In addition to practical areas, this programme focuses on developing an in-depth and critical historical understanding of popular music repertoires, cultures, and practices. We have a particular specialism in this area, having established the Institute of Popular Music (IPM) – the world’s first specialist centre for the study of popular music – in 1988.
Some of the modules are practical, concerned with musical performance, song-writing, or creative music technology, although none of these are compulsory. To support these practical elements, we recently undertook a major refurbishment and expansion of our facilities.
Others modules focus on popular music history topics or the music industry, and there are also options in areas such as music psychology, audio-visual media (films and videogames), and vocational options. Throughout, you will learn to write about popular music from a historical, critical, sociological, or philosophical viewpoint.
Programme in detail
The nature of the programme varies according to your module choices. In Year One, core modules will take a detailed look at the nature of the popular music industries, and a critical exploration of 20th-century popular music history, not only going through key musical milestones but also exploring their social contexts and the long-term cultural implications. In Years Two and Three you focus in more depth on fewer selected topics, either concentrating solely on Popular Music modules or retaining the option to pursue one or two modules in other areas. Specialist topics such as gender and sexuality, and sound, technology and society are studied alongside advanced level performance and music technology modules. In Year Three there is a particular emphasis on specialism and an extended or independent project (such as a dissertation, major technology portfolio or extended performance recital).
Choosing this subject as a Joint
In Year One, core modules look at popular music repertoire and history and industry.
Options include performance, technology, audio-visual music, world music, and music industry. In Years Two and Three you focus in more detail on the areas that interest you most (such as history, psychology, audio-visual, performance, or popular composition/song-writing).
Department Key Facts
Number of first year students
66 Year One undergraduates in 2018
UK league tables
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
94% of our graduates are employed or in further study within six months of graduating (DLHE 2016/17)
Ranked 10th in the UK for 4* and 3* research in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 (THE 2014)
Why this subject?
Working in partnership with the city
We work closely with musical and cultural partners throughout Liverpool, 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 and song-writing opportunities
Traditional, electro-acoustic, and audio-visual composition, as well as popular composition/ song-writing, are all represented in the Department.
Develop your confidence through performance
Although not compulsory, if you wish to pursue performance then we offer tution, 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.
Benefit from access to excellent facilities and learning resources
The Department has expanded recently to provide additional studios, practice rooms and a large rehearsal space. Students enjoy excellent library facilities, which include books, online services and learning spaces.