BA (Hons) Popular Music

Undergraduate, Full-time

Popular Music BA (Hons)

We're the top UK modern university for Music*


We have launched a new BA (Hons) Music course, starting in September 2021. The BA (Hons) Music combines the existing internationally recognised BMus (Hons) Music and BA (Hons) Popular Music courses. The change is designed to widen the opportunities available to you on the course and ensure you have the skills vital for success in music industries. Entrance to the outgoing BA (Hons) Popular Music is only applicable to those seeking to join the course in year 3 - see entry requirements below. We look forward to receiving year 1 applications through the new BA (Hons) Music course.


Explore performance, composition, music production and engineering, in a breadth of musical styles.

Our Popular Music programme is designed for applicants with an interest and experience in composition and performance who wish to develop a breadth of skills that will allow them to pursue a portfolio career in the Music Industries. Career destinations include: performance, composition, production and engineering, teaching, management and promotions, music therapy, and community music projects.

You’ll achieve a high level of musical competence and fluency with an option to specialise in composition, guitar, bass, drums, keyboard, voice, and production. You’ll also extend your critical, entrepreneurial, and creative abilities throughout this wide-ranging degree.

The course provides the opportunity to study at a partner university overseas, or complete a work placement in industry.

*1st of 35 - The Guardian University Guide 2022, 1st of 43 - The Complete University Guide 2022, 1st of 41 - The Times Good University Guide 2021

Students playing guitars

Mode of Study:



4 years

Start date:


UCAS code:




Study Abroad:


Course details

This is a full-time course studied over four years. The course is supported by state-of-the-art facilities, with three high-quality recording studios and a fully networked MIDI lab, running Logic, ProTools, Sibelius and a range of other industry-relevant software. We have two Avid Certified Instructors and ProTools experts on the staff. Our well-equipped practice rooms (with 24/7 access), teaching rooms and recital areas ensure that all your needs are met on campus.  

We’re also one of the few music departments in the UK to offer an undergraduate module in Music Therapy.

If you have studied an HND Music, Music Business, Sound Production or equivalent, you may be eligible for direct entry. Note that you can only choose option modules in Years 3 and 4 that relate to, and follow on from, your HND qualification.
  • calendar How you’ll be taught

    Your learning experience will be supported by lectures, tutorials, one-to-one and group lessons.

  • note and pen Assessments

    50% coursework/50% practical exams in Years 1-3, with assessment based on chosen area of study and independent strengths in Year 4.

  • briefcase Work placement

    Optional supervised work placement or overseas study module. Study modules mentioned above are indicative only. Some changes may occur between now and the time that you study. Full information on this is available in our disclaimer.

    We are eager to support short-term work placements and promote various internal opportunities throughout the course.

    Our students studying Instrumental and Voice Teaching have the opportunity to shadow music tutors at local schools, while our relationship with the Eric Liddell Centre provides those studying Music Therapy with a unique opportunity to gain practical experience working with people with dementia.

  • study abroad Study abroad

    You’ll have the opportunity to spend one trimester or a full year abroad in Years 2 or 3.

    Taking the opportunity to study abroad provides a unique opportunity to develop your studies in music while embarking on a rich cultural exchange.

Popular modules

Year 1

Compulsory modules: 
  • Performance: Integrated Musicianship 
  • Composition: Originating Popular Music 
  • Music Technologies: Making Music with Technology 
  • Contextual Studies: Sampling Musical Worlds
  • Western Art Music 1

Optional modules:

  • Western Art Music 2
  • Recording Studio Theory and Practice 1

Year 2

Compulsory modules: 
  • Performance 
  • Composition 
  • Music Technologies
  • Contextual Studies 
  • Music Industries

Optional modules:

  • Jazz 1 - America
  • Recording Studio Theory and Practice 2

Year 3

Compulsory modules:

  • Music and Praxis
  • Contextual Studies: Research in Music
  • Contexts of Practical Musicianship: Technique and Applications
  • Contexts of Practical Musicianship: Creative Parameters

Optional modules:

  • Contexts of Music Education
  • Introduction to Music Therapy
  • Lyrics: Narratives and Prosodies
  • Music Software Applications
  • Music Industries: Entrepreneurship
  • Jazz 2 - Europe

Year 4

Compulsory modules:

  • Major Music Project
Optional modules:

  • Contexts of Practical Musicianship: Identity, Persona and Promotion
  • Practical Musicianship: Improvisation
  • Music Research Project
  • Contexts of Music Education: Project
  • Contexts of Practical Musicianship: Live Performance
  • Music Psychology


Study modules mentioned above are indicative only. Some changes may occur between now and the time that you study.

