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Course information

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, 4 years part-time from year 2 only

Department

Music

Course overview

From mainstream to underground, this degree embraces popular music in its many forms: rock, pop, folk, urban, jazz, experimental and commercial. We've even helped to set up our own independent record label, NX Records, to promote our students' work.

Why study BMus Popular Music at Goldsmiths?

  • At the heart of the degree is the study of creative practice, with many opportunities to expand your skills, whether it's playing in bands or writing/performing music for film, theatre or multimedia
  • The programme is designed to support professional development, and we ensure graduates leave us not only with a wealth of experience and transferable skills, but also a professional portfolio to showcase their work
  • Our record label, NX Records, is a collaboration between the programme and Accidental Records, with the aim of promoting Goldsmiths students' work on an international stage
  • We're one of the largest university music departments in the UK, so you'll have access to a wide range of , including internationally established composers, performers and writers – their diversity of expertise makes this one of the most exciting undergraduate music degrees in the UK
  • There are professional and student-led recitals, concerts, workshops and other music events taking place every week, with opportunities to perform at Goldsmiths and in public venues
  • You'll have the opportunity to perform at our annual music festival PureGold, which celebrates the music created and performed at Goldsmiths
  • You'll be within easy reach of central London's many venues, concert halls, opera houses and research libraries, providing a great international focus
  • We have strong links with the music industry and have frequent high-profile speakers and performers at our lectures, masterclasses and workshops: recent sessions have included pioneering musician and producer, Matthew Herbert, MOBO-winning saxophonist and composer Soweto Kinch, vocal coaches Carrie and David Grant, The Invisible (nominated for the Mercury Music Prize 2009 and itunes Album of the Year 2009), session bass player Yolanda Charles, singer-songwriter Eska (Zero 7, Cinematic Orchestra, Ty), studio arranger Audrey Riley (Coldplay, Manic Street Preachers, Smashing Pumpkins), video and sound artist Vicki Bennett (AKA People Like Us), songwriter Darren Hayman, and producer and performance poet Charlie Dark (Attica Blues, Blacktronica)
  • Employers look for initiative-driven graduates who think critically about their actions, work well with others and adapt quickly to new ideas. This degree will help you develop these skills – sometimes without you noticing!

Contact the department

If you have specific questions about the degree, contact Simon Deacon

What you'll study

Overview

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
  Outside Sound: Fringe Aesthetics in Popular Music 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

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 - 14% scheduled learning, 86% independent learning
  • Year 2 - 15% scheduled learning, 85% 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, 25% practical
  • Year 2 - 87% coursework, 4% written exam, 9% practical
  • Year 3 - 53% coursework, 9% written exam, 38% practical

*Please note that these are averages are based on enrolments for 2016/17. Each student’s time in teaching, learning and assessment activities will differ based on individual module choices.

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 2018-19 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

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 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.

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.

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'll be required to perform on your main instrument and/or bring examples of your creative work. You may also be asked to demonstrate creative/musicianship skills in a short workshop.

After the final interview, in mid-March, your forms will be reviewed together by the Department before decisions on offers of places are made. UCAS will give you the decision before their deadline, by late April/early May.

Fees & funding

Find out about our undergraduate tuition fees and funding opportunities.

Joe Brown Memorial Award

Second-year students are eligible to apply for an award of £1,000 towards final-year Creative Projects with an electronic component.

Rob Stringer Scholarship

The Rob Stringer Scholarship offers £12,000 to a BMus Popular Music student starting their degree in October 2017.

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.

Mercury Music Prize nominees Katy B and James Blake (who was also nominated for the 2012 Ivor Novello Award for best song) are among some of the who have studied in the Department of Music.

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.

Amber

"It's going to make a massive difference to me."

"I found out about the [Rob Stringer] scholarship during our induction when I first started the course, and found out that I was eligible because I was from London. The application involved filling out a form, writing a personal statement and then getting a reference – I’d been at music college before coming here so I asked one of my tutors from there. It was quite straightforward and definitely worth doing! When I found out I'd got the scholarship I was so happy, it made my day! It means that I can now go and have music lessons outside of uni – I'm doing a vocal specialism, but I also play a bit of piano, and some evening classes will really help me improve. So the scholarship will really benefit my studies and will help me be the best I can be.

If you're thinking of applying for the scholarship this year, start thinking about references in advance so that you're well prepared. Maybe also discuss with your parents things like your household income too, as that’s something else that was needed for the application form."

Read Amber's full interview

Find out more about undergraduate scholarships

See more profiles for this programme