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Music and Popular Music

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The deadline for international students is 30 June 2024.

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Bachelor of Arts

A Bachelor of Arts (BA Hons) is a bachelor’s degree awarded for an undergraduate programme in the arts.

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Course overview

This degree offers you a great deal of flexibility and allows you to select from both our classical and popular music modules. There is no better place to study music than Liverpool: we work closely with musical venues and organisations throughout the city, including the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic; and we established the world’s first specialist centre for its study - the Institute of Popular Music - in 1988.

Introduction

The modules on this programme vary, with some being practical – concerned with musical performance, composition and orchestration, song-writing or creative music technology – while others focus on music history topics or music analysis and theory. Our studio and performance modules cater for both classical and popular musical styles, allowing you to choose the route best suited to you; and a generous range of optional modules includes specialist topics such as music psychology, audio-visual media (films and videogames), and vocational modules. Throughout, you will learn to write about music from a historical, critical, sociological, or philosophical viewpoint.

Year in industry

This programme is available with an optional year in industry. If you choose this option, year three is spent on a paid placement within an organisation in industry, broadly defined. You will be supported by the School of the Arts and the Department throughout, and your reflexive written account of the experience will contribute towards your final degree result. If you wish to study this programme with a year in industry, please put the option code ‘YI’ in the ‘further choices’ section of your UCAS application form.

What you'll learn

  • A critical understanding of music from a wide range of aesthetic, cultural and social perspectives
  • A detailed understanding of Western (and some other) music repertoires
  • Advanced proficiency in performance, and composition
  • Academic research skills
  • Critical and cultural awareness
  • The ability to devise and sustain complex arguments
  • Written and oral communication and presentation
  • Creativity
  • Time management and organisations skills

Teaching Excellence Framework 2023

We’re proud to announce we’ve been awarded a Gold rating for educational excellence.

Course content

Discover what you'll learn, what you'll study, and how you'll be taught and assessed.

Year one

You will take two compulsory modules, and choose the rest of your modules from a range of options.

Compulsory modules

MUSIC AS AN INDUSTRY (MUSI150)

Credits: 15 / Semester: semester 2

This module will introduce students to the structure, history and contemporary challenges of the music industries, as well as potential careers available in this sector. Students will be introduced to key debates around the commodification of music, and the influence of technology, managers, artists and market forces on the development of the music industries. Topics covered within the module will typically include: the roles and functions of record labels, the digital watershed, the relationship between live and recorded music industries, as well as exploring how professional music workers have forged careers in the sector today.

MUSIC IN CONTEXTS: WHY MUSIC MATTERS (MUSI121)

Credits: 15 / Semester: semester 1

Music is ubiquitous, yet its function and meaning can be specific to the context in which it is situated. Similarly studying music, in the 21st century context for example, is both complex and specific in equal measure. This module will examine how and why music matters as a cultural expression, intimately linked to the contexts of its production, dissemination, and reception. The scope and breadth of the study of music will be introduced along with various academic approaches and methods employed in such study, along with key terms and concepts used in the study of music in relation to culture. The module will provide students with a foundation for the further study of music and culture at levels two and three, and helps students to understand interdisciplinary approaches to the study of music.

Optional modules

CLASSICAL COMPOSITION 1 (MUSI106)

Credits: 15 / Semester: semester 2

Students will gain historical and practical knowledge of contrapuntal techniques in music composition. Students will demonstrate comprehension of counterpoint rules through several assignments over the course of the term. Students will then complete an original composition which centres around contrapuntal writing.

CLASSICAL PERFORMANCE 1 (MUSI102)

Credits: 15 / Semester: whole session

This module provides students with a structured framework to enhance practical performance skills. Students work with the module leader and an assigned instrumental or vocal teacher towards the development of technical, aural, practice and performative skills.

Foundations in Tonal Harmony (MUSI181)

Credits: 15 / Semester: semester 1

This module bridges the gap between A Level music theory and those required for music analysis at University level. It starts by reviewing the most fundamental elements of western classical music theory, in order that students emerge with a deeper understanding of their relationships and of the function of the key building blocks of the musical repertoire. By the end of the module, students should emerge feeling comfortable working with complex harmonies and cadences, and be able to take these foundational skills on to further analytical study.

INTRODUCTION TO CLASSICAL MUSIC HISTORY (MUSI130)

Credits: 15 / Semester: semester 1

This module ensures a solid foundation in the history of western art ("classical") music since the Baroque era, providing students with suitable experience for second and third year classical history modules on more specific topics. The module deals not only with key composers, genres, and structures, but also with appropriate contextual issues. In unscheduled time, the module also provides a basic grounding in core study skills.

