Popular Music Performance and Songwriting BA (Hons)Study level: Undergraduate
The first step to becoming a popular musician is to think of yourself as one. Get trained up with our talent-building course to open up a world of opportunities!
Year of entry
Coventry University (Coventry)
3 years full-time
4 years sandwich
This course is a practice-based, ‘outward-facing’ course that seeks to prepare you to be a versatile, flexible, and adaptable operator within the twenty-first-century music industry.
- We are looking to produce critically astute musicians who are confident performers and songwriters, working with today’s technologies to make, reproduce, and disseminate music, and who understand the potential income streams available to them in the profession.
- Unleash your skills in our Steinberg Certified Training centre where you can build your practical talents and emerge industry-ready4.
Joint Top Modern University for Career ProspectsGuardian University Guide 2021 and 2022
5 QS Stars for Teaching and FacilitiesQS Stars University Ratings
Top 5 UK Student City (Coventry)QS Best Student Cities Index 2023
Why you should study this course
- We offer you a focus on creative-based music skills in performance and songwriting which is underpinned by popular music theory and the chance to experience this in a vibrant and creative environment which gives you access to professional practices, new research and outstanding graduate support.
- You get to engage effectively with a range of technology in the creation, performance and recording of music, including recording studios and live performance. And you can develop your own personal website (e.g. Domain of One’s Own) which by the later stages of the course, is intended to be a professional-looking, outward-facing website that demonstrates the breadth of your learning and professional experience.
- Visiting master classes which are embedded within the course and which have included: Black Sabbath founder Tony Iommi, singer/songwriter Gwyneth Herbert; composers: Nick Ryan, Derek Nesbitt, Kit Turnbull and Juwon Ogungbe; sonic artist Trevor Wishart; guitarist Sam Cave; avant-garde bass clarinettist, Sarah Watts; composer and multi-instrumentalist Frank Moon; jazz keyboardist and music production composer, Andy Quinn. Masterclass visitors are subject to availability and may change each year.
- There are opportunities to showcase your performing and songwriting talent in a public context throughout your studies. Performance spaces on-site include a large room with two grand pianos, suitable for small recitals, and The Hub’s Square One, a large performance space kitted out with PA, amps, drums and a grand piano4. You may have the opportunity to perform in at least one of the following city's live music venues (subject to availability), which previously has included: Studio 54, The Herbert Art Gallery, Kasbah, The Phoenix, The Cross, Drapers, The Cottage, The Tin, The Litten Tree, Ego Arts and Nexus.
- You will have access to our extensive specialist facilities: a music seminar room with grand piano, PA, amps, drum kit, 5.1 surround sound and directly linked to a control room for recording; music practice rooms with pianos, drums and PA; three band rooms; a 5.1 studio and live room; instrument storage; an iMac music tech suite plus further state-of-the-art recording studios running Pro Tools, Logic, Live, Max and Sibelius on Apple macs4.
Accreditation and professional recognition
Steinberg Certified Training Centre
Steinberg Certified Trainers and Training Centres help you get the most from your Steinberg products. All partners certified1 by Steinberg use the latest Steinberg software and have extensive current product and systems knowledge.
Find out more about our undergraduate music courses.
What you'll study
This course has a common first year.
The common first year enables you to work alongside students doing similar courses to you, to widen your knowledge and exposure to other subject areas and professions. You will have the opportunity to collaborate with other students, so you can share your insights and experience which will help you to develop and learn.
If you discover an interest in a specific subject you have studied, upon successful completion of your first year, you could swap degrees with another course in your common first year (subject to meeting progression requirements).
Common first year courses
- Music and Audio Production BA (Hons)
- Popular Music Performance and Songwriting BA (Hons)
In the first year, the curriculum is shared across related courses allowing you to gain a broad grounding in the discipline before going on, in the second and third years, to specialist modules in your chosen field.
Introduction to Music Production and Songwriting - 20 credits
This module is an introduction to popular musicianship skills and production techniques. It aims to concentrate on the practical necessities of music-making and the theories underlying these practices. This course aims to develop skills that underpin contemporary audio and popular music: use of the Digital Audio Workstation (DAW), music theory, musicianship skills and songwriting. You will apply these skills in the production of a series of preparatory pieces of music, ahead of the collaborative production of a song to a set brief.
Music, Culture, and Context - 20 credits
In this module, you will start to situate Popular Music and Music Production in its wider cultural, political, social and historical contexts. You will explore a range of global musical practices and cultures to understand how and why music is produced and where, how, and why it is consumed by audiences. You will critically analyse developments in technology in terms of both the production and consumption of music recordings and relate this to your own practice.
