Undergraduate BA (Hons)

Music: Popular Music and Recording

Salford School of Arts, Media and Creative Technology




Three year

Next enrolment

September 2024


In a nutshell

Serious about a career in the music industry? Ready to join a course that’s produced Mercury Prize nominees, award winning entrepreneurs, and professional film and television composers? If so, our popular music degree is the right choice for you.

When you join this course, you’ll embark upon your personal journey towards professional musicianship, developing your performance, composition and recording skills while deepening your knowledge of how the industry works. You’ll receive musical tuition in the instrument of your choice, get to grips with the essentials of studio recording, and expand your experience of performing in both solo and ensemble settings. Added to all that, you’ll take part in masterclasses led by established professionals, providing you with invaluable insight into what it’s like to work in the music industry.

As an undergraduate music student studying at Salford, you’ll have access to a vibrant local music scene with links to local venues and musical institutions. We’ll be providing you with the chance to regularly contribute to concerts and gigs, as well as to engage with like-minded creative artists.

Our popular music recording degree is well known for producing a number of successful recording artists such as members of the British art rock band Everything Everything (Mercury Prize nominees 2018); recording artist and award-winning entrepreneur Caroline Redman Lusher (Founder and Creator of Rock Choir); Film and television music composer Louis Dodd (Love and Hate Crime, EMMY nominated Strike Back: RetributionAmazing Hotels and BAFTA winning Long Lost Family), and songwriter/producer Rick Boardman (member of indie dance band Delphic and co-writer of hit singles including ‘Back to You’ performed by Louis Tomlinson and Bebe Rexha; ‘Real Love’ Clean Bandit/Jess Glynne and ‘Love On Me’ Galantis). 

Want to find out more about studying our popular music degree? You can sign-up to an Open Day or attend a campus tour. You can also follow our Music at Salford Instagram account #MusicatSalford

In addition to the traditional three year degree route, you have the option of pursuing additional training and academic tuition by undertaking our four year foundation option.

You will:

  • Be taught by practising music professionals on a course with a reputation for producing graduates in the popular music industry
  • Be able to fully explore your creative ideas and passions through specialist portfolio work
  • Work on projects in our industry-standard music recording studios
  • Graduate with a portfolio of work that can be used for future employment or further study

options available


students accepted

This is for you if...


You want to develop your technical and creative music skills, while learning the theory behind various aspects of popular music.


You want to learn new industry-standard recording and editing skills by experienced demonstrators, while working on creative music projects.


You want to be part of a vibrant music community and take full advantage of the exciting performance opportunities in the Salford and Manchester music scenes.

Course details

All about the course

Throughout this popular music and recording course, you’ll be exposed to a wide variety of crucial insights into the process of creating music, as well as the wider industry. From the fundamentals of performing to applied composition and music technology, this course covers the core concepts you need to launch your career as a professional musician.

As your course progresses, you’ll tailor your popular music degree to focus on the modules that interest you the most.

In your first year, you’ll focus on instrumental creativity and proficiency through ensemble and one-to-one lessons with leading performance specialists. In addition to examining the concepts of style and genre, you’ll develop fundamental creative skills in arranging, applied composition and music technology.

In year two you’ll tailor your popular music degree to focus on the modules that interest you the most, and your third year offers the opportunity to consolidate your learning and deepen your individual creativity in a personal body of portfolio work. Throughout, you’ll be building a practical skillset ideal for a career in the music industry, while also exploring key theoretical concepts associated with popular music.

Gain a deeper understanding of what you'll explore within each module below.

Year one

Musicianship Skills

Students will engage with a range of different activities and taught sessions, designed to develop a broad range of performance skills. There will be a focus on Ensemble rehearsal and Individual performance preparation. Contact time will be divided into the following areas of focus:

• Individual instrumental tuition (weekly one-to-one instrumental tuition)

• Directed rehearsals in Ensembles

• Associated Musicianship Skills – Conducting

• Participation in performance workshops, masterclasses and concerts

Fundamentals of Composition, Arranging and Technology

The core aim of this module is to provide you with the skills and knowledge necessary for composing and arranging music in a variety of styles. You will gain a working knowledge of the key aspects of instrumental voicing, score layout, formal design and the manipulation of texture. The module also provides an introduction to location recording techniques, appropriate sequencing software, musical acoustics and their relationship to music technology.

