

BA (Hons) Music (Popular with Production)

Course Type: Undergraduate, Combined Honours
Duration: 3 years
UCAS Course Code: 9Y5T

Course Key Information Document 2021/22

Course Type: Undergraduate, Single Honours (Top-Up)
Duration: 1 year
UCAS Course Code: W305

Course Key Information Document 2021/22

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Alumni Profile

Malaika Shaw

Course Studied: BA (Hons) Music (Popular)

Year of Graduation: 2013

Combining Jazz, Soul and Pop, Malaika has accelerated her own exposure, seeking out opportunities for unsigned artists like the local Trinity Sessions to BBC Introducing, and fervently working to maintain good coverage as an artist.

Within her first year of performing she received airplay on BBC Radio, supported X-Factor Finalist Luke Friend and was hand-picked by Jamie Cullum to perform at The Montreal International Jazz Festival 2015.

Meet our alumni

Tutor profiles

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Dr Jack HarbordAcademic Manager - School of Popular Music and Voice

Courses taught: BA (Hons) Music (Popular), BA (Hons) Music (Songwriting)

Read more
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Anna UhuruAcademic Manager - School of Popular Music and Voice

Courses taught: BA (Hons) Music (Popular), MA Music

Read more
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Caroline BoadenSenior Lecturer: Popular Music

Courses taught: 1:1 drum tuition to Specialist Study students in Foundation Year (Popular), BA (Hons) Music (Popular)

Read more
“I was so excited to be selected for the Leeds Conservatoire touring scheme. You get the chance to plan out the whole package, the whole product. It’s not just a one-off show, it’s a series of live performances that allowed me to bring my sound to a wider audience.” – Lucy Whittaker, Popular Music graduate
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Performance Opportunities

Students on our Popular pathway play at our regular showcase, ‘Crosswire’, and perform at venues throughout the city, including the Brudenell Socal Club, Belgrave Music hall, Oporto and Nation of Shopkeepers. In addition, many of our students join the Contemporary Pop Choir and other extra-curricular ensembles that the college run.

Recently, students have performed at:

  • Sound City Festival (Liverpool)
  • Eurosonic Festival (Netherlands)
  • The Royal Festival Hall (London)
  • Crosswire (a regular night for Leeds College
    of Music Pop and Production students)
  • BBC One’s Pitch Battle (Winners) – made up of singers from our Contemporary Pop Choir
Find out more

We have over 70 teaching rooms, practice rooms and bespoke ensemble rehearsal spaces, as well as a comprehensive library of instruments, mics and recording equipment, that are all available until late during term-time.

Find out more
Open Days

Find out what it's like to study at Leeds Conservatoire by coming along to one of our Open Days. 

As well as talks and tours specific to the courses you're interested in, you can also chat to our staff and students.

Plus, get immediate access to our On-Demand Open Day.

Open Days
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