INTRODUCTION TO DIGITAL AUDIO WORKSTATIONS (MUSI109)

Credits: 15 / Semester: semester 1

This module is an introduction to MIDI sequencing in Logic Pro and Ableton Live. It is suitable for complete beginners and intermediate users of Logic. Through lectures and workshops, both of which involve much hands on practice, students learn about MIDI sequencing, software instruments and Digital Audio Workstations (DAW). Topics and techniques covered include recording and editing MIDI; use of effects processors and mixing, software synthesis and sampler instruments. Two creative coursework projects, concentrating on differing compositional approaches and styles, enable students to demonstrate the technical and compositional skills taught and practiced during the module.

INTRODUCTION TO POPULAR MUSIC HISTORY (MUSI140)

Credits: 15 / Semester: semester 1

This module provides an overview of key developments in Anglo-American popular music particularly during the latter part of the twentieth century and the early twenty-first century.  Students are introduced to the musical characteristics of key styles and genres, as well as significant social/cultural movements and critical issues that are relevant to an understanding of the music in question. The module also provides an introduction to key perspectives and issues in popular music studies.

INTRODUCTION TO SOUND AND MUSIC IN AUDIOVISUAL MEDIA (MUSI170)

Credits: 15 / Semester: semester 2

This module introduces students to the use and role of music in a range of audiovisual media. It focuses specifically on the sound and music of mainstream narrative cinema, as the lead expression in contemporary audiovisual media and one that has shaped this aspect of other artforms, such as television and videogames. From the relationship between music and early moving pictures, to the importance of re-using popular musics to score gender or sexuality in the modern Hollywood blockbuster, the module considers both the historical practicalities of sound and music in cinema and some of the key critical ideologies that have been shaped by and shaped the soundtracks of film. Through a focus on key case studies and fundamental theories, students will acquire a firm grounding in the history, nature, and critical discussion of the function of sound and music in film specifically, and audiovisual media more generally. The module is delivered in a manner designed to be equally accessible to students from a non-Music background.

INTRODUCTION TO SOUND AND TECHNOLOGY (MUSI171)

Credits: 15 / Semester: semester 1

​​​The module introduces students to the basic principles of sound, acoustics and music technology. They will learn about many of the core concepts, relevant terminology and theories essential to modern music technology studies. Subjects covered will include acoustics and sound propagation, analogue and digital audio theory, key electronics theories and sound measurement systems. The module includes some practical work at a digital audio workstation. Normally, the module will include a visit to the University’s Acoustics Research Unit.​

INTRODUCTION TO SOUND RECORDING AND PRODUCTION (MUSI108)

Credits: 15 / Semester: semester 2

This module introduces students to Sound, Recording and Production techniques in the University Recording Studio. This is a practised based module where teaching is delivered through hands on workshops and lectures. Lectures will discuss recording, audio editing and effects processing techniques in Pro Tools. The weekly workshops, which are in small groups, will be led by the module leader who will demonstrate production techniques and then set group tasks which will allow students to practice key skills during the workshop sessions. By the end of the module the student will be competent enough to use the studio independently and effectively.

Students will complete two assessments. The first is an individual mixing assignment to be completed in the Mac Suites. Assignment 2 is a group recording project carried out in a University Studio and includes a group presentations about the project.

Popular Music Theory in Practice (MUSI182)

Credits: 15 / Semester: semester 1

A practical and constructive course in Music Theory, with specific reference to the practical needs of popular musicians. Students will be introduced to a range of scales and modes, diatonic chords and their extensions, common chord symbols, along with common musical forms and structures. Musical notation will be used, though not exclusively, and there will be an aural component. Delivery will be via online lectures, workshop sessions, seminars and tutorials. Formative assessment will be an important teaching tool, and summative assessment will be via an end of term theory test.

Popular Performance 1 (MUSI104)

Credits: 15 / Semester: whole session

A practical module that explores issues in Popular Music performance.

The History of Electronic Music (MUSI172)

Credits: 15 / Semester: semester 2

Content will include but not limited to:

Content will include but not limited to:
Musique concrete,
ElektronischeMusik,
American Experimentalism,
Tape composition,
Analogue Synthesizers,
Computer Music,
BBC Radiophonic Workshop
Electronic music in rock and jazz,
Noise Music – Japanoise, Noise in Rock, Metal, Punk and Hardcore
Hardware Hacking – Reed Ghazala and Nicholas Collins
Minimalism – Tape Looping and minimalist compositional practices
Sound Design in Cinema.