Popular Music Style and Genre

This module provides an overview of the history of English-language popular music and interrogates and problematises the concept of genre in popular music. You will develop an understanding of music style analysis and improve aural skills.

Performance Studies (PP&R)

Continuing on from Musicianship Skills in Semester 1, Musicianship Skills in Semester 1, this module consists of Individual Performance (weekly one-to-one instrumental tuition), Ensemble Musicianship, and Session Musicianship. Within the Ensemble component, you will have the opportunity to form your own Popular Music group (writing and rehearsing original material to be presented at a concert at the end of the semester).

Applied Composition and Technology

This module will provide you with a strong understanding of advanced diatonic harmony, melodic writing, and technical skills concerned with rhythm as applied to the broad field of composition. You will explore the creative uses of a range of microphones in relation to musical instruments and acoustic environments and be introduced to techniques of sound synthesis using a range of hardware and software-based synthesisers.

Interpreting Popular Music

This module explores the social, political, and economic contexts impacting upon the production of popular music. It presents key ideas from Culture Theory, Critical Theory, and Postmodernism in order to understand popular music in these various cultural contexts. You will be introduced to a systematic and rigorous method by which to critically examine popular music and develop abstract thinking.

Year two

Professional Development in the Creative Industries

Focusing on current economic structures and potential development, this module provides an in-depth examination of the UK creative economy. You will explore concepts of copyright, authorship and ownership and gain an understanding of the processes involved in successful personal development planning.

You will choose three of the following options:

Advanced Musicianship Skills (PP&R)

This module consolidates and expands your performance development within the three assessed areas of Individual Performance (weekly one-to-one Instrumental lessons with your specialist tutor, based on an advanced syllabus), Ensemble Musicianship, and Session Musicianship. The Ensemble component allows you to form your own Popular Music group. The Session Musicianship component now places the emphasis on you leading the band through the arrangement, guided by your tutor.

Compositional Practice

During this module, you will examine theoretical issues and practical skills concerned with the manipulation and control of modal harmony and melody within composition. This will introduce you to the principles of contrapuntal composition as well as provide you with the opportunity to explore and experiment with harmonic and melodic processes.

Studio Composition

Studio Composition allows you to compose directly with studio-based technology, moving away from the need to represent compositional material through a traditional score. The technology investigated will have a direct influence on compositional output, and although human performances on traditional instruments can be integrated into the composition, there is an expectation that much of the work will be constructed within a Digital Audio Workstation. The module investigates synthesis deeply and requires students to demonstrate creative use of both hardware and software. The technology is investigated covering a broad range of defined genres, with the intention that students begin to develop a distinct individual compositional voice. 

Audio for Media

This module will encourage you to use your unique skillset as a musician to create soundtracks for film and audio drama productions. You will be introduced to sound design, foley, scoring for film and recording dialogue and sound effects in the studio environment. You will also apply and develop digital audio editing, synchronisation and mixing techniques to refine your final stereo soundtrack. 

Studio Recording and Production

This module is designed to give you a solid foundation in studio engineering and production practice. Particular attention will be given to microphone technique, signal flow and an investigation of strategies by which the needs of both engineer and performer(s) can be reconciled in the studio environment. Students will gain an understanding of historical developments in the field, exploring many musical genres. As aspiring producers, students will be guided through the process of developing a clear production aesthetic from the outset of a recording project. 

Popular Music and Identity

This module explores ways in which gender and ethnicity are constructed in popular music texts as well as enhances your awareness of international music, including instruments, styles, and patterns of organisation. You will apply analytical critique to a range of repertoire and engage with cross-disciplinary approaches to the study of music.

Popular Music and Identity (PP&R)

This module introduces a range of methods currently employed in the analysis of popular music, such as formal analyses, historical analyses and discourse analysis. These methods will be used to examine themes such as gender, sexuality, ethnicity and cultural identity

You will then choose two of the following options:

Creative Compositions and Arranging

This module encourages more specialised forms of composition and arrangement through the introduction of theoretical and analytical issues concerned with the articulation of form and structure, and an advanced study of harmony. It also explores the ways in which the colouristic, formal, harmonic, textural and rhythmic aspects of a given work may be reconsidered within the context of the creative arrangement.

Advanced Performance Studies (PP&R)

This module prepares students for elective Performance study at third year level. The Individual Performance aspect (weekly one-to-one tuition) requires students to undertake an exam based on their instrumental syllabus. The ensemble aspect provides the opportunity to develop specialist skills in either Latin Percussion, Group Improvisation, or Vocal Group Harmony.

