Find Your Course
Liverpool Hope Logo


UCAS Code: Combined Honours only - see combinations tab|Duration: 3 years|Full Time|Creative Campus|UCAS Campus Code: L46
Work placement opportunities|International students can apply|Study Abroad opportunities
Entry Requirements


What do we mean when we both study and play popular music? What exactly are we talking about when we consider the 21st century popular music industries? Our Popular Music degree enables you to appreciate the dynamic relationship between the rapidly changing practices involved with the creation, performance and marketing of popular music and its theoretical, methodological, professional/industrial, ethical and social contexts.

This degree offers a unique integrated three-strand approach - ‘performing’, ‘studying’, and ‘the business of’ - to create not only an opportunity to play popular music at a professional level, but also to consider the study of popular music as a text-based discourse. By studying this degree, you will gain the ability to perform and/or compose at a professional level and to apply stagecraft and technological excellence in a practical manner. You will also gain an understanding of the key developments relevant to the study of popular music industries of the 21st century, at both national and international levels.

Popular music is one of the UK’s largest industries and in recent years has experienced enforced reinvention as new media forms have changed not only sounds, but also the industrial process of popular music. Our Popular Music degree utilises a research-led teaching approach underpinned by both academic and industry-facing skills. It will provide you with personal and academic development, alongside work and performance-based experience, to ensure you graduate with the skills and knowledge base highly valued by employers.


Teaching on this degree is structured into lectures, where all students are taught together, seminars of smaller groups of around 15-20 students, and tutorials which typically have no more than 10 students. You also have the opportunity to have a one-to-one meeting with your tutor each week.

For the Popular Music part of your Combined Honours degree, in your first year of study there are approximately 6 teaching hours each week, which reduces to approximately 5 teaching hours each week in your second and third years. On top of teaching hours, you are also expected to spend a number of hours studying independently each week, as well as studying in groups to prepare for any group assessments you may have.


During your three years of study, you will have a number of assessments, including coursework, written exams, performance exams, a portfolio and a placement report. In your final year, you will also undertake a research project. You will receive both written feedback and you are also able to discuss this feedback directly with your tutor. 


Our curriculum is an academic study of popular music which also seeks to tie together strands related to performance and songwriting skills, the analysis of musical texts, the new industries within which popular music is produced and disseminated, and an understanding of the audiences which award popular music meaning and value. 


Introduction to Studying Popular Music

You are introduced to constructing popular music histories, looking at a number of case studies in your seminars. You then move on to examine industries and institutions then and now, with a particular focus on the UK and the USA. You study genres and the sociology of the music consumer, and are also introduced to popular music audiences and fandom, with a focus on representations of race and gender. Finally, you explore popular music places, spaces and representations, and will be introduced to the ‘stream age’.

Introduction to Performing Popular Music

You learn about the foundations to performance in context, focussing on listening, watching and playing. You also study stage craft and musicianship, including proxemics, genre, style and dress, and staging. You will look at the dominance of the popular song, exploring how songs are organised musically and what song forms are the most dominant. Finally, you are introduced to DIY performance cultures past and present.

Introduction to the Business of Popular Music

This theme teaches you about the business of popular music. You will learn about rights, ownership and copyright and will explore historical cases of copyright issues. You will also learn about the intricacies of contracts and royalties, as well as global intermediaries in the new popular music environment. Finally, you will study collecting agencies in the UK.


Explorations in Studying Popular Music

Your second year deepens your knowledge of popular music. You study in more depth the history of popular music, exploring a number of mainstream vs marginalised popular music case studies. You look at criticisms of existing popular music histories, as well as popular music and cultural theory. You will also analyse popular music in terms of music as text, and will look at musical and cultural repertoires. Finally, you study African American, European Vernacular, and European Art discourses.

Explorations in Performing Popular Music

You will study the recording studio past and present, as well as stagecraft and musicianship. You learn about recording for new media, digital audio work stations and songwriting in content. You will spend 6 weeks in a studio setting for intensive songwriting. Finally, you explore popular music rehearsal time and space, with a focus on sound, style and setting.