Theory in Practice: Exploring Music’s Construction (MUSI180)

Credits: 15 / Semester: semester 2

Building on a foundational knowledge of music theory, this module examines repertoires from popular music and the classical era as well as music from film. The module first explores formal contrasts in musical works, through examples of dynamic contrasts from Stravinsky and Radiohead, influenced by ‘montage cinema’. This develops through a study of modes, scales and keys in the nineteenth century classical repertoire and in rock and jazz. Techniques for analysing electronic music are adapted and developed by students, while the final lectures introduce the dynamics of form in Baroque and Classical music.

Writing for Instruments (MUSI105)

Credits: 15 / Semester: semester 1

This module will cover techniques and strategies for writing for instruments which are applicable to many different musical genres. We will learn how to write for various instruments found in the orchestra – strings, woodwinds, brass, and pitched and unpitched percussion. Students will be assessed on arrangements of stylistically diverse musical excerpts (prog rock, classical, electronic) for various small chamber ensembles. Seminars will feature live demonstrations from members of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic detailing how to write idiomatic parts and offering tips on how to notate your ideas for performers. Fluency with musical notation is required for this module.

Popular Composition 1 (MUSI107)

Credits: 15 / Semester: semester 2

Students will develop a practical understanding of compositional techniques in songwriting since the beginning of the recording age (early 1900s) focussing mainly on popular composition since 1950. Through analysis of songs up to the present day, students will examine melody writing, chord structures, lyrics, arrangement and the implications of technology (recording techniques), creating their own original material in two assignments through the semester.

Programme details and modules listed are illustrative only and subject to change.

Our curriculum

The Liverpool Curriculum framework sets out our distinctive approach to education. Our teaching staff support our students to develop academic knowledge, skills, and understanding alongside our graduate attributes:

  • Digital fluency
  • Confidence
  • Global citizenship

Our curriculum is characterised by the three Liverpool Hallmarks:

  • Research-connected teaching
  • Active learning
  • Authentic assessment

All this is underpinned by our core value of inclusivity and commitment to providing a curriculum that is accessible to all students.

Course options

Studying with us means you can tailor your degree to suit you. Here's what is available on this course.

Global Opportunities

University of Liverpool students can choose from an exciting range of study placements at partner universities worldwide. Choose to spend a year at XJTLU in China or a year or semester at an institution of your choice.

What's available on this course?

Year in China

Immerse yourself in Chinese culture on an optional additional year at Xi'an Jiaotong Liverpool University in stunning Suzhou.

  • Learn Chinese
  • Study in a bustling world heritage city
  • Improve employment prospects
  • Study Chinese culture
  • 30 minutes from Shanghai
  • Learn new skills

Read more about Year at XJTLU, China

Year in industry

Year in industry placements give you an in-depth workplace experience where you can develop your skills and apply your learning.

  • Develop key employability skills that graduate employers are looking for
  • Experience and understand workplace culture and disciple
  • Understand the relationship between academic theory and real world application
  • Begin your professional network
  • Gain industry insight and insight into potential career options.

You don't need to decide now - you can choose to add a year in industry after you've begun your degree.

Learn more about year in industry

To spend a year in industry, you'll need to secure a placement with an organisation. If you're unable to find a placement, you'll continue with the standard version of the course without a year in industry.

Language study

Every student at The University of Liverpool can study a language as part of, or alongside their degree. You can choose:

  • A dedicated languages degree
  • A language as a joint or major/ minor degree
  • Language modules (selected degrees)
  • Language classes alongside your studies

Read more about studying a language

Your experience

Much of your teaching will take place in the Department of Music. Our recently renovated facilities include studios, teaching spaces and industry standard equipment, and we recently opened the Tung Auditorium: a 400-seat state of the art performance venue, which has been developed to support our requirements and to function as a public-facing space for concerts outside of teaching time.

Virtual tour

Supporting your learning

From arrival to alumni, we’re with you all the way:

Why study Music at Liverpool?

