BA (Hons) Popular Music

Welcome to Popular Music

The BA (Hons) Popular Music programme of study will provide you with an exciting learning experience where you can engage with performing, recording and composing music and enhance your understanding of how the music business works – and, most importantly, how it might work for you!

This is an exciting programme of study over three years for the contemporary rock/pop musician seeking a career in the music industry. Areas of study include Performance, Song Writing/Composition, Music Technology and Music Business. Students will develop a wide range of competencies which will equip them for entry into the popular music industry or for further study at postgraduate level.

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Course IntroductionModulesEntry RequirementsGraduate CareersAdditional

The BA (Hons) in Popular Music programme offers students the opportunity to develop skills and knowledge in relation to performance, song writing/ composition, music technology and the music business.

The programme has a vocational bias and a high level of relevance to actual current practice in the music industry which will help students to become practitioners who are confident and proficient performers, able to create original music, use technology both in performance, recording and composition and who have a highly developed understanding of the music business.

Year three includes focused work in subjects chosen by students from a range of options so that specialised skills and interests can be developed which are relevant to career aspirations. Whilst maintaining a clear professional relevance, students will also be expected to develop transferable and intellectual skills that will facilitate progression to higher levels of study or movement into employment.

The practical elements of this course and flexible modules enable you to specialise in the areas most relevant to your chosen career.Pera Frank, BA (Hons) Popular Music

The course operates on a modular basis that provides flexibility and choice. Each module is worth a specified number of credits, with most modules counting for 30 or 15 academic credits, with each credit taken equating to a total amount of study time which includes scheduled teaching, independent study and assessment activity.

Most full-time students will take modules worth 60 credits per semester, with part-time students taking proportionately fewer credits per semester. A total of 120 credits per level and 360 credits are needed for an honours degree as a whole. Overall grades for the course and degree classification are based on the marks obtained for modules taken at levels 5 and 6.

Compulsory modules enable you to cover key subject knowledge whilst and optional allow you to develop your own interests. The number of optional modules you can take depends on the number of core modules at a given level. Our teaching is informed by research, professional practice and industry engagement and modules change periodically to reflect developments in the discipline.

Year One (Level 4) Year Two (Level 5) Year Three (Level 6)

A minimum of 64 UCAS points (2017-18 UCAS Tariff). An appropriate level of practical performance skill and experience (instrumental or vocal) is required. Entry is normally by audition/interview which will include instrumental or vocal performance and consideration of previous experience. Overseas candidates may submit recordings and other evidence.

International applicants

If English is not your first language you will need an IELTS score of 6.0, with a minimum score of 5.5 in each component (Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking), or an equivalent English Language qualification.

Additional requirements:

  • You must provide evidence of having been in general education for at least 10 years and of having studied within the last five years
  • a face-to-face interview is required before an offer is made.

Graduates can develop self employment opportunities or gain employment in relation to a wide range of professional activities including performance, song writing/composition, recording/music technology, music business and teaching. The programme also provides the opportunity to progress to postgraduate study at MA level and higher, or to a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) courses for entry into the teaching profession. Additionally it prepares students for direct entry into the music industry.

Graduates may develop self employment opportunities or gain employment in relation to a wide range of professional activities including performance, song writing/composition, recording/music technology, music business and teaching.

Timetables: Timetables are normally available one month before registration. Please note that while we make every effort to ensure that timetables are as student friendly as possible, scheduled teaching can take place on any day of the week. Part-time classes are normally scheduled on one or two days per week.

Teaching and Learning: You are taught through a combination of lectures, seminars and practical’s. Seminars enable smaller group discussions to develop understanding of topics covered in lectures. You will use and have access to industry-standard software and facilities throughout your course.

When not attending lectures, seminars and laboratory or other timetabled sessions you will be expected to continue learning independently through self-study. Typically, this will involve reading journal articles and books, working on individual and group projects, undertaking research in the library, learning zone or technical learning resources, preparing coursework assignments and presentations, and preparing for examinations

Assessment: The course provides you with opportunities to test your understanding of the subject informally before you complete the formal assessments that count towards your final mark. Each module normally contains at least one piece of practice or ‘formative’ assessment for which you receive feedback from your tutor. Practice assessments are developmental and any grades you receive for them do not count towards your module mark.

