Course Overview

This popular, two year course provides a fantastic opportunity to develop your musical skills across the entire popular music spectrum; from Metal to Hip-Hop, from Folk to Grunge, from Jazz-Funk to Classic Rock and everything in between.

Our music students benefit from the College’s partnerships and links to: Music Pool, Herefordshire Music Service and Royal National College (RNC) Chapel Studios as well as working with the teaching staff and students from our BA (Hons) Popular Music course based at our College Road Campus.  Also, every year, for a whole week the College puts on HCA Music Week - a week long series of workshops, masterclasses and live gigs. Guests include the likes of Kasabian drummer, Ian Matthews and singer-song writer Charlie Dore.



The course allows you to develop and build on your existing interest and knowledge of popular music, such as playing and singing techniques, music technology, songwriting and composition, sound recording and performing, alongside a team of experienced tutors and fellow students from a wide range of backgrounds. If you want to be a committed musician, what better way could you find to spend your time ‘doing music’ every day and gain a substantial qualification at the same time?

We believe it is important to make students feel valued, so whatever you bring to the course in terms of prior ability and experience, we will help you to build and develop it, to realise your full, creative potential.


The course is practical and work-related covering all aspects of modern popular music including Rock, Jazz, Pop and World.  It is designed to give you a broad-based foundation from which to progress to either Higher Education or directly into employment. All of our tutors have experience or currently work in a related area of the Music Industry, for example through performance, composing, and/or recording, and are able to pass on to students a wealth of practical and professional experience.

The Extended Diploma is equivalent to three A Levels and is recognised as such by all Universities and specialist Music Colleges.


Listen to our music demos in soundcloud

Key areas covered on the course include:
  • Musicianship
  • Performance and Practical Skills
  • Music Technology & Production Techniques
  • Music Business

More details about these areas can be found below


The course is based in a dedicated Music Suite located at our Folly Lane campus which includes sound-proof rehearsal/recording studios each containing a PA system, back-line amplifiers (Marshall, Fender, Ampeg) and keyboards and drum kit, alongside a fully-equipped Music Technology suite (Cubase & Sibelius). Class rooms are used for theory-based and formal teaching. Each studio, together with the Folly Arts Theatre, is digitally linked to enable recording from and to any of these spaces via a brand new Yamaha Digital mixing desk.

There are many regular opportunities to perform and record, both formally and informally throughout the course. A unique aspect of the course is the weekly ‘Performance Clinic’ where you and your fellow students can perform to each other and receive constructive feedback.


English and maths are an integral part of the course. Students who do not yet have the necessary grades (grade C or above) will get additional teaching and support to study for either GCSE or Functional Skills depending on prior GCSE grades. Please click here for more details.

A wide range of trips are arranged to gigs, workshops and music fairs, and we also regularly host visits from music industry professionals, including former students. You’ll also have the opportunity to work at the College Road Campus with students from the Royal National College for the Blind, and take advantage of more excellent video and audio recording facilities.


The majority of students continue their studies at degree-level and successfully apply to universities and colleges throughout the UK including here at Hereford College of Arts. Alternatively, students will be well equipped with the qualifications and skills to enter employment.


Entry Requirements

  • Minimum 5 GCSEs at Grade A*- C or 9 – 4 in the new GCSE grading structure. (To ensure that you qualify it is highly desirable that you achieve at least a grade C or above in English and maths)
  • Interview & audition

What you will study:

This area looks at developing your skills in music theory, aural skills, sight-reading, voice and keyboards. These are the essential aspects of being a well-rounded musician and will equip you for the entry requirements of higher education courses as well as a variety of career options.

This area includes repertoire from the history and development of popular music from the fifties to the present day, world music and jazz studies, solo and ensemble performance as well as opportunities to perform original songs and compositions.
This area looks at the use of sound recording, sequencers, samplers and notation software to develop up-to-the-minute skills commonly used in studio production and composition.
This area looks at how the music industry currently operates including new record company models, the internet, promotion and marketing. It also looks at the role and place of popular music in society