w301 - Contemporary and Popular Music BA

Contemporary and Popular Music BA Honours

UCAS Code: W301 (full time: 3 Years)

Course Overview

This degree allows you to study contemporary music performance, composition and academic study, ranging from acoustic singer-songwriting through to experimental electronic forms.


At a Glance


UCAS Institution Name and Code

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Degree Awarded
BA Honours

Course Duration Icon

Course Duration
3 Years

Entry Requirements Icon

Entry Requirements
A Level: ABB-BBB
IB: 32 points

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We place strong emphasis on creativity, experimentation and artistic risk-taking. There are also plenty of opportunities to develop your performance skills, helping you to grow as an accomplished musician.

You study a broad range of historical and cultural topics, opening you up to diverse musical experiences, such as American popular music and folk music studies.

During the degree you'll:

  • enjoy funded one-to-one tuition from internationally recognised musicians
  • develop career skills with modules in music enterprise and music teaching
  • access rehearsal spaces 24/7 in our £4.5 million Music Studios

Highlights of this degree

Studying music at Newcastle University has been the most surreal experience for me, primarily because I felt instantly welcomed into a family of musicians who simply love what they do. For the first time in my academic life, I felt the freedom to express myself creatively. The drive and motivation to play, write and create with others intensifies which makes the experience even more worthwhile.

Megan, Contemporary and Popular Music
Photograph of student that studied this course.

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Course Details

Modules for 2019 entry

Please note

The module and/or programme information below is for 2019 entry. Our teaching is informed by research and modules change periodically to reflect developments in the discipline, the requirements of external bodies and partners, student feedback, or insufficient numbers of students interested (in an optional module). To find out more read our terms and conditions.

Module/programme information for 2020 entry will be published here as soon as it is available (end of May 2020).

Our degrees are divided into Stages. Each Stage lasts for an academic year and you need to complete modules totalling 120 credits by the end of each Stage. Further information, including the credit value of the module, is available in each of the module descriptions below.

Stage 1

Compulsory modules

You would usually take the following module unless it is dropped in favour of a modern language

In the event of you electing to take 20 or 40 credits in a foreign language, the compulsory modules listed above may not be dropped. You should note that opting out of MUS1058 at this stage will disqualify you from taking performance studies (MUS2058, MUS3014, MUS3018) at a later stage in the degree programme.

Optional modules

You will take two modules from the following list:

You must take 20 credits from the table below, but may only take ONE of MUS1002 and MUS1004.

You should note that some modules at stage 2 have MUS1001, MUS1002, MUS1004, MUS1005, MUS1015, or MUS1044 as pre-requisites.

Stage 2

Optional modules

You will take optional modules to a credit value of 120 as specified in the following lists. You will then choose any other two modules from the lists such that their credits total 120.

You choose at least one module from the following list:

You choose at least two modules from the following list:

You choose at least one module from the following list:

It should be noted that a number of level 5 modules have pre‐requisites in terms of either previous modules that must have been taken or in terms of level of attainment at level 4 in related modules.

Work Placement (optional)

You can apply to spend 9 to 12 months on an optional work placement between Stages 2 and 3. You can apply to spend your placement year with any organisation and will receive University support to do so. It will extend your degree by a year and is subject to availability. It isn't available if you're spending a year studying abroad. Find out more about Work Placements.

Study Abroad (optional)

If you wish to spend a year abroad as part of your degree, you can do so in consultation with and at the discretion of the Degree Programme Director. This is subject to a threshold of at least 60% in the first three semesters of study. If you are following this route you will transfer to internal code 1135U.  The Degree Programme Director will confirm the transfer in each case.

Stage 3

Optional modules

You will take one of the following Major Specialist Study modules:

*MUS3012 and MUS3014 are only available if you have successfully completed the relevant pre-requisite modules with a mark of 60% or higher.

You may also opt for a Minor Specialist Study, which must be in a subject area that is substantially different to your Major Specialist Study. You may wish to further develop the various "in Practice" ensemble options from stage 2 as either a specialist study performance or project.

*MUS3016 and MUS3018 are only available if you have successfully completed the relevant pre-requisite modules with a mark of 60% or higher.

You choose further optional modules from the list below, to make your credits total 120: 

Stage 3 (Level 6) candidates may take one Level 5 module with Degree Programme Director discretion.

    Entry Requirements

    All candidates are considered on an individual basis.

    If your qualifications are not listed here, please see our additional entry requirements web pages to find out which other qualifications are considered. 

    The entrance requirements below apply to 2020 entry.

    Undergraduate Admissions Policy

    See our Admissions Policy (PDF: 71 KB).

    See further policies related to admission.


    Music careers

    Studying music at university is both intellectually and musically demanding, and it is one of the most varied and diverse degree subjects available. It requires you to engage in a broad range of practical and intellectual activities including performance, composition, improvisation, data analysis, research, and critical intellectual enquiry.

    Music graduates therefore develop a wide range of key skills through both the academic and practical content of their degree, which opens a wide variety of opportunities.

    Teamwork and initiative are fostered through participation in music ensembles, and communication skills through performance, presentations and written work.

    Flexibility, self-discipline and good time management are all required to attain high technical standards and to balance the demands of study, practice and performance. This wide range of transferable skills means that music graduates can easily move into the career or training pathways that are open to graduates of any discipline; for example:

    • management
    • accountancy
    • law
    • events management
    • journalism
    • IT

    Graduates who want to use their music degree in their work often progress to become self-employed musicians, performers, composers, teachers, academics, music therapists, studio managers or sound engineers.

    Other opportunities include specialist magazine journalism, music librarianship or music publishing.

    Many musicians enter careers that seek graduates of any discipline but offer the opportunity to use the specific skills developed in their studies. Possible occupations include arts administrator, community arts worker, museum curator or film/video production.

    Find out more about the career options for Music from Prospects: The UK's Official Careers Website.

    What our graduates go on to do: employment and further study choices

    See what our recent graduates went on to do and view graduate destinations statistics. These statistics are based on what graduates were doing on a specific date, approximately six months after graduation. Take a look at the most recent data available for our graduates.

    The destination data is available in varying levels, beginning with the University and moving through Faculty and School down to individual course reports. This final level may give you some useful ideas about possible options after your course or a course you are considering.

    Careers and employability at Newcastle

    Newcastle University consistently has one of the best records for graduate employment in the UK.

    96% of our 2017 UK-domiciled UG/PG graduates progressed to employment or further study within six months of graduating.

    85.5% of our graduates are in graduate level employment or further study within six months of graduating.

    We provide an extensive range of opportunities to all students through an initiative called ncl+. This enables you to develop personal, employability and enterprise skills and to give you the edge in the employment market after you graduate.

    Our award-winning Careers Service is one of the largest and best in the country, and we have strong links with employers.

    Fees & Funding




    Applying to Newcastle University through UCAS

    To apply for undergraduate study at Newcastle you must use the online application system managed by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS).

    UCAS codes for Newcastle University

    • institution name - NEWC
    • institution code - N21

    UCAS buzzword

    Ask your teacher or adviser from your school or college for the UCAS buzzword. You need the buzzword when you register on the Apply system. This makes it clear which school or college you are applying from.

    All UK schools and colleges and a small number of EU and international establishments are registered with UCAS.

    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.

    Making your application

    On the UCAS website you can also find out more about:

    Application decisions and enquiries

    Find out more about our admissions process and who to contact if you need help with your application.