There is a formal or ‘summative’ assessment at the end of each module. Assessment methods include written examinations and a range of coursework assessments such as essays, reports, portfolios, performance, presentations and your final year major project. The grades from formal assessments count towards your module mark.

 Feedback: You will receive feedback on all practice assessments and on formal assessments undertaken by coursework. Feedback is intended to help you learn and you are encouraged to discuss it with your module tutor.

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BA (Hons) Popular Music - Full-time
LevelLevel 6
LocationColchester
Duration3 Years
UCAS CodeW341
Academic Year2019-2020
Study ModeFull-Time
CampusUniversity Centre Colchester
Start DateSeptember 2019
Fee(s)2019-20: £8,250 per year
BA (Hons) Popular Music - Part-time
LevelLevel 6
LocationColchester
Duration6 Years
Course CodeZH3BAPMP01
Academic Year2019-2020
Study ModePart-Time
CampusUniversity Centre Colchester
Start DateSeptember 2019
Fee(s)2019-20: £4,125 per year
Year One (Level 4)

EARNING A LIVING IN THE MUSIC INDUSTRY(15 Credits) 

What’s it about?

You will be learning about the nature of the music industry and the various roles within it. This could be aimed at students interested in pursuing a career as professional musicians as well as those interested in other occupations in the industry.

What do I learn?

You will be learning about different opportunities for working in the music industry and a realistic and structured approach to earning potential through the production of a personal business proposal.

What’s the assignment?

There are two things to submit. One is a written report on the media industry (800 words), the other is a 3,000 word Business Portfolio outlining in detail a personal business or earning opportunity of the learner’s choosing.

To see the module description, please click here.

CASE STUDIES IN POPULAR MUSIC (15 CREDITS)

What’s it about?
This module is all about understanding how successful music business people (e.g. performers, composers) achieved their goals.

What do I learn?
You’ll learn about how people in the music business develop artistically and how they develop their careers so that you can gain insights into how the music industry works.

What’s the assignment?
You’ll be researching into the development of an artist or other music business practitioner and you’ll deliver a presentation for assessment which will demonstrate your understanding of how and why they became successful.

Want to know more?
To see the module description, please click here.

CONTEXTUAL STUDIES IN POPULAR MUSIC (15 Credits)

What’s it about?

Let’s talk about sex…and religion, fashion, politics, civil rights, censorship, economics and war! All of these subjects, and more, are discussed in relation to the music that represents them and artists that are linked to them.

What do I learn?

You will learn about the historical, social, political and cultural developments of popular music and explore some of the aesthetic concepts that underpin it.

What’s the assignment?

There is only one element, which is a presentation (20 minutes) on a contextual issue (s) of your choice supported by research.

Want to know more?

To see the module description, please click here.

INTRODUCTION TO SONGWRITING AND ARRANGING (Compulsory) (15 CREDITS)

What’s it about?
Songwriting is a core element of all Popular Music styles. The ability to compose and set lyrics to music, and to produce scores that represent the work, are skills that all musicians benefit from developing, regardless of instrumental specialism or preferred genre of music. Songwriting also has great relevance as part of a career in music, and there are many music jobs that use Songwriting as a key element. You will be encouraged to think ‘outside the box’ as originality is important.

What do I learn?
In the module you will study diverse styles and examples of Songwriting, both historic and contemporary. Lyrics, instrumentation, aspects of style and genre are all subjects of lectures. There is a link to poetic and musical forms in lectures. You will be given guidance on using notation software that can be downloaded for free.

What’s the assignment?
You will compose one song, notate it using your choice of a range of forms, record and produce the song, and evaluate your work.

Want to know more?
To see the module description, please click here

MUSICAL SKILLS & DEVELOPMENT 1 (30 CREDITS)

What’s it about?
This is all about developing your musical knowledge and skills. The module also provides opportunities to develop your qualities as a student within Higher Education which will help you to get the most from your degree level studies.

What do I learn?
You’ll be able to improve your instrumental or vocal skills with 1 to 1 lessons for your chosen instrument (and/or voice) and you’ll have opportunities to develop your skills as a performer in different bands and/or solo. Additionally, you’ll be given guidance in relation to studying and learning effectively which will help you with all your modules within the degree.

What’s the assignment?
You’ll do a number of assignments in this module which will involve assessment of live performances, compositions and improvisations and the production for assessment of a personal development portfolio.

