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About the course

Looking to start a career as a performer, songwriter, creative artist or studio musician? Solent University’s BMus (Hons) Popular Music Performance programme brings together practical, theoretical and vocational learning to help launch your musical career.

Popular Music Performance scored 96% for student overall student satisfaction and in the top 20 in the UK. (National Student Survey 2020)

Throughout the course you’ll be supported to develop a wide range of musical skills alongside academic, research and critical-thinking proficiencies that are relevant to many different careers.

The course features extensive study of the music industries including copyright, contract law and career pathways. You’ll also be encouraged to develop transferable skills in research, IT, presentation, teamwork, creative thinking, communication and project management.

The curriculum is taught by a highly experienced course team, many of whom are active industry experts with professional experience in performance, studio and live sound, electronic sound design and the business and culture of music production. The team’s industry links also enable a handpicked selection of students to record at the world-renowned Abbey Road Studios.

You’ll study in our industry-standard facilities, including rehearsal rooms and recording studios – and will have access to full backline and PA during your rehearsals and classes.

Beyond timetabled seminars and workshops you will be encouraged to engage with Southampton’s thriving music scene. By promoting your own shows, you’ll cultivate your talents and expand your understanding of real-world arrangement, composition and stagecraft.

You have the opportunity to study abroad in one of our partner universities for a semester on this course.
Study abroad
You have the opportunity to obtain a professional membership as part of this degree.
Professional memberships
As part of your studies you will have the opportunity to undertake a work experience placement.
Built in work experience placement
This course has access to Solent's specialist facilities.
Specialist facilities
After successfully completing your studies, there's an opportunity to continue your studies at Solent.
Further studies
If you have an appropriate Level 5 qualification, you can top it up to a degree in just a year.
Top-up option

Southampton is home to various nationally renowned venues including the O2 Guildhall and The Joiners. This vibrant mix of venues has encouraged a diverse range of local music scenes, perfect for gaining on-stage performing experience.

What does this course lead to?

Graduates from this course have gone on to work in professional performance, songwriting, artist development, live sound, teaching, and technical support. 

Who is this course for?

Solent’s popular music performance course is suitable for both schooled and self-taught musicians who are interested in building a career as a self-motivated, skilled performer.

Applicants should have performance experience on at least one of the following: keyboards, guitar, bass, drums, or vocals.

You will create music as part of the course but evidence of music theory skills at entry is not compulsory.

Facts and figures

Fees icon

Fees and costs

Tuition fees

The tuition fees for the 2021/22 academic year are:
UK, EU and Channel Island full-time fees: £9,250 per year
International full-time fees: £13,800 per year

Following the UK government's confirmation that EU students will no longer be eligible for home fee status benefits, we've made the decision to keep EU tuition fees the same as UK tuition fees for 2021 entry.

For further information, please visit our tuition fees page.

Other costs

While most course costs are covered by your tuition fees, some essential resources and optional extras may need to be paid for separately. These additional costs are listed below. For advice on budgeting and managing your money, please contact student.funding@solent.ac.uk.

Compulsory

  • Drummers must own sticks, hot-rods and brushes
  • Guitarists and bassists must own instruments, straps and leads (and plectrums if appropriate) and be prepared to bring these to University.

Optional costs

  • Optional trips to music performances are based on ticket prices and current transport costs. 

Bursaries and scholarships

Solent University offers a range of bursaries and scholarships that provide financial assistance or waive fees for tuition or accommodation. Each bursary or scholarship has specific eligibility criteria. Check out our bursaries and scholarships pages to find out more.

Graduation costs

For graduates in 2020, there is no charge to attend graduation, but you will be required to pay for the rental of your academic gown (approximately £45 per graduate, depending on your award). You may also wish to purchase official photography packages, which range in price from £15 to £200+. Graduation is not compulsory, so if you prefer to have your award sent to you, there is no cost. Extra guest tickets will go on sale after results publication and will be sold on a first-come-first-served basis. The cost per ticket was £15 in 2019, but this fee is subject to change for future years. Please note, we do not guarantee there will be any extra tickets available to purchase.
Key entry requirements icon

Key entry requirements

96 - 112 UCAS tariff points from A-levels or equivalent

  • A minimum of two completed A-levels, a BTEC Extended Diploma at MMM or BTEC Diploma at DM or equivalent qualification, or a combination of qualifications which comply with the minimum entry requirement of 96 UCAS points.
  • Applicants resident outside the UK will be interviewed by video call or telephone and may be asked to send an electronic audition.
  • Direct entry into years two or three may be considered for this course.
  • Applicants over the age of 21 may be considered based on relevant experience, without having the required tariff points.
  • If you are applying from outside the UK, find information about entry requirements, visas and agents for your country here.

