BA (Hons) Popular and Commercial Music
Music at USW is rated top in Wales for learning opportunities, academic support National Student Survey 2023
This degree is based at USW’s purpose-built campus, in the creative centre of Cardiff.
The Popular and Commercial Music degree encourages you to develop your own voice and musical identity. Your studies will embrace popular and commercial music in its many forms and sub-genres, from electronica to folk, urban, rock and cutting edge-pop.
With an emphasis on original work, our music degree will teach you how to collaborate with your fellow students in performance, songwriting and production. We welcome diversity, collaboration and experimentation. So whatever your musical interests, you can extend your practice to gain skills relevant not only to employment in the music industry, but also to the wider creative industries.
Staff are experienced and high-profile professionals in their own right and many have worked as producers and songwriters. You’ll also learn from regular visits and masterclasses from high-level music industry professionals such as Greg Haver, producer of Manic Street Preachers; Amy Wadge, Ed Sheeran’s co-writer; Gruff Rhys, Super Furry Animals and Steve Sidelnyk, Madonna’s drummer. Studying Popular and Commercial Music in Cardiff, you will develop links with studios, record industry professionals and music companies in this thriving capital city.
The Popular and Commercial Music degree offers a stimulating collection of modules, you’ll have to be innovative and engage with ideas that will enhance your creative vision and critical thinking.
You’ll understand form and content in popular music, songwriting, the business of music, and artist development and imagery. You’ll also gain studio and musicianship skills, know how to network and adapt your skills to the market. Through live briefs linked to music industry practices you’ll understand what it takes to be a professional musician.
Year One - Popular and Commercial Music degree
- Inside the Music (song analysis, music theory and songwriting)
- Getting Plugged In (immersive module working to a live industry brief)
- Words and Music (study of music within its historical and cultural context)
- Artistic Development and Performance (live performance and ensemble playing)
- Studio Production (developing recording skills in both the live room and control room)
Year Two - Popular and Commercial Music degree
- The Creative Musician (songwriting and studio/desktop production)
- Music and Sound for Media (Film, TV, Animation, Games as well as
non-visual media such as Radio and Podcasting) OR Understanding Music (advanced music theory and musicology)
- Professional Performance (live performance and ensemble playing)
- Music Industry Practice (music business studies)
Year Three - Popular and Commercial Music degree
- The Professional Musician A (student-led research project)
- The Professional Musician B (student-led practical or academic project)
- Immersed in the City (plan and execute a professional music festival)
- Industry Ready (planning your career and portfolio development)
Modules are subject to change.
The Popular and Commercial Music degree is taught in a variety of ways, including practical workshops in the studio, tutorials, seminars and lectures. In the first two years, you will develop your practical music skills, building to one or more live ensemble performances each year. In your final year, you can specialise with a creative or industry-focused major project and a dissertation on an area that is of interest to you.
Course assessment is through regular coursework submissions, presentations, live performance assessments (gigs) and portfolio submissions (including audio, video and web-based).
Alun Tomos, Course Leader
Prof. Paul Carr, Reader
Damon Minchella, Senior Lecturer
Matthew Evans, Senior Lecturer
Gill Edwards-Randle, Senior Lecturer
Neil Martin, Lecturer
Andy Cooper, Lecturer
David Coker, Lecturer
Dan Turner, Technical Demonstrator
We regularly revalidate courses for quality assurance and enhancement
At USW, we regularly review our courses in response to changing patterns of employment and skills demand to ensure we offer learning designed to reflect today’s student needs and tomorrow’s employer demands.
If during a review process course content is significantly changed, we’ll write to inform you and talk you through the changes for the coming year. But whatever the outcome, we aim to equip our students with the skillset and the mindset to succeed whatever tomorrow may bring. Your future, future-proofed.
We may make you a lower offer based on a range of factors, including your background (where you live and the school or college that you attended for example), your experiences and individual circumstances (as a care leaver, for example). This is referred to as a contextual offer and we receive data from UCAS to support us in making these decisions. USW prides itself on its student experience and we support our students to achieve their goals and become a successful graduate. This approach helps us to support students who have the potential to succeed and who may have faced barriers that make it more difficult to access university. Here is a link to our Contextual Admissions Policy.
Other qualifications and experience
We can also consider combinations of qualifications and other qualifications not listed here may also be acceptable. We can sometimes consider credits achieved at other universities and your work/life experience through an assessment of prior learning. This may be for year one entry, or advanced entry to year two or three of a course where this is possible.
To find out which qualifications have tariff points, please refer to the UCAS tariff calculator.
If you need more help or information or would like to speak to our friendly admissions team, please contact us here
Applicants in the UK
Selection for this course is based on a suitable application. If you do not meet the entry criteria you may also be required to attend an interview to help us assess your suitability for the course.
