University of Chester

Programme Specification
Popular Music Performance BA (Hons) (Single Honours)
2017 - 2018

Bachelor of Arts (Single Honours)

Popular Music Performance

Popular Music Performance

University of Chester

University of Chester

Kingsway Campus, Chester

Undergraduate Modular Programme


Classroom / Laboratory,

3 years

7 Years

Annual - October




17a. Faculty

17b. Department

Arts and Humanities Performing Arts

Music & Dance, Drama and Performance (DDP)


Performing Arts

Wednesday 16th January 2013

This programme prepares students with the skills, knowledge and understanding necessary to become an informed, intelligent and versatile musician.  Students will become critical, reflective and evaluative thinkers and these qualities will in turn inform their practice.  To this end the programme aims to:

  • Equip students with: performance skills including technical mastery of their instrument/voice; the development of their expressivity; an awareness of audience; effective communication within a variety of musical environments;
  • Develop analytical skills and an understanding of musical context to develop interpretative and performative imagination;
  • Enable an understanding of theoretical and aesthetic systems and relate theory and practice to each other;
  • Provide students with the experience of using technology to facilitate performance;
  • Achieve graduateness and subsequent employability in the cultural industries.

This programme has many embedded elements of vocationality.  Areas of study relate to professional practices within the music industry particularly in modules such as Performance Practice and So You Want to be a Session Musician? These are "real life" simulations from which the students get a glimpse of what it is to be a working musician.  There is also a Music Business component of the level 5 module Popular Music: Genres and Contexts, which allows students to investigate issues surrounding the management and administration of live music events.  This can be pursued further at level 6 in Developing Professional Practice.

By the end of this programme, the student will:

FHEQ Level 4 -

Identify and understand methods of musical organisation, compositional style, genre or tradition and their context within history, society and culture. [PA4401, PA4412]

Demonstrate some knowledge of key practitioners and practices and/or theorists and their cultural and/or historical contexts. [PA4401, PA4402]

FHEQ Level 5 –

Demonstrate a breadth of understanding of the practices, traditions and histories of music and place these within their historical, social and cultural contexts. [PA5401, PA5415, PA5417, PA5801]

Identify and interpret critically the cultural frameworks that surround performance events and on which these events impinge. [PA5401, PA5801]

FHEQ Level 6 –

Demonstrate comprehension and intelligent engagement with forms, practices, traditions and histories of performance and of theoretical explanations of those histories. [PA6401, PA6001, PA6002, PA6003, PA6411, PA6403]

Demonstrate contextual knowledge and ability to analyse, interrogate or create, and present findings or results, in a coherent and appropriate format relevant to the fields of study. [PA6401, PA6001, PA6002, PA6003, PA6411]

By the end of this programme, the student will:

FHEQ Level 4

Demonstrate an ability to evaluate the appropriateness of different approaches to problem solving associated with the discipline. [PA4402, PA4413]

Demonstrate an ability to apply analytical skills to music theory and practice. [PA4412, PA4410, PA4402]

FHEQ Level 5 –

Describe, interpret and evaluate musical styles, production techniques and disciplines and performance events. [PA5417, PA5410, PA5415, PA5403, PA5001, PA5401, PA5801]

Critically evaluate research methodologies and frameworks that surround creative theory and practice. [PA5401, PA5403, PA5801]

Demonstrate critical and analytical skills in developing ideas and constructing arguments. [PA5401, PA5001]

FHEQ Level 6 –  

Engage creatively and critically in appropriate independent research, whether investigating past or present performances or as part of the process of creating new performance. [PA6401, PA6001, PA6002, PA6003, PA6411]

Show a critical understanding of the relationship between theory and practice in music and use relevant techniques and methods to explain and demonstrate that interrelationship. [PA6401, PA6001, PA6002, PA6003, PA6411, PA6403]

By the end of this programme, the student will:

FHEQ Level 4 –

Demonstrate fundamental musicianship skills relating to the perception of sound and in the use of music technology [PA4410, PA4402, PA4413, PA4412]

Evaluate practising techniques and demonstrate the results of these in performance. [PA4410, PA4402]

FHEQ Level 5 –

Demonstrate an emerging sense of personal performance style and specific performance practice skills. [PA5417, PA5410, PA5418, PA5801, PA5001]

