Course information

Entry requirements

UCAS code

W340

Entry requirements

A-level: BBB
BTEC: DDM
IB: 33 points overall with Three HL subjects at 655

Length

3 years full time, or up to 6 years part-time

Department

Music

Course overview

This ground-breaking degree embraces popular music in its many forms from the mainstream to the underground and puts exploration and experimentation in creative practice at the heart of the degree.

Collaboration with Matthew Herbert's Accidental Records has enabled us to create NX Records, an independent record label based at Goldsmiths, giving us the potential to promote Goldsmiths students' work on an international stage.

Why study BMus Popular Music at Goldsmiths?

This programme will allow you to acquire and develop a variety of skills, both individually and collaboratively, including musicianship and ensemble playing, songwriting, production and recording (at Goldsmiths Music Studios), composition and making music for film, and alternative sites for music.

London and Performance

You'll be within easy reach of South East London's many venues, as well as those across the capital, which provide a connection to music, art, dance, and theatre with an international focus, but also to local promoters, labels and the London-based music industry.

You'll also have the opportunity to perform at student-run showcases, in department ensembles, and at PureGold, our annual music festival that celebrates music created and performed at Goldsmiths.

Employment and Industry Links

The Goldsmiths Music department has strong links with the music industry, employing professional musicians, producers, and artists as lecturers. We also present frequent, high-profile speakers from the music industry at our talks and events. Recently, these have included Dave Okumu, Nigel GodrichDarkstar, Mica LeviMatana Roberts, and Arts Council Music Relationship Managers.

Beyond music, you’ll be very well set-up for the world of work. Employers look for initiative-driven graduates who think critically about their actions, work well with others and adapt quickly and creatively to new ideas. These ideas are written into the DNA of the degree, which will help you develop these skills. Graduates from this programme include Rosie Lowe, Another SkyLa Lief (Oram Award winner, 2018), James Blake, Katy B, and Ross from Friends, among others.

Contact the department

If you have specific questions about the degree, contact John Harries.

What you'll study

Overview

You’ll do a range of core practical and critical modules and, from your second year, design the focus of your own path of study, choosing from a wide range of modules (see What you’ll study below), as well as have 1-2-1 instrumental/vocal tuition, participate in workshops, industry talks and events.

Academically you'll be encouraged to ask questions on how popular music has affected our cultures, identities and lives. In your final year you can choose to follow your own practical or academic interests. For example, you have the opportunity to undertake your own creative or research projects supported by tutors. In the final year, creative work is showcased wherever possible in venues outside Goldsmiths.

Year 1 (credit level 4)

In your first year you study a range of areas including creative and practical music studies, textual and contextual analysis of popular music, and an introduction to music technology.

All modules are compulsory at this level as we feel it is essential that all our students develop the necessary key skills and knowledge base before further specialisation.

The modules are:

Year 1 compulsory modules Module title Credits
  Folk and Urban Musics 30 credits
  Popular Music Contexts 15 credits
  Practical Popular Music Studies 30 credits
  Approaches to Contemporary Music 15 credits
  Creative Music Technology 15 credits
  Popular Music History 15 credits

Year 2 (credit level 5)

In term one you will choose from the following Group A choices:

Group A modules Module title Credits
  Musicians, Commerce and Commodification 15 credits
  Music and Identity 15 credits
  Music in Film 15 credits
  Aesthetics, Meaning and Culture 15 credits

And these Group B options: 

Group B modules Module title Credits
  Sonic Art Techniques 15 credits
  Performance: Ensemble 15 credits
  Songwriting 15 credits
  Techniques in Jazz and Popular Music 15 credits

In the second term you will choose from the following Group A option: 

Group A modules Module title Credits
  Music of Africa and Asia 15 credits
  What is Jazz? 15 credits
  Mapping 20th-Century Music 15 credits

And these Group B choices:

Group B modules Module title Credits
  Popular Music Production 15 credits
  Sonic Art Practice 15 credits
  Media Composition 15 credits
  Performance: New Contexts 15 credits
  Arranging in Jazz and Popular Music 15 credits

A maximum of 30 credits can be in Related Study (modules offered by other departments).