English language requirements

Applicants who do not have English as their first language will be required to demonstrate an approved level of proficiency in the use of the English language. The agreed minimum requirements for this course are:

  • IELTS minimum 6.0 overall with a minimum of 5.5 in each individual component
  • TOEFL IBT minimum 80 with a minimum of 20 in each individual component
  • Duolingo English Language Test - 100 overall with minimum of 90 in each component
  • or equivalent.

Qualifications are checked before enrolment, and international students must bring their original certificates or certified copies when coming to study at the University.

Pre-Sessional English programme

The University also offers a pre-sessional English programme for international students who wish to improve their level of English before starting a degree course.


Got a question about this course?

Contact our Solent team:

If you are a UK, EU or EEA applicant please contact admissions@solent.ac.uk 023 8201 5066 If you are an international applicant please contact admissions.international@solent.ac.uk 023 8201 5066

How to apply

Any student applying for the first year of a full-time/sandwich undergraduate course must apply through UCAS (University and Colleges Admissions Service). This includes mature, overseas and EU students.

Nearly all schools and colleges offer their students the facility of applying electronically through the UCAS website using 'Apply'; it may also be used by those applying independently in the UK and overseas. This facility and all course information can be found on the UCAS website: www.ucas.com.

Your application should reach UCAS by 15 January if you hope to enter a course the following autumn. Early application is advised for the most popular subject areas. Late applications may be made until the end of  June. The UCAS Code for the University is S30, code name SOLNT.

Please click the links below to apply through UCAS:

Mode of study
Duration
Apply
Full-time  3 years  Apply 
Top-up route:

We welcome applications from students currently studying a Foundation Degree, DipHE, HNC, HND or modules of an undergraduate degree course at another university, who wish to enter directly into Years 2 or 3 of one of our undergraduate degree courses. Please contact our admissions team for more information: contact us

What you'll study

Year one

Core modules
  • Individual Performance 1
    This module forms the core of your practice as a musician and performer.  It contains your weekly instrumental/vocal lesson with a specialist tutor, a weekly lecture on developing yourself as an artist and structured practice time to hone your skills.
  • Live Performance 1
    You’ll develop the key skills necessary to work with other musicians – preparation, listening, critiquing, sharing and even compromising. You’ll also learn about stage-craft and the requirements of performing music in live situations.
  • Creative Music Industries
    You will explore contemporary music industry issues and developments, gaining an understanding of how current events are shaping the music industries of the future.  
  • Recital and Instrumental Skills 1
    Your regular contact with experienced instrumental/vocal tutors on this module will change how you think about yourself as a performer and artist.  You’ll develop new skills, understand better what you already do and learn how to improve your performance over a lifetime of practice and performance. 
  • Studio Performance 1
    This module examines how studio work differs from live performance and how to gain confidence and skills as a creative performer in the studio environment. 
  • Theory and Listening Skills
    This module will help you develop the language to communicate musical ideas.  In addition to traditional notation you will learn how to describe and analyse songs and musical productions.

Year two

Core modules
  • Individual Performance 2
    Through this module you will learn how to become a reflective practitioner – in other words, a musician who can objectively review their own progress and make smart choices about what to practice, and why.  
  • Live Performance 2
    Where Individual Performance 2 focuses on your personal practice, this module concentrates on performing with others.  You will take part in regular workshops with set repertoire, and work in a band towards an assessed gig.
  • Music Portfolio Careers
    Through research and enquiry, supported by the music team, you will investigate the many and varied income streams available to you.  
  • Recital and Instrumental Skills 2
    You will learn how to become a reflective practitioner – in other words, a musician who can objectively review their own progress and make smart choices about what to practice, and why.  
  • Studio Performance 2
    This module examines how studio work differs from live performance, and how to gain confidence and skills as a creative performer in the studio environment.  

Options

  • Introduction to Experimental Music Performance
    You will explore the creative dynamics of existing sound performances and recordings.  You will investigate alternative approaches to music making by exploring experimental techniques that draw from creative music practices.
  • Songwriting Techniques
    This module will help you develop and enhance your skills in songwriting and will allow you to develop your musical identities through a wide range of songwriting tasks.

