BA (Hons) Popular Music, Songwriting and Performance.

From songwriting to the stage, producing tracks in the studio, to branding and marketing, this comprehensive course covers everything you’ll need to excel as a versatile artist in the modern music industry.

Overview

Our brand new Popular Music, Songwriting and Performance course brings together theory and practice, allowing you to explore music creation and production, songwriting and stagecraft, while gaining a solid understanding of how the music business works. You’ll learn the fundamentals of music theory and analysis, exploring various genres, styles and approaches in popular composition and songwriting. You’ll gain hands-on experience with our industry-standard facilities and equipment in our venue and studios, learning current trends and techniques in live performance and music production. You’ll gain an in-depth understanding of the intricacies of the music industry, helping you develop strategies to promote yourself and your music.

Whether you’re an artist looking to develop your own style, a producer wanting to record songs to a professional standard, or a songwriter looking to work with other artists, this course will equip you with the practical skills, knowledge and creativity to break into the industry.

Key info

  • Qualification: BA (Hons) Popular Music, Songwriting and Performance
  • Duration: 3 years full-time
  • Start dates: 16 September 2024, 15 September 2025
  • Fees: £9,250
  • Entry Requirements: A minimum of 64 UCAS points at A2 or equivalent. Find out more

UCAS info for this course

  • University/college name:

    University of Central Lancashire (Institute code: C30)
  • Course:

    Popular Music, Songwriting and Performance (Course code: J281)
  • Location:

    Spirit Studios (Campus code: Z)
View course on ucas.com More info for applicants

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BA (Hons) Popular Music, Songwriting and Performance course details

All of our courses are constantly evolving to ensure teaching and learning remain relevant and up to date. Here is the latest example of the curriculum for Popular Music, Songwriting and Performance:

YEAR 1

This module will introduce you to the fundamentals of music theory, allowing you to become familiar with a range of songwriting approaches and techniques. You’ll focus on melodic form, harmonic structure, rhythm and meter and different arrangement techniques. These musical elements will be explored across a variety of genres of popular music with analysis of key artists and songwriting teams. The skills of lyric writing will also be explored through analysis, with case studies utilised to identify innovative practice in this key element of popular music songwriting.

Assessment: Online exam, composition and portfolio practical. 40 credits.

This module will focus on the development of practical skills in environments where live musical performances are staged. You will develop skills through practical workshops in our venue, which will focus on the technical aspects of live performance such as the use of PA systems, sound reinforcement, backline and control of front of house and monitoring systems. You will also explore the different types of microphones and their different on-stage applications. The module will also cover performative aspects in a live environment building your knowledge of effective stagecraft and performance skills.

Assessment: A practical performance and written evaluation. 20 credits.

 

This module will introduce students to recording techniques in a studio environment. Microphone types and uses will be explored in detail, as will specific recording technologies, both hardware and software. Students will learn signal paths and audio routing within the studio, and develop safe working practices within the recording studio.

Assessment: Practical signal path test and recording. 20 credits.

This module will emphasise the study of popular music in relation to its social, political and cultural contexts. Different case studies and musical texts will be explored and analysed to determine external factors on songwriting and production techniques. The influence of technology will be explored across popular musical genres and styles within the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.  Critical listening and techniques for textual analysis will be utilised alongside contextual study skills to develop essential skills for the understanding theories of popular music.

Assessment: Presentation and written essay. 20 credits.

Through a variety of lectures, workshops, case studies and tutorials students will engage with a range of subjects related to the various sectors of the music industry, such as record labels, copyright, marketing and promotion. This module will combine a range of themes and topics connected to current development of the music industry, establishing a context for emerging trends and established business practices.

Assessment: Written report. 20 credits.

YEAR 2

Focusing on the further development of songwriting skills and production techniques, this module will consolidate students understanding of music theory, continuing the study of the use of melodic forms, harmonic structure, rhythm/meter and arrangement techniques. Production values and techniques will also be discussed from a range of popular music genres and styles, and continued analysis of significant artists and songwriting teams.

Assessment: Composition, demo pitch and portfolio. 40 credits.

In this module you’ll develop your own live performance style and utilise specific performative techniques. You’ll also learn about the different technical requirements and staging for a variety of performance styles. You’ll study effective technical planning strategies including call sheets, technical riders and stage plots. You’ll also look at the use of secondary assets in a performance setting such as lighting, projects and props.