Year 3 (credit level 6)

You select modules to the value of 120 CATs (credits) across the year.

Across terms one, two and three you choose a maximum of 60 credits from the following Group C options:

Group C modules Module title Credits
  Creative Research Project 30 credits
  Creative Performance 30 credits
  Research Essay 30 credits

You choose the remainder from these Group D options. In term one, these are:

Group D modules Module title Credits
  Minimalism and Postminimalism 15 credits
  Phonography 15 credits
  Performing South-East Asian Music 15 credits
  Outsider Sound and Fringe Aesthetics 15 credits
  Creative Orchestration and Arrangement 15 credits
  Music/Modernities 15 credits
  DIY Practice and Alternative Sites for Music 15 credits
  Music Teaching Skills 15 credits
  Music in Educational, Community and Therapeutic Contexts 15 Credits

In the second term you will choose from the following options:

Module title Credits
  Live Electronics 15 credits
  Music Workshop Skills 15 credits
  Narrative, Representation and Popular Song 15 credits
  Improvisation 15 credits
  Psychological Approaches to Music 15 credits
  Advanced Popular Music Studies 15 credits
  Advanced Topics in Music and Screen Media 15 credits

A maximum of 30 credits can be in Related Study (modules offered by other departments).

Individual vocal and instrumental tuition

Our location in London means that we are able to attract visiting instrumental and vocal teachers of the highest quality, with many of our staff also teaching at the major music conservatoires. We provide a generous allocation of tuition time. Our performance modules are supplemented with ensemble classes and workshops/masterclasses given by top professional musicians.

  • First-year BMus Popular Music students are currently entitled to 12 hours of one-to-one tuition per year.
  • Tuition is available to BMus Popular Music students taking performance options in years two and three. The Popular Music programme currently includes up to 12 hours of one-to-one tuition in both years, with regular workshops and masterclasses.

If you do not opt for performance modules you are not automatically entitled to individual lessons, but we can help make private arrangements with our visiting staff, at preferential rates.

Teaching style

This programme is taught through a mixture of scheduled teaching, including seminars, one-to-one tutorials and performance lessons, practical workshops and music studio sessions. You’ll also be expected to undertake a significant amount of independent study. This includes carrying out required and additional reading, preparing topics for discussion, and producing essays or project work.

The following information gives an indication of the typical proportions of learning and teaching for each year of this programme*:

  • Year 1 - 13% scheduled learning, 87% independent learning
  • Year 2 - 16% scheduled learning, 84% independent learning
  • Year 3 - 14% scheduled learning, 86% independent learning

How you’ll be assessed

You’ll be assessed by a variety of methods, depending on your module choices. These include coursework, examinations, group work, solo recitals, improvisation and group performances.

The following information gives an indication of how you can typically expect to be assessed on each year of this programme*:

  • Year 1 - 75% coursework, 5% written exam, 20% practical
  • Year 2 - 79% coursework, 4% written exam, 18% practical
  • Year 3 - 63% coursework, 38% practical

*Please note that these are averages are based on enrolments for 2018/19. Each student’s time in teaching, learning and assessment activities will differ based on individual module choices. Find out more about how this information is calculated.

Credits and levels of learning

An undergraduate honours degree is made up of 360 credits – 120 at Level 4, 120 at Level 5 and 120 at Level 6. If you are a full-time student, you will usually take Level 4 modules in the first year, Level 5 in the second, and Level 6 modules in your final year. A standard module is worth 30 credits. Some programmes also contain 15-credit half modules or can be made up of higher-value parts, such as a dissertation or a Major Project.

Download the programme specification, for the 2019-20 intake. If you would like an earlier version of the programme specification, please contact the Quality Office.

Please note that due to staff research commitments not all of these modules may be available every year.

