BMus (Hons) Popular Music Performance


The guitar programme combines high-level instrumental study with the opportunity to engage with music technology, songwriting skills, and a wide range of modern music styles.

At BIMM London, we understand that live performance is the key to you becoming a great guitarist, so you’ll spend a lot of time on stage to help you develop and find your niche as a performer. You’ll participate in weekly Live Performance Workshops (LPWs) in all three years, performing with your fellow students while receiving expert guidance from highly skilled BIMM tutors.

You’ll study guitar techniques each year, enabling you to develop your technique to a high professional standard and achieve a level of fluency that will meet the demands of any musical situation. Plus you’ll explore and develop your potential career pathways through research and professional projects, learning the essential skills required to work successfully in the music industry.

Through a range of optional modules, including Composing and Arranging, Music Technology, and Music Pedagogy in Practice, you can tailor the degree to fit your own personal goals.

Above all, BMus (Hons) Popular Music Performance  offers flexibility and an unparalleled breadth of education. As a graduate you’ll have developed into a well-rounded, versatile musician capable of performing a variety of musical styles, and comfortable in wearing a number of different musical hats. You’ll be ready to pursue a range of different career options, including session musician, touring artist, theatrical musician, musical director and arranger/composer.

So, what are you waiting for? To make your way as a guitarist, connect with us, and we’ll connect you to a life in music.

Click here to find this course on UCAS.

Validated by:

Year 1 (FHEQ Level 4)

In Year 1, students address the essential music skills that will underpin not only the rest of their studies but also their future career. This includes investigating and performing a wide range of music and developing an understanding of music theory, sight reading, music technology and the music business. Students take six modules (120 credits). All modules are mandatory and run throughout the academic year (30 weeks). Module names and structure may be subject to change.

  • Techniques & Styles 1

    Techniques and Styles modules run throughout every year of the course. At Level 4, Techniques & Styles 1 focuses on essential instrumental techniques and their application in popular music styles. Each instrument pathway will focus on their relevant core set of techniques, both performing prescribed exercises and patterns, and devising their own. Students will be advised on effective practice routines to maximise their potential and minimise any potential adverse health effects. Styles will be addressed across each instrument pathway and will involve analysing essential stylistic components of various mainstream genres, how to perform them authentically, and apply them creatively when writing parts. The techniques that contribute to a style are taught simultaneously where possible, allowing students to apply technical knowledge to performance and creative situations. Each class will have a blend of techniques and styles, emphasising one or the other. Some ‘pure’ technique elements will be discussed in detail before applying them to their stylistic outputs, which may necessitate a technique focus over consecutive weeks.

  • Performance Studies 1

    The Performance Studies modules run across the entire course and are designed to develop and improve students’ performance skills in a real-world performance environment. Students are on stage every week performing in front of tutors and peers, gaining performance experience across a wide range of styles, and receive feedback and advice on how to improve. These modules introduce students to a variety of musical genres with the aim of developing the necessary skills to become creative, artistically diverse, stylistically aware and employable performers. Performance Studies 1 focuses on blues, rhythm and blues, funk, soul and rock music to give a secure grounding in the some of the most prevalent popular music styles. Classic and contemporary repertoire is included and clear technical and performance challenges are present within each song. Students will also complete a personal development assignment where they reflect on their progress in the module.

  • Ensemble Skills 1

    This module is designed to address a range of ensemble performance skills and is delivered in two weekly classes - Reading and Ensemble. The Reading component of the module reviews the processes behind reading to ensure they are secure and then applies these skills to varied styles and formats. Students will address instrument-specific and stylistic conventions, as well as how to interpret music notation in a variety of real-world scenarios. Ensemble begins with instrument specific streams, in that the rhythm section instruments (guitar, bass & drums) and vocalists will work in independent groups. This allows students to focus in on specific performance details, workshop them, and gain experience by performing with tutors. The skills covered here will enhance their on-stage performance in the Performance Studies module, as well as their own performances. The rhythm section ensemble class will consider with various styles and grooves, communication, dynamics and expression, and other rhythm section concepts. Vocalists will work on harmonies, backing vocals, ensemble singing and part writing/arrangements. In Term 3, the Ensemble class becomes a mixed-instrument workshop where students perform together in a full band line-up. During this part of the module students will discuss how to arrange and notate parts for all instruments in the ensemble, related to popular music styles. Short ideas will be composed in class and then performed, enabling each musician to gain a fuller understanding of instrument roles, how they contribute to the ensemble in various styles and how this is notated. Students will take on the role of Musical Director (MD), developing communication and leadership skills. The skills developed in this module prepare students for Ensemble Skills 2 at Level 5.

  • Musicianship

    This module is designed to address the core areas of general musicianship by studying theory in the context of popular music, alongside developing aural recognition skills. This builds a solid foundation for technical and theoretical development throughout all areas of the course. All instruments follow the same course of study in this module. The course begins by reviewing fundamental theoretical concepts and their application in pop music genres. This will support primary instrument study, as well as provide the necessary grounding for the Level 5 modules such as Composing & Arranging.

  • Music Technology

    The Music Technology module is designed to equip students with skills to use industry standard music technology hardware and software. Technology plays a vital role for the 21st Century musician and provides support for tasks such as composition, arranging, recording, mixing, notation and live performance. Technology empowers the modern musician. This module’s focus will be on being creative with technology and students will build a musical arrangement during the course of the module under tutor supervision. Music Technology serves as a gateway to further develop Music Technology concepts in years two and three in the Recording, Mixing & Production 1, Creative Performance Technology and Recording, Mixing & Production 2 modules.