Studio Music - 20 credits
In this module, you will be introduced to the recording studio working environment looking in detail at both the operation of the live and control rooms. Through practical work and theoretical underpinning, you will be introduced to the skills and knowledge needed in bringing to realisation a recording project and to be able to do your own practical recording project as an integral element of the module. You will reflect critically on their studio practice.
Music and Sound Making - 20 credits
In this module, you will seek to further develop the music production and songwriting skills that you applied to your own practice in Semester 1. You will explore the types of techniques and creative strategies in songwriting and audio and music production used by musicians working in a range of global music genres and will apply this knowledge to your own practice-based work. You will develop your applied music theory and theories of audio production and will continue to reflect upon your practice and understanding in the module.
Global Music Marketplace - 20 credits
This course introduces you to the tools and methods of networking, promoting, and marketing through online music platforms, social media, blogging, and vlogging, as both a national and global phenomenon. You will address examples in the sector of entrepreneurial behaviours, attributes, and skills in the promotion and selling of music. You will do a case study on an established musical artist/band. In the module you will be supported to begin the development of your own online artist presence.
Live Music - 20 credits
This module expands on the production and musicianship studies of the first semester and includes an introduction to arranging songs for live performance. The module introduces the skills and knowledge needed for setting up, delivering and recording live music. You will take a role in the creation of a live performance by making use of an integral set of skills that encompass rehearsing music to be presented in a live performance, supporting the performance, and setting and using live sound setup.
In year two you will continue to develop the skills and knowledge you’ve learnt. We do this by embedding the following four principles into the curriculum and developing your:
- Technical skills – digital fluency, backed with the right academic knowledge
- Study skills – to be an adaptive, independent and proactive learner
- Professional skills – to have the behaviour and abilities to succeed in your career
- Global awareness – the beliefs and abilities to be a resilient, confident and motivated global citizen
You will develop more advanced knowledge and skills to do with: band musicianship, writing about popular music, and music in television and film, amongst others.
Band Performance and Songwriting - 20 credits
This module aims to further develop your performance and improvisation skills as well as your band musicianship. The module concerns itself with more advanced performance issues such as confidence, projection, and 'communication' as well as continuing to deal with technical and interpretative matters. You will draft a proposal outlining the songs to be performed, the personnel line-up, and the rationale for the selected repertoire.
Writing About Popular Music - 20 credits
This module is designed to enhance your development as a ‘portfolio musician’. It aims to introduce you to aspects of music journalism, music criticism, and public relations. It aims to provide you with the opportunity to acquire and develop an approach to critical commentary and the communication of ideas particular to popular music.
The Online Artist - 20 credits
This module is designed to identify and investigate methods of networking, interfacing, and 'monetising' yourself as a 'portfolio musician'. You will critically evaluate the music industry marketplace and apply practical solutions for presenting your practice in the context of an online public platform.
Applied Performance and Songwriting - 20 credits
The module will aim to develop your 'songwriting voice', both in your lyric writing and musical intentions. The module will culminate in an end of semester performance that will showcase your work from this module. You will be expected to support your peers in performing their original songs as well as collectively event-managing the performance(s). You will create a video reflection on your creative (performance and songwriting) practice for your website.
Music and the Moving Image - 20 credits
This module aims to develop critical and creative practices in the field of music and sound and the moving image. It will deal principally with films (movies) but may also consider more recent developments in relation to music and sound in the computer game industry and other moving image (video) scenarios. To that end you will engage with all aspects of composition for moving image including sound design, scene-setting, spot-synching and character development.
Creative Collaboration - 20 credits
In this module, you will work with your colleagues from courses across the School of Media and Performing Arts and/or industry collaborators, external groups or organisations to respond to an issue in the local, national or global community in which you are located, and will develop skills in the management and organization roles by taking an active role in the project from beginning to end.
There’s no better way to find out what you love doing than trying it out for yourself, which is why a work placement2 can often be beneficial. Work placements usually occur between your second and final year of study. They’re a great way to help you explore your potential career path and gain valuable work experience, whilst developing transferable skills for the future.
If you choose to do a work placement year, you will pay a reduced tuition fee3 of £1,250. For more information, please go to the fees and funding section. During this time you will receive guidance from your employer or partner institution, along with your assigned academic mentor who will ensure you have the support you need to complete your placement.
UK Work Placement - 0 credits
This module2 provides you with an opportunity to reflect upon and gain experience for an approved placement undertaken during your programme. A placement should usually be at least 26 weeks or equivalent; however, each placement will be considered on its own merits, having regard to the ability to achieve the learning outcomes.