Understand professional practice and apply intellectual and imaginative skills in a variety of vocational, academic, educational and creative contexts [PA5418, PA5410, PA5001, WB5101, WB5004, WB5008]

FHEQ Level 6

To critically engage with practical work at a high creative and imaginative level [PA6001, PA6002, PA6411, PA6403, PA6410]

Work with an appropriate professional attitude at all times i.e able to manage personal workloads efficiently and effectively, able to meet deadlines and pursue goals with others, able to manage constructively and effectively personal and interpersonal issues [PA6001, PA6002, PA6003, PA6004, PA6411]

By the end of this programme, the student will:

FHEQ Level 4 –

Present a structured and coherent simple argument in a variety of forms [PA4401]

FHEQ Level 5 –

Effectively communicate underlying concepts and principles, arguments and analysis in various forms [PA5001, WB5101, PA5401, PA5403, PA5801, WB5004, WB5008]

FHEQ Level 6 –

To communicate a higher level of critical thought through a synthesis of information, ideas, problems and solutions in a variety of ways to a variety of audiences [PA6001, PA6002, PA6003, PA6004, PA6010, PA6401, PA6411, PA6403]

Level 4 explores the fundamentals of Popular Music practice.  Students will study musicianship and performance (Popular Music Practice, Performance Platform 1), and begin to advance their knowledge of how to perform collaboratively in groups and individually leading to live performance. Alongside this students will learn how popular music studies (Introduction to Popular Music Studies) and music theory (Music, Harmony and Understanding) inform performance. Students will also look at the various ways that technology is used by musicians in both recording and live situations (Music Technology).

Level 5 will develop the theories, concepts and skills introduced at Level 4. It  will investigate popular music and its genres and contexts, learning about the development of popular music as well as the music industry. Students will further develop their individual and group performance skills (Performance Platform 2 and Improvisation and Performance. Students can choose to further develop their technological skills through Advanced Music Technology, develop essential technical and artistic skills to develop as a performer in Musical theatre in Performing Musical Theatre, creative skills in Songwriting and Composition or develop advanced vocal skills and learn musical direction skills in Music Directing and the Ensemble. Students may choose from the following options Work Based Learning or Experiential Learning Performance Practice in order to develop their vocational skills in a professional working environment.

There are further employability focused, options available such as WB5004 Learning in the Wider World and WB5008 The Study Abroad Experience.

WB5004 is similar in ambition to WB5101 but facilitates undertaking the work based learning placement at a location outside the United Kingdom. WB5004, although available to all students as an alternative to WB5101, must be applied for and participation is restricted to students who meet the criteria of interview, attendance and behaviour during Level 5. All students will be required to receive clearance from their PAT prior to departing on their overseas placement. Students must complete and have a Risk Assessment approved before they are eligible for this module.

WB5008 This module will be offered as a complementary year of study abroad to students who have successfully completed their second-year of study (level 5). Application will occur in January of Level 5. As such, students may be required to present evidence of successful completion of Level 4, satisfactory on-going assessment, academic references and attendance in order for their application to be accepted. Students must also complete a Risk Assessment to indicate that they are fully aware of the requirements for the exchange, university/college and destination that they are applying for.

At level 6 the focus is towards professional and graduate skills to ensure that students are as equipped as possible for a career within the music industry, or to move on to higher study. They will be provided with a detailed, theoretically informed vocabulary with which to analyse the development of popular music performance (Popular Music as Event: Genres and Contexts), and their instrumental/vocal technique will be honed in a series of masterclasses (Performance Platform 3). There is the opportunity to pursue the module So You Want to be a Session Musician? in which they learn about being an employable session player for both live and recording work.  Students may continue to pursue their songwriting and composition skills in Popular Music Portfolio or choose from other optional modules which give students opportunity to tailor their course and focus their work towards the practical or theoretical, and the Dissertation, Negotiated Study provide students with flexibility in making choices about practical project work and written research.