Applicants outside the UK
Selection for this course is based on a suitable application and submission of a portfolio of your work which the Course Leader confirms is suitable for an offer to be made.
Typical A-Level Offer
CCC to include a relevant subject (this is equivalent to 96 UCAS tariff points).
Typical Welsh BACC Offer
Pass the Advanced Welsh Baccalaureate Diploma with Grade C in the Skills Challenge Certificate and CC at A Level with a relevant art and design subject (this is equivalent to 96 UCAS tariff points).
Typical BTEC Offer
BTEC Extended Diploma Merit Merit Merit in a relevant subject (this is equivalent to 96 UCAS tariff points).
Typical Access to HE Offer
Pass the Access to HE Diploma with a minimum of 96 UCAS tariff points
GCSEs: The University normally requires a minimum 5 GCSEs including Mathematics/Numeracy and English at Grade C or Grade 4 or above, or their equivalent, but consideration is given to individual circumstances.
International Entry Requirements
We also welcome international applications with equivalent qualifications. Please visit the country specific pages on our international website for exact details.
In general, international applicants will need to have achieved an overall IELTS grade of 6.0 with a minimum score of 5.5 in each component.
However, if you have previously studied through the medium of English IELTS might not be required, but please visit the country specific page on our international website for exact details. If your country is not featured please contact us.
Full-time fees are per year. Part-time fees are per 20 credits. Once enrolled, the fee will remain at the same rate throughout the duration of your study on this course
August 2024 - July 2025 Fees
Full-time UK: £9000
Full-time International: £14950
At the University of South Wales, you’re investing in so much more than a degree. We strive to provide our students with the best possible experience, no matter what you chose to study. Whether it’s access to top of the range mac books and PCs, state-of-the-art facilities packed with industry-leading equipment and software, masterclasses and events led by industry experts, or a wide range of clubs and societies to meet likeminded people, better tomorrows start with extra perks.
Each course also has their own unique student benefits to prepare you for the real word, and details of these can be found on our course pages. From global field trips, integrated work experience and free course-related resources, to funded initiatives, projects working with real employers, and opportunities for extra qualifications and accreditations - at USW your future, is future-proofed.
As a student of USW, you’ll have access to lots of free resources to support your study and learning, such as textbooks, publications, online journals, laptops, and plenty of remote-access resources. Whilst in most cases these resources are more than sufficient in supporting you with completing your course, additional costs, both obligatory and optional, may be required or requested for the likes of travel, memberships, experience days, stationery, printing, or equipment.
|Kit (Uniform and Equipment)
It is suggested that students have access to their own musical instruments, where appropriate (cost dependent on instrument played). All academic years
|Kit (Uniform and Equipment)
Students are expected to provide their own 'breakables'- Strings, sticks etc. All academic years
|Kit (Uniform and Equipment)
It is suggested that students have their own laptop computer and smart phone
International Field Trip
Students may be expected to travel to Masterclass/ conferences/ events at their own cost. All academic years
Funding to help pay for (or cover) course tuition fees and living costs
Whilst you’re studying, you’ll have two main financial obligations – tuition fees and living costs. There’s lots of financial help available from the University of South Wales and external funding sources, that may provide loans (which have to be paid back) and grants, scholarships and bursaries (that don't).
To learn about course fees, funding options, and to see if you are eligible for financial support, visit our Fees and Funding pages.
Apply via UCAS if you are a UK residing applicant, applying for year 1 of a full-time undergraduate degree, Foundation Year, Foundation Degree or HND and you have not applied through UCAS before. If you are applying to study part-time, to top up your Foundation Degree or HND, or to transfer to USW from another institution, please apply directly.
International and EU students
Apply directly to the University if you live outside the UK.
By the time you graduate from the Popular and Commercial Music degree, you will have the skills for a wide range of careers in the music, media and entertainment industries, including performance, composition, administration, promotion, multi-media production, and studio work. We have graduates working in the music industry as performers, composers, writers, promoters and administrators, teachers and musicians in the community, as well as those working in new media such as the computer games industry.
Our Careers and Employability Service
As a USW student, you will have access to advice from the Careers and Employability Service throughout your studies and after you graduate.
This includes: one-to-one appointments from faculty based Career Advisers, in person, over the phone or even on Skype and through email via the "Ask a Question" service. We also have extensive online resources for help with considering your career options and presenting yourself well to employers. Resources include psychometric tests, career assessments, a CV builder, interview simulator and application help. Our employer database has over 2,000 registered employers targeting USW students, you can receive weekly email alerts for jobs.
Our Careers service has dedicated teams: A central work experience team to help you find relevant placements; an employability development team which includes an employability programme called Grad Edge; and an Enterprise team focused on new business ideas and entrepreneurship.