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.
ARU Popular Music has helped me to develop crucial music related skills in business, recording and performance.
Since coming to the Uni, I’ve been programmed for various gigs and festivals in East Anglia and been in session for BBC Introducing Cambridgeshire, Cambridge 105’s New Music Generator and Cam FM Breakthrough.
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.
Course leader: Nick Ryall.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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 email@example.com for further information.
You will be required to attend an interview of around 30 minutes, during which you will also need to perform an audition piece or present samples of your musical work.
For more guidance on how to prepare for this, please visit our auditions and interviews page, or go straight to the detailed auditions information for School of Performance courses.
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.
We welcome applications from international and EU students, and accept a range of international qualifications.
If English is not your first language, you'll need to make sure you meet our English language requirements for undergraduate courses.
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.
Read this institution's report