Mod-Code Level Title Credit Single
PA4401 4 Introduction to Popular Music Studies 20 Comp
PA4402 4 Popular Music Practice 40 Comp
PA4410 4 Performance Platform 1 20 Comp
PA4412 4 Music, Harmony & Understanding 20 Comp
PA4413 4 Music Technology 20 Comp
PA5001 5 Performance Practice 20 Optional
PA5401 5 Popular Music: Genres and Contexts 20 Comp
PA5403 5 Songwriting and Composition 20 Optional
PA5410 5 Performance Platform 2 20 Comp
PA5412 5 Musicianship and Performance 40 N/A
PA5413 5 Popular Music: Case Studies 20 N/A
PA5415 5 Advanced Music Technology 20 Optional
PA5417 5 Improvisation and Performance 20 Comp
PA5418 5 Music Directing and The Ensemble 20 Optional
PA5801 5 Performing Musical Theatre 20 Optional
WB5004 5 Learning in the Wider World 20 Optional
WB5008 5 The Study Abroad Experience 120 Optional
WB5101 5 Enhancing your Employability through Work Based Learning 20 Optional
PA6001 6 Negotiated Study (single) 20 Optional
PA6002 6 Negotiated Study (double) 40 Optional
PA6003 6 Dissertation (Performing Arts) 40 Optional
PA6004 6 Developing Professional Practice 20 Optional
PA6010 6 Pedagogy and Policy 20 Optional
PA6401 6 Popular Music as Event: Genres and Contexts. 20 Comp
PA6403 6 So You Want To Be A Session Musician? 40 Optional
PA6410 6 Performance Platform 3 20 Comp
PA6411 6 Popular Music Portfolio 40 Optional

Level 4 of the programme corresponds to Frame work of Higher Education Qualification (FHEQ) Certificate level, successful completion of which would entitle a student to an exit award of a Certificate of Higher Education (120 Credits).

Level 5 of the programme corresponds to FHEQ Intermediate Level 5, successful completion of which would entitle a student to an exit award of a Diploma of Higher Education (240 Credits).

Level 6 of the programme corresponds to FHEQ Honours Level, successful completion of which would entitle a student to an exit award of a Bachelor Degree with Honours (360 Credits).

  • 112 UCAS points from GCE A Levels or equivalent.
  • GCE A Level: Typical offer - BCC/BBC
  • BTEC Extended Diploma: DMM

BTEC Diploma: D*D*

  • Irish/Scottish Highers: B in 4 subjects
  • International Baccalaureate: 26 points
  • Access to HE Diploma, to include 45 credits at level 3, 30 of which must be at Merit
  • OCR National Extended Diploma: Merit 2

OCR Cambridge Technical Extended Diploma: DDM

OCR Cambridge Technical Diploma: D*D*

  • Please note that we will accept a maximum of 8 UCAS points from GCE AS Levels and that the Welsh Baccalaureate (core) and A Level General Studies will be recognised in our offer. We will also consider a combination of A Levels and BTECs/OCRs.

ABRSM Grade 8 or equivalent on instrument (or voice), and the ability to read music, would be preferred. Reading music is not essential and if you don't have grade 8 we will probably still offer you an audition.

Applicants will usually be required to attend an audition

Candidates who do not meet the minimum entry requirements, or who have non-standard qualifications and/or relevant music experience, are encouraged to apply and will be considered if they can demonstrate appropriate ability through their audition.


The Subject Benchmark Statements for Music are available on the QAA website

The Subject Benchmark Statements for Performing arts are available on the QAA website

The programme in Popular Music Performance has a clear three pronged approach to the teaching and learning experience theory, practice and professionalism. Within this context the programme provides a theoretical framework, practical skills and professional performance, sharing and showcasing work to internal and external audiences. This approach is clearly identified in the learning outcomes of each module which are set against the QAA benchmark statements for Music and for Dance, Drama and Performance

All programmes in the Department of Performing Arts aim to develop students who are performance literate through rigorous engagement with theory, practice and notions of professional practice. Teaching in the department seeks to move students from being interested spectators and occasional practitioners towards being professionally engaged in their own creative production. Most modules will encourage learning by trying and testing under tutor supervision, but significant learning will also be planned through writing, lectures, demonstrations, screenings, seminars, dialogues, tutorials and relevant field visits.

This programme uses lectures, seminars, workshops, tutorials, independent study, fieldwork, practical projects and placements.

The assessments chosen will aim to structure students' intellectual and practical development, with specific reference to the field of study. Assessments will include: essays undertaken with prescribed reading; essays reflecting on individual and group practice; practical presentations; practical music assessments; small and large scale performance events in the public domain.