Want to know more?
To see the module description, please click here.

RECORDING AND DIGITAL PRODUCTION TECHNIQUES (30 Credits)

What’s it about?

It is an introduction to Studio Recording, mixing and mastering. This is aimed at musicians with the focus on practical skills which can be used for basic mobile/home recording and in professional recording studios.

What do I learn?

You will learn the basics of multi-track recording techniques, sequencing and sampling. The module covers basic recording and mixing/mastering techniques along with sequencing and sampling production processes

What’s the assignment?

Record, mix and master a song with a report.

To see the module description, please click here.

Year Two (Level 5)

THE SELF EMPLOYED MUSICIAN (POP) (15 Credits)

What’s it about?

Today’s musicians and producers need to be in charge of their own careers. You will be learning about the nature of the music industry and the laws and obligations that the self-employed musician must deal with.

What do I learn?

You will be learning about the various laws that affect the modern musician, from contract and tax law to health and safety, as well as developing a personal approach to self-marketing and promotion.

What’s the assignment?

There are two assignments to submit. One is a pair of complementary written reports on contemporary music business laws and personal finance organisation (1,200 words).  The other is a Portfolio and student-designed Promotion Pack demonstrating a personal approach to and understanding of self-marketing.

To see the module description, please click here.

DEMO PRODUCTION(30 CREDITS)

What’s it about?

Following on from Recording and Digital Production Techniques, this module offers you the opportunity to record 15 minutes of original music whilst also improving your knowledge of recording, mixing and mastering.

What do I learn?

You will develop your song writing skills, expand on your ability to perform in a recording studio environment and continue to work on your skills in production and recording.

What’s the assignment?

Record, mix and master 15 minutes of original music and include a report on the processes behind this.

To see the module description, please click here.

ROCK, POP AND RELATED GENRES (15 Credits)

What’s it about?

This module is about analysing musical developments since the early 1950s. This includes exploring connections between styles, harmonies, and rhythm, and how each core genre develops over time. Genres include Modal and Free Jazz, Punk, Hip-Hop, and Film Music.

What do I learn?

You will learn to analyse musical characteristics to evaluate their significance in the development of popular music that will result in well-researched logical arguments.

What’s the assignment?

There are two elements to this: One is an essay on a genre of your choice (1,500 words) and the second is a Viva Voce (10-12 mins) where you will be expected to discuss the genres delivered during the module.

Want to know more?

To see the module description, please click here.

INSTRUMENTAL AND VOCAL TEACHING (Optional) (15 CREDITS)

What’s it about?
Instrumental and Vocal teaching, in schools, colleges, or private practice, is a subject that is naturally of importance to musicians, as virtually every musician teaches music at some stage of their life. The module develops the theme of teaching as a creative activity, and the language of music is introduced to facilitate further work in teaching if that becomes of interest.

What do I learn?
Subjects covered in lectures include psychological understanding, individuality of approaches, some sense of the history of instrumental and vocal teaching, and a guide to developing your own approach to teaching.

What’s the assignment?
You will produce a short Tutor Book for you chosen subject, and evaluate its effectiveness.

Want to know more?
To see the module description, please click here.

COMPOSITION AND ARRANGING (Compulsory) (15 credits)

What’s it about?
Clearly composition in music is an important area for every musician to understand. This module presents composition in a manner that should enable you to write music related to your preferred genre, or in a style you enjoy.

What do I learn?
The emphasis is on creative thinking, and producing work that has good musical content. Composition uses, but is not the same as, music theory! Forms of notation used include stave notation for all instruments, lead sheet format, understanding chords and chord notations, and particulars of writing for a wide range of instruments. Music from a range of historic and contemporary genres is covered in lectures.

What’s the assignment?
You will compose and record one short piece for an ensemble of your choice, and produce a score that accurately illustrates you intentions as composer.

Want to know more?
To see the module description, please click here.

MUSICAL SKILLS AND DEVELOPMENT 2 (30 Credits)

What’s it about?

There are three aspects to this module: musical performance, musicianship skills, and personal development planning (PDP).

What do I learn?

Building on the Musical Skills and Development 1 module, and through a combination of instrumental / vocal lessons, performance workshops and ensemble activities, you will develop an enhanced technique and musicianship in support of musical performance. You will continue to develop your aural awareness and use of musical notation along with an approach to PDP that supports your wider learning and starts to consider career planning.

