MMus Popular Music Performance

Course summary

The Popular Music Performance course is designed to address the practical, academic and professional needs of contemporary musicians, and welcomes students from all genres.

Our postgraduate music performance courses offer substantial one-to-one instrumental tuition, with recitalists of international renown. They comprise fascinating and engaging modules that support and extend your practical musicianship and academic skills.

London College of Music's (LCM) regular Composition Workshops and Masterclasses offer great opportunities to learn new skills and network with students from other postgraduate courses. You can also benefit from being part of the vibrant LCM community with regular performance opportunities at LCM Sessions gigs, hosted by Popular Music students, and are encouraged to join in with musical activities throughout the LCM. The college runs several large ensembles including Pop and Gospel Choir, LCM Sinfonia, LCM Big Band, LCM Choir, and LCM Glee Choir, which students are able to participate in.

Course detail

Course overview
This course provides specialist training for drummers, vocalists, guitarists, bassists and keyboard players that reflects the needs of today’s music industry.

The course is taught by postgraduate tutors from the London College of Music, all of whom are active professional musicians of the highest standard.

It combines technical and stylistic performance tuition through one-to-one lessons, as well as group sessions with other students from across the postgraduate community, to ensure an enhanced learning experience and the opportunity to network with like-minded artists.

The course runs throughout each calendar year.


  • Performance Portfolio 1 (20 credits)
  • Performance Portfolio 2 (40 credits)
  • Ensemble and Music Direction Skills (20 credits)
  • Research Methods (20 credits) (London College of Music)
  • Critical Perspectives (20 credits)
  • Dissertation or Project (40 credits) (Supervision)

You will also study:

  • Songwriting (20 credits) Or
  • Studio Recording Project  (20 credits)  Or
  • Music Pedagogy Project (20 credits)

Performance Portfolio 1 - 20 credits

This module aims to enhance technical, creative and innovative performance skills as well as consolidating and heightening your evaluation of stylistic and interpretative issues. You will be expected to achieve and maintain a high level of advanced performance skill in order to fulfil your potential and develop practical skills to a professional level.

The module is delivered through fortnightly one-to-one sessions in your chosen discipline with a specialist teacher, with a focus on stylistic interpretation, technique and creativity. Under guidance from your tutor, you will select an appropriate practitioner who works within a style from the popular music idiom, and devise a repertoire for an assessed performance approximately 20 minutes in duration held in-house.

Ensemble and Musical Direction Skills - 20 credits
The Ensemble and Musical Direction Skills module allows you to engage in collaborative work with fellow musicians, within an ensemble performance environment. Musical direction is a key focus of this module with group-based learning and teaching occurring within workshops led by School and visiting tutors, that include areas such as ensemble musician and repertoire selection, rehearsal preparation, planning, final event delivery and event management schematics.

You may address various forms of repertoire, but significant emphasis is placed on ensemble direction, creative interpretation and technical skill. You will find and rehearse your own band, construct a repertoire and lead the band through to a final assessed rehearsal.

Research Methods - 20 credits (delivered by London College of Music)
As preparation for research, this module will require you to undertake a number of tasks related to your discipline. These include a précis of an article, a critical commentary of two book reviews, your own book review, and a proposal for a dissertation with an annotated bibliography. Seminars will take place weekly in the first semester, with one-to-one supervision for any dissertation's following thereafter.

Critical Perspectives - 20 credits
The Critical Perspectives module gives you the opportunity to develop an understanding of key critical approaches to the study of popular music through examination of key literature. Through analysis, critical thinking and research methodologies you will enhance your status as an informed practitioner, greatly expanding your meta cognitive approach to the popular music idiom.

During group lectures and seminars you will study a series of important practitioners, genres and milestones from the landscape of popular music with an emphasis on analysis and critical thinking. Lectures and seminars will also include the study of established academic practices and conventions with relevance to the study of popular music, including basic quantitative and qualitative research methodologies.

Performance Portfolio 2 - 40 credits
Extending the frameworks defined in the Performance Portfolio 1 module, individual lessons will continue to be structured around the study of appropriate performance concepts via one to one fortnightly consultation with your specialist tutor. Key factors will include the further development and expansion of heightened technical performance ability alongside interpretative and stylistic traits.

You will be expected to explore a range of complex discipline specific techniques, taking account of a diverse myriad of popular styles and be able to assimilate and solve performance demands with robust independence and authority. Under guidance from your tutor, you are expected to create a unique musical personality, bespoke artistic and/or musical identity and deliver an assessed performance that showcases your chosen repertoire.

Project - 40 credits (Supervision)
For the final project you will have an opportunity to undertake an ambitious, substantial, self-managed performance project that expands and enhances both skills and knowledge acquired during your course to date, on a style of the individual's choice. You can choose to pursue elements of the project throughout the academic year, but it is envisaged that the bulk of the work will happen over the summer period leading to a performance in August/September. You will be assigned a supervisor who will help guide their workflow and support the development and performance of the chosen repertoire.

Songwriting (optional module) - 20 credits
The Songwriting module gives you the opportunity to engage in the development, management and execution of a high quality song portfolio. Applying a myriad of songwriting techniques and conventions you will create a song portfolio, realised via basic recordings and lead sheets which may feature any source of instrumentation (real or virtual) desired.  The material can be in any genre, key and tempo applicable to the popular music cannon. The repertoire created for this module may form part of the set list for Performance Portfolio 2 module, or it may be completely bespoke for this project. Teaching is conducted through a series of group workshops that focus on songwriting methodology, composition conventions, lyrical creation techniques, song form and structure and project management skills, alongside a review of existing material. The module aims to provide you with an opportunity to enhance your performance practice via the addition of transferable skills relevant to the wider songwriting arena.

