Students preparing for their graduation ceremony at Canterbury Cathedral

Popular Music - BMus (Hons)

UCAS code W300:K

2015

Our BMus Popular Music gives you the opportunity to study the many forms of popular music at the new development in The Historic Dockyard, Chatham. This inspirational, waterside setting contains refurbished historic buildings, specialist music facilities and performance spaces.

2015

Overview

In addition to studying performance and songwriting, you will also have the opportunity to develop your music production skills using our industry-standard music studios. During the programme, you develop a critical understanding of pop music and music culture throughout recent history. We also encourage you to investigate the importance of digital, interactive and web-based media in the future of the music industry.

Independent rankings

In the National Student Survey 2013 The University of Kent was ranked 3rd in London and the south-east for student satisfaction. Music at Kent was ranked 14th in The Guardian University Guide 2014.

Course structure

The course structure below gives a flavour of the modules that will be available to you and provides details of the content of this programme. This listing is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year in response to new curriculum developments and innovation.  Most programmes will require you to study a combination of compulsory and optional modules. You may also have the option to take ‘wild’ modules from other programmes offered by the University in order that you may customise your programme and explore other subject areas of interest to you or that may further enhance your employability.

Stage 1

Possible modules may include Credits

This module will include the following subject areas:

An overview of standard digital audio workstation architecture. File management. Good practice in the handling of digital audio and MIDI data including manipulation, editing, mixing and export. Audio and MIDI processes including use of plug in effects and quantising. Recording principles, the recording chain, microphones, line instruments, and signal paths. Effective microphone placement, the use of DI boxes and establishing correct audio levels. Mixer gain structure, inserts and auxiliary sends in relation to signal processing. Current recording hardware and associated techniques. Effective monitoring and mixing.

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Students will learn to deploy basic music notation and conventions such as time signatures and rhythms, pitches, chords and scales. Common harmonic patterns in popular and related traditions will also be covered. There will be some basic development of aural skills. Examples to illustrate standard Western (including African American) harmonic practices will be drawn from a wide range of musical eras and styles. Twentieth-century developments in songwriting and composition techniques will also be explored.

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Stage 2

Possible modules may include Credits

This module gives students the opportunity to produce collaborative audio-visual works. Exploring notions of the 'found' (sound concrète, found footage, and found environments), students from across the School of Music and Fine Art will work together to create video/audio compositions. This approach is contextualized by reference to key artists and their work. Workshops provide students with the opportunity to develop their technical skills using current audio-visual equipment.

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The purpose of this module is to provide opportunity for self-directed group exploration in the creation of a collaboratively developed interdisciplinary practical research project. Although each student will have to negotiate an individual and personal Learning Contract with a supervising tutor, the focus of this module remains interdisciplinary and collaborative. This will be achieved through a system of lectures, workshops, mentoring, negotiation and tutor supervision. Group projects between 3 and 5 students will be considered. Projects are undertaken and evaluated with tutor guidance. Examples of studies include: performance projects, audio-visual work and multi-media projects.

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Year in industry

The Year in Industry gives you an opportunity to gain relevant workplace experience as part of your programme of study. We have long recognised the benefits of taking a year abroad and the increased awareness and confidence the experience brings and now want to offer these benefits to students within the workplace.

The year in industry will also give you an opportunity to increase your contacts and network so that you can hit the ground running when you graduate.

The year in industry is in addition to your standard undergraduate programme and normally falls between your second and final year. The year itself is assessed on a pass/fail basis through employer feedback and a written report that you submit.

Stage 3

Possible modules may include Credits

This module takes the form of an individual research study. Students will choose an area of study in conjunction with a tutor, who will oversee the development of the dissertation over two terms.

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This module takes the form of an individual study in one practical area relating to music or music technology. This could be, but is not restricted to: composition (electroacoustic and instrumental); sound design; sound and media; musical analysis, forms of interactivity; synthesis; sound spatialisation. Students will choose an area of study in conjunction with a tutor, who will oversee the development of the project over two terms.

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The module will provide an integrated approach to critical studies developing ideas through discussion related to music and audio practice. Throughout this module students are asked to present and lead seminars on issues, problems and ideas that motivate their practice employing relevant cultural and contextual material to support this discussion.

Students are asked to asked to write up a critical report that details the key elements delivered and discussed in the seminar.