Assessment: A practical performance and technical specification. 20 credits.

This module is focussed on effective use of specific production techniques connected to genre, style and intended production values. You’ll develop your technical skills and theoretical knowledge to produce effective audio mixing in both analogue and digital domains.

Assessment: Presentation and applied production techniques practical. 20 credits.

In this module students will learn about the importance of self-representation in the field of professional musicianship and the creative industries. Student will study and analyse a variety of materials to discuss, focusing on marketing and promotion, digital content creation and social media.

Assessment: Creation of promotional pack. 20 credits.

In this module students will have the opportunity to identify a specific topic reflecting their own particular interests and practice.

Assessment: Essay or part essay/part practical. 20 credits.

YEAR 3

This module will focus on songwriting and arrangement skills alongside applied production techniques. Continuing the study of the use of melodic forms, harmonic structure and rhythm/meter, bringing their knowledge to create their own original compositions.

Assessment: A production portfolio and written commentary.

This module will focus on the study of key contemporary and historical practice across a range of performance venues and cultures. Students will analyse a variety of practitioners and performers as well as build their knowledge of different performance theories and strategies. They’ll also study event programme and technical management of live performances.

Assessment: Technical specification and performance. 20 credits.

In this module students will consolidate their learning from the past two year, applying it to pre and post production workflows, facilitating the creation of professional standard recordings made in the studio.

Assessment: Production portfolio and written commentary. 20 credits.

Exposing you to the range of career opportunities across the creative industries, you’ll gain a range of key skills relevant to entrepreneurship and self-employment. Concentrating on preparing you for work as soon as you graduate, this module will help you understand how different businesses function in the creative industries, and how you can find your place as a professional artist within it.

Assessment: Project proposal and negotiated project. 20 credits.

This self-guided module puts you in charge. You’ll define your dissertation topic in an area of your interest. Under the guidance of your tutor, you’ll create a regularly updated work plan, analyse primary and secondary data and complete an extended essay.

Assessment: 4000 word essay. 20 credits.

Teaching and learning

Teaching on this Popular Music, Songwriting and Performance course takes place in a variety of formats including lectures, workshops, demonstrations, peer reviews and one-to-one tutorial support. Our aim throughout is to encourage your creative exploration and hone your technical skills, all so you’ll leave us as a confident, independent professional.

What careers will BA (Hons) Popular Music, Songwriting and Performance prepare me for?

  • A&R
  • Artist
  • Composer
  • DIY Label Manager
  • Educator
  • Music Producer
  • Music Therapist
  • Publicist
  • Songwriter
  • Tour Manager
  • Composer for Moving Image
  • Radio Producer
View less -

Your tutors

Steve Marsden

Steve Marsden

Programme Leader

Spending almost 20 years working as as session guitarist, songwriter and producer, Steve is the programme leader for our newest degree course BA (Hons) Popular Music, Songwriting and Performance.

Our studios are your classroom

With ten recording and mixing studios, a live venue, DJ booths, edit suites and more, our facilities are one of the main reasons students choose to study with us year after year.

Take a tour
Native Instrument and Avid controllers in S3 Suite

Entry requirements

  • 64 UCAS points at A2 or equivalent
  • Grade 4 or above in GCSE Maths and English

A minimum of 64 UCAS points at A2 or equivalent. You should also have achieved Grade 4 or above in GCSE Maths and English, or an equivalent (UK equivalents include key skills level 3 or functional skills level 2). If you are an international applicant you must have UK settled status in order to study on our degree courses. Non-native English speakers require IELTS: 6.0 with no component lower than 5.5.

Fees and funding

  • £9,250 per year (full-time)
  • £1,540 per 20 credit module (part-time)

​​Tuition fees for all our undergraduate courses are eligible for government funding through Student Finance England, subject to a successful application.

More info on fees and finance

How to apply

UK-based university applications are made through UCAS. You’ll need to register via ucas.com to create an application. You can then add this course as a choice to your application using the following information:

  • University/college name:

    University of Central Lancashire (Institute code: C30)
  • Course:

    Popular Music, Songwriting and Performance (Course code: J281)
  • Location:

    Spirit Studios (Campus code: Z)
View course on ucas.com MORE INFO FOR APPLICANTS

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