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Popular Music BA(Hons)

Attendance UCAS code/apply Year of entry
3 years full time W315 2018
4 years full time including foundation year W341 2018
6 years part time Apply direct to the University 2018

Why choose this course?

On this course you will compose, perform, record, listen to and write about popular music to develop your musical and academic skills. You'll produce and record music in our unique facilities which include recording studios, rehearsal rooms, a synthesis/sampling lab and the analogue/digital hybrid Visconti Studio. In partnership with world-famous record producer Tony Visconti, the British Library and Science Museum, the Visconti Studio comprises of a 300m² octagonal live room stocked with rare and vintage recording equipment.

You can benefit from central London's vibrant multicultural music scene just 30 minutes from Kingston University. In addition to attending live music events and performances, you can participate in local musical initiatives like our community choir, the Kingston Singers.

Foundation year - Humanities & Arts

If you are thinking of returning to education after a break you could apply for our foundation year course. This course will provide you with the academic and transferable skills you need to study an undergraduate degree in any of the humanities or arts. At Kingston these include Creative Writing, Dance, Drama and English Literature.

Throughout the year-long course, you can study a range of these subjects, allowing you to get a better idea of which ones you prefer. It'll guide you in the direction of a humanities or arts degree that you're particularly interested in. The foundation year will develop your independent study skills and help you to better understand your academic ability, a potential career path and how to develop the skills that employers look for in graduates.

What you will study

You will learn new approaches, techniques and styles in how to create popular music, and be encouraged to develop your own musical identity.

In Year 1 you will study inspirational moments in popular music history. You will explore performance techniques across different styles and develop skills for songwriters and popular musicians to produce high quality recordings. You will also improve your compositional skills through the examination of key components of popular music.

Year 2 continues to build your performance skills and encourages you to explore different styles through a range of performance practices. You will also explore careers in music and develop an understanding of the music business, supported through a work placement. You will choose two option modules including performing, creating sound and music for media (film, TV, game), songwriting, mixing and production styles, music and politics.

In Year 3, you will work with a supervisor to develop a project demonstrating the mastery of your professional skills within a focused area. You can also choose two option modules including live sound and event management, music journalism, music and technology in education, jazz studies, arranging and scoring. You can also choose to work on a special study in the Visconti Studio.

Module listing

Please note that this is an indicative list of modules and is not intended as a definitive list. Those listed here may also be a mixture of core and optional modules.

Foundation year

  • This module aims to prepare you for undergraduate study and to give you the skills and knowledge related to the study of humanities, arts and social science subjects. The main areas covered will include research skills (like using a library and electronic resources), planning, note taking, building a bibliography, and avoiding plagiarism. You will also develop your communication skills, especially focusing on essay and report writing, delivering presentations and being an active participant in debates and discussions. The module will encourage you to develop the independent learning, critical analysis, and reflective skills crucial to succeeding in a degree.

     
  • Radical Imaginations focuses on creative writing, drama and English literature and aims to highlight how powerful you can be with your creativity. You'll look at text and performance, combining classroom learning with field trips to theatre productions in London.

    The module will help you understand how different texts relate to contemporary experiences: how have classic literary texts been translated into film, opera and ballet and with what effects? How do television drama shows such as Sherlock create dramatic interventions into established narratives, and for what purposes? How have contemporary playwrights like Caryl Churchill, Sarah Daniel, Debbie Tucker Green and Sarah Kane challenged perceptions through controversial and experimental works? Through these sorts of questions, you'll experience imagination at its most radical and relevant.

     
  • Being Human: History and the History of Ideas draws from history and philosophy. It considers how ideas shape our thinking about society, politics, and the arts. You'll reflect on how history has been studied, explore ideas like counterfactual histories, the use and misuse of history in different political contexts and ask questions on how history relates to memory. You'll also examine the ways in which ideas have their own history eg the idea of freedom, and its political history through philosophers, political thinkers, abolitionists, feminists, anti colonial militants, revolutionaries, and civil rights campaigners . In each of these areas you'll reflect on how our ideas are shaped by the social, political and cultural contexts in which we think.

