This three-year Contemporary and Popular Music degree focuses on a range of musics and approaches, from acoustic singer-songwriting to experimental electronic forms, and from ethnomusicology to cultural theory. You'll grow as an accomplished musician while developing your creativity and critical thinking.
While you may choose to specialise in contemporary and popular music, the beauty of music at Newcastle University is that we offer a broad musical education so you can also take modules from world, classical, and folk and traditional music. You’ll study a range of historical, theoretical and cultural topics such as: analysing music; music history; Indian music; DJing and turntablism; composition; and music, politics and policy.
You'll receive one-on-one tuition and group lessons from our performance tutors, who are experts in their craft.
Please rest assured we make all reasonable efforts to provide you with the courses, services and facilities described. However, it may be necessary to make changes due to significant disruption, for example in response to COVID-19.
See our terms and conditions for more information
View our Frequently Asked Questions
Quality and ranking
We have a long tradition of excellence in teaching, recognised in many external surveys and assessments, but also by our own students.
Our commitment to teaching quality and an excellent student experience is reflected through our results in national and international student satisfaction surveys.
Modules and learning
The information below is intended to provide an example of what you will study.
Most degrees are divided into stages. Each stage lasts for one academic year, and you'll complete modules totalling 120 credits by the end of each stage.
Our teaching is informed by research. Course content may change periodically to reflect developments in the discipline, the requirements of external bodies and partners, and student feedback.
Optional module availability
Student demand for optional modules may affect availability.
Full details of the modules on offer will be published through the Programme Regulations and Specifications ahead of each academic year. This usually happens in May.
To find out more please see our terms and conditions.
You'll study compulsory modules covering contemporary and popular cultural, theoretical and creative approaches. You'll also select from a range of optional modules.
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You can study a broad range of historical, cultural and practical options and have increasing freedom to determine the balance between these different strands as you progress through the degree.
There are also modules that help you develop as a creative musician and others that explore the historical and cultural areas of contemporary and popular musics.
You'll complete a major specialist study, which could be: an original composition; a creative project; a performance; or a dissertation/project on an area of interest which you hope to focus on in your life and work after leaving University. You may also take a minor study in a second area of specialism.
You'll choose the remaining balance of modules from a range of historical, cultural and practical options offered by the world-leading research-active staff at our International Centre for Music Studies (ICMuS).
Teaching and assessment
To bring out the best in you, we use different forms of teaching for the range of approaches to music we cover.
Some modules are based around lectures and seminars, with reading or listening assignments, others are smaller specialised study groups.
Performance modules are often a combination of one-to-one tuition, group workshops and specialist masterclasses.
You'll be assessed through a combination of:
Assignments – written or fieldwork
Dissertation or research project
Examinations – practical or online
Skills and experience
If you want to study performance, you can showcase your skills as a solo performer or collaborate with fellow students and industry professionals in ensembles, concerts, recitals, gigs and our student-led Summer Music Festival. The city also has a great music scene.
Our outstanding rehearsal, performance and studio spaces are available 24/7, allowing your artistic talents to flourish.
You're able to develop business skills through:
- placements in arts administration and education
- opportunities to study abroad. We have links with universities and conservatoires in Europe, Canada, North America and Australia
Benefit from tuition by practising musicians with invaluable professional and industry experience.
Our research is at the heart of what we do, informing our teaching and shaping our creative and scholarly community. Complete a major specialist study in your final year, which could be:
- an original composition
- a dissertation or project on an area of interest
- an instrumental or vocal performance
Chat to a student
It’s a truly unique experience studying music at Newcastle - there’s such a broad variety of topics covered. The facilities are incredible, and all the staff are supportive and passionate about the subject.
Experience life in another country by choosing to study abroad as part of your degree. You’ll be encouraged to embrace fun and challenging experiences, make connections with new communities and graduate as a globally aware professional, ready for your future.
You can choose to spend up to a year studying at a partner institution overseas.
If you choose to study abroad, it will extend your degree by a year.
Get career ready with a work placement and leave as a confident professional in your field. You can apply to spend 9 to 12 months working in any organisation in the world, and receive University support from our dedicated team to secure your dream placement. Work placements take place between stages 2 and 3.
You'll gain first-hand experience of working in the sector, putting your learning into practice and developing your professional expertise.
If you choose to take a work placement, it will extend your degree by a year. A work placement is not available if you're spending a year studying abroad. Placements are subject to availability.
Facilities and environment
You'll be based in the School of Arts and Cultures, in the University's main campus.
You'll have access to outstanding specialist music facilities, including state of the art studios, rehearsal spaces, specialist tuition rooms, flexible study spaces, and a music skills suite.
Our professional recording and music production suites provide a space for:
- full band multi-track recording
- electro-acoustic composition multimedia work
- sound art installations
We have a range of portable recording equipment and tools designed for live electronics and technologically mediated live performance. These are accessible to all music students.
The spaces are accessible 24 hours a day and can be hired for private use.
You'll have access to a range of rehearsal spaces, including:
- 25 acoustically treated practice rooms
- five instrumental teaching rooms
- a large, acoustically isolated, ensemble/band practice room
- two large performance/rehearsal spaces (each seats up to 50 people)
- the University's King's Hall (seats 400 people)
Opportunities to perform
We offer a free professional concert series every Thursday lunchtime during term time, followed by a student performance where you have the chance to perform for, and listen to, your colleagues from all of our music degrees.
