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Learn how to succeed in the music business, from performance to production, on our full-time Popular Music degree in Cambridge. Explore the history and cultures of popular music and get practical experience in up-to-date production and performance techniques, as you develop your musicianship to a professional level. Get support to find work placements and prepare for a career as a professional musician, composer, music technologist or teacher.
- Receive regular feedback on your performance skills, and assessment on live performances like Poptronix
- Prepare for a career in an industry that grew by 2% in 2017 to contribute a record £4.5 billion to the economy – up by £100 million on 2016 (uk.music.org).
- Make the most of Cambridge’s diverse music scene, from classical to UK rap, and our links to local networks such as Cambridge Arts Network and Cambridge Live
- Perform at venues on-campus and around Cambridge such as Cambridge Junction and ARU’s Academy, as well as festivals including the Big Weekendand Cambridge Folk Festival
- Immerse yourself in our industrious student community – collaborate on projects such as music videos and film or computer game soundtracks
- Get individual vocal or instrumental training from tutors of international repute
- Use our facilities to develop your music and experiment with different styles and techniques.
Our BA (Hons) Popular Music will help you develop your musicianship to a new level. Your core studies will take you through the key skills in music-making, including notation and song writing. Through a continuing study of the history and culture of popular music, you’ll gain an awareness of different styles and techniques that you can then use to inform your own music.
On our optional modules, you’ll find many other aspects of popular music to explore. Whether you’re interested in the music industry, world music, performance art or music therapy, you’re sure to find something that will help you prepare for your future career.
In Years 1 and 2, you will also receive training in vocal or instrumental performance from our specialist tutors, which you can choose to continue in Year 3. Our weekly workshops and individual lessons will also ensure you get regular feedback on your performance skills.
Outside of your studies, this invaluable tuition will allow you to further engage with our performance culture. You’ll discover many opportunities to work alongside staff and students from other courses on live public performances, such as our regular musicals, operas and bands evenings, in venues on campus and around Cambridge.
You’ll also have the chance to listen to professional musicians on-campus every week in our lunchtime concert series, as well as attend workshops, masterclasses and lectures by visiting performers, composers and academics. Our links to local industry, including Cambridge Arts Network and Cambridge Live, will help you make the most of the city, and build the foundations for your future career.
Our BA (Hons) Popular Music will give you a knowledge of music theory as well as the practical skills you need for a career in the music industry. You can choose from many optional modules to tailor the course towards the career that you want. Many of our past students now enjoy successful careers as performers, composers, music technologists, music teacher or arts administrators.
Studying the creative and performing arts will give you the ideal training for any position that requires quick thinking, self-reliance, imagination, teamwork and the ability to organise both yourself and others.
If you are interested in postgraduate study, after you graduate you could also go on to take our MA Music Therapy, for example.
We work with employers to make sure you graduate with the knowledge, skills and abilities they need. They help us review what we teach and how we teach it – and they offer hands-on, practical opportunities to learn through work-based projects, internships or placements.
You will have opportunities throughout the course to find work experience in areas such as music education, instrumental teaching, artist management, marketing, recording and studio work, or events management. Our links with local industry partners, including venues such as Cambridge Junction, and networks such as Cambridge Live and Cambridge Arts Network, will give you a head-start in securing your placement.
Modules & Assessment
Year one, core modules
Basic Recording and Studio Techniques
Popular Music Performance 1A
Popular Music in Context 1A
Dots, Lines and Waves
Popular Music Performance 1B
Popular Music in Context 1B
Entrepreneurship for Music 1: Digital
Year two, core modules
Popular Music Performance 2
Popular Music in Context 2A
Chords, Contours and Grooves
Popular Music in Context 2B
Entrepreneurship for Music 2: Placement
Year two, optional modules
Music for the Moving Image
Music in Education
Principles of Music Therapy
Year three, core modules
Collaborative Project Development (Music)
Professional Music Practice 2
Collaborative Project (Music)
Year three, optional modules
Film Music Composition
Professional Music Practice 1
World Music and Globalisation
For a full breakdown of module options and credits, please view the module structure.
You’ll show your progress on the course through a combination of public performance, creative projects, essays, presentations and portfolios of work, including projects, which can include practice-led work.
This ongoing assessment will help you develop your musical and academic skills, such as improvisation and sight-reading, your creativity in composition and recording work, and your writing, analysis and research. We’ll also encourage you to use self-help packages, particularly for aural training, and undertake an extensive listening programme.
Where you’ll study
Your department and faculty
Using our creative expertise and industry connections in Cambridge and beyond, we create experiences that entertain, educate, inspire and improve lives.
At Cambridge School of Creative Industries, we believe in the importance of experimentation and risk-taking to create experiences that entertain, educate, inspire and improve lives.
Whether writing bestselling fiction, creating challenging documentaries or sharing a piano with people on the autism spectrum, the expertise of our staff goes far beyond teaching. Their research produces significant funding success, leading to important publications and international conferences.