Popular Music BA (Hons)

Full-time undergraduate (3 years)


January 2019, September 2018

NB This course is subject to re-validation


Learn how to succeed in the music business, from performance to production, and develop your musicianship. Explore the history and cultures of popular music while getting practical experience in up-to-date production and performance techniques.

Full description


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.

Work 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, will give you a head-start in securing your placement.

Modules & assessment

Year one, core modules

  • Recording Techniques
    By working on a number of creatives, you'll learn to use computer software for recording, editing, sound-processing and sequencing, as well as how to use microphones and the importance of their placement relative to a particular sound source. You'll learn about the different approaches to recording demanded by particular musical situations, including the special situation of recording the human voice, and examine multi-tracking, editing and post-production techniques such as normalising, compression and gates as tools to enhance the quality of recordings made in different situations. You'll be able to work collaboratively by forming and recording your own musical ensembles, with the intention of realising particular recording scenarios. Your assessment will comprise a portfolio of two main tasks, each defined by a specific musical goal, and each appraised by the extent to which you have chosen techniques (of microphone placement, recording, editing, sound processing and mastering) appropriate to the musical goal.

Year two, core modules

Year three, core modules

  • Major Project
    The individual Major Project will allow you to undertake a substantial piece of individual research, focused on a topic relevant to your specific course. Your topic will be assessed for suitability to ensure sufficient academic challenge and satisfactory supervision by an academic member of staff. The project will require you to identify/formulate problems and issues, conduct research, evaluate information, process data, and critically appraise and present your findings/creative work. You should arrange and attend regular meetings with your project supervisor, to ensure that your project is closely monitored and steered in the right direction.
  • Collaborative Project (Music)
    On this module you will work in a team or group to put into practice the collaborative music project that you developed in the module Entrepreneurship for Music 3: Collaborative Project Development. The module will allow you to demonstrate your ability to work collaboratively in a variety of practical and creative roles, and critically reflect upon the processes involved in undertaking professional, ethical and sustainable composition, performance, production, promotion and/or other responsibilities in a negotiated project. Through this, you'll demonstrate your knowledge and understanding of concepts of professionalism and entrepreneurialism. You will need to contribute effectively to group work, demonstrate adaptability in determining and achieving individual goals (including supporting or being proactive in leadership), and critically evaluate the roles you have carried out. This collaboration could involve students from across the music courses at Anglia Ruskin. You will also need to take your work to an audience outside of the University. As such, the collaboration may involve external individuals, agencies or organisations as well. Your project work will be supported by group tutorials, which will enable you to identify and negotiate the requirements for the two assessed elements: a group project portfolio and an individual project evaluation. The individual project evaluation should place the project in its wider cultural and industrial context, and allow you to reflect on your roles throughout the project, focusing on transferable and employability skills.

Optional modules in years 2 & 3 to be confirmed


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

The School of Performance is a community of over 400 students and staff, working together in a supportive environment to create new and challenging compositions and performances. Our lecturers are research-active practitioners and recognised experts in their field, so our students always have access to the latest theories and practice, as well as invaluable career guidance.

We organise many activities to help our students prepare for the future, like concerts, theatre performances, work placements, study abroad opportunities, talks by acclaimed guest speakers, and research conferences.

We’re part of the Faculty of Arts, Law and Social Sciences, a hub of creative and cultural innovation whose groundbreaking research has real social impact.

Where can I study?

Lord Ashcroft Building on our Cambridge campus

Our campus is close to the centre of Cambridge, often described as the perfect student city.

Explore our Cambridge campus

Additional study information

Study abroad options

Our student exchange programme with a university in the USA will give you the option of studying abroad for one semester in Year 2. We also run annual trips to places like Rome, Vienna and New York.

Specialist facilities

You’ll work in our purpose-built music centre, which includes: band rooms; recording studios; lecture and practice rooms; a large recital hall; an extensive suite of computer music studios with workstation laboratories; and digital editing studios. You’ll also have access to other instruments, including traditional ones.

Fees & funding

Course fees

UK & EU students, 2018/19 (per year)


International students, 2018/19 (per year)


Fee information

For more information about tuition fees, including the UK Government's commitment to EU students, please see our UK/EU funding pages

How do I pay my fees?

Tuition fee loan

Most English undergraduates take out a tuition fee loan with Student Finance England. The fees are then paid directly to us. The amount you repay each month is linked to your salary and repayments start in April after you graduate.

How to apply for a tuition fee loan

Paying upfront

If you choose not to take out a loan you can pay your fees directly to us. There are two ways to do this: either pay in full, or through a three- or six-month instalment plan starting at registration.

How to pay your fees directly

International students

You must pay your fees up-front, in full or in instalments. You will also be asked for a deposit or sponsorship letter for undergraduate courses. Details will be in your offer letter.

Paying your fees

Funding for UK & EU students

Most new undergraduate students can apply for government funding to support their studies and university life. This includes Tuition Fee Loans and Maintenance Loans. There are additional grants available for specific groups of students, such as those with disabilities or dependants.

We also offer a fantastic range of ARU scholarships, which provide extra financial support while you’re at university. Find out more about eligibility and how to apply.

From September 2018, EU students starting an undergraduate degree with us can access an £800 bursary.

Meanwhile, our £400 Books Plus scheme helps with the costs of study. There's no need to apply for this: if you're eligible you can simply collect a Books Plus card when you start your course.

Funding for international students

We offer a number of scholarships, as well as an early payment discount. Explore your options:

Entry requirements

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Important additional notes

Our published entry requirements are a guide only and our decision will be based on your overall suitability for the course as well as whether you meet the minimum entry requirements. Other equivalent qualifications may be accepted for entry to this course, please email answers@anglia.ac.uk for further information.


You will be interviewed for 15-20 minutes by one of our lecturers and will have the opportunity to ask your own questions about the course and university.


You will be required to evidence your music making:

  • If you play live, you should bring your instrument with you to the audition (although pianos, drum kits, amplifiers and large percussion instruments will be provided). 
  • If you produce recorded music you should bring examples of recordings.
  • If you are a singer, please arrange with us to ensure that you have an accompanist. 

Please email admissions-alss@anglia.ac.uk with details of the instrument you will be performing on and/or if you require an accompanist. Remember to include your name, the course you have applied for, the date of your audition and your student ID number in any correspondence.

You should prepare one or two pieces lasting up to 10-15 minutes duration (a piano accompaniment or band will be provided if required). You can choose any material to play - we especially encourage original material.

You should also bring with you to the audition samples of any creative work (compositions, recordings, leadsheets) and one sample of your written work (from your A-level studies or similar). You are invited to bring any other examples of creative or written work, or provide links to online media.

For more guidance visit our auditions page and download our popular music audition pack.

We don't accept AS level qualifications on their own for entry to our undergraduate degree courses. However for some degree courses a small number of tariff points from AS levels are accepted as long as they're combined with tariff points from A levels or other equivalent level 3 qualifications in other subjects.

International students

We welcome applications from international and EU students, and accept a range of international qualifications.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, you'll need to make sure you meet our English language requirements for undergraduate courses.

Improving your English language skills

If you don't meet our English language requirements, we offer a range of courses which could help you achieve the level required for entry onto a degree course.

We also provide our own English Language Proficiency Test (ELPT) in the UK and overseas. To find out if we are planning to hold an ELPT in your country, contact our country managers.

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Get more information

UK & EU applicants

01245 68 68 68

Enquire online

International applicants

+44 1245 68 68 68

Enquire online