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The module will focus upon the development of solo performance skills and an understanding of approaches to effective regular practice at an advanced level. Skills and understanding are fostered through individual instrumental lessons, lectures and performance platforms. Students will develop their musicianship by listening to others and by performing themselves, performing works that are more challenging, both technically and expressively, than those performed during the study of MU519 Performance 2. Lectures will provide guidance on performance conventions, approaches to repertoire and more advanced performance considerations, e.g. subtle and complex distinctions in tone colour and phrase relationships, and approaches to tackling repertoire where the possibility of performance is deliberately problematized.

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This module gives students the opportunity to produce collaborative audio-visual works. Exploring notions of the 'found' (sound concrète, found footage, and found environments), students from across the School of Music and Fine Art will work together to create video/audio compositions. This approach is contextualized by reference to key artists and their work. Workshops provide students with the opportunity to develop their technical skills using current audio-visual equipment.

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This module offers an overview of current and future trends in professional practice, including performance practice, programming and curating, event management and listenership/spectatorship.

The wide and varied nature of current music and art practices will be explored, such as the changing nature of music distribution, including internet and interactive technologies; trends in music industry and arts organisations, including funding, marketing, branding and intellectual property issues.

By devising a major collaborative project for public performance you will put theoretical ideas and concepts into practice.

Read more

The purpose of this module is to provide opportunity for self-directed group exploration in the creation of a collaboratively developed interdisciplinary practical research project. Although each student will have to negotiate an individual and personal Learning Contract with a supervising tutor, the focus of this module remains interdisciplinary and collaborative. This will be achieved through a system of lectures, workshops, mentoring, negotiation and tutor supervision. Group projects between 3 and 5 students will be considered. Projects are undertaken and evaluated with tutor guidance. Examples of studies include: performance projects, audio-visual work and multi-media projects

Read more

The module concentrates on the development of student’s skills in performing with music technology, exploring live electronic music with a particular focus on recent developments in laptop music performance. The students will take part in music activities, including group performance. Topics include current use of various interfaces, combination of live instruments with electronic devices, and live processing. Students will develop their understanding of the role of technology in performance, their sensitivity to material introduced during performance by the group, and the interaction of live and processed musical elements.

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This module develops further the skills and understanding fostered in MU522 Songwriting 2. Students develop further their understanding of the advanced harmonic and melodic processes found in popular music, such as: modal and chromatic chord substitutions, chromatic contrapuntal devices, and approaches to key centre ambiguity. Students will analyse some of the most sophisticated songs and styles in the repertoire. Examples will be taken from within and outside the ‘mainstream’ of popular music, in order to help students develop a greater flexibility in their approach to the discipline. Students will also develop a systematic approach to arrangement taking careful account of conventions pertaining to genre distinctions in the music industry.

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Teaching and assessment

Students receive instrumental tuition as part of this degree, both individually and as part of bands, groups and ensembles.

All assessment is by coursework, including compositional and songwriting projects, seminar presentations, music performances, audio production tasks, essays and written assignments.

For each module, there are opportunities for one-to-one tutorials which give you individual support and guidance.

Programme aims

The programme aims to:

  • produce graduates equipped to fulfil significant roles within a range of music organisations and industries
  • provide an education for those students considering a career in music performance, composition, music production and related areas
  • develop specialist knowledge of musical repertoires and their cultural contexts
  • provide opportunities for personal development 
  • encourage critical thinking with regard to current professional practice
  • enable students to meet the challenges of a diverse and rapidly-changing field
  • provide high quality academic guidance and help students to achieve their full potential
  • foster students’ abilities in both autonomous and team-based practices
  • provide awareness of music’s relationship with other arts subjects and provide opportunities for interdisciplinary explorations.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

You gain knowledge and understanding of:

  • popular music, including a detailed grasp of appropriate repertoires and texts
  • how to understand, interpret and manipulate oral, written and visual signs denoting music
  • the relevant scholarly literature and its insights into the practice and experience of popular music
  • popular music’s historical, social, cultural, political, philosophical and economic context
  • how to relate processes of change in popular music to historical, social and other factors
  • the professional and ethical responsibilities associated with contemporary practice.

Intellectual skills

You develop intellectual skills in:

  • research and exploration including the gathering and evaluation of information
  • the ability to quote from and acknowledge academic sources, relating your insights to the practice and experience of music
  • how to plan, implement, evaluate, and reflect critically on work-in-progress
  • the use of influences and quotations in one’s own and others’ work
  • how to to exercise judgment and to make informed choices
  • using reasoning and logic in order to analyse data and formulate your own arguments and hypotheses
  • how to express, interpret and discuss your analyses, arguments and hypotheses.