What’s the assignment?

You will prepare two performances, create and perform a portfolio of compositions for your instrument, and plan and later reflect on your learning during the academic year (1,600 words).

To see the module description, please click here.

Optional Modules

ADVANCED CREATIVE PRODUCTION (15 Credits)

What’s it about?

This module is about developing skills as a producer through studio multitrack recordings and advanced digital manipulation to provide expert mixing, mastering and re-mixing for an ever changing recording industry.

What do I learn?

You will learn to evaluate and creatively apply digital historical and contemporary post- production techniques.

What’s the assignment?

There is only one element: A portfolio of two distinct mixes from one multitrack recording and a supportive evaluation of 750 words.

Want to know more?

To see the module description, please click here.

MUSIC FOR MEDIA (15 CREDITS)

What’s it about?
You will be learning how to compose for a range of visual media such as adverts, film scenes, and basic website construction.

What do I learn?
You will be learning various composing techniques inside a DAW, Spotting, SFX, AD and Mixing for broadcast. You will also be continuing your development using Logic Pro X.

What’s the assignment?
There are three things to submit. One is your original composition for an advert, another is an original composition for an extract from a film, and you will also need to show competence in developing a website to showcase these skills.

Want to know more?
To see the module description, please click here

IMPROVISATION WORKSHOP (15 Credits)

What’s it about?

You will undertake a detailed practical study of improvisation.

What do I learn?

You will learn a variety of techniques for developing improvising skills along with the means to use them effectively to create and shape engaging performances.

What’s the assignment?

Your improvisation skills are assessed in a 12-15 minute performance. Improvisation must feature heavily but the choice of musical style or genre is up to you.

To see the module description, please click here.

Year Three (Level 6)

RESEARCH PROJECT (15 Credits)

What’s it about?

This module deals with the preparation and submission of a self-directed music-related project that demonstrates independent study and research.

What do I learn?

You will learn the concepts of project negotiation and how to analyse research data through exploring different methodologies to raise questions, identify limitations, and provide suggestions for further study.

What’s the assignment?

There is only one element: A research report of 4,000 words or a presentation/multimedia submission, or a combination of either.

Want to know more?

To see the module description, please click here.

PERFORMANCE STUDIES 3 (15 CREDITS)

What’s it about?
You’ll be getting 1 to 1 lessons on your chosen instrument (and/or voice) and you’ll be planning, preparing and delivering performances which enable you to develop your live performance skills.

What do I learn?
You’ll learn about performance skills covering areas such as instrumental and/or vocal technique, musical awareness, improvisation, building an effective set list and aspects of stagecraft.

What’s the assignment?
The assignment is a 25-30 minute assessed live performance which provides an opportunity to demonstrate your performance skills.

Want to know more?
To see the module description, please click here.

MUSICAL SKILLS AND DEVELOPMENT 3 (30 Credits)

What’s it about?

There are three aspects to this module: ensemble musical performance, musicianship skills, and personal development planning (PDP).

What do I learn?

Building on the Musical Skills and Development 2 module, and through a combination of instrumental / vocal rehearsal and performance workshops, you will develop a high level of technique and musicianship in support of ensemble performance. By analysing music that you have a strong interest in, you will also develop new creative ideas for composition or improvisation. In PDP, you will reflect on your university experience as a whole from the point of view of potential employment.

What’s the assignment?

You will prepare an ensemble performance, provide a 20-25 minute presentation on your creative process in composition or improvisation, and reflect on your personal development as an undergraduate student (1,600 words).

To see the module description, please click here.

PERFORMANCE PROJECT (Optional) (15 CREDITS)

What’s it about?
Today’s performers need to be multi-skilled practitioners. You’ll be planning, delivering and promoting your own performance. The module is about gaining a range of important skills to help you promote your creative work.

What do I learn?
Lots of specific and transferable skills. These range from time management (practice!), to marketing and analysis.

What’s the assignment?
You will be submitting a DVD of your performance, complete with a critical evaluation (1500 words).

Want to know more?
To see the module description, please click here.