Formative assessment and related feedback is embedded within classes regularly in order to assist learning and as preparation for summative assessment. Formative assessment normally takes the form of group masterclasses and performances, draft presentations, diagnostic writing and the submission of written drafts.      

The aim of all assessments within this programme is to ensure that students have a deep and varied understanding of professional working practices within the field of Popular Music Performance, and are able to demonstrate this in a number of different ways.   

We are aiming to educate people who are comfortable with live performance and contemporary music technology, whilst being able to theorise and discuss the relation of popular music within a wider cultural context. Future employment possibilities for graduates include a wide range of positions within the music, entertainment and creative industries.

The University is committed to the promotion of diversity, equality and inclusion in all its forms; through different ideas and perspectives, age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation. We are, in particular, committed to widening access to higher education. Within an ethically aware and professional environment, we acknowledge our responsibilities to promote freedom of enquiry and scholarly expression.

The aim of the policy is to ensure that all students and all members of staff at the University of Chester have equality of opportunity and are treated solely on the basis of their aptitude, ability and potential to pursue a course of study or to fulfil the requirements of a job. The policy also aims to eliminate unlawful or unfair discrimination.

The objective of the policy is a University which is open to all sections of the community, where people from all groups in society are represented at all levels, and in whose activities all members of staff and all its students can participate fully and equally for the benefit of the University of Chester. 


Research, scholarship and professional practice are vital components of the programmes within the Department of Performing Arts.  The vibrant research environment created by the staff and students is very important and much investment is made in order to ensure its success.  The internationally recognised quality of research in the Performing Arts Department was highlighted by the results of the UK-wide Research Excellence Framework (REF) in 2014, with a significant proportion judged to be of internationally recognised or internationally excellent quality in terms of originality and significance. Furthermore, significant grants have been awarded to staff from organisations such as the British Council, European Union and the Arts and Humanities Research Council in order to fund cutting edge work.

Staff are producing books, book chapters, journal articles, conference papers as well as a plethora of practice-based research such as performances, choreography, digital media and compositions.  Without exception the research interests of staff make a direct contribution to the curriculum and several modules derive directly from staff research thereby constituting research based teaching in the most complete sense.  Research interests include: performance; transcription; songwriting and composition; popular music; popular culture; vocal health; performance anxiety; collaborative practice; analysis. There are a number of PhD students studying across drama practices, applied drama and music.  All postgraduates (research and taught) and staff are active members of the vibrant Departmental research seminar series and contribute papers to this and the Faculty’s Centre for Research in Arts and Media.  Furthermore, the Faculty and Department have organised a number of conferences, the most recent being held in June 2012 on the subject of Contemporary Ethnography and Traditional Performance which revisited the meetings of folklore, anthropology and the performing arts that formed a foundation for performance studies from an international point of view including representation from Canada, England, New Zealand, Philippines, Scotland, and Spain.

Induction for New Students:
A one week induction period is provided. Sessions typically cover familiarisation with the structure of the programme and introductory lectures and practical workshops. Students are also introduced to the expectations of life as an undergraduate in the Department of Performing Arts, key study skills, managing time, managing finances and personal safety. Students will be able to meet and discuss any concerns with department staff.

Personal Academic Tutors:
The department fully endorses and adheres to the Universities established Personal Academic Tutorial scheme. All students on degree programmes are allocated a personal academic tutor and students are required to see their personal tutor regularly and particularly during the first year. This personal tutor (PAT) will usually remain with the student throughout their studies, providing advice on academic development and progress.

Academic/Learning Support:
In addition to the personal tutorial system, academic members of the Department of Performing Arts seek to be available and approachable for individual consultation. Although students will receive written feedback on their work, they may also make an appointment to see the relevant lecturer regarding any work submitted.

Programme Information and University Regulations:
Students will have access to a student handbook detailing the structure of the programme and relevant information concerning the University’s regulations. All such information is widely available through Sharepoint.

Careers Advice:
Careers' Advisors have been allocated to the Faculty of Arts & Media and students in the Department of Performing Arts are able to access information concerning both vocational and educational opportunities both during their studies and after graduation. 

DBS Check:
DBS checks will be carried out as required.

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