Course details

Study options

Full-time: 3 Years, Part-time: 5 Years

UK/EU fee

£9,250 per year (2020/21)

International fee

£14,045 per year (2020/21)

UCAS points

112 (September 2021 entry)

UCAS code


Course level



BA (Hons)

Start date



Markeaton Street, Derby Campus

This course is being updated, please keep checking back for more information.

If you do not achieve the typical entry points required, you may want to consider studying this course with foundation year.

View with foundation year optionView with foundation year option

Course description

This course is designed for practising musicians who want to understand the technical environment within which commercial music takes place. 

The BA (Hons) Popular Music programme is one of the few courses of its type in the country and is designed to equip you with the ability to interact and innovate within a vibrant environment, nurturing a specialism in popular music and related industries. The area of popular music is a dynamic, well established creative aspect of the music industry involving sophisticated craft, technical, analytical and scholarly approaches. 

You will develop a wide range of disciplines through performance, composition, technology, media production and musicology. You will also develop an in-depth appreciation of the increasing significance of popular music in economic and professional terms. 

Here's what you can expect from this course: 

Take a look at the professional Music facilities at Markeaton Street:

John Crossley, Head of Discipline for Music and Theatre and Dance at the University of Derby talks about the industry-standard Music facilities at our Markeaton Street site.

View Professional Music facilities at Markeaton Street video transcript

The music technology part of the course covers the technology of the recording studio, video production, along with the application of music software on digital audio workstations and the production/post-production of music for a variety of commercial applications.‌

This course is accredited by JAMES (Joint Audio Media Education Support) so that you can be confident that the course meets the high standards demanded by industry.

If you don't have the appropriate qualifications to start this course, you can study the Arts Year Zero first. You could also enhance your skills further, by going on to study our MA Music Production

A student working in the music studios

Music studios

The music studios at our Markeaton Street site include sound technology labs, surround-sound testing rooms and electronic labs.

Take a look at the studiosTake a look at the studios


All art and design courses are based at our Markeaton Street site where modern, purpose built studios and labs provide a modern creative space for our arts students. Markeaton Street encompasses Chandos Pole Street (home to our Fashion and Textiles courses) and Britannia Mill (home to Fine Arts). Students on any of our theatre related courses also get to study at Derby Theatre, and Dance students study at Deda.

Markeaton Street is a 15 minute walk from Kedleston Road, and is serviced by regular free site shuttle buses.

Explore our facilities through 360 views:

Markeaton Street

Music Studio

What you will study

The course is divided into three stages, equating to three years of full-time study, each stage consisting of up to six single modules worth 20 credits each. This equates to 120 credits per year.

The modules in this programme correspond to particular themes of academic study shown below, the nature of each theme is summarised as follows:

Performance - This theme provides the practical underpinning of musical performance in an ensemble context. This includes the development of instrumental technique and skills and applicable music theory.

Composition and arrangement - This theme allows you to develop skills in music composition and arrangement as appropriate to the contemporary and commercial music sectors; in particular it allows the focus upon the application of technology in creative practice.

Music technology and production - This theme provides study of the technology of modern recording and production. Broadly it covers the technical features of modern recording studio technology and computer-based software applications including associated interface technologies.

Critical studies - This theme provides study of the history, context, and scholarship of popular music providing an opportunity for the students to develop research skills including Level 4 Personal Development Planning (PDP).

Professional Practice - This theme provides an opportunity to investigate associated business and vocational activities supporting Level 5 & 6 Personal Development Planning (PDP). Within any theme, the modules at a lower Level provide underpinning studies for those at a higher level.

Black and white photo of student playing guitar

You will study modules such as:

At this stage you will focus upon the transition into creative Higher Education, engendering a culture of risk-taking, experimentation and process-based learning across both practice-based and theoretical modules. Level 4 modules will introduce the subject, its ethos, methodology and the strands of expertise that you will need to develop for future study. All modules at this Level are graded as either pass or fail.  

  • Performance Redefined (40 credit module) 
  • Innovations in Commercial Music (40 credit module) 
  • Introduction to the Art and Science of Recording (20 credit module) 
  • Music: Institutions, Industries and Audiences (20 credit module) 

At this stage you will continue to develop experimentation and process-based learning into a more assured professional approach to your study. Level 5 modules will enable you to identify your strengths, career aspirations and self-confidence, including a period of professional work experience. Through these experiences, you will develop a distinctive personal voice aligned to your career aspirations and your consideration and understanding of audience and market. 

  • Performance Interpretation (40 credit module) 
  • Composition by Design (40 credit module) 
  • Introduction to Studio Production Techniques (20 credit module) 
  • Industry: Research and Practice (20 credit module) 

Stage 3 further develops the your personal voice into a distinctive independent practice which enables you to pursue your ambitions in a changing world. Level 6 modules will provide you with the opportunity to extend, resolve and apply your accumulated knowledge and creative ideas into form, proposition and exhibition. You will be required to engage with independent projects and practical tasks and to transfer and apply your analytical skills to exercise personal judgement and manage your own scholarship. Emphasis will be placed on planning for the next phase of your career trajectory through self-promotion and more advanced and developed critical analysis. 