Explorations in the Business of Popular Music

In your second year, you look at global music marketing in the 21st Century music industries. You explore local music marketing strategies, as well as interconnected marketing such as media and creativity in marketing. A series of guest speakers will give lectures on social networking and popular music promotion. Building on this lecture series, you will study online, radio, and TV promotion.


Advanced Studies in Popular Music – Research and Enquiry

Your final year allows you to complete a research project on a topic of your choice, with guidance from your tutor. You will look at the key underpinnings of analysis of popular music, including genre, lyrical, structural, and semiotic analysis. You also study representation on radio, TV and popular music journalism, as well as popular music and the moving image.

Advanced Studies in Popular Music Performance

This theme culminates in the production of a research project portfolio which includes advanced songwriting in context: in the studio, a critical analysis of the songwriting process, arrangement and rearrangement, and professional delivery. You will be working towards a live performance, learning about delivery and the audience, advanced stage craft, and advanced performance along the way.

Advanced Studies in the Business of Popular Music

You will undertake a placement in a local music establishment, completing a minimum of 12 hours work. You will also learn about self-employment and the music industry, including autonomy, accountability and working with others. You gain a knowledge of funding and bidding for projects, as well as entrepreneurship and professional practice. Finally, you will study popular music business strategies, working towards a gig by creating, producing and marketing a gig event.


UCAS Tariff Points120-112. UCAS Tariff points must come from a minimum of two A Levels (or equivalent). Additional points can be made up from a range of alternative qualifications
Access to HE120 - 112 Tariff Points
Irish Leaving Certificate120 - 112 Tariff Points from Higher Level qualifications only
Welsh BaccalaureateThis qualification can only be accepted in conjunction with other relevant qualifications
Subject RequirementsNo specific subject requirements


Specific Country RequirementsSelect your country
IELTS6.0 overall (with reading and writing at 6.0) and no individual score lower than 5.5


The Popular Music degree is relevant to students who wish to pursue a professional career in popular music and/or, more broadly, to work in the popular music industries and media. The degree enables you to develop as a professional who will be able to use skills and knowledge to benefit your local community and society more broadly.

You will also be well prepared for further study on a range of Popular Music-based Masters programmes; for example, the MA Beatles, Popular Music & Society offered by the Department of Music at Liverpool Hope University.


Work Placement Opportunities

In your final year, you will undertake a Negotiated Learning Project. This will be a placement at a local industry provider such as The Beatles Story, BBC Radio Merseyside, Minerva Arts, The Rustic Arts Festival, Soundbox Promotions. This placement is a great opportunity for you to not only gain key skills valued by employers, but also give you an idea of job possibilities available in the Popular Music industry.


The Service and Leadership Award is offered as an extra-curricular programme involving service-based experiences, development of leadership potential and equipping you for a career in a rapidly changing world. It enhances your degree, it is something which is complimentary but different and which has a distinct ‘value-added’ component. Find out more on our Service and Leadership Award page.

Study Abroad

As part of your degree, you can choose to spend either a semester or a full year of study at one of our partner universities as part of our Study Abroad programme. Find out more on our Study Abroad page.


The tuition fees for 2018/19 are £9,250 for full-time undergraduate courses.

If you are a student from the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands, your tuition fees will also be £9,250.

The University reserves the right to increase Home and EU Undergraduate and PGCE tuition fees in line with any inflationary or other increase authorised by the Secretary of State for future years of study.


On top of your tuition fees, you will need approximately £200 to buy key textbooks needed for the degree.

You will also need to consider the cost of your accommodation each year whilst you study at university. Visit our accommodation webpages for further details about our Halls of Residence.


We have a range of scholarships to help with the cost of your studies. Visit our scholarships page to find out more.


The International tuition fees for 2018/19 are £11,400 for full-time undergraduate courses.

Visit our International fees page for more information.

Book an Open Day
Request a Prospectus
Department of Music
  • Partnerships with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Milapfest and the European Opera Centre
  • 100% of the research output was rated as at least internationally excellent (Research Excellence Framework 2014)
  • On-campus theatre used for performances and workshops

Department staff

Got a question?
Email our enquiries team