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About the course

Looking to start a career as a session musician, songwriter or performing artist? Hoping to upgrade your existing qualifications and secure a full honours degree? Solent University’s popular music performance top-up programme will help you build on what you learnt at HND level (or equivalent), providing you with access to Solent University’s extensive professional facilities and experienced teaching teams.

Our music courses ranked 15th out of 66 other UK institutions for student satisfaction (NSS 2019).

This exciting top-up programme combines practical performance skills with in-depth study of music, enabling students to convert existing HND level qualifications into a full honours degree.

Emphasising the core rock and pop instruments, including guitar, bass, drums, vocals and keyboards, the course underpins an in-depth understanding of performance skills with an academic study of popular music.

You’ll learn, write and perform material (including your own compositions) in a wide range of styles, often as part of a band. These recordings can form the basis of professional portfolios.

Outside of the seminars and workshops, students are encouraged to engage with Southampton’s music scene. By promoting or performing their own shows, students can cultivate their talent and expand their understanding of arrangements, composition, and stagemanship as they relate to real performance.

Do you want to hone your composition, song writing and performance skills? With close industry links, an eclectic mix of experienced teaching staff and ample opportunities to build a body of work in our studios, this year-long programme is the perfect way to upgrade your existing qualifications and get your career in performance off to a great start.

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 degree

Students learn from veteran musicians with a wealth of experience in producing and performing music for a living.

What does this course lead to?

Music graduates are well placed to enter employment in music and many other areas. Potential careers include work as a solo artist or session player, or in bands, arts management or tour support.

Who is this course for?

This top-up course is the ideal way for students with a relevant qualification at HND level (or equivalent) to upgrade their qualification and earn a full honours degree in just one year.

Applicants should aspire to careers in the performance and production of music, as well as teaching and possible postgraduate study.

Facts and figures

UCAS codes icon

UCAS codes

Full Time

  • 1 Year Standard Entry W313
Fees icon

Fees and costs

Tuition fees

The tuition fees for the 2019/20 academic year are:
UK, EU and Channel Island full-time fees: £9,250 per year
International full-time fees: £12,875 per year

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

The 2019/20 other costs are not yet available. For guidance the 2017/18 costs were:

Optional USA study trip: Opportunities will be advertised to students and costs will be calculated based on current air fares and hotel prices.

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.

Key entry requirements icon

Key entry requirements

Relevant HND/foundation degree pass with Merit Overall (55 per cent)

  • or 240 CATS points from a relevant three-year degree
  • UK applicants will be asked to attend an audition
  • Applicants resident outside the UK will be required to send electronic auditions.
  • 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 19 in each individual 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.

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.

Study location

East Park Terrace

Got a question about this course?

Contact our Ask Solent team: 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:

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 link below to apply through UCAS:

Mode of study
Full-time  1 year  Apply 
How to apply

What you'll study

Year one

Core units
  • Advanced Music Performance
  • Music Strategies and Entrepreneurship
  • Instrumental Skill and Artist Development 3
  • Major Project


  • Film Music
  • Technology and Production
  • Songwriting Portfolio
  • Experimental Music Production
  • Experimental Music Performance
  • Advanced Live Music Production
  • Advanced Music Production
  • Advanced Mixing and Mastering
  • Creative Sound Design

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


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

Key figures


Assessment by coursework


Practical exams

Meet the course team

Pete Wilson academic profile Pete Wilson Course Leader View profile
Patrick Ainsworth academic profile Patrick Ainsworth Senior 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.


Our high-end facilities include nine recording studios including four mix workstations and a production lab with 24 workstations featuring Pro Tools|HD, Logic Audio and Sibelius. You'll also have access to four large rehearsal rooms with backline provided, digital analogue workstations, vocal booths and a 200-seat performance space. Students will also have access to a music technology lab equipped with Apple hardware and the latest professional software solutions.

Students are given guidance as they create a professional portfolio, recording songs and musical arrangements on industry-standard equipment and by choosing from a range of optional units, students can tailor the curriculum to their career ambitions.

Your future

Music graduates are well placed to enter employment in music and related areas.

Suitable roles for graduates include:

  • Solo artists
  • Session players
  • Bands
  • Arts management
  • Tour support
  • Postgraduate study
  • Teaching.

Industry links

Many of our tutors have high profiles in the contemporary music industry, and their wide professional experience and knowledge will help develop your musical skills and entrepreneurial flair to prepare you for a creative and commercial musical career.

Students are given the chance to get involved with SMILEFest, the University’s annual music industry conference. Past speakers include Zoe Ball; The Blackout; Gallows; Steve Strange; Download booking executive and Livenation promoter, Andy Copping; Kerrang editor, James McMahon; and Bloc Party/Franz Ferdinand PR guru, Janine Warren.

Graduate profiles

Find out more about our popular music graduates.

Further study

Enhance your career prospects by continuing your study at Solent.

Solent University Open Days

Experience Solent for yourself. Meet our staff, students and explore our amazing facilities.

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