  • We pride ourselves on being an innovative department that embraces the full spectrum of music, from the great works of the past to emerging trends such as sound for computer games
  • Our staff and students come from a variety of performance and non-performance backgrounds and share interests that span classical, popular, world and film music
  • Long established as a classical music department, in 1988 we created the Institute of Popular Music – the world’s first specialist centre for the study of Popular Music
  • Music placed in the top quartile for impact classified as outstanding (4*) (REF 2021)
  • Our recently refurbished facilities boast brand new studios, teaching spaces, and industry standard equipment. These include recording and production studios, an SSL studio, practice rooms with Yamaha pianos, a multipurpose rehearsal and performance space, iMac suites and a games research lab
  • In March 2022 we opened the Tung Auditorium, a new state-of-the-art performance venue seating up to 400 people, with space for a 70-piece orchestra.

Careers and employability

Studying music opens up many career opportunities. As well as jobs in music (from performance, composition, and production, through to teaching, music therapy and community arts), employers in many sectors are increasingly seeking arts and humanities graduates for their transferable skills.

As a music student you will achieve creative flair and imagination, confidence in expressing yourself, an openness to new ideas, a capacity for hard work and an ability to analyse data. You will learn the value of working with others towards a shared, finished product and a whole range of flexible, professional skills.

As a student in the School of the Arts, you will be supported to maximise your employability from day one.

The School has its own placements and employability officer, and you will have the opportunity to undertake the following work experience opportunities:

  • Work placement or a year in industry as part of your programme
  • Work in our student-run record label to gain practical experience of all aspects of the music industry – from contract negotiation and project planning, through to promotion and distribution.

80% of music students will go on to work and/or further study 15 months after graduation.

Discover Uni, 2018-19.

Fees and funding

Your tuition fees, funding your studies, and other costs to consider.

Tuition fees

UK fees (applies to Channel Islands, Isle of Man and Republic of Ireland)
Full-time place, per year £9,250
Year in industry fee £1,850
Year abroad fee £1,385
International fees
Full-time place, per year £22,400
Year in industry fee £1,850
Year abroad fee £11,200
Fees are correct for the academic year 2024/25. Please note that the Year Abroad fee also applies to the Year in China.

Tuition fees cover the cost of your teaching and assessment, operating facilities such as libraries, IT equipment, and access to academic and personal support. Learn more about paying for your studies..

Additional costs

We understand that budgeting for your time at university is important, and we want to make sure you understand any course-related costs that are not covered by your tuition fee. This could include buying a laptop, books, or stationery.

Find out more about the additional study costs that may apply to this course.

Additional study costs

We understand that budgeting for your time at university is important, and we want to make sure you understand any course-related costs that are not covered by your tuition fee. This could include buying a laptop, books, or stationery.

Find out more about additional study costs.

Scholarships and bursaries

We offer a range of scholarships and bursaries to provide tuition fee discounts and help with living expenses while at university.

Check out our Liverpool Bursary, worth up to £2,000 per year for eligible UK students. Or for international students, our Undergraduate Global Advancement Scholarship offers a tuition fee discount of up to £5,000 for eligible international students starting an undergraduate degree from September 2024.

Discover our full range of undergraduate scholarships and bursaries

Entry requirements

The qualifications and exam results you'll need to apply for this course.

As part of our application process, applicants are normally required to attend an Applicant Interview and Music Experience Day where you will either have an interview or a short audition with an academic member of staff. This is your chance to demonstrate your passion for the subject and allow us to make a decision on your application. (There is an option for phone or Skype interviews).

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Your qualification Requirements

About our typical entry requirements

A levels

ABB including A level grade B in Music or ABRSM Grade 8 in Music Theory at Pass. If an applicant is taking Grade 8 in any instrument (or singing) a dual offer can be made: ABB or BBB with Grade 8 Distinction.

Applicants with the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) are eligible for a reduction in grade requirements. For this course, the offer is BBB with A in the EPQ.

You may automatically qualify for reduced entry requirements through our contextual offers scheme.

T levels

T levels are not currently accepted.

GCSE 4/C in English and 4/C in Mathematics
BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma

BTEC applications are encouraged. We evaluate each BTEC application on its merits and may make offers at DDM.

International Baccalaureate

33 including Higher Level 6 in Music, with no score less than 4

Irish Leaving Certificate H1, H2, H2, H2, H3, H3 including H2 in Music
Scottish Higher/Advanced Higher

Scottish Highers at AABBB plus Scottish Advanced Highers grade B in Music, combinations are also welcome.

Welsh Baccalaureate Advanced Accepted including 2 A levels at BB (including Music)
Access Not acceptable without an A level in Music or ABRSM Theory Grade 8
International qualifications

Many countries have a different education system to that of the UK, meaning your qualifications may not meet our entry requirements. Completing your Foundation Certificate, such as that offered by the University of Liverpool International College, means you're guaranteed a place on your chosen course.

