Undergraduate BA (Hons)

Music: Popular Music and Recording With Foundation Year

Salford School of Arts, Media and Creative Technology




Four year

Next enrolment

September 2024


In a nutshell

Building on our long-standing reputation for Popular Music and Recording, our course is well-known for producing 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: Retribution, Amazing 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). 

This course builds upon our long-standing reputation and has been ranked the number one Popular Music and Recording course in the North West and number two in the UK in the 2021 Guardian university league tables.

You will study popular music as a discipline from a broad range of perspectives, developing technical and creative skills while placing an emphasis on academic and theoretical aspects. Our masterclass series involves leading professionals from the popular music industry – whether performers, composers or producers - designed to assist you in your professional development and career management.

You will regularly contribute to programmes, theatre productions, concerts and gigs as music performers and composers, and the course provides ample opportunity for you to engage with like-minded creative artists.

The foundation year of this four-year programme aims to provide you with an understanding of the subject to allow you to progress on to the BA (Hons) Music: Popular Music and Recording course.

You will: 
  • Study on the number one Popular Music and Recording course in the North West (Guardian 2021) 

  • Be taught by practicing professionals on a high achieving course well-known for producing graduates in the popular music industry today. 

  • Be able to fully explore your creative ideas and passions through specialist portfolio work 

Find out more by signing up to our upcoming Open Day, or if you have any generic questions please contact course enquiries.

You can also find helpful FAQs, learn more about student life at Salford or explore all our Music courses. Continue reading to understand more about this (Hons) Music: Popular Music and Recording with Foundation Year course 


options available

This is for you if...


You want access to industry-standard facilities


You want to develop your technical and creative skills whilst studying the academic and theoretical aspects of popular music


You want to be part of a diverse and vibrant music department and benefit from numerous performing and showcasing opportunities in Manchester and beyond

Course details

All about the course

The course delivers a broad-based curriculum during the first year with excellent opportunities for specialisation throughout years two and three. Our vibrant masterclass series is designed to enhance your career planning, involving internationally renowned guest speakers and visiting artists from the creative industries.

You will engage with popular music as an academic discipline, developing a detailed understanding of key popular music concepts, techniques and processes, as well as perfecting your practical ability in performance, composition, arranging, and the creative use of music technology.

In your first year, you 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 in English language popular music, you’ll develop fundamental creative skills in arranging, applied composition and music technology.

In year two you’re given the opportunity to specialise within the musical fields of your interests and skill set. In the final year, you consolidate your learning, deepening your individual creativity in a personal body of portfolio work.

In the most recent National Student Survey, 97% of students said the course provided them with opportunities to apply what they have learnt (University of Salford analysis of unpublished NSS 2019 data).


Foundation year

Foundation Musicianship Skills

This module develops both your individual and ensemble instrumental/vocal ability; focusing on technique and its application across a broad range of repertoire. You have the opportunity to join many ensembles within the Directorate, including choir, world music ensemble and contemporary music ensemble. 

Introduction to Music Theory

This module aims to provide the theoretical foundations for all further areas of study. You will learn to recognise and confidently use fundamental theoretical terms in your work, notate all perfect, major, minor, augmented, diminished intervals, and identify and notate a range of basic chords and progressions. The assessment requires you to compose idiomatic music incorporating all these elements. You will also develop your Aural and Transcription skills with focused ear training tuition.

Case Studies

This module will equip you with the necessary analytical skills, IT skills and research techniques to complete written academic assignments. You will analyse a broad range of musical styles within the Popular, Jazz and Classical idioms. It will provide you with the appropriate reference framework from which to critically evaluate examples of these styles, as well as the use of harmonic and analytical terminology within the discussion of music.

Foundation Performance Studies

This module consolidates and expands instrumental and vocal skills developed in trimester one. For your assessed ensemble activity, you will form your own popular music group whilst also having the opportunity to continue with the many ensembles within the Directorate.

Music Theory and Compositional Techniques

Building upon the theoretical knowledge, this module introduces more advanced concepts and techniques including extended chord progressions, notation and recognition of diatonic melodic lines, moving bass lines, and complex rhythmic patterns, and SATB scoring. You will also receive further ear training within the Aural and Transcription tuition.

Introduction to Music Technology

This module introduces software based solutions for recording and composition. You will learn to notate musical ideas appropriately with respect to instrumentation and genre and to identify appropriate software pathway to communicate musical ideas effectively. You will work with notation, sequencing and recording interfaces and interrogate the relationship between them.

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

This module will focus on performance from a perspective of interactive technology, MIDI, synthesis, and sampling. You will write and rehearse original material to be performed in 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

This module consolidates and expands further your performance development within two assessed areas of Individual Performance, Ensemble Musicianship, and an Associated Study (either Improvisation Skills or Vocal Harmony). The Ensemble component allows you to join Session Orchestra, Choir, an ensemble from the small ensembles, or create your own ensemble. 