  • Music Business

    This module is designed to give musicians a comprehensive understanding of the workings of the Music Industry. Topics include music publishing, artist management, recording contracts, music law, synchronisation, music teaching, and business planning. A study skills element is included, designed to develop the academic skills needed for Higher Education study.

Year 2 (FHEQ Level 5)

Year 2 requires students to apply their skills to increasingly ‘real-world’ scenarios while studying the cultural heritage of popular music. Students also have the chance to select optional modules that allow them to specialise in either music technology or composing and arranging. Students take five modules (120 credits). There are four mandatory modules and students select one out of two optional modules. All modules run throughout the academic year (30 weeks). Module names and structure may be subject to change.

  • Techniques & Styles 2

    This module aims to expand upon the skills and knowledge acquired at Level 4 and enable students to develop an advanced level of instrument technique and stylistic application in the main idioms of contemporary popular music as required by the music industry today. Students will develop a progressive, systematic, efficient and stylistically authentic approach to instrumental development.

  • Performance Studies 2

    Concepts and principles from Level 4 are now applied outside of the genre in which they were first studied and skills and knowledge develop further. Students will develop vocabulary and style specific-skills within the jazz idiom applied to American songbook and funk/soul-jazz idioms. Towards the end of the module students will explore demanding, complex works taken from specialised areas of popular music, and will be expected to take personal responsibility in learning the repertoire and effectively communicate during workshop and within performance.

  • Ensemble Skills 2

    Building on skills and knowledge from Level 4, students will work on material that reflects real world performance scenarios including session band, theatre music, award shows, videos and recording sessions. This module acknowledges the variety in source material provided to professional musicians and develops skills to navigate, internalise and interpret a wide range of music. Students will work under the direction of tutors, peers and industry professionals as conductors and musical directors and will interact with performance technology including backing / support tracks and clicks through in-ears or headphones.

  • Cultural Perspectives

    This class focuses on high-level technical development for guitar, bass, drums or vocals. In addition to the lectures on technique, musicians will need to choose a particular area relating to their discipline to specialise in. This will be chosen through negotiation with the tutors.

  • Optional - Recording, Mixing & Production 1

    Recording, Mixing and Production 1 module builds on the Level 4 Music Technology module and further develops student skill sets when using industry standard music technology hardware and software. This module will focus on advanced topics including live recording, sampling technologies, mixing and mastering. Students will submit a creative recording project at the end of the module.

  • Optional - Composing & Arranging

    From lead sheets to full score production, from basic arranging concepts to realizing full pop song orchestrations and recordings, from Rhythm & Blues to Rock, from Reggae to Hip Hop, from Soul to Disco, we analyse and learn to re-create all the main pop styles from the past 60 years. Students will use notation and sequencing software to create professional looking and sounding scores and recordings and with a range of practical assessment briefs, your musicianship and technical abilities will be stretched, enhanced and refined.

  • Optional – Performing with Creative Technology

    This module is designed to equip students with the skills to incorporate creative technology within a live performance utilising a unique pallet of sound artefacts generated through live recording and subsequent sonic manipulation and editing. Students will be advised on effective methodologies and practises to achieve the best possible outcome when recording and editing sounds. The realisation of the predetermined sonic palette within a live performance delivered through the use of technology (software and hardware) alongside live instrumentalists and / or vocalists enables the student, as creative artist, to express without limitation.

Year 3

Year 3 has increased optionality with students able to choose the suite of modules that will enable them to make the transition from student to professional. Third-year projects include the self-directed final Performance Project, where students deliver a 30-minute show of their own project. Students take five modules (120 credits). There are four mandatory modules and students select one of three optional modules. All modules run throughout the academic year (30 weeks). Module names and structure may be subject to change.

  • Performance Project

    This is a substantial Level 6 project, comprising an essay, portfolio (lead sheets and programme notes) and large-scale performance, with a focus on self-directed study and autonomy/independent learning, allowing students to create high-level work in line with their career aims. Students will research and critically discuss an area of popular music and present a portfolio that will address musicianship and promotional activities. For the final 25-30 minute performance, each student will be responsible for all aspects of what is presented and how. This will give them valuable experience in project and team management, as well as leading on all musical and creative decisions.

  • Performance Studies 3

    This is a Level 6 advanced performance module in highly specialised and specific styles taught by specialists within each field. There are several options on offer, allowing students to specialise in the most appropriate genre that is in line with their final career aims. Throughout this module students are expected to demonstrate a high level of performance ability, as well as to be autonomous in their preparation. Each term there will be opportunity to select from at least two stylistic options: Term 1: World or Fusion or Jazz Ensemble Term 2: Rock Metal or Jazz Standards Term 3: Directed Music Skills or R&B / Gospel.

  • Techniques & Styles 3

    This module aims to enhance creativity and innovation in performance skills as well as consolidating an evaluation of stylistic and interpretative issues. Students will be expected to transform musical ideas and concepts into innovative, creative and novel musical ideas (e.g. written technical exercises for their instrument along with musical concepts such as superimposition of arpeggios). Students should be prepared to offer constructive criticism of reference materials and should also expand upon conventional