Available in clearing

 - Call +44 (0)1332 592019

Course details

Study options

Full-time: 3 years, Part-time: 4-6 years

UK/EU fee

£9,250 per year (2019/20)

International fee

£13,250 per year (2019/20)

UCAS points

112* (September 2019 entry)

UCAS code


Course level



Joint Honours

Start dates

January, September


Kedleston Road, Derby Campus

What is Joint Honours?

A Joint Honours degree gives you the opportunity to study two subjects as one degree. This type of degree will broaden your skill set and enhance your career prospects.

You can combine any two subjects as long as they’re in different zones, find out what you can combine this subject with.

Course description

Popular music provides not only entertainment for millions but also opportunities for personal, social and political expression. This exciting and innovative course challenges you to think deeply about popular music’s meanings and influence.

A dynamic and diverse subject

The emphasis of this course is the study of popular music rather than its practice. You will build a comprehensive understanding of popular music as a global phenomenon, examining its histories, platforms and trends and exploring its meanings, influence and pervasiveness.

In the early stages of the course, you will receive an excellent grounding in theoretical and critical approaches to the subject, analysing popular music texts past and present. You will then progress to modules on more specialist topics such as popular music on screen; popular music and the written word; and fans, movements and sub-cultures.

As you grow in confidence and develop your knowledge, there is plenty of opportunity for independent project work to concentrate on the aspects of popular music in which you are particularly interested.

A truly interdisciplinary approach

Our approach to popular music is always informed by wider debates so that you can appreciate how it is created and how it might ‘work’. Alongside a focus on musicians, the industry and audiences, you will cover the ways in which music is produced, mediated, disseminated, consumed and understood.

We view popular music as a cultural practice which has articulated emotions, activism, disruption, discord, optimism and potential liberation for performers and audiences alike. A large part of your mission on this course will therefore be to gage the way popular music has reflected, commented upon, and even helped to shape the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. 

Popular Music in Society draws on a variety of contexts and disciplines such as cultural studies, history, politics and sociology. It also encourages you to view cultures as complex, diverse and multi-faceted networks.

Real world learning

Work-based learning modules in stages two and three of the course feature opportunities for you to spend time on placement in the media and cultural industries. This will give you valuable insights into how your knowledge and transferable skills can be applied in the workplace.

Study visits will also be an important part of your learning experience. You will hear from influential guest speakers and enjoy plenty of extra- and co-curricular events and activities to enrich your studies.

Broaden your horizons

Thanks to our flourishing international links, we offer you the chance to study abroad for a single semester in your second year. You will experience a different academic culture with one of our European or American partner universities, immerse yourself in a new way of life and acquire an even wider set of skills.

Students who take this exciting opportunity find that it enhances their confidence, heightens their global awareness and makes a substantial contribution to their employability.

Learn from influential researchers

Our lecturers are engaging, inspiring and passionate about the subject. They have published a range of research into popular music and are keen to share their knowledge and enthusiasms with you.

Whichever level you are at and whichever module you are taking, you will receive support and motivation from our friendly and dedicated team.

Improve your career prospects

There is much value in a degree that fosters your analytical, evaluative, critical and creative thinking, together with your ability to learn and synthesise new skills and ideas. These attributes will ensure you are well prepared for global careers in fields ranging from the creative and cultural industries to business and academia.

Because Joint Honours gives you the flexibility to cover two subjects in one degree, you will also be able to demonstrate your organisational skills and capacity to work to deadlines, communicate effectively and carry out independent research.

Compelling Joint Honours subject combinations which work particularly well include:

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Our Clearing hotline is now open

It’s not too late to secure your place for September. Call our Clearing hotline on +44 (0)1332 592019 to secure your place for 2019.

Contact our Clearing teamContact our Clearing team

What you will study

You can study Popular Music in Society as either a joint, major or minor subject. This will determine how many modules you’ll study at each stage. Please check your other subject to ensure it is possible to create your chosen combination.


You will study modules such as:

  • Pop Life 1: Form, Meaning and Representation 
  • Pop Life 2: Institutions, Industries and Audiences
  • Writing for Media
  • Audible Republic: American Music and Society
  • Image Music Sound
  • It Says Here: Popular Music and the Written Word
  • Research Project in Popular Music and Society
  • Work-Based Learning in the Media and Cultural Industries
  • Exchange modules 1-3
  • Children of the Revolution: Popular Music in the Long Seventies
  • The Kids are Alright: Fans, Movements, Subcultures
  • Independent Study in Popular Music in Society
  • Work-Based Learning

Please note that our modules are subject to change - we review the content of our courses regularly, making changes where necessary to improve your experience and graduate prospects.

Students welcoming guests to a Buxton Open Day

Find out more about Popular Music in Society

The best way to find out if studying at Derby is right for you is to experience an Open Day. Get a feel for the city and campus, tour our first-class facilities and see where you could be living.

Book your Open DayBook your Open Day

How you will learn

Active student participation and a relaxed, inclusive style are hallmarks of Popular Music in Society at Derby. Equipped with analytical and critical skills, you will gain an in-depth knowledge of key debates, theories, ideas and works as these relate to your subject.

You will learn and practise technical skills, honing your abilities in research, writing and argumentation. This will be achieved through lectures, seminars, individual and group presentations, workshops and screenings. Your learning experience will also be augmented and enhanced by study visits, guest lectures and plenty of extra- and co-curricular events and activities.

How you'll be assessed

Assessment is 100% coursework-based. This incorporates different tasks and modes which could include: essays; blogs, playlists and soundtracks; document analyses; music, book, film and TV reviews; project and dissertation work; individual and group presentations; work-based learning; and seminar participation.