Advanced Studio Composition

This module is designed to build upon the techniques explored in the level 5 module Studio Composition (sequencing, synthesis and sampling / editing) and introduce students to composing for and within a 5.1 / 7.1 surround environment. There will be an exploration of electroacoustic compositional techniques around the themes of spectromorphology, abstract and abstracted synthesis, landscape and narrative and a historical analysis of how this practice relates to popular electronic music compositional practice. The module explores the concept of compositional interface, encouraging students to become deeply aware of how the technology they engage with shapes their compositional output.


Advanced Studio and Location Recording

This module is designed to develop existing skills in the studio environment (building on the L5 module Studio Recording and Production), working towards the completion of ambitious multitrack projects of a releasable quality. The module includes an investigation of mastering processes and places emphasis on the engineer / producer nurturing the best possible performances from the musicians involved. The module will also introduce the practice of recording live public performances, covering a wide range or acoustic and amplified ensembles, on location.

Music Journalism

This module provides an overview of journalistic methodologies as applied to the fields of music and the music industry. You will examine and construct a variety of forms of journalistic output as related to music as well as develop a critical understanding of the interrelationship between market, industry and culture.


Ethnomusicology is the study of music (or dance) in its cultural context. It is a way to study music/dance as a social process in order to understand what music means to its practitioners and audiences, and how those meanings are conveyed. Students will learn how to conduct participant-observation fieldwork in order to extract the meanings transmitted. Since ethnomusicology is both interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary, you may find yourself looking at aspects of the folklore or dance contained within a song, whilst doing participant-observation fieldwork and filming a rehearsal in progress, a musical conversation at hand or a performance on stage. It is thus an integrated approach to the study of music and dance.

Advanced Musicology

In this module students acquire and practice skills to develop an independent research project, applying contemporary theoretical approaches to a musical moment of their choice.

Year three

Project Scope (PP&R)

This module enables you to undertake a comprehensive project encompassing two areas of specialist study (choose from: Performance, Composition, Studio Recording & Production, Studio Composition, Audio for Media, Arranging, Dissertation, Arts Administration, Collection of Writings, Collaborative Practice). It assists the realisation of creative work (practical and/or written), encourages the development of a personal style within the chosen fields of study, and hones your artistic and academic skills base.

Professional Practice (PP&R)

By broadening your work experience in areas requiring a leadership and/or team role, this module gives you the opportunity to further develop your own professional practices. You will gain experience in one of the following areas of professional practice: music events management, sound reinforcement, business enterprise, and community music in its broadest sense.

Negotiated Major Project (PP&R)

This module enables you to undertake a comprehensive project encompassing two areas of specialist study (choose from: Performance, Composition, Studio Recording & Production, Studio Composition, Audio for Media, Arranging, Dissertation, Arts Administration, Collection of Writings, Collaborative Practice). It assists the realisation of creative work (practical and/or written), encourages the development of a personal style within the chosen fields of study, and hones your artistic and academic skills base.

Please note that it may not be possible to deliver the full list of options every year as this will depend on factors such as how many students choose a particular option. Exact modules may also vary in order to keep content current. When accepting your offer of a place to study on this programme, you should be aware that not all optional modules will be running each year. Your tutor will be able to advise you as to the available options on or before the start of the programme. Whilst the University tries to ensure that you are able to undertake your preferred options, it cannot guarantee this.

What will I be doing?


As part of your popular music and recording degree, your timetable will include a breakdown of your scheduled lessons with timeslots for you to explore your independent research interests. Your classes will be based at our New Adelphi building.

Lectures are enhanced with audio/visual material. Each lecture will be followed up with a seminar which will give you the opportunity to discuss the topic with classmates in more depth.

Masterclasses are a fantastic way to learn from professionals who are already enjoying careers within the industry. You’ll meet visiting speakers and performers from relevant areas of the music industry who will share their knowledge and experience with you.

Your musical ability will be developed in two ways; on an individual basis and as part of an ensemble. Individual instrumental tuition will help to develop your performance technique and musical vocabulary. Ensemble tuition will help to develop your performance technique and musical vocabulary when performing with other musicians.

You will also explore concepts and develop research techniques within a workshop environment. This will consist of a mixture of class-based discussion and activities, as well as library and archive work. It will provide you with the opportunity to develop creative ideas and to interact with leading scholars in the field.