International Study/Work Placement - 0 credits
This module2 provides you with an opportunity to reflect upon and gain experience for an approved international study/work placement undertaken during your programme. A work/study placement should usually be at least 26 weeks or equivalent; however, each placement will be considered on its own merits, having regard to the ability to achieve the learning outcomes.
Year three aims to bring you to the level to enter the world of work by consolidating your knowledge and skills from year one and two. You could also work on a large final project in an area of your interest, with the support of a mentor.
Advanced Performance and Song Writing - 20 credits
This module brings the skills and knowledge you have developed during your studies (notably Applied Performance and Songwriting), into a portfolio of popular music practice, to be used as a work-ready portfolio and in preparation for your Major Project in Semester 2 and ultimately your professional career. The portfolio will be in the form of an Eletronic Press Kit (EPK).
Communities of Music - 20 credits
This module will investigate the processes and strategies critical to successful navigation of the contemporary music industry, examining key areas within which you will need to operate effectively as an enterprising 'portfolio musician'. You will have the opportunity to explore different ways in which music impacts and is impacted by various communities, by developing community work (minority groups, educational) and/or initiating a fan base.
Popular Music Research Project - 20 credits
You will develop a range of research and writing skills that will result in the production of a dissertation, by exploring contemporary and historical debates across diverse communities and cultures. You will also develop transferable capabilities in research, communication, and the use of using data and information.
Creative Music Briefs - 20 credits
This module will offer you a series of specific briefs designed to promote and develop your creative and collaborative skills further, emulating an industry context. You will be asked to create music for specific media such as Podcasts, Radio, Television, Advertising or Apps (stingers, idents, jingles, songs, etc.), as ways of expanding your transferable skills and increasing your employability.
Major Project - 40 credits
The main aim of this module is to provide you with an opportunity to design, negotiate and develop a major creative project. You may have opportunities to make a collaborative project with students on your course, the School or Faculty, or collaborators that are external to the university. Examples of suitable projects include extended performance, original songwriting and recording in the form of an EP (Extended Play), immersive audio and music, music production and/or audio project, music/sound for media placement or work-based study, musicological study, music composition for film or animation, and pedagogy. All work should be accompanied by reflective documentation in the form of a video (vlog or auto-ethnographic documentary).
We regularly review our course content, to make it relevant and current for the benefit of our students. For these reasons, course modules may be updated.
How you'll learn
We seek to provide you with the opportunity to develop a solid foundation of knowledge, practical experience and a professional portfolio with which you can launch a career within the global field of popular music, related industries, or postgraduate study.
Teaching contact hours
We understand that everyone learns differently, so each of our courses will consist of structured teaching sessions, which can include:
- On campus lectures, seminars and workshops
- Group work
- Self-directed learning
- Work placement opportunities2
The number of full-time contact hours may vary from semester to semester, however, on average, it is likely to be around 12 contact hours per week in the first and second year dropping to around 10-12 contact hours per week in the third and final year as you become a more independent learner. As an integral element of the popular music course, we offer small group instrumental lessons on your chosen instrument from one of the following: keyboards, voice, guitar, bass or drums.
Additionally, you will be expected to undertake significant self-directed study of approximately 15 hours each week, depending on the demands of individual modules.
Part of university life is undertaking self-directed learning. During a typical week you will have time that allows you to work independently to apply the skills and knowledge you have learnt in taught or facilitated sessions to your projects or assignment briefs. This self-directed learning allows you to use your research skills, consolidate your knowledge or undertake collaborative group work.
As an innovative and enterprising institution, the university may seek to utilise emerging technologies within the student experience. For all courses (whether on-campus, blended, or distance learning), the university may deliver certain contact hours and assessments via online technologies and methods.
Since COVID-19, we have delivered our courses in a variety of forms, in line with public authority guidance, decisions, or orders and we will continue to adapt our delivery as appropriate. Whether on campus or online, our key priority is staff and student safety.
This course will be assessed using a variety of methods which will vary depending upon the module. Assessment methods include:
- Practical or project work
This course is predominantly assessed by coursework.
The Coventry University Group assessment strategy ensures that our courses are fairly assessed and allows us to monitor student progression towards the achieving the intended learning outcomes. Assessments may include exams, individual assignments or group work elements.
International experience opportunities
Music is an international industry. We explore a diverse range of musicians, musical styles and cultures. We have also been fortunate enough to attract a number of guest speakers, including the New York ‘cello innovator’ (Time Out NY) Madeleine Shapiro and Martin Atkins of cult band, Public Image Ltd. (Guest speakers are subject to availability).
