Follow in the tradition of some of the UK’s greatest musicians and start your creative music career at an art school. We nurture students to develop their own voice and practice and then connect them to the ever expanding opportunities in the world.
Hear from current student Georgia Sherman
It’s a well-known secret that some of the greatest musicians studied music at arts school. Some of our best-known original thinkers and innovators have developed their musical creativity in an inspiring environment that allowed them to think differently.
At HCA we support you to do the same. We’ll support you to be musically curious, to break down barriers and amaze yourself with your own daring. In a collaborative environment of like-minded individuals, in a community that allows you to develop at your own pace due to small group tuition. We give you the opportunity to discover your authentic voice while studying a wealth of musical styles. Music at HCA will equip you with the skills and experience to allow you to enter the industry on a professional level: as a performer, songwriter, event producer, soundtrack designer, to name a few.
Explore our music course
Your Creative Career
- Music Producer
- Music Therapist
- Private Music Teacher
- Secondary School Teacher
- Sound Designer
- Sound Engineer
- Sound Technician
- Special Effects Technician
- Events Management
Students can also progress to further postgraduate studies.
More about the course
This Key Information document gives you a summary of the core characteristics of the BA (Hons) Popular Music degree at HCA.
Popular music at HCA is a vocational course designed for performers, songwriters and producers who wish to graduate with all the creative skills, knowledge and experience needed to have a successful career in the music industry. From mainstream to underground, this degree embraces music in its many forms – from rock, pop, folk, urban, jazz and to the experimental. Study on an industry-focused program in an inspiring art school environment.
This dynamic, innovative, industry-facing course is designed for students whose ambition is to work in the music industry. The course will prepare you to be a versatile, resilient portfolio musician with a host of transferable skills. You will learn through being involved in stimulating live briefs relevant to current 21st century music industry practices. With an emphasis on the production of original work, you will learn how to collaborate with your fellow students in performance, songwriting and production, whilst acquiring a detailed knowledge and understanding of all aspects of the contemporary music business.
Our recording studio runs the latest Apple Mac Pro and Logic Pro Digital Audio Workstation (DAW). All machines feature Logic Pro as well as a multitude of software necessary for a career in the creative music technologies, while our team of technical demonstrators will assist you in the production of professional quality music and sound, web design, video editing and with a range of software for use with digital and printed media.
We support innovative and curious students who are willing to engage with ideas that will enhance their own creative vision and critical thinking. The course welcomes diversity, collaboration and experimentation.
- You will be taught by a strong team of industry focused lecturers combined with regular masterclasses from professionals that are designed to educate, stimulate, and motivate.
- Access to rehearsal rooms, acoustically designed and fully equipped. Whether it be high-end digital or retro analogue, you will be able to produce and create a diverse range of professional sound recordings.
- Develop an expertise in a business relevant to your musical interest and discover opportunities for industry based internships and graduate placements.
- Small class sizes provide highly personalised levels of supervision and support. This will enable you to develop your own specialist practice you need for working within this dynamic sector.
- Opportunities to collaborate with other creatives in a dynamic arts school environment.
Herefordshire has a vibrant community of musicians, producers, recording studios, venues, music festivals and community music outlets that contribute to an exciting live scene. The course will enable you to connect with the rich music ecology within the city and the wider region.
- Minimum age 18.
- Successful audition and interview.
- Academic achievement – we would normally expect applicants to have achieved 80 UCAS Tariff Points at entry but, whilst qualifications are important, our offers are not solely based on academic results. We may make offers based on other evidence of talent and suitability for the course.
- 80 UCAS Points on the New UCAS Tariff system for 2017 equates to 200 UCAS points on the previous points system – for more details please see tariff explanation and advice on the UCAS website.
- Applicants whose first language is not English – proof of IELTS overall score of 6.0 with a minimum of 5.5 in all sections (reading, writing, listening & speaking) is required.
- Applications from mature students with relevant experience will also be considered.
- 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 email@example.com and we can offer further advice on HCA and the UWTSD awarding body requirements.
Find out more about our new, purpose-built student accommodation in the heart of the City. The accommodation is located next to Hereford Railway Station and is mid-way between the two teaching campuses (College Road & Folly Lane)
HCA is an independent arts school surrounded by people who are passionate about the arts, media and performance. Find out more about why you should choose HCA.
For more details about the course, click here
There’s a real flexibility in this course: you can balance being a practical musician with studying music theory and recording techniques and we also get private tuition on our instrument which is brilliant. It’s also great that the tutors are so well connected, they often bring in guest musicians.
What you will study
Popular Music Histories
This provides 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.
This module 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
You will will 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.
This module takes the form of 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 different approaches to arranging for the live ensemble.
You 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.
Popular Music Studies
You will consider various theories, concepts, and ideas related to the multifaceted discipline of Popular Music. This may include, for example: authenticity, identity, sexuality, fandom, the auteur, dissemination, reception, industry, technology and sonic analysis.
Management of Music and Events
This module 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 your contact networks successfully.
Principal Study 2
This continues your 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
This 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. You will develop your practical technique and your ability to express musical ideas in practice.
Professional Practice 2
Continuing from Professional Practice 1, this module explores deconstruction, analysis, and application of theory with 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
This 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.
Popular Music Research
In this module lectures and seminars will be 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
You 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
This option (versus a Dissertation or The Session Musician module) is a self-directed practical module enabling you to engage in a research-informed investigation leading to a substantial practical piece. In consultation with your supervising tutor, the module enables you to determine your own area of investigation.
This option (versus the Negotiated Practical Project or The Session Musician module) is a largely independent academic research module resulting in the production of a large scale written piece. You will be supported by an academic supervisor through tutorial sessions throughout the year.
The Session Musician
The final option (versus a Dissertation or The Negotiated Practical Project) 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.