Studio Recording Project (optional module)- 20 credits

The Studio Recording Project module gives you the opportunity to engage in the development, management and execution of a high quality music production project. Acting in the capacity as the over arching producer, you will step 'to the other side of the glass' and manage a recording project. You will be responsible for selecting and/or creating the repertoire, sourcing and rehearsing a band, booking studio time, collaborating and booking an engineer, acting as MD for the recording sessions and developing, directing and producing all aspects of the final portfolio.

The repertoire recorded may be sourced from material to be performed within the Performance Portfolio 2 module, or it may be completely bespoke for this project. Teaching is conducted through a series of group workshops that focus on production, project and studio management skills, alongside an overview of overarching recording methodology and protocols. The module aims to provide you with an opportunity to enhance your performance practice via the addition of transferable skills relevant to the wider music production arena.

Music Pedagogy Project (optional module)- 20 credits

The Music Pedagogy Project module provides you with the opportunity to engage in learning and teaching activities based within a community music practice. Early in the semester, under guidance, you will source a relevant community music based practice and engage in a placement planned for the latter half of the semester, with the aim to develop and execute two observed sessions. The module aims to provide you with an opportunity to enhance your performance practice via the addition of transferable skills relevant to the wider music teaching arena.

Entry requirements

You will need to hold an appropriate undergraduate qualification, eg: BA (Hons) Music (with Performance) or BMus (Hons) Performance - with a 2:1 or above. Equivalent overseas qualifications will be considered.

International students need to meet our English language requirement at either IELTS at 6.5 or above, and a minimum of 5.5 for each of the 4 individual components (Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening).

In some countries where teaching is in English, we may accept local qualifications. Please visit to check for local equivalencies.

We offer pre-sessional English language courses if you do not meet these requirements. Find out more about our English Language courses


Fees for home and EU students

Main fee

Fees for overseas students

Main fee
Find out if you are a home or overseas student.


There is a £2,000 bursary available for applicants who hold a UWL validated degree.

A range of loans, bursaries and scholarships are available to help you fund your studies.

Students on some Masters courses may be eligible to apply for a Postgraduate Loan of up to £10,000 as a contribution towards their course and living costs. Find out how to apply for a Postgraduate Loan on GOV.UK

Other loans available to postgraduate students include Professional and Career Development Loans, which also allow you to borrow up to £10,000.  Find out more about Loans on GOV.UK

Additional funding is available to some types of students, such as disabled students. Find out more about funding opportunities

Within the university, we offer a range of scholarships and bursaries including:

  • The William Brake Bursary: a £1,000 award for candidates on undergraduate or postgraduate degree courses
  • The Mollie Clay Scholarship: a £2,500 scholarship awarded to an outstanding student
  • Exclusive alumni discounts: a £2,000 discount on taught postgraduate courses or a 10% discount on research courses, exclusive to students who graduated from the University of West London.

Other scholarships are also available, including awards for specific subjects. Find out more and check your eligibility for the scholarships and bursaries listed above.

Please note that fees given are per academic year unless otherwise stated, and may be subject to change. Costs can increase each year.

How to apply

When applying for this course you should submit the following information:

  1. a completed application from
  2. two references, one academic
  3. a copy of your degree certificate and transcript
  4. a Youtube link to two performances (approximately three minutes each, but may be longer).
  5. An Essay, as detailed below:

In order to assess candidate suitability for the MMus Popular Music Performance, we are asking all applicants to write a 1,000 word essay on the following topic. Please submit this along with links to two youtube videos of your performance work.

Essay Question for entry to MMus Popular Music Performance. (Roughly 1, 000 words)

'Identify some of the research techniques employed in practice based research and how they might be used with reference to popular music performance.'

Some useful references:

Deliège, I. and Wiggins, G. A. (2005). Musical creativity: multidisciplinary research in theory and practice. Hove: Psychology.

Dogantan-Dack, M. (2015). Artistic Practice as Research in Music: Theory, Criticism, Practice. New edition edition. Farnham, Surrey, UK ; Burlington, VT: Ashgate.

Smith, H. and Dean, R. T. (2009). Practice-led research, research-led practice in the creative arts. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Apply for this course

UK and EU students

Click the red 'Apply now' button above for details about the application process for this course.

An online application form is available for many of our courses so you can apply for your place directly. Your application will be dealt with by our Admissions team who will be in touch with you.

The process is different if you are applying for a research degree, apprenticeship or a range of specialist courses. Clicking 'Apply now' will take you to the details relevant to you.

Find out more about how to apply for:

International students

Complete our application form for international students. We have an online application form for international students or you can download the print version (Word, 186kb).

You can also review the relevant information about the qualifications we accept from your country and our English language requirements, as well as details about your visa application.

More about the application process for international students.

During the course

Notable aspects

The course is delivered by tutors who are all active professionals within the music industry and who are well placed to support your career development.

Special resources

You will benefit from being part of the wider post-graduate student community at the University of West London by working with students from other courses on a Research Methodologies module which is taught at the University's Ealing site.

Teaching methods

You will have the opportunity to develop your technical and creative performance skills through a programme of one-to-one tuition supported by group-based lectures, seminars and workshops.

There is also an exciting masterclass programme which provides students with the opportunity to engage with leading practitioners from across all areas of the music industry - performance, production and songwriting.

Learning materials

Optional studies in songwriting, recording studio skills and music teaching enable you to broaden your skillset as you prepare for a portfolio career.

What our students say

Jobs and placements

Career and study progression

Graduates will likely pursue a career as a professional performing musician.

Study progression

The degree might lead to further academic study, including DMus or MPhil/ PhD.