Students have previously travelled abroad for a year in Cyprus, Spain, Finland, South Korea and Canada. We also try to organise an optional annual overseas fieldtrip (which may be subject to additional costs, availability, application and meeting any applicable visa requirements). Recent students were able to go on a three-day music cultural trip to Vienna, where students took in concerts and the Mozart and Schoenberg museums. We have previously visited Prague and New York, which included seeing the Broadway show Chicago plus a workshop with some of the cast, as well as going to Carnegie Hall2.
Typical offer for 2024/25 entry.
|What we're looking for
|Minimum 5 GCSEs graded 4 / C or above including English
|Access to HE
|The Access to HE Diploma. Plus GCSE English at grade 4 / C or above.
We recognise a breadth of qualifications, speak to one of our advisers today to find out how we can help you.
You may be required to attend a portfolio showcase, activity session or audition or submit a portfolio via email (as is appropriate to your course), either virtually or face to face, as is practical to arrange. Invites for these sessions will be sent directly to your contact email.
Each application will be considered on its merits.
Are you eligible for the Fair Access Scheme?
We believe every student should have the opportunity to dream big, reach their potential and succeed, regardless of their background. Find out more about our Fair Access Scheme.
Select your region to find detailed information about entry requirements:
You can view our full list of country specific entry requirements on our Entry requirements page.
Alternatively, visit our International hub for further advice and guidance on finding in-country agents and representatives, joining our in-country events and how to apply.
You will be required to submit a portfolio via email or alternatively attend a showcase activity session or audition (as is appropriate for your course) which can be virtual or face to face, as is practical to arrange. Invites to send in your portfolio or attend these sessions will be sent directly to your contact email.
Each application will be considered on its merits.
English language requirements
- IELTS: 6.0 overall (with no component lower than 5.5)
If you don't meet the English language requirements, you can achieve the level you need by successfully completing a pre-sessional English programme before you start your course.
For more information on our approved English language tests visit our English language requirements page.
Fees and funding
2023/24 tuition fees.
|UK, Ireland*, Channel Islands or Isle of Man
|£9,250 per year
| £9,250 per year with EU support bursary**
£19,850 per year without EU support bursary**
|£19,850 per year
If you choose to do a work placement2, you should consider travel and living costs to cover this. There is also a tuition fee3 of £1,250 that will cover your academic support throughout your placement year.
For advice and guidance on tuition fees and student loans visit our Undergraduate Finance page and see The University’s Tuition Fee and Refund Terms and Conditions.
We offer a range of International scholarships to students all over the world. For more information, visit our International Scholarships page.
Tuition fees cover the cost of your teaching, assessments, facilities and support services. There may be additional costs not covered by this fee such as accommodation and living costs, recommended reading books, stationery, printing and re-assessments should you need them. Find out what's included in your tuition costs.
The following are additional costs not included in the tuition fees:
- Any optional overseas ﬁeld trips or visits: £400+ per trip.
- Any costs associated with securing, attending or completing a placement (whether in the UK or abroad).
- Instruments and accessories (if you choose to play your own instrument).
*Irish student fees
The rights of Irish residents to study in the UK are preserved under the Common Travel Area arrangement. If you are an Irish student and meet the residency criteria, you can study in England, pay the same level of tuition fees as English students and utilise the Tuition Fee Loan.
**EU support bursary
Following the UK's exit from the European Union, we are offering financial support to all eligible EU students who wish to study an undergraduate or a postgraduate degree with us full-time. This bursary will be used to offset the cost of your tuition fees to bring them in line with that of UK students. Students studying a degree with a foundation year with us are not eligible for the bursary.
How do you know if you need to pay UK or international tuition fees?
We carry out an initial fee status assessment based on the information you provide in your application. Your fee status determines your tuition fees, and what financial support and scholarships may be available to you. The rules about who pays UK (home) or international (overseas) fees for higher education courses in England are set by the government's Department for Education. The regulations identify all the different categories of student who can insist on paying the home rate. The regulations can be difficult to understand, so the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) has provided fee status guidance to help you identify whether you are eligible to pay the home or overseas rate.
If you meet all the criteria required by any one category, including any residence requirements, your institution must charge you the home rate. You only need to find one category that you fit into.
At Coventry, students benefit from superb facilities so they can build on their practical talent4.
- Several recording studios (including SSL and Neve mixing desks)
- Various live rooms and performance spaces
- An iMac music tech suite plus further state-of-the-art recording studios running Pro Tools, Logic, Live, Max and Sibelius on Apple macs
With some of our courses, you can have access to five recording studios, instrument storage, and an iMac music tech suite. We also have state-of-the-art recording studios running Pro Tools, Logic, Live, Max and Sibelius on Apple macs.