English language requirements

You'll need to demonstrate competence in the use of English language, unless you’re from a majority English speaking country.

We accept a variety of international language tests and country-specific qualifications.

International applicants who do not meet the minimum required standard of English language can complete one of our Pre-Sessional English courses to achieve the required level.

English language qualification Requirements
IELTS 6.5 overall, with no component below 5.5
TOEFL iBT 88 overall, with minimum scores of listening 17, writing 17, reading 17 and speaking 19
Duolingo English Test 120 overall, with no component below 95 
Pearson PTE Academic 61 overall, with no component below 59
LanguageCert Academic 70 overall, with no skill below 60
Cambridge IGCSE First Language English 0500 Grade C overall, with a minimum of grade 2 in speaking and listening. Speaking and listening must be separately endorsed on the certificate.
Cambridge IGCSE First Language English 0990 Grade 4 overall, with Merit in speaking and listening
Cambridge IGCSE Second Language English 0510/0511 0510: Grade B overall, with a minimum of grade 2 in speaking. Speaking must be separately endorsed on the certificate. 0511: Grade B overall.
Cambridge IGCSE Second Language English 0993/0991 0993: Grade 6 overall, with a minimum of grade 2 in speaking. Speaking must be separately endorsed on the certificate. 0991: Grade 6 overall.  
International Baccalaureate Standard Level grade 5 or Higher Level grade 4 in English B, English Language and Literature, or English Language
Cambridge ESOL Level 2/3 Advanced 176 overall, with no paper below 162

PRE-SESSIONAL ENGLISH

Do you need to complete a Pre-Sessional English course to meet the English language requirements for this course?

The length of Pre-Sessional English course you’ll need to take depends on your current level of English language ability.

Find out the length of Pre-Sessional English course you may require for this degree.

Pre-sessional English

If you don’t meet our English language requirements, we can use your most recent IELTS score, or the equivalent score in selected other English language tests, to determine the length of Pre-Sessional English course you require.

Use the table below to check the course length you're likely to require for your current English language ability and see whether the course is available on campus or online.

Your most recent IELTS score Pre-Sessional English course length On campus or online
6.0 overall, with no component below 5.5 6 weeks On campus
5.5 overall, with no component below 5.5 10 weeks On campus and online options available
5.5 overall, with no more than one component below 5.5, and no component below 5.0 12 weeks On campus and online options available
5.5 overall, with no component below 4.5 20 weeks On campus
5.0 overall, with no component below 4.5 30 weeks On campus
4.5 overall, with no more than one component below 4.5, and no component below 4.0 40 weeks On campus

If you’ve completed an alternative English language test to IELTS, we may be able to use this to assess your English language ability and determine the Pre-Sessional English course length you require.

Please see our guide to Pre-Sessional English entry requirements for IELTS 6.5, with no component below 5.5, for further details.

Contextual offers: reduced grade requirements

Based on your personal circumstances, you may automatically qualify for up to a two-grade reduction in the entry requirements needed for this course. When you apply, we consider a range of factors – such as where you live – to assess if you’re eligible for a grade reduction. You don’t have to make an application for a grade reduction – we’ll do all the work.

Find out more about how we make reduced grade offers.

About our entry requirements

Our entry requirements may change from time to time both according to national application trends and the availability of places at Liverpool for particular courses. We review our requirements before the start of the new UCAS cycle each year and publish any changes on our website so that applicants are aware of our typical entry requirements before they submit their application.

Recent changes to government policy which determine the number of students individual institutions may admit under the student number control also have a bearing on our entry requirements and acceptance levels, as this policy may result in us having fewer places than in previous years.

We believe in treating applicants as individuals, and in making offers that are appropriate to their personal circumstances and background. For this reason, we consider a range of factors in addition to predicted grades, widening participation factors amongst other evidence provided. Therefore the offer any individual applicant receives may differ slightly from the typical offer quoted in the prospectus and on the website.

Alternative entry requirements

  • If your qualification isn't listed here, or you're taking a combination of qualifications, contact us for advice
  • If you are returning to learning, have had a disrupted education or are switching career pathways, the one-year Go Higher diploma qualifies you to apply for University of Liverpool arts, humanities and social sciences programmes
  • Applications from mature students are welcome.

Changes to Music and Popular Music BA (Hons)

See what updates we've made to this course since it was published. We document changes to information such as course content, entry requirements and how you'll be taught.

7 June 2022: New course pages

New course pages launched.