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.

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

This module begins to prepare you for Elective Performance study at third year level. Again, your performance development is assessed in two areas, combined ensemble and solo performance as well as an associated study (either improvisation or vocal harmony). The ensemble component allows you to join Session Orchestra, Choir, an ensemble from the small ensembles programme or create your own ensemble. 

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

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

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

This module  will enable you to develop your chosen areas of study in two final projects, equipping you with the skills, guidance and portfolio of work to take into your next venture, whether this is professional work or postgraduate study.

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?

Lectures are enhanced with audio/visual material. A lecture on a topic is usually followed up by a relevant seminar. You will be encouraged to prepare materials in preparation for seminars, where you’ll contribute to discussions.

  • Masterclasses - visiting speakers and performers from relevant areas of the music industry
  • Supervision both individual and in groups
  • Individual instrumental tuition to develop you performance technique and musical vocabulary
  • Ensemble tuition in order to develop your performance technique and musical vocabulary in an ensemble setting
  • Workshops to explore concepts and develop research techniques within a workshop environment, mixing class-based discussion and activities with library and archive work, providing you with the opportunity to develop creative ideas and to interact with leading scholars in the field Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) – supports every module within the course.



All our Music courses  are delivered by the  Salford School of Arts, Media and Creative Technology

Our School and University have strong and long-lasting relationships with local and national industry. 

Once you graduate with us, you’ll join a thriving alumni community in Greater Manchester and beyond. 

Recording Studios

The Music Programmes are supported by an exceptional technical team and facilities housed predominantly in the New Adelphi building.

Recording Studios

We have six main recording studios, all of which are large enough to accommodate both bands and chamber classical / brass ensembles. The studios share common technical architecture, centred around Audient ASP 8024 HE analogue mixing consoles. Full patch bays offer extensive routing possibilities between live room, isolation booths and the control room. In addition, multiple studios can be networked via Dante interfaces.

All our studios contain an excellent provision of analogue hardware, analogue tape machines and a diverse array of software platforms; Logic X; Protools and Ableton being the primary DAW’s. Studio 6 is attached to our largest performance space, the Band Room. This space comfortably accommodates our brass band, big band, wind band, choir and contemporary music group. The studios are staffed throughout the day time, evenings (5pm - Midnight) and weekends (9am – Midnight).

The studio facilities office houses our exceptional and extensive microphone collection as well as a large selection of analogue synthesizers, drum machines and effects processing possibilities.

Other Facilities

In addition to the six large studios, our students have access to:

Voice Acting Studio

This facility is designed predominantly as a 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

Our computer suite contains twenty-six workstations (iMac; audio interface; controller keyboard; headphones) equipped with licences for all of the software we teach. The current software provision comprises: 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; 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

The 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 / individual practice spaces are equipped with 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.

Explore our Music facilities at the University of Salford

Performance Spaces

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 an excellent acoustic. The hall is used extensively by our large ensembles and houses the BBC Philharmonic Red Brick Sessions.

New Adelphi Theatre

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


Our Student Union bar and venue hosts a number of both staff and student led performances throughout the year.

Employment and stats

What about after uni?

Salford’s music courses are renowned for producing graduates who excel in their chosen professions. Our graduates have forged careers as signed recording artists, professional performers, studio producers/engineers, live sound engineers and freelance composers/arrangers. Many have become events organisers, promoters and entrepreneurs while others have developed successful careers in music education as teachers, lecturers, senior administrators and educational advisors.

Those who continue their studies at a postgraduate level find themselves well-equipped to cope with the academic and technical demands of a higher degree.

A taste of what you could become

A producer

A sound engineer

A musician

A composer

An arranger

And more...

Career Links

We 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

This course isn’t suitable for international students. If you are an international student and interested in studying a foundation year, please visit our International Foundation Year course page


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.

A Levels

72 points

T Levels

Pass: D or E in core subject. 


UCAS tariff points

72 points

BTEC National Diploma

MPP including Music

Scottish Highers

72 points including Music

Irish Leaving Certificate

72 points including Music

International Baccalaureate

24 points including Music

European Baccalaureate

Pass in Diploma of at least 60% including Music

Access to HE

Pass level 3 QAA approved Access Diploma with 72 points including Music

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 £9,250.00 for Foundation Year and £9,250.00 for subsequent years.
Full-time home 2025/26 £9,250.00 for Foundation Year and £9,250.00 for subsequent years.

Additional costs

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

Apply now

All set? Let's apply

Enrolment dates

September 2024

September 2025

UCAS information

Course ID W341

Institution S03