Who you'll meet

You will be taught by a highly qualified and experienced team of lecturers. They are committed to interdisciplinary explorations of Popular Music but all have individual areas of expertise and research. They include:

Simon Philo, the Subject Leader for Popular Music in Society, whose research interests principally centre on American popular culture. He has published on The Simpsons, MTV, youth television, punk rock and ska, Pop Art, the Rolling Stones, and the literature of the Vietnam War. He is the author of British Invasion: The Crosscurrents of Musical Influence (2014) and Glam Rock (forthcoming 2017).

Dr David Holloway, a Senior Lecturer whose research interests include American visual cultures, narratives of apocalypse in American culture and the “war on terror”. His book on Cormac McCarthy was published in 2002 and 9/11 and the War on Terror was published in 2008. He is also the co-editor of American Visual Cultures (2005).  His journal article “Politics, Modernism, and Bob Dylan’s Search for a Usable Past in the Rolling Thunder Review” has recently been published in Symbiosis (2016).

Dr Nathan Hunt, a Senior Lecturer in Film and Media whose research interests span film, television and popular media with a particular emphasis on media consumption, audience research, mainstream cult media, fandom and para-textuality.  He has published on the reception and consumption of mainstream cult media, and most recently published a chapter on zombies in digital culture – “A Utilitarian Antagonist: The Zombie in Popular Video Game Culture” - in Hubner, L. and Leaning, M. eds The Zombie Renaissance (2014).

Entry requirements

September 2019 typical entry requirements

UCAS points112* (up to 16 from AS-levels)
Specific requirements at A-level

No specific subject requirements

Specific requirements at GCSEGCSE Maths and English Grade C/Grade 4 (or above) or equivalent qualification
Interview / AuditionN/A

Alternative entry qualifications:

For joint honours degree entry you will need to choose two subjects. The entry criteria here is for this subject only. Your offer will be based on the higher entry criteria from the two subjects you choose to do. A good application/performance will be taken into account if you do not meet the criteria/offer conditions.

*The UCAS Points required for entry will depend on the subjects you choose to combine. The subject with the higher entry requirements will determine your offer.

Our entry requirements for this course should be read together with the University's general entry requirements, which details subjects we accept, alternative qualifications and what we're looking for at Derby.

Fees and funding

2019/20 Fees


£9,250 per year

£1,155 per module


£13,250 per year


Further information about our fees and support you may be entitled to.

Additional costs and optional extras

How to apply

UK/EU students

Full-time students applying to start in September should apply for this course through UCAS or you can apply directly to the University for an undergraduate course if you’re not applying to any other UK university in the same year.

Full-time students applying to start in January should apply directly to the University.

Part-time students should apply directly to the University.

Apply through UCASApply directly to the University

Guidance for EU students post-Brexit

International students

Full-time students applying to start in September should apply for this course through UCAS or you can apply directly to the University for an undergraduate course if you’re not applying to any other UK university in the same year.

Students applying to start in January should apply directly to the University.

Apply through UCASApply directly to the University

Guidance for international applicants applying for an undergraduate degree


In common with graduates from other Humanities courses, our Popular Music in Society graduates are likely to pursue global careers in many different fields: the creative, cultural and heritage industries; journalism and the media; teaching and academia; business and commerce; and the civil and uniformed services.

Whichever career route you decide to follow, we do all we can to ensure you acquire the knowledge and experience to excel. We are committed to helping you develop highly prized transferable skills – including critical thinking, written and oral communication, project management, digital and informational literacy, and global awareness – which are particularly attractive to a wide range of prospective employers.

If you take the opportunity to study abroad as part of the course, your international experience will add an exciting dimension to your CV. You will learn to view the world from fresh perspectives, becoming more independent, mature, versatile and confident in the process.

A Joint Honours degree which includes Popular Music in Society will also provide you with an excellent foundation for postgraduate study.

Ongoing careers support

Our Careers and Employment Service will provide you with support from day one of your course to ensure that you leave the University of Derby as a “work-ready” graduate – industry-aware, motivated and enterprising. Throughout your studies, you will benefit from our Personal Development Planning (PDP) scheme which enables you to reflect on your learning and develop your career ambitions.  And this support continues once you have completed your studies too, as you are entitled to further assistance and guidance from the Careers and Employment Service for up to three years after graduating.

Simon Philo
Programme leader

Simon is Programme Leader for BA Liberal Arts; and Subject Leader for American Studies and Popular Music in Society.

View full staff profileView full staff profile

Contact us

If you need any more information from us, eg on courses, accommodation, applying, car parking, fees or funding, please contact us and we will do everything we can to help you.

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† Additional information about your studies

You will typically study your two subjects equally at stage one, before choosing whether you want to major in one subject at stages two and three.

Download programme specification

Teaching hours

Like most universities, we operate extended teaching hours at the University of Derby, so contact time with your lecturers and tutors could be anytime between 9am and 9pm. Your timetable will usually be available on the website 24 hours after enrolment on to your course.

Additional costs and optional extras

We’re committed to providing you with an outstanding learning experience. Our expert teaching, state-of-the-art facilities and great employability prepare you for your future career. As part of our commitment to you we aim to keep any additional study costs to a minimum. However, there are occasions where students may incur some additional costs.

Included in your fees

Mandatory costs not included in your fees

Optional costs not included in your fees

Please note: Our courses are refreshed and updated on a regular basis. If you are thinking about transferring onto this course (into the second year for example), you should contact the programme leader for the relevant course information as modules may vary from those shown on this page.

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