Our Ellen Terry Building has a dance performance space, two dance studios and a theatre workshop. It also has dressing rooms and storage with around 3,500 costume items and 1,500 accessories.
Music seminar room
A great space for our budding musicians, our specialist music seminar room comes with a grand piano, PA, amps, drum kit and 5.1 surround sound, all directly linked to a control room for recording.
Careers and opportunities
On successful completion of this course you will be able to:
- Demonstrate a professional approach to music making in the areas of performance, songwriting and music production in an international context.
- Evaluate and utilise established and experimental approaches to music-making within an international context.
- Demonstrate professional competence in a variety of performance, music-creation, re-creation, and presentation modes and contexts, both conventional and unconventional.
- Apply analytical, reflective, and critical skills to the evaluation of your own work, and to that of others, in the global music industry.
- Manage your own professional development and profile in the music industry.
- Demonstrate that you are an enterprising, creative, innovative, and flexible practitioner able to work with diverse communities within a global context.
- Work in a professional manner so you can effectively function in a range of roles and responsibilities.
There is a strong emphasis within the course on future career paths. This is aimed not only to help you to explore what your chosen career path might be, but also to help build a professional level of business skills and knowledge.
Our graduates pursue careers as performers, sound designers and composers. This degree also enables direct progression to suitable courses while others undertake the appropriate qualifications to become teachers in schools and colleges, or they become freelance instrumental or music theory teachers. Graduates also work with community arts organisations or as arts administrators.
Where our graduates work
Previous graduates include a leading professional guitarist and author of a series of advanced guitar handbooks, a recording artist who has released three EPs to date, a YouNow live-streamer and songwriter, an examiner for Rockschool, PhD in composition, and a London-based professional drummer doing a PhD.
How to apply
Full-time students applying to start in September 2024 can apply for this course through UCAS. Read our application pages to find out your next steps to apply.
Part-time students should apply directly to the university.
If you'd like further support or more information about your course get in touch with us today.
International codes:How to apply
For further support for international applicants applying for an undergraduate degree view our International hub.
You can also download our International guide which contains lots of useful information about our courses, accommodation and tips for travel.
This course with foundation year is not currently available to international students. If you do not meet the entry requirements to directly join year 1 of the degree, please take a look at our International Pathways Programme for additional options.
Get in touch with us today for further advice and guidance.
Coventry University together with Coventry University London, Coventry University Wrocław, CU Coventry, CU London, CU Scarborough, and Coventry University Online come together to form part of the Coventry University Group (the University) with all degrees awarded by Coventry University.
The majority of our courses have been formally recognised by professional bodies, which means the courses have been reviewed and tested to ensure they reach a set standard. In some instances, studying on an accredited course can give you additional benefits such as exemptions from professional exams (subject to availability, fees may apply). Accreditations, partnerships, exemptions and memberships shall be renewed in accordance with the relevant bodies’ standard review process and subject to the university maintaining the same high standards of course delivery.
2UK and international opportunities
Please note that we are unable to guarantee any UK or international opportunities (whether required or optional) such as internships, work experience, field trips, conferences, placements or study abroad opportunities and that all such opportunities may be unpaid and/or subject to additional costs (which could include, but is not limited to, equipment, materials, bench fees, studio or facilities hire, travel, accommodation and visas), competitive application, availability and/or meeting any applicable travel, public authority guidance, decisions or orders and visa requirements. To ensure that you fully understand any visa requirements, please contact the International Office.
The University will charge the tuition fees that are stated in the above table for the first Academic Year of study. The University will review tuition fees each year. For UK (home) students, if Parliament permit an increase in tuition fees, the University may increase fees for each subsequent year of study in line with any such changes. Note that any increase is expected to be in line with inflation.
For international students, we may increase fees each year, but such increases will be no more than 5% above inflation. If you defer your course start date or have to extend your studies beyond the normal duration of the course (e.g. to repeat a year or resit examinations) the University reserves the right to charge you fees at a higher rate and/or in accordance with any legislative changes during the additional period of study.
Facilities are subject to availability. Access to some facilities (including some teaching and learning spaces) may vary from those advertised and/or may have reduced availability or restrictions where the university is following public authority guidance, decisions or orders.
By accepting your offer of a place and enrolling with us, a Student Contract will be formed between you and the university. A copy of the current 2023/2024 contract is available on the website for information purposes however the 2024/25 Contract is currently being updated so please revisit this page before submitting your application. The Contract details your rights and the obligations you will be bound by during your time as a student and contains the obligations that the university will owe to you. You should read the Contract before you accept an offer of a place and before you enrol at the university.