  • Music Festival (40 credit module) 
  • Creative Portfolio (40 credit module) 
  • Research Project (40 credit module) 

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.

Side-on portrait of a young student with purple bokeh lights in the background

Campus Tours

Campus Tours are a great way to explore our campuses, facilities and halls of residence. We’ll be running the tours in two-hour timeslots, giving you the best possible experience while adhering to social distancing guidelines.

Book your Campus TourBook your Campus Tour

Virtual Open Day

Delve deeper into the course with our Virtual Open Day, packed with subject and course information to help you make your choice, including tours of facilities, 360° views of award-winning accommodation plus advice and insight from students and academics.

Explore our Virtual Open DayExplore our Virtual Open Day

How you will learn

The timetable contains around 12 hours of contact with staff a week, with the remainder of the academic week engaged in directed study. All modules are supported through UDo, the University of Derby Online, so you have access to essential support materials at any time of the day or night.


You’ll discover a superb range of music making facilities at our Markeaton Street site, including state-of-the-art recording studios, rehearsal space, music technology labs and three post-production rooms equipped with latest software.  

The University has invested almost £350,000 in these facilities, ensuring you have access to resources which match those of professional studios in the UK and overseas. We offer a wide range of instruments, amplifiers and outboard gear on which you can develop your skills, together with a classic 48-channel Neve recording console. Take a look at our  virtual tour of the studios.

We are one of the leading universities conducting research into surround-sound technologies and all of our control rooms accommodate 5.1 speaker arrays. We also have a surround-sound research lab which has a 40-speaker ambisonics surround speaker array allowing height and depth parameters.

While these studio facilities will provide an excellent setting for your taught sessions, they are also available for you to book at other times to fine-tune your personal music projects. You will also be encouraged to hone your performance skills at venues across the city.

Learning and assessment

A variety of assessment methods will be used. Some Popular Music modules are assessed through coursework only, others by a combination of coursework, portfolios, assignments, case studies, oral and graphic presentations, collaborative and interdisciplinary team work projects, computer testing and examinations, so providing a flexible and effective means of assessing your progress. Assessments are designed to enable you to demonstrate achievement of the learning outcomes for your module. An assessment component may sometimes take the form of a number of small submissions eg lab reports or short in-class tests.

The two major music projects during your final year will focus on developing your professional practice in both performance and composition. The aim is to maximise your potential for securing employment in the creative industries.

As part of the course, you will have the opportunity to access exchange opportunities in Europe through the Erasmus Plus programme – where you’ll be exposed to a rich variety of musical approaches and techniques.

You will be taught by very experienced lecturers, many with international research portfolios and current professional experience.

Degree Show

Every year students from the School of Arts celebrate their time at University by showcasing their work at an end of year Degree Show at Markeaton Street and across the City of Derby. The Show usually runs throughout June and is a fantastic opportunity for potential employers, friends, family, industry and members of the public to see exciting creations by the next generation of artists, designers, creators and makers from Derby. The Show takes the form of:

Take a look at highlights from the 2019 Degree Show.

Personal academic tutoring

Your personal academic tutor will work with you to help you get the most out of your time at university. Having someone to talk to about your academic progress, your university experience and your professional aspirations is hugely valuable. We want you to feel challenged in your studies, stretched but confident to achieve your academic and professional goals.

Find out more about personal academic tutoring

Who will teach you

Programme leader

Phil Baggaley

Entry requirements

September 2021 typical entry requirements

RequirementWhat we're looking for
UCAS points112
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
IELTS6.0 (with 5.5 in each skills area)
Interview / AuditionYes - see interview details

Alternative entry qualifications:

We usually consider an A-level in General Studies as a supplementary qualification. A good application/performance will be taken into account if you do not meet the criteria/offer conditions.

Offers will be made initially based on your application, including predicted grades and/or grades you have already achieved. Following this, if you submit a strong portfolio we will make you an unconditional offer, to reflect the quality of your work and your potential.

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

2020/21 Fees


£9,250 per year

£1,155 per 20 credit module


£14,045 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.

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.

Apply through UCASApply directly to the University

Guidance for international applicants applying for an undergraduate degree


Our graduates are equipped for employment within the modern commercial music sector as performers, composers, producers, educators, promoters, publishers, academics, recording studio engineers and entrepreneurial freelance musicians. They also work in a range of media organisations.  

Others have gone on to further study, at MA, MSc or PhD level, or successfully completing PGCE for school of college level teaching, some gaining QTS teaching qualifications for primary or secondary education. This enables them to become teachers, entering the primary and secondary education sector, lecturing for colleges of further education and freelance instrumental teaching. 

Notable graduates

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.

Contact us Contact us

Additional information about your studies

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, excellent 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.

The information below is correct for entry in the academic year September 2020 - August 2021 only. Entry for future academic years may be subject to change.

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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