Bachelor of Music (Hons) Popular Music

The BMus (Hons) Popular Music is the UK’s only four-year programme for popular musicians situated in a world-class Royal conservatoire. We are seeking to recruit students from around the world who are not only the most talented, but who are intellectually curious, and interested in developing their own musical identity.

Four years, full-time
UCAS Conservatoires code: 201F
Applications for September 2018 entry: Open July 2017, via UCAS Conservatoires.
Deadline for on-time applications: 1 October 2017

Funkestra and Session Orchestra
Principal Study available in:

Piano / Keyboard
Bass Guitar
Drum Kit


Popular music is a contemporary art form that is constantly evolving and our curriculum reflects this. We embrace innovation, diversity and change and you will have the opportunity to study a multiplicity of musical styles enabling you to re-define the future of the genre.

The programme provides intensive training for instrumentalists and singers with a high-level of performing ability who intend to work as freelance musicians, bands and artists in the popular music industry, or as a preparation for postgraduate study.

The curriculum seeks to develop your musical identity through creative composition, production and performance based modules that enable you to be not only a high quality performer, but also an original artist in your own right. We view all of our students as professional musicians from the outset and actively encourage and support you in establishing your career alongside your studies.

Course Structure

The course comprises of 480 credits over four years, with half of the programme dedicated to developing skills in the Principal Study instrument/voice. In addition to the rigorous instrumental / vocal teaching, the programme also develops academic and creative skills, and cultivates business acumen and entrepreneurial activity through employment and employability training.

Blueprint Studios

Blueprint Studios

The course is delivered at the RNCM, Blueprint Studios and Lever Street Studios where students work with teaching staff who are high-standard academics and active professionals in the music industry, working as session musicians, producers, song writers, recording artists, composers, musical directors, writers, managers, promoters and performers.

You will benefit from the invaluable expertise of a team of Visiting Tutors who have a wealth of industry experience working with renowned singers and bands including Adele, CeeLo Green, Incognito, Jamiroquai, Al Jarreau, James Morrison, One Direction, Simply Red, Sting, Take That, Amy Winehouse, and Steve Winwood.

Principal Study (160 credits)

Principal Study is at the core of your training and focuses on enabling you to realise your true potential both technically and creatively on your instrument / voice through individual tuition with some of the world’s leading teachers.

You will learn how to critically evaluate and perform a broad range of repertoire inspiring a cultural connection between historic, contemporary and progressive material, and will be encouraged to develop your own musical voice through the composition and performance of original material.

You will also learn how to integrate music technology into live performance, and in the final year will have the opportunity to devise, produce and realise a public final recital.

Ensemble Performance (60 credits)

Ensemble Performance focuses on the development of a technical and critical understanding of the role of your instrument / voice within a range of musical environments and styles. You will gain skills in effective ensemble rehearsal techniques and will learn how to integrate music technology into performance within a range live and studio performance situations.

You will work with a number of different musicians from across the college throughout the first half of the programme before creating your own ensemble project in your third year. You will also have the opportunity to perform in the Northern Session festivals and live recordings, both at the RNCM and at venues across Manchester.

Musicianship (60 credits)

Musicianship underpins your technical and practical skills development and establishes a theoretical understanding of key musical components through creative improvisation based performance. You will develop your musical literacy to a professional level, enabling you to employ your theoretical, aural, and improvisation skills across a range of musical settings. You will also have the opportunity to apply these skills to original work in the Artist and Repertoire and Optional Modules.

Artist and Repertoire (60 credits)

Artist and Repertoire focuses on artist development, both in terms of creative practice and entrepreneurial activity. You will compose original music and develop the skills required to promote yourself and your music to a broad audience. You will study song writing through the analysis of established and emerging repertoire and will produce a portfolio of original work. You will also develop a knowledge and understanding through research and academic study of the music industry and business practice in the context of you as a professional performer and artist, enabling you to begin your career in conjunction with, and informed by, your studies.


Matt and Phreds

Original Ensembles Project (40 credits)

The Original Ensembles Project follows on in year 3 from the Ensemble Performance modules studied in years 1 and 2, and allows you to specialise further in areas of research and creative practice that will form the basis of a professional career. In this self-devised project, you will build your own ensemble, compose original material, rehearse and record to professional standards, and give live showcase performances in professional venues in Manchester and across the UK.

Professional Engagement (60 credits)

Working with our industry partners and partner institutions, the Professional Engagement module is designed to allow you to experience life as a professional freelance musician, band or artist, before returning to College to reflect, plan and realise your individual and collective goals as you graduate from the programme. The engagement takes place in the first semester of your final year and provides you with the opportunity to gain valuable experience and make influential contacts that will pave the way into your career as a full time professional musician. Opportunities include work and study abroad as well as within the UK.

Optional Modules (40 credits)

The Optional Modules are designed to allow you the opportunity to tailor your studies according to your areas of interest and to specialise in areas that will best complement your artistic and academic goals. The options are contemporary and relevant to today’s music industry and are available to students from all RNCM schools of study, actively encouraging cross-school collaboration and diversification. The modules have been designed to promote a collegiate approach in areas with genuine crossover potential, including Musical Theatre, Film Music, Composing for Media, Recording & Production, and Music Education.

Graduate Destinations

Graduates from the Popular Music degree have gone on to secure work with major recording artists on live tours, festivals, radio and television, and have gained employment in West End musical theatre shows, function bands and cruise ships. They are also active in their own original projects, with a large number releasing their own albums and touring in live shows.

Student Stories

Discover more about the RNCM student experience here by clicking on our student stories page.

How to Apply

For further information on entry requirements and how to apply, please visit our How to Apply section.


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