Please note: Not all optional modules are guaranteed to run each year.

Year three

Core modules
  • Individual Performance 3
    You will learn how to become a reflective practitioner – in other words, a musician who can objectively review their own progress and make smart choices about what to practice, and why.  This module builds on Individual Performance 1 and 2 and Recital and Instrumental Skills 1 and 2.
  • Advanced Music Performance
    This module brings builds on all the skills and learning developed in the Live Performance and Studio Performance modules at Levels 4 and 5.  Advanced styles of critique, enquiry and analysis are introduced, and the meaning of ‘advanced performance’ is further unpicked. 
  • Entrepreneurship and Artist Development
    You will study and practise prescribed techniques such as music reading skills, technical exercises, professional practice, performance skills and repertoire.
  • Major Project
    In this module you will undertake a major research project in an area of your choosing. It may take a variety of forms and is negotiated with support and feedback from module tutors who will discuss and approve project proposals.

Options

  • Songwriting Portfolio
    This module will help you develop your own musical identity through the execution of a negotiated individual songwriting project.  You will also investigate contemporary and traditional practices used to successfully write songs across different genres. 
  • Experimental Music Performance
    You will explore the creative dynamics of existing sound performances and recordings.  You will investigate alternative approaches to music making by exploring experimental techniques that draw from creative music practices.

     

Please note: Not all optional modules are guaranteed to run each year.

Support

Web-based learning

Solent's virtual learning environment provides quick online access to assignments, lecture notes, suggested reading and other course information.

The Student Hub

The Student Hub is a central space where you can access all of the information and support you need during your time at University.

Professional and experienced staff can help resolve any query, and if they cannot answer the question themselves they will find the person who can.

Career support

Students' work

Meet the course team

Pete Wilson academic profile Pete Wilson Course Leader View profile
Patrick Ainsworth academic profile Patrick Ainsworth Senior Lecturer View profile
Greg Mudd academic profile Greg Mudd Senior Lecturer View profile
Esther Keappock academic profile Esther Keappock Senior Lecturer View profile
Daniel Pennie academic profile Daniel Pennie Senior Lecturer View profile
Colin Willsher academic profile Colin Willsher Associate Lecturer View profile
Ben Kennedy academic profile Ben Kennedy Associate Lecturer View profile
Alex Diaz academic profile Alex Diaz Associate Lecturer View profile
Paul Statham academic profile Paul Statham Associate Lecturer View profile
Brendan Johnson academic profile Brendan Johnson Associate Lecturer View profile

The university cannot guarantee any particular members of staff will teach specific aspects of the course in the future, but will endeavour to ensure the teaching team maintains their balance of experience and qualifications.

Facilities

Solent’s recording studios and rehearsal spaces are state-of-the-art, with Pro Tools Ultimate and Logic digital audio workstations.

Instruments and facilities provided include drums by DW and Mapex; a Moog synthesiser; Korg Kronos; Marshall, Orange, Friedman, Fender and Vox valve guitar amplifiers; Ampeg and Eden bass amps; Mackie PA rigs.

Solent provides a creative hub where students can meet filmmakers, web content, animators, game designers, musicians, video producers and work on combined projects.

Your future

Students from Solent’s music performance programme will be well prepared for a wide range of graduate level employment opportunities.  Suitable roles for graduates include:

  • Music performer
  • Session musician
  • Songwriter
  • Arts administrator 
  • Music technician 
  • Music entrepreneur 
  • Music teacher
  • Postgraduate study 

Industry links

Students have the chance to work with local clients including the Joiners Live venue and BBC Introducing. Every year you have a chance to enter a competition to record at Abbey Road Studios, probably the most famous studio in the world, and work with engineers at the top of the industry.

The entire guest speaker programme at Solent is open to you, providing a wealth of advice from industry professionals. Recent guest speakers have included: Craig David; Hannah Vasanth (keyboards for Rhianna), Katie Holmes-Smith (backing vocals for Adele), Imogen Heap (songwriter for Taylor Swift), Andrew Scheps (mix engineer for Red Hot Chili Peppers), Nina Hartstone (dialog editor, Bohemian Rhapsody), Colin Lester (Manager for Craig David) Tudor Davies (sound engineer for Later with Jools Holland).

Graduate profiles

Find out more about our popular music graduates.

Get ready to find your place

You can still experience life at Solent at a virtual open day! Hear from course tutors, take virtual campus and accommodation tours, and chat to us live.

Register for a virtual open day