     
  • Communication in Context and Practice introduces you to spoken and written communications and will explore a range of subjects like : journalism, publishing, and linguistics. It explores the dynamic ways in which language reports on, shapes, and transforms our understanding of the world. You'll be introduced to degree-level publishing and journalism, and look at communications across multimedia and multimodal formats. Through this, you'll understand the importance of the audience (or hearer/ reader) for effective communication in different contexts.

     

Year 1 (Level 4)

  • You will develop musical creativity through the study and practice of popular music performance, and improve your ability to perform with fluency and confidence across a broad range of genres. The module will focus on both collaborative and solo performance work, and will offer performance opportunities within the university and the wider community. You will learn how to develop effective practice regimes, as well as the ability to reflect critically on your performance work with the aim of identifying ways in which to improve and develop as performers of music.

     
  • In this module popular musicology and criticism are explored through reading, analysing, writing and listening. Subjects covered include the social history of popular music, development of styles, the influence of technology, representations of culture and how these have led to inspiring moments in music history / musical revolutions. You will learn how to research, discuss and write about music for different purposes and audiences. This module supports the development of core academic skills required for further study.

     
  • This module will focus on the project studio and explore a range of mobile / remote recording methods with the aim of producing high quality demos. Study on the module introduces students to the studio craft of self-producers, singer-songwriters, artists and bands that span a range of contemporary popular music genres. Lectures and workshops will focus on capturing creative experimentation, improvisation, managing collaboration, equipment setup, instrument preparation and environments for making interesting recordings.

     
  • This module provides the opportunity for you to develop key composing and arranging skills to support the development of your own compositional voice. Topics that will be explored include melody, rhythm, texture, dynamics, harmony, structures, riffs, beats, hooks, top line and lyrics. You will engage in technical, stylistic and historical aspects of compositional work across a broad range of popular music genres.

     

Year 2 (Level 5)

  • This is a core module for students on both Popular Music and Music Technology programmes and explores careers in music for the music graduate, allowing students to develop a comprehensive understanding of the business of music. The module includes a work placement of a minimum of 22 hours.

    You will study subjects including copyright law; contracts and legals; performing, publishing and synchronisation rights; publicity and social media; incomes streams for musicians including government, arts and crowd funding; publishing and the internet income; management, agents, promoters; live sound events and merchandising; self-assessment and tax; and the role of unions. The module will be delivered by both academic staff and a range of guest music industry professionals.

     
  • Choose three modules from the following:

    • This module aims to further develop musical creativity through the study and practice of popular music performance, focusing on the on-going development and diversification of music performance skills, exploring collaboration and the application of technology in performance. Students will be invited to address a range of topics related to musical performance. The module builds on the skills learned in Performing Popular Music 1 and encourages the further development of a unique musical identity as a creative performer.

       
    • This is a level 5 optional module. Building on skills developed in level 4, the module will focus on the aesthetics of production across a range of genres. You will also study recording, engineering and mixing techniques, as well as mastering practices including the use of ¼ inch tape. Part of this module will be delivered using the unique facility of Kingston University's Visconti Studio.

       
    • This module explores the political relations between music and identity, culture and empowerment. You will be introduced to the ways in which music shapes cultural identities, and the ways in which music can empower individuals and groups.

      Over the course of this module you will engage with a wide range of musical identities and their political implications: from sorrow songs and the Civil Rights movements in the 1960s, to contemporary hip hop; from girl and boy bands, to gender benders and grrl power; from hippie counterculture and punk's working class subversion, to the decadence of the Goth scene and the cybercommunities of online fan culture. Student-led research will be encouraged: you will create your own manifesto of musical politics and, in group, design journals with articles around a musical culture of your choice.

       
    • Students taking this module will focus on melody and lyric writing, harmonic fluency, the structure and arrangement of songs, alongside developing their individual musical identity through building a portfolio of work. The curriculum covers modern songwriting practices such as collaboration, improvisation, DAW demoing as well as investigating performance, stage craft and potential career paths in this field.

