Music and Popular Music BA (Hons)

Key information


  • Course length: 3 years
  • UCAS code: W301
  • Year of entry: 2020
  • Typical offer: A-level : ABB / IB : 33, with no score less than 4 / BTEC : Applications considered
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On this programme, the modules vary with some being practical, concerned with musical performance, composition and orchestration, song-writing or creative music technology, although none of these are compulsory. Others focus on music history topics or music analysis and theory. There are also options in areas such as music psychology, audio-visual media (films and videogames), and vocational options.

The remaining modules involve writing about music from a historical, critical, sociological, or philosophical viewpoint. Our studio and performance modules cater for both classical and popular musical styles.

Programme in detail

This degree offers you a great deal of flexibility and allows you to select from both our classical and popular music modules. Some modules are practical, concerned with musical performance, composition and orchestration, or creative music technology. Others entail musical notation in connection with music history, world music, AV or music analysis. The remaining modules generally involve writing about music from a historical, critical, sociological, or analytical viewpoint.

In Years Two and Three you will focus in more depth on fewer selected topics. Specialist topics can be studied alongside advanced level analysis, performance or composition modules. In Year Three there is a particular emphasis on specialism and an extended or independent project (such as a research project, a composition portfolio or a music technology project).

Performance scholarships

Applicants to our Music BA Hons (W300) or Music and Popular Music BA Hons (W301) programmes will be given the opportunity to audition for a performance scholarship worth £1,000 per year of study as part of their interview day. See our performance scholarships for further details.

Department Key Facts

Number of first year students

66 Year One undergraduates in 2018

Graduate prospects

94% of our graduates are employed or in further study within six months of graduating (DLHE 2016/17)

Research performance

Ranked 10th in the UK for 4* and 3* research in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 (THE 2014)

Facts and figures

We created the Institute of Popular Music in 1988, becoming the first Department of Music in the UK to introduce dedicated, specialist popular music studies and research

Why this subject?

Working in partnership with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra

We are intrinsically connected to the city, working closely with musical and cultural partners, including the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic. This particular partnership extends across the spectrum of the Department’s activities, with the Orchestra’s musicians making frequent visits to campus, providing lessons and coaching, including through our undergraduate scholarship scheme, and undergraduate and postgraduate composition workshops.

Take advantage of composition opportunities

Traditional, electro-acoustic, and audio-visual composition, as well as popular composition/song-writing, are all represented in the Department. We also offer composition for film and TV media, as well as digital gaming.

Develop your confidence through performance

Although not compulsory, if you wish to pursue performance then we offer tuition, workshops and support to enhance your development as a performer. Among the many ensembles, there is a symphony orchestra, a university choir, and a chamber choir, while the University’s Music Society runs a wind orchestra, a brass band and a jazz band. We run a weekly professional lunchtime concert series. We are also home to numerous pop and rock groups, covering many styles, and many of our students perform at local venues and open-mic nights.

Benefit from studying in a well-established Department

We were one of the very first places to offer university-level provision in popular music, and our dedicated research centre, the Institute of Popular Music, was the world’s first specialist centre for the study of popular music.

Learn from music analysis and psychology experts

We offer a critical approach that encourages you to develop your own unique ways of analysing music from a broad range of repertoires and invites you to explore many new possibilities for appreciating the sonic experience of music. We offer modules in music psychology and musical emotion, which are increasingly popular with students wishing to become music therapists.

Benefit from access to excellent facilities and learning resources

Investment in our facilities has provided additional studios, practice rooms, a games research lab and a large rehearsal space: take a virtual tour. Students enjoy excellent library facilities, which include online books as well as archive print materials, online services and learning spaces.