Subject-specific skills

You gain subject-specific skills in the following areas:

  • how to recognise, identify and describe musical organisation, style, genre or tradition, whether aurally or by studying a written score
  • the artistic and expressive abilities to communicate popular music convincingly to the listener
  • the ability to have musical ideas and manipulate them in an inventive and individual way
  • the ability to engage with a variety of popular music styles through creative and technical projects
  • a familiarity with musical ideas and concepts relating to (or combining with) other art forms and media
  • the ability to use a range of equipment and technologies for performing, creating, producing and recording music.

Transferable skills

You gain transferable skills in:

  • IT, including word processing, email and the use of information from online and electronic sources
  • communicating effectively with others as a member of a team
  • how to respond positively to self-criticism and the criticism of others while maintaining confidence in your own creative work
  • the effective management of resources and time and the ability to organise and prioritise tasks
  • flexible thinking, including the ability to be open to new and alternative ideas
  • how to manage and carry a project through to delivery.

Careers

Career opportunities include songwriting and composition, performance, music production, music for film, television, video games and the internet, music festivals, concert events, teaching and further study at postgraduate level.

We regularly welcome high-profile visiting experts from the music industry to talk to our students, and we give specialist advice on current work and industry matters during our Stage 3 module, Popular Music and Professional Practice.

Entry requirements

Home/EU students

Those without formal music qualifications should contact the admissions officer. UK-based candidates are interviewed and auditioned. Non-UK candidates should supply a digital portfolio and may be interviewed.

Qualification Typical offer/minimum requirement
A level

ABB-BBB including B in Music/Music Technology. For non-A level candidates grade 6 or equivalent level of ability in music required.

Access to HE Diploma

The University of Kent will not necessarily make conditional offers to all access candidates but will continue to assess them on an individual basis. If an offer is made candidates will be required to obtain/pass the overall Access to Higher Education Diploma and may also be required to obtain a proportion of the total level 3 credits and/or credits in particular subjects at merit grade or above.

BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma (formerly BTEC National Diploma)

Distinction, Merit, Merit

International Baccalaureate

34 points overall or 16 at HL with Music at 5 HL or 6 SL

International students

The University receives applications from over 140 different nationalities and consequently will consider applications from prospective students offering a wide range of international qualifications. Our International Development Office will be happy to advise prospective students on entry requirements. See our International Student website for further information about our country-specific requirements.

Please note that if you need to increase your level of qualification ready for undergraduate study, we offer a number of International Foundation Programmes through Kent International Pathways.

English Language Requirements

Please see our English language entry requirements web page.

Please note that if you are required to meet an English language condition, we offer a number of pre-sessional courses in English for Academic Purposes through Kent International Pathways.

General entry requirements

Please also see our general entry requirements.

Fees

The 2015/16 annual tuition fees for this programme are:

UK/EU Overseas
Full-time £9000 £12890
Part-time £4500 £6460

Fees will increase year on year by no more than RPI + 3% in each academic year of study except where regulated.* If you are uncertain about your fee status please contact information@kent.ac.uk

UK/EU/International students on an approved Year Abroad for the full 2015/16 academic year pay an annual fee of £1,350 to Kent for that year. Those on an approved Year in Industry pay an annual fee of £865 to Kent for that year. Students studying abroad for less than one academic year will pay full fees according to their fee status.

Funding

Kent offers generous financial support schemes to assist eligible undergraduate students during their studies. Our 2015 financial support package includes a £6,000 cash bursary spread over the duration of your course. For Ts&Cs and to find out more, visit our funding page.

General scholarships

Scholarships are available for excellence in academic performance, sport and music and are awarded on merit. For further information on the range of awards available and to make an application see our scholarships website.

The Kent Scholarship for Academic Excellence

At Kent we recognise, encourage and reward excellence. We have created the Kent Scholarship for Academic Excellence, which will be awarded to any applicant who achieves a minimum of AAA over three A levels, or the equivalent qualifications as specified on our scholarships pages.

Full-time

Part-time

The Key Information Set (KIS) data is compiled by UNISTATS and draws from a variety of sources which includes the National Student Survey and the Higher Education Statistical Agency. The data for assessment and contact hours is compiled from the most populous modules (to the total of 120 credits for an academic session) for this particular degree programme. Depending on module selection, there may be some variation between the KIS data and an individual's experience. For further information on how the KIS data is compiled please see the UNISTATS website.

If you have any queries about a particular programme, please contact information@kent.ac.uk.