Entry requirements

We accept the following qualifications:

A-level: BBB
BTEC: DDM
International Baccalaureate: 33 points overall with Three HL subjects at 655
Access: Pass with 45 Level 3 credits including 30 Distinctions and a number of merits/passes in subject-specific modules
Scottish qualifications: BBBBC (Higher) or BBC (Advanced Higher)
European Baccalaureate: 75%
Irish Leaving Certificate: H2 H2 H2 H2

Additional requirements

You should be able to demonstrate skills and experience in both practical musicianship and music creation. Although we consider each application on its individual merits, we favour students who demonstrate clear experience of and/or commitment to music-making.

Please note that we do not accept applications for deferred entry.

Music A-level (general, theoretical, music technology, popular music) is preferable, but not essential. BTEC National Diploma in Popular Music, Music or Performing Arts.

International qualifications

We also accept a wide range of international qualifications. Find out more about the qualifications we accept from around the world.

If English isn’t your first language, you will need an IELTS score (or equivalent English language qualification) of 6.0 with a 6.0 in writing and no element lower than 5.5 to study this programme. If you need assistance with your English language, we offer a range of courses that can help prepare you for degree-level study.

Selection process

Selected candidates will be invited for an interview day. This allows us to meet potential students and find out more about their interests and abilities.

If you're invited for an interview, you will participate in a short workshop and be asked to present examples of your creative work (live and recorded). 

If you are unable to attend an applicant day we may invite you to submit a portfolio of work. This is usually followed by an interview via Skype.

Fees & funding

Annual tuition fees

These are the fees for students starting their programme in the 2020/21 academic year.

  • Home/EU - full-time: £9250
  • Home/EU - part-time: £4625
  • International - full-time: £16700

If your fees are not listed here, please check our undergraduate fees guidance or contact the Fees Office, who can also advise you about how to pay your fees.

If you're an international student interested in studying part-time, please contact our Admissions Team to find out if you're eligible.

If you are looking to pay your fees please see our guide to making a payment.

Additional costs

In addition to your tuition fees, you'll be responsible for any additional costs associated with your course, such as buying stationery and paying for photocopying. You can find out more about what you need to budget for on our study costs page.

There may also be specific additional costs associated with your programme. This can include things like paying for field trips or specialist materials for your assignments. Please check the programme specification for more information.

Funding opportunities

We offer a wide range of scholarships and bursaries, and our careers service can also offer advice on finding work during your studies. Find out more about funding your studies with us.

Careers

Most of our graduates choose careers in fields related to their musical knowledge, including:

  • Teaching
  • Performing
  • Arts administration
  • Music librarianship
  • Publishing and retailing
  • Record companies and production
  • Technical work in radio or television

Statistically, music graduates demonstrate very good employment rates, because they are often highly trained in the kinds of transferable skills employers are seeking, such as individual motivation, team working and effective communication. You can find out more about the career options open to you after graduating on our Music careers page.

Find out more about employability at Goldsmiths.

Student work

PureGold degree show
PureGold degree show
PureGold degree show
PureGold degree show
PureGold degree show
PureGold degree show
PureGold degree show
PureGold degree show
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What our students say

Rosie Lowe

"I was writing music very quickly; for the first time in my life I didn’t feel self aware about what I had created."

In the five years since Rosie Lowe graduated from the BMus Popular Music programme, she's gone on to make a resounding impression on the music industry. With the likes of Sir Elton John and Adele reportedly fans of her music, Rosie's sultry sound and vulnerably honest lyrics have caught the attention of many.

Read an interview with Rosie

squareglass

"There's something quite communal about the Goldsmiths experience."

Guy, Robin and Aviram met studying BMus Popular Music and set up record label and music collective squareglass. 

"Each one of our solo projects evolved as part of and during our studies at Goldsmiths. Establishing squareglass was quite an organic move - something we felt would empower us creatively and practically, and would enable us to further establish our careers as individual artists."

Around the time they finished their studies the three artists began playing in eachother's live bands, which taught them about the dynamics of working together as a group.

"There's something quite communal about the Goldsmiths experience. You get to know and work with people from different backgrounds and you become part of a small community that feels like a home-away-from-home. For us it was a very immersive experience...studying and living in South-East London"

All three have released their own music on squareglass, plus work by others and compilations. They also put on events, looking for original ways to translate recorded music into live shows.