Placement and study abroad opportunities are subject to UK and Scottish Government health and travel advice.

Full information is available in our disclaimer.

Entry requirements

Entry requirements

You should state your specialist interests clearly on your application. This may be performance (please state your principal instrument), composition, or production. If you meet or are predicted to meet the minimum academic requirements, we will contact you to request a portfolio demonstrating your experience in areas of relevant practice: performance, composition or production. You can find more information about what to include in your portfolio here.

These requirements apply to all years of entry.

Our entry requirements indicate the Standard (minimum) qualifications with which we normally accept students. Competition for places varies from year to year and you aren't guaranteed a place if you meet the minimum qualifications.

Minimum year 1

For applicants looking to enter at year 1, please see our BA (Hons) Music course.

Minimum year 2

For applicants looking to enter at year 2, please see our BA (Hons) Music course.

Minimum year 3


Pass HND in Music or Music Performance with Grade A at SCQF Level 8 in all graded units.

English language requirements

If your first language isn't English, you'll normally need to undertake an approved English language test and our minimum English language requirements will apply.

This may not apply if you have completed all your school qualifications in English. Check our country pages to find out if this applies to you.

International students

We welcome applications from students studying a wide range of international qualifications.
Entry requirements by country

Please note that international students are unable to enrol onto the following courses:
  • BN Nursing/MSc Nursing (Pre-registration) (Adult, Mental Health, Child, Learning Disabilities)
  • BM Midwifery/MM Midwifery

Admissions policies

We’re committed to admitting students who have the potential to succeed and benefit from our programmes of study. 

Our admissions policies will help you understand our admissions procedures, and how we use the information you provide us in your application to inform the decisions we make.

Undergraduate admissions policies
Postgraduate admissions policies

Fees & funding

The course fees you'll pay and the funding available to you will depend on a number of factors including your nationality, location, personal circumstances and the course you are studying. We also have a number of bursaries and scholarships available to our students.

Tuition fees
Students from 2021/22 2022/23
Scotland £1,820 £1,820
England, Wales, Northern Ireland, and Republic of Ireland £9,250 £9,250
Overseas and EU £15,960 £16,425
Students from England, Wales, Northern Ireland, and Republic of Ireland will be invoiced the tuition fees for 3 years of their 4 years of study. Please note that the tuition fees liable to be paid by mainland EU nationals commencing their studies from 1 August 2021 will be the Overseas fee rate. The University offers a range of attractive Tuition Fee bursaries to students resident in specific countries. More information on these can be found here. For EU students who commenced their studies prior to 1 August 2021 or hold pre or settled status in the UK, fees will remain the same as Scottish Students.

Please note tuition fees are subject to an annual review and may increase from one year to the next.
For more information on this and other Tuition Fee matters please see Frequently Asked Questions about Fees

Click this link for Information of Bursaries and Scholarships

If additional compulsory costs other than the tuition fees are applicable, these will be detailed in the course details.
Please note that the tuition fees liable to be paid by EU nationals commencing their studies from 1 August 2021 will be the Overseas fee rate. The University offers a range of attractive Tuition Fee bursaries to students resident in specific countries. More information on these can be found here.

Frequently Asked Questions about Fees
Information of Bursaries and Scholarships


Close up of a persons hands playing the guitar

Career opportunities

Recent graduates have been employed in a wide variety of fields of work including:

  • Arts Management
  • Performance
  • Composition
  • Songwriter
  • Artist Manager
  • Producer
  • Postgraduate study
  • Musicologist
  • Music Teacher
  • Music Therapist
  • Session Musician
  • Audio Engineer
  • Arts Administrator
  • Foley Artist
  • A&R Coodinator
  • Music Distribution Manager
  • Tour Manager
  • Plugger

Man using the recording facilities at Merchiston Campus