       
    • Study on this module will see you creating, editing and manipulating music and sound in a range of media post production scenarios, including trailers, TV, advertising, film and games. Students will develop practical skills in Foley and ADR recording, editing, design and creation of sound effects, as well as creating audio assets for game soundtracks and interactive media.

       
     

Year 3 (Level 6)

  • Students will produce a substantial creative piece of work which develops their skills in a specific area marking the culmination of their degree work. It is designed to enable students to work independently in an area that excites and interests them. Students may choose to create their work within performance, songwriting, composing for media, a research dissertation, a production project or a combination of any of these. Students will be supported by themed group seminar meetings as a whole cohort, supplemented by individual tutorials. Students will work towards the major project of their choice and produce a reflective summation which will be presented as part of the Level 6 creative festival. Students' ideas will further be challenged through a series of employability and research seminars on cutting-edge music topics on which they will produce a critical written reflection.

     
  • Choose two modules from the following:

    • This is a level 6 optional module and will see students collaborating on the creation of music as part of a production team. The writing, performing, recording, mixing and mastering of music to a professional standard will be studied, as well as its distribution, marketing and retail. Part of the module will feature how to pitch music to replicate the real-world scenario of securing funding / seeking collaborative partners in the creative industries.

       
    • This module is optional for students on the Popular Music and Music Technology programmes. It provides hands on experience in live sound reinforcement and event management, covering monitoring, lighting and projection, stage design, professional conventions, working with performers and promoters, and logistics. Students will train on analogue and digital consoles and gain experience engineering live sound at events held in a variety of external venues. Students will put on shows and organise a small tour, working with local venues and promoters. There will be opportunities to work with local partners including record labels, promoters and professional venues.

       
    • This module is an optional module for students on the Popular Music and Music Technology programmes. The focus of this module is the development of a comprehensive theoretical and practical grounding in tape-based analogue studio craft. The module will be taught in the Department of Performing Arts' unique facility, the Visconti Studio, with a mixture of lecture demonstrations and practical workshops during which students will learn tape machine operations, how to care for, connect and operate relevant machinery / outboard equipment, and develop a comprehensive understanding behind the science, technology and traditions that underpin these practices.

       
    • This module explores London culture through research and writing music criticism, journalism, researching a scene and examining case studies. Students will publish the materials created and build a unique Kingston University archive. Students will also have the possibility to create radio journalism along with students from courses in other areas of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.

       
    • This module is optional at level 6 for students of Popular Music. The module aims to develop students' ability to recognise features of a range of jazz styles within a historical context and to put them into practice. Characteristic elements of jazz, including structure, harmony, melody, rhythm and improvisational practice, will be studied and applied in performance.

       
    • This module will explore the arrangement and scoring of instrumental and vocal music, from a range of popular and film music genres. Students will develop their creative work by applying their analytical understanding of a chosen popular or film music style, through the creation of new arrangements and orchestrations. Students will develop skills in arranging a melody, formulating a harmonic support and structure in a manner which is appropriate for the chosen style. Students will also develop skills in orchestration with reference to their chosen genre.

      Read full module description

       
    • You will examine music pedagogy and the use of specialist and inclusive technologies at different phases of education (early years, primary, secondary, FE), in diverse settings and across genres. Content draws from aspects of the psychology of music and didactics and will include specific approaches to the teaching of composition, performance and music production using studios and DAWs. You will either gain experience in a work placement or take the opportunity to research and develop new ways in which music and technology can be used for education, play, therapy and/or enhanced accessibility in a specified setting.

       
     

You will have the opportunity to study a foreign language, free of charge, during your time at the University on a not-for-credit basis as part of the Kingston Language Scheme. Options currently include: Arabic, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.

Most of our undergraduate courses support studying or working abroad through the University's Study Abroad or Erasmus programme.

Find out more about where you can study abroad:

If you are considering studying abroad, read what our students say about their experiences.

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