Our Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), ‘Blackboard’, supports every module within the course.


Assessments are an important part of your academic journey, giving you the chance to put the skills and knowledge you’ve learned into practice.

For this music university course, your assessments will include coursework assignments. These could be performances; compositions; arrangements; recordings; media presentations; notated scores; essays; projects; oral presentations; critical evaluations; and analyses. The grades from formal assessments count towards your module mark.

You’ll also be assessed through examinations and be supported throughout your academic journey by music professionals who will help you to develop new skills and give you greater confidence.


All our Music courses are delivered by the Salford School of Arts, Media, and Creative Technology. Our focus is to ensure that you have the skills you need to pursue your dreams, and we encourage our students, past and present, to collaborate with each other and achieve great things.

Each year - through the Create Student Awards – our School rewards the incredible achievements and successes of our final year and postgraduate students.

Whatever you choose to study with us, you’ll be mentored and supported by experts. And once you graduate, it won’t end there. You’ll join a thriving alumni network across Greater Manchester and beyond, meaning you’ll be supported professionally and personally whenever you need it.

Music Facilities

Our university music courses are based at our £55 million New Adelphi building, the home of Music on campus.  

Our full range of music facilities include:

Recording Studios - our six studios, all of which are large enough to accommodate both bands and chamber classical / brass ensembles. They also contain everything from analogue recording hardware and tape machines, extensive microphone collections, a large selection of drum machines and effect processing possibilities, and a diverse array of software platforms.

Voice Acting Studio our recording environment for radio drama or video game production. It is possible to achieve a range of capture, from foley recordings in the acoustically flexible ‘live’ room to extremely dry spoken word in the ‘dead’ room.

Computer Suite – passionate about learning music software from experienced technical demonstrators? Our twenty-six workstations (iMac; audio interface; controller keyboard; headphones) are equipped with licences for all of the software we teach. The current software provision comprises of Logic X; Pro Tools; Ableton; Max MSP; Sibelius; Soundtoys; GRM Tools and a huge selection of Universal Audio and Waves plug-ins. This software is also available across all studio spaces.

7.1 Mix - a teaching space designed for mixing in 7.1 and 5.1 surround. The space is used extensively in the teaching of our Advanced Studio Composition and Advanced Audio for Media modules.

Studio 9 – Composition Lab - this studio facility is equipped with an impressive range of hardware including many synthesizers such as DSI OB6, Korg MS20, Roland Juno 106, Moog Sub Phatty, Korg Volca FM, Vermona DRM Mk3 accessed through a full MIDI interface / patchbay. The space is acoustically treated and equipped for 5.1 mixdown. 

Rehearsal Facilities - our New Adelphi Building houses twenty-six rehearsal spaces designed to facilitate popular and classical ensemble rehearsals, individual practice, one-to-one instrumental tuition and ensemble teaching. The rooms are well specified with a wide range of carefully chosen and well-maintained equipment including drumkits from DW, Sonar, and Yamaha; Keyboards from Nord and Roland, guitar amplification from Mesa Boogie, Vox, Fender, Orange and Marshall and Bass amplification from Ampeg, Mark Bass and Aguillar.

One-to-one Tuition – we have individual spaces that have well-maintained Yamaha acoustic pianos, a selection of classic keyboards and Bluetooth amplification for playback. All performance spaces have natural light and have been acoustically treated (absorbent and reflective) to suit discipline.

Find out more about our music facilities at the University of Salford

Performance Spaces

Our performance assessments, public concerts and masterclasses take place across a number of spaces on and off campus. We operate a high-quality modular PA system which is employed across:

Peel Hall - a three-hundred seat concert hall with excellent acoustics. The hall is used extensively by our large ensembles.

New Adelphi Theatre - the 350-seat theatre features flexible seating configurations to suit a range of events and performances. It is equipped with a range of intelligent and generic lighting, a highly adaptable EM Acoustics PA system, and a high-powered Christie projector.

Atmosphere - our student union bar and venue host a number of staff and student led performances throughout the year.

Find out more about our music facilities at the University of Salford


The tutors who’ll teach you have spent years in the industry. You’ll get the benefit of their experiences and that of our technician teams, who are on hand to show you how each bit of equipment works.

Find out more

Employment and stats

What about after uni?


