BA (Hons) Music (Popular)

Study BA Hons Music (Popular) at Leeds College of Music

In 2005, we became the first UK conservatoire to deliver a specialist course in Popular Music, and we’re still pioneers.

  • Starts:
  • Duration: 3 Years
  • UCAS Code: W302
  • Study Mode: Full time
  • Validated By: University of Hull

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Course Overview

Career-focus

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.

What you will study 

The BA (Hons) Music (Popular) modules focus on developing you as a professional musician through one-to-one instrumental tuition, band study, and creative projects. In addition, the contextual studies strand of study will develop your awareness of the environments within which you create music, and the professional studies strand will develop your core business skills.

Specialist Study 1

Through weekly one-to-one tuition and small group work you will learn and develop the fundamentals of instrumental/vocal performance, as well as developing existing skills in technique and musicianship and building your specialist performance skills.

Specialist Group Study 1

You will develop a strong foundation in band performance. Issues of style and repertoire will be discussed and taught, alongside a developing awareness of original material, rehearsal etiquette and good practice.

Creative Project

You will choose from the project menu and have the opportunity to collaborate with students and tutors from other pathways. Previous projects have included Advanced Rhythmic Concepts, Arranging with Loops, Collaborative Composition, Debating Music and Jazz Harmony in Pop Songwriting.

Contextual Studies 1

You will develop composition, musicology and aural skills through the examination of repertoire, styles, concepts and discourse to better understand the effect of these on society. You will investigate the parameters through which we consume and construct music, how we communicate their use, the social, commercial and contextual issues surrounding them, and the manner in which we can employ these parameters to the craft of composition.

Professional Studies 1

Working in the Creative Industries

You will be introduced to the professional framework and mechanisms of the creative industries, focusing on developing your project management skills and understanding the legal and commercial issues likely to impact on your future employability. You will also develop your core digital and media skills.

Specialist Study 2

Through continued one-to-one tuition, you will further develop your understanding of the techniques and skills of musical performance, demonstrating further technical command in their execution. You will realise and develop your emerging musical voice and perform with appropriate expression, creativity and presentation.

Specialist Group Study 2

You will be expected to take responsibility for your contribution to both the rehearsal process and performance in addition to demonstrating greater command of the range of skills appropriate for a Popular Music performer.

Contextual Studies 2

You will further enhance your composition, musicology and aural skills. Topics include music and politics, cultural and technological influences on popular composition, compositional appropriation, song editing, collaborative approaches and comparative analysis.

You will also choose one of the below options to study:

  • Introduction to Music Technology
  • Songwriting
  • Music for the Moving Image
  • Collaborative Composition
  • Music and Ideology
  • Performance with Electronics
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Arranging and Orchestration
  • Musical Direction
Professional Studies 2

You will choose one of the below options to study:

  • Business Start-up
  • Music Education in Practice (PR)
  • Instrumental Music Tuition
  • Self-Promotion & Marketing
  • Structure & Functions of the Film Music Industry
  • Concerts & Touring
  • Artistic Management
Specialist Study 3

With more one-to-one tuition, you will continue to work on developing your own creative voice as an instrumentalist/vocalist, leading to the presentation of a stylistically informed public performance.

Final Project

Indicative projects may include:

  • A 30 minute performance, which includes a professional level of branding, styling, stagecraft and deportment befitting the sense of occasion and size of project.
  • 6000-word assignment examining your specialist area in order to ascertain a contextual framework for your practice.
Contextual Studies 3

You will study one of the below options:

  • Computer-Based Composition
  • Software Environments for Performance & Sound Creation
  • Electroacoustic Composition
  • Composition and Production for Film and TV
  • Composed Theatre
  • Extended Improvisation
  • Intercultural Music
  • Emerging Music Models
Professional Studies 3
  • You will study one of the below options:
  • Live Music Management
  • Community Music Project
  • Music Journalism
  • Business Leadership & Ethics
  • Film Music: Aesthetics & Narrative Function
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Malaika Shaw

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

Course Tutors

Danny CopeCurriculum Leader: Popular Music & Songwriting

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

Read more
Dr Adam MartinCurriculum Coordinator: Popular Music & Songwriting

Courses taught: BA (Hons) Music (Popular), BA (Hons) Music (Songwriting), MMus Creative Musician

Read more
Chris BatesSenior Lecturer

Courses taught: BA (Hons) Music – Community Music module

Read more
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

Entry requirements, fees & applying

Course facts

Course Type: Undergraduate, Single Honours
Duration: 3 years
Study Mode: Full Time
Start date: September
Validated by: University of Hull

Entry Requirements
  • 96 UCAS tariff points from Level 3 studies, normally including Music. Can include music grade exams.
  • Grade 5 Theory standard (assessed at audition)
  • Grade 8 standard in specialist study instrument/voice

Read full entry requirements.

How to apply

Apply via: UCAS
UCAS Code: W302
UCAS Institution Code: L30
Application Deadline: 15 January 2017 – we are still accepting applications
Find out more.

Audition information
UK applicants to Popular degrees at Leeds College of Music will need to complete an audition.
Read the audition guide.

A refund of audition fee and travel costs may be available for applicants from low income households.
Find out more.

Tuition Fees

2017/18 Tuition Fees: £9,250 (Home/EU Students), £14,500 (International Students)

Fees are per academic year and may be subject to government-approved increases in future years.
Find out more.

Scholarships & bursaries

Leeds College of Music provides a range of additional Scholarships and Bursaries.
Find out more.

Facilities

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 3am during term-time.

Find out more
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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.

Find out more
Open Days

Find out what it’s like to study at Leeds College of Music 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 members of our Student Support Team about your application, support for students with disabilities, tuition fees and more.

Book your place

If you're @tramlines, catch @Nubiyantwist's DJ set this afternoon: https://t.co/8oBOabj2wG https://t.co/wLc5eryqtG
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