Course Overview

Our BA (Hons) Popular Music course will enable you to engage with learning the broad range of skills required for a successful career in music. The degree has several elements which are designed to prepare you for the range of work opportunities you will experience as a professional musician. You will study, play and write music in a range of styles, developing your versatility and adaptability in musical situations, and you will work both collaboratively and independently in various music projects. Students have the added benefit to accessing one hour per week of individual instrumental tuition for the full academic year.

Herefordshire has a wonderful tradition of music festivals and community music development as well as a burgeoning live music scene. Coupled with that are a number of recording studios with an industry reputation and a growing population of city-based musicians, composers, producers, music managers and agent: in short, it is thriving! The HCA music degree taps into this industry to provide an excellent vocationally-based music education taught by music industry experts who are still actively engaged in their own professional work.


Some of the areas you will study and develop include:
  • Live performance
  • Technology and production skills
  • Songwriting and Composition
  • Teaching music
  • Music business and event management
  • Popular music studies
  • Music theory and arranging

You will have the opportunity to work on placement with local community music organisations, recording studios, and music festivals. Or, perhaps choose to set up your own initiatives and use your entrepreneurial skills. Either way, you will be fully supported by a team of experienced and well-qualified staff genuinely passionate about sharing their wealth of knowledge and experience with you.


What you will experience
  • Strong team of in-house and visiting industry-based lecturers.
  • Individual instrumental tuition on your principal study instrument.
  • Annual HCA Music Week with outstanding performers.
  • Excellent rehearsal spaces, studio facilities and production suites.
  • Creative modules using current technologies.
  • Enables you to become a self-activating musician, initiating and developing your own employment opportunities


Entry Requirements

  • Minimum age 18.
  • Successful audition interview.
  • 80 UCAS Points New UCAS Tariff system for 2017 (equates to 200 UCAS points previous tariff) For more details on the new tariff system please visit
  • Mature Students with related experience.
  • Applicants whose first language is not English - proof of IELTS score 6.0 or equivalent on enrolment.
  • Recognition of Prior Learning Opportunities - The college welcomes applications from students with prior learning and/or previous experience.  Further details on eligibility can be found on page 15 of our Admissions Policy.  Alternatively, please contact us at and we can advise you on the college’s and the University Awarding body requirements

Critical Studies

These studies are entirely focused around the students’ course area, providing a solid grounding in subject history and in critical ways of thinking about creative practice. The Critical Studies programme enables students to set their own work in a wider context, and also helps them develop a better understanding of how creative work can be interpreted and assessed. Click here for more details.


You will have a solid foundation to work as a self-employed and self-sustaining professional musician. Potential career options include performance, songwriting, production, music business, education, event management and marketing, music journalism. Students can also progress to further postgraduate studies.

What you will study:

At Level 4 you will study:
Popular Music Histories is an introduction to the work of key bands and practitioners in popular music to provide a broad overview of the development of popular music and of the contexts that enable it to be understood and assessed.
Music Promotion aims to introduce you to market research, branding, and use of video. The module utilises industry standard software to produce relevant promotional material (printed, digital media and video) for the popular musician.
Principal Study 1 enables you to engage in specialist 1-to-1 sessions with an instrumental tutor for one hour per week over the academic year (24 weeks). The sessions will develop technical proficiency, musicality, and awareness of repertoire.
Performance Ensemble is a weekly performance workshop within which you will receive formative feedback from a specialist tutor, as well as from others on your course. Sessions address aspects of analysis and approaches to arranging for the live ensemble.
Music Theory will initially engage with the fundamentals of notation and the various elements of music to develop your musical vocabulary. Music computer software will be integrated within sessions to enable you to see and hear the musical information presented.
Live and Recorded Audio workshop sessions explore the theory, principles and practices of live sound engineering and recording. This will consist of safely setting up and running PA systems for performance and effectively utilising the Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) setup to produce demo quality work.
At Level 5 you will study:
Popular Music Studies will consider various theories, concepts, and ideas related to the multifaceted discipline of Popular Music. This may include authenticity, identity, sexuality, fandom, the auteur, dissemination, reception, industry, technology and sonic analysis for example.
Management of Music and Events aims to develop your understanding of the management of music and live events. Particular attention will be paid to skills that will enhance self-employment, entrepreneurship within the industry and how to approach professional communication and maximise networks successfully.
Principal Study 2 includes specialist 1-to-1 sessions with an instrumental tutor for one hour per week over the academic year (24 weeks), tailoring specific learning to your own needs. You will engage in a practice routine in which you will develop stylistic awareness, creativity, and technique in order to realise and clearly express musical ideas.
Professional Practice 1 is a practical module that will focus on deconstruction, analysis and application of music theory with more specific focus on musical structure. Workshop sessions will enable you to apply theory, experiment with ideas, and to create improvisations and/or compositions where you are able to develop your practical technique and facility to express musical ideas in practice.
Professional Practice 2 follows Professional Practice 1 and continues with deconstruction, analysis, and application of theory allowing more specific focus on musical arranging and orchestration. Practical workshop sessions will enable you to put theory into practice, collaborate in ensembles exploring a broad range of styles and create music that stretches your technical and stylistic boundaries.
Music In Practice is a work-based learning module in which you will plan, organise and engage in professional research about possible employment routes. You will then undertake a work placement or professional project for a set period of time in, for example: live sound, multi-media, community music, arts administration, teaching, running workshops in schools and colleges or working alongside practising music practitioners etc.
At Level 6 you will study:
Popular Music Research will consist of lectures/seminars dedicated to aspects of popular music research such as musicology, audience studies, performance studies and/or cultural studies. You will work toward the submission of a focused piece of work examining a specific area of music. 
Preparing and Leading Music will examine and explore the wide variety of contexts within which there is a requirement for music leadership which might include such areas as: teaching, ensemble management, musical theatre, band leading, music in worship, production, musical directing and academic delivery. You will engage in a practice based project within which you will undertake research, engage in and lead sessions, and document your progress and development.
Principal Study 3 1-to-1 sessions run throughout the academic year with an instrumental tutor for one hour per week (24 weeks). The focus is on the development of your musical voice in appropriate repertoire both independently and in a group context within which you may be required to take a leadership role.   
Negotiated Practical Project (Option)
Negotiated Practical Project is a self-directed practical module enabling you to engage in a research informed investigation leading to a substantial practical piece. The module enables you to determine the area of investigation in consultation with your supervising tutor.
Dissertation (Option)
Dissertation is a largely independent academic research module resulting in the production of a large scale written piece. You will be supported with this by an academic supervisor within tutorial sessions throughout the year.
The Session Musician (Option)
The Session Musician is a practical module providing you with an opportunity to experience a range of the likely musical scenarios you may encounter during the course of a music career. You will undertake practical workshop sessions engaging in simulated ‘real’ tasks and then be provided with an opportunity to evaluate them weekly.