Completing a popular music degree will open many doors for a career in the music industry, with many of our graduates establishing successful careers in roles as diverse as recording artists, TV composers, studio producers, live sound engineers and freelance music producers.

This Popular Music and Recording degree also will provide you experiences of live events; you’ll also be in a great position to work as an event organiser or promoter.

There are plenty of opportunities that can come as a result of studying a university music course. Many of our graduates have developed successful careers in music education as teachers, lecturers, senior administrators and educational advisors.


Graduates showing strong academic and research skills can pursue a further postgraduate path through Postgraduate programmes on a full-time or part-time basis subject to a satisfactory proposal.

A taste of what you could become

A producer

A sound engineer

A musician

A composer

An arranger

And more...

Career Links

Soundsnap logo

Industry collaboration is at the heart of your learning at Salford. Thanks to a longstanding partnership with Soundsnap, you will have free access to sound effects resources during your studies.

Our music university courses have direct links with professional institutions such as:

‘Sounds from the Other City’ festival

Low Four (lowfour.tv)

The Greater Manchester Music Hub Ensembles (Brass, Big Band and Wind Band)

80 HERTZ Studios

BBC Philharmonic

National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain

We have good working relationships with many live music venues in the local area including Band on the Wall.


What you need to know


To gain a place on this popular music course, you’ll have to submit a personal statement and meet our entry requirements when you apply.

Within your popular music personal statement (up to 500 words), we’ll want to understand:

  • what motivates you and what current experiences do you have in music?
  • how have you been involved and what did you do?
  • have you had active involvement in music recording and what did you do?
  • what musicians and organisations inspire you?
  • why do you want to work in the music sector?
  • and why the University of Salford and this Music: Popular Music and Recording degree is the right choice for your future goals.

Once we have received your application, you will be invited to an interview and audition on campus.

Although this is not a compulsory requirement, ideally you should be of grade 6 / 7 ABRSM standard with solid theoretical knowledge. Composition and arranging portfolios can be used in support of your application if you are looking to pursue study beyond performance. 

Once you’ve made your application to study with us, we’ll contact you and let you know the next steps.


Standard entry requirements


English Language at grade C/level 4 or above (or equivalent) is required. Maths at grade C/level 4 or above is preferred but not essential.

You must fulfil our GCSE entry requirements as well as one of the requirements listed below.

UCAS tariff points

104-120 points.

If applying to start from September 2024, you will need 120 points.

A level

104-120 points. Applications can be considered without a Music A level, but you must be able to demonstrate significant practical experience.

If applying to start from September 2024, you will need 120 points.

T level


BTEC National Diploma

DMM to include music

Scottish Highers

104-120 points including Music.

If applying to start from September 2024, you will need 120 points.

Irish Leaving Certificate

104-120 points including Music.

If applying to start from September 2024, you will need 120 points.

International Baccalaureate

31 points, to include 5 (Higher Level) in Music

European Baccalaureate

Pass in Diploma of at least 60% including Music

Access to HE

Pass level 3 QAA approved Access Diploma. To include Music.

International students

We accept qualifications from all around the world. Find your country to see a full list of entry requirements.

If you are an international student and not from a majority English speaking country, you will need IELTS 6.0 with no element below 5.5.

We also accept a range of other English language qualifications. If you do not have the English language requirements, you could take our Pre-Sessional English course. Or if you have finished high school in your country but don’t have the qualifications to gain entry to this course, you can take our International Foundation Year as a pathway to this degree

Alternative entry requirements

Salford Alternative Entry Scheme (SAES)

We welcome applications from students who may not meet the stated entry criteria but who can demonstrate their ability to pursue the course successfully. Once we have received your application we will assess it and recommend it for SAES if you are an eligible candidate.

There are two different routes through the Salford Alternative Entry Scheme and applicants will be directed to the one appropriate for their course. Assessment will either be through a review of prior learning or through a formal test.

How much?

Type of study Year Fees
Full-time home 2024/25 £9,250.00per year
Full-time international 2024/25 £17,040.00per year
Full-time home 2025/26 £9,250.00per year
Full-time international 2025/26 £17,650.00per year

Additional costs

You should also consider further costs which may include books, stationery, printing, binding and general subsistence on trips and visits.

Scholarships for International Students

If you are a high-achieving international student, you may be eligible for one of our scholarships. Explore our international scholarships.


Apply now

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Enrolment dates

September 2024

September 2025

UCAS information

Course ID J931

Institution S03