There is also a student-organised annual Summer Music Festival, showcasing our students' talents and giving you the chance to gain real-world experience of event management.
Our music students immerse themselves in Newcastle's thriving music scene which includes everything from high-profile venues like the Sage Gateshead, the O2 Academy and the City Hall, to more intimate local spots such as The Cluny, The Cumberland Arms and Bar Loco. It’s also home to the UK’s first co-operatively owned music venue, The Globe.
You'll have the support of an academic member of staff as a personal tutor throughout your degree to help with academic and personal issues.
Peer mentors will help you in your first year. They are fellow students who can help you settle in and answer any questions you have when starting university.
Join our network of confident and successful graduates who benefit from our well-established ties with arts, music and creative organisations and businesses in the city, in the wider region and beyond.
89% of our BA Hons Contemporary and Popular Music graduates were employed or in further study within six months of graduating with an average salary of £22,380*.
*Destinations of (undergraduate, UK and EU) Leavers from Higher Education Survey 2016/2017
Preparing you for career success
As well as academic excellence, we cultivate the highest professional and intellectual skills, preparing our graduates to succeed in whichever careers they choose.
Our graduates often become professional musicians, performers, composers, teachers, academics, music therapists, studio managers or sound engineers. Other opportunities include:
- arts administration
- music production
- music journalism
- music librarianship
- music publishing
The wide range of transferable skills music graduates develop means that you can easily move into other professions and graduate training routes. These include teaching, management, marketing, accountancy, law, events management, journalism, healthcare and IT.
We'll help enhance your employability through access to career-related training, both as part of the course and through extra-curricular activities. Modules in music enterprise and teaching music help build skills needed for your future career.
We work with a range of arts, music and creative organisations and businesses including artist management and development, music production, community arts, festival and event management, and music therapy. These provide our students with guest lectures, masterclasses and placement opportunities. Examples include:
- Nordoff Robbins
- PRS for Music
- Seven Stories
- Side by Side Arts
- Blank Studios
- Harambee Pasadia
Our award-winning Careers Service is one of the largest and best in the country, and we have strong links with employers. We provide an extensive range of opportunities to all students through our ncl+ initiative.
Recognition of professional qualifications outside of the UK
From 1 January 2021 there is an update to the way professional qualifications are recognised by countries outside of the UK.
All candidates are considered on an individual basis and we accept a broad range of qualifications. The entrance requirements below apply to 2021 entry.
Other UK qualifications (and PARTNERS)
Qualifications from outside the UK
English Language requirements
Through our PARTNERS programme, you could receive an offer up to three grades lower than the typical requirements, and get support throughout the application process. To apply through PARTNERS, you must be based in the UK and meet our eligibility criteria.
Entrance courses (INTO)
International Pathway Courses are specialist programmes designed for international students who want to study in the UK. We provide a range of study options for international students in partnership with INTO.
This policy applies to all undergraduate and postgraduate admissions at Newcastle University, including Newcastle University London. It is intended to provide information about our admissions policies and procedures to applicants and potential applicants, to their advisors and family members, and to staff of the University.
- Download our admissions policy
- Find out more about unconditional offers
- Other policies related to admissions
Applicants who have an Higher National Diploma or approved foundation degree in any form of popular or contemporary musical practice may be considered for direct entry to this degree at Year 2.
If we feel you may be suitable for the course we will typically invite you to an Interview Day. These take place between December and April. If you are an international student living outside the UK, we may invite you to a Skype interview.
Our Interview Days are a very important part of the admissions process for our Music degrees. They give us a better sense of your individuality and strengths, and allow you to find out more about studying with us.
They consist of a short, informal audition as well as a sample lecture, student performances and a tour of our facilities.
Tuition fees and scholarships
Tuition fees for 2021 entry (per year)
Home Fee Students
International Fee Students
The maximum fee that we are permitted to charge for home fee-paying students is set by the UK government.
As a general principle, you should expect the tuition fee to increase in each subsequent academic year of your course, subject to government regulations on fee increases and in line with inflation.
You will be charged tuition fees for each year of your degree programme (unless you are on a shorter exchange programme).
The tuition fee amount you will pay may increase slightly year on year as a result of inflation.
For courses commencing from September 2021 and beyond, EU, other EEA and Swiss nationals will no longer be eligible for home fees or Student Finance England support.
If you are from the EU you will pay international tuition fees.
Year abroad and additional costs
For programmes where you can spend a year on a work placement or studying abroad, you will receive a significant fee reduction for that year.
Some of our degrees involve additional costs which are not covered by your tuition fees.
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Open days and events
The situation with Covid-19 means that we're unable to hold Open Days on campus. However, you don’t have to visit in person to experience Newcastle.
From the comfort of your sofa you'll be able to:
• explore our beautiful campus
• find out about our vibrant city
• discover what students think about studying at Newcastle
You'll also have the opportunity to speak to academic staff and find out more about the subjects you're interested in.
How to apply
Apply through UCAS
To apply for undergraduate study at Newcastle University, you must use the online application system managed by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). All UK schools and colleges, and a small number of EU and international establishments, are registered with UCAS. You will need:
- the UCAS name and institution codes for Newcastle University (NEWC/N21)
- the UCAS code for the course you want to apply for
- the UCAS 'buzzword' for your school or college
If you are applying independently, or are applying from a school or college which is not registered to manage applications, you will still use the Apply system. You will not need a buzzword.Apply through UCAS
Apply through an agent
International students often apply to us through an agent. Have a look at our recommended agents and get in touch with them.