MUSIC IN THE CLASSROOM (15 credits)

What’s it about?
You will be learning how to plan and structure a scheme of work. This could be written for teaching students in primary or secondary education, and covers musical activities and teaching skills such as classroom management and differentiation.

What do I learn?
You will be thinking about how to build a progressive curriculum, about using current practice in music teaching, and about drawing on national policy documents. Putting these three elements together will enable you to be confident about working as a musical expert in the classroom.

What’s the assignment?
There are two things to submit. One is a scheme of work with lesson plans, the other a short report on current practices in music education (1500 words).

Want to know more?
To see the module description, please click here.

ENTERING EMPLOYMENT IN THE MUSIC INDUSTRY (15 Credits)

What’s it about?

You will be receiving firsthand experience of working in the music industry in depth through the undertaking of an active work placement and developing business and practical skills in the music industry.

What do I learn?

You will be learning about the real-world challenges of working in the media industry by personally negotiating a project with an employer (or self-employed opportunity) lasting between 24-48 hours.

What’s the assignment?

At the successful completion of the work project, the student will produce a critical evaluation of their learning experience through a reflective report (3000 words), reflecting upon the contrasts between theory and practice and determining their personal readiness to enter the music industry after completion.

To see the module description, please click here.

DIGITAL PROCESSING IN LIVE PERFORMANCE (30 Credits)

What’s it about?

In this module you will learn how to control digital sound processing in your own live performance. Typically, this will be through use of music technology including software that is designed for this purpose in combination with hardware controllers.

What do I learn?

You will learn a range of methods for manipulating and controlling sound in order to create and shape engaging performances. This could be a solo performance or an ensemble.

What’s the assignment?

You will first have to develop a portfolio of techniques for digital sound processing; these later become the basis for a 20-25 minute live performance.

To see the module description, please click here.

LIBRARY MUSIC PORTFOLIO (15 CREDITS)

What’s it about?

An introduction to a career in library and production music, this involves composing, recording, production and mastering.

What do I learn?

How to compose to a given brief and create a composition which meets the needs both musically and technically for music production houses.

What’s the assignment?

2 original compositions with edits and 2 “soundtrack” compositions with edits.

To see the module description, please click here.

MUSIC EDUCATION PLACEMENT (15 credits)

What’s it about?
Following on from the Music in the Classroom, module, you will head off to a classroom and work with students.

What do I learn?
Lots of things! Yes, you will have planned lessons and mapped out activities, but assisting and observing groups of learners will give you first-hand experience of how people learn, and how you can adapt your teaching to meet the needs of students. It’s all about focus, flexibility and team work.

What’s the assignment?
You will be writing up your experiences in a 3000 words reflective report/portfolio.

Want to know more?
To see the module description, please click here.

WORKSHOPS IN MUSIC (Optional) (15 credits)

What’s it about?
Planning and delivering workshops in music is an area of professional practice that can have great career implications as Music in the Community is a growing area of teaching. Subject material can be wide-ranging, and there is great opportunity to apply teaching techniques and creative musical thinking to present workshops in the community at any level.

What do I learn?
You will develop group teaching skills through practical rehearsals and participation with the class, and develop planning skills through research and observation.

What’s the assignment?
You will deliver and video yourself directing a workshop. Recordings of workshops will be made in class.

Want to know more?
To see the module description, please click here.

INDEPENDENT RECORDING PROJECT (15 Credits)

What’s it about?

This is your opportunity to create near professional level recordings. The purpose of these can vary from student to student but they should ideally be used to help you progress in your chosen pathway as a musician.

What do I learn?

Advanced recording, mixing and mastering techniques for a range of genres and purposes.

What’s the assignment?

15 Minutes of original music to a near professional standard.

To see the module description, please click here.

MUSIC TEACHING IN PRIVATE PRACTICE (30 CREDITS)

What’s it about?
This is a lively, practical-based module and is all about putting theory into practice, following on from the Principles of Learning and Teaching module.

What do I learn?
You will be creating and delivering your own practical activities in workshop settings. This could be aimed at students in primary, secondary, or in informal learning contexts. Observations will enable you to acquire skills in using an appropriate language with learners and in managing activities.

What’s the assignment?
There are two pieces to submit. One is a Personal Development Plan (equivalent to 2,000 words) arising from your work as a music educator, the other a report (4,000 words) which includes an essay.

Want to know more?
To see the module description, please click here.



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