MMus Popular Music Performance

Course summary


The MMus in Popular Music Performances is designed to address the practical, academic and professional needs of contemporary musicians and vocalists and welcomes students from all genres of music.


Why choose this course?
The course is delivered by tutors who are all active professionals within the music industry, so they’re well placed to support your career development.

The course combines practical and academic study. Practical modules include extensive ensemble work and individual instrumental tuition. Academic modules include research methods and critical perspectives, which will prepare you for creating and executing a final practice-based research project. You will also take an option module, where you may choose between studio recording, music pedagogy and songwriting. In addition to your core study you will be invited to attend LCM master classes and industry platforms, which are open to all in our community.

In addition to the core study you will be encouraged to participate in a wide range of musical activities as part of the extensive London College of Music (LCM) community. LCM ensembles include LCM Pop and Gospel Choir, New Ground Ensemble, LCM Big Band, LCM Glee Choir and LCM Chamber Choir. In addition to these you will find yourself involved in numerous other musical activities, which take place within our vibrant community.

Tutor information
The Popular Music Performance teaching staff includes:

Course leader Sara McGuinness specializes in practiced-based research, performance and sound recording, with a focus on Congolese and Cuban music. Her band, Grupo Lokito, the subject of her practice based research into the dynamic relationship between Cuban and Congolese music, won the UK Lukas Award “Tropical Act of the Year” in 2017. Sara teaches Performance and Recording at LCM and the School of Oriental and African Studies, and works on a project in the Sahara desert in SW Algeria delivering sound recording training to the people of Western Sahara displaced into refugee camps there. Through her extensive work with musicians around the world, Sara actively explores the inextricable links between music, culture and identity. 

Lead Tutor for Drums / Percussion Jeremy Cornes who started his professional career appearing with the Bournemouth Sinfonietta, the Chamber Orchestra of Europe and the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

Associate Professor of Music Technology, Justin Paterson is an academic, music producer and author. His research has an international profile and has ranged from transient enhancement in multi-mic recordings through various papers on the musicology of record production, to a recent AHRC-funded project developing interactive music playback via an album app with patent pending.

Lecturer Esther Sheridan:

Paul Westwood who has worked with an impressive list of A-list artists and bands as well as providing music for film and TV and performing in a diverse selection of London stage shows including Cats, Chess, Les Miserables, West Side Story, Whistle Down the Wind.

Ensemble Direction Jeremy Wiles has performed with orchestras including the London Symphony Orchestra, orchestra of the Royal Opera House, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Aurora Orchestra, the Ulster Orchestra and English National Opera; on musicals in London including The Lion King, Wicked, Legally Blonde, Hair, The Lord of The Rings, The Bodyguard, Stephen Ward, The Scottsboro Boys, In The Heights, Beautiful, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown and Elf.

Course leader and lecturer Dr Sara McGuinness:

Graduating from the London College of Music means joining an ever-growing and impressive list of alumni including: 
  • Matt Tong – formerly of Bloc Party
  • Matthew Hodson – the founder of the London Synthesis Orchestra
  • Ben Salter who worked with Nile Rodgers in the United States 
  • Alexander Grant, aka Alex Da Kid, a Grammy Award nominee who wrote and produced Eminem’s Love the Way You Lie (featuring Rihanna).

Career and Study Progression
Studying at masters level should broaden your horizons as a musician and scholar. The reality for many musicians today is that we have a multi-faceted career. This masters will enable you to  explore areas of interest in greater depth, develop new skills and, in all probability, open up some new avenues of investigation, musical and academic to you.

Completion of this performance masters will enhance your skills in your chosen fields: as a performer, musical director, educator, academic or combination of these. If you wish to take your academic study further, the London College of Music has a growing research community and offers both DMus and MPhil/PhD research degrees.


Course detail

This course provides post graduate study for instrumentalists and vocalists from a wide range of popular music traditions. The course is taught by postgraduate tutors from the London College of Music, all of whom are active research academics and/or professional musicians of the highest standard. Your study will include one to one tuition, ensemble work, lectures, workshops and practical session.

As a Postgraduate course, we have designed the MMus to carefully combine practical and academic study. While some modules are based in practice and others in theory and research, you will find that there is an increasing degree of crossover as your studies progress. drumsTaught modules are spread over two trimesters and the third trimester is dedicated to your final project which will be a culmination of your study.

The course runs throughout each calendar year starting in September. It may be done as a 1 year full time or two year part time course of study.

  • Performance Portfolio 1
  • Ensemble and Music Direction Skills
  • Research Methods
  • Critical Perspectives
  • Performance Portfolio 2
  • Master Level Project
Plus one option from:
  • Studio Recording
  • Music Pedagogy
  • Songwriting

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. In the 2017 - 18 academic year, they included:

  • 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 £1,000 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.

Please note fees are paid for each year of study unless otherwise stated. You will be required to re-enrol and pay fees at the beginning of each academic year. Fees may be subject to government regulations on fee increases. Future inflationary increases will be applied to each subsequent year of the course, subject to government regulations on fee increases.

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 note that we do not expect candidates to have a full understanding of research methods at this stage, nor do we expect a full project plan. We ask the question as we want to get you thinking about situating yourselves as both a musician and a researcher. Have a think about what you might do which would be of interest to you and make use of your specialist areas of interest. 

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

If you were asked to develop a project which used your practice as research what would you do? Identify and explain some of the distinctions between practice based and conventional research. In your work give some examples of research methods that might be employed in practice based research. Using this as a foundation, outline a practice based research project that you might undertake which focused on your areas of interest. 

Some useful references:

Borgdorff, H. (2006) The Debate on Research in the Arts. Amsterdam: Felix Meritus.

Borgdorff, H., 2010. The Production Of Knowledge In Artistic Research. In H. Karlsson & M. Biggs, eds. The Routledge Companion to Research in the Arts. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, pp. 44–63.

Collins, H., 2010. Creative Research: The Theory and Practice of Research for the Creative Industries, Bloomsbury Academic.

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.

Ingold, T. (2013) Making: Anthropology, Archaeology, Art and Architecture. London and New York: Routledge.

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

You can apply for most of our Postgraduate Certificates, Postgraduate Diplomas and Masters’ Degree courses using our online application system.  Simply click the red ‘apply now’ button above.

Your application will be dealt with by our Admissions team who will be in touch with you.

If you are applying for a research degree (MPhil or PhD), you will need to submit: a CV, research proposal, transcript of academic qualifications and online application form.  Full details of how to apply for research degrees

International students

To apply for a Masters’ Degree course, please complete our 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.

If you are applying for a research degree (MPhil or PhD), you will need to submit: a CV, research proposal, transcript of academic qualifications and online application form.  Full details of how to apply for research degrees

More about the application process for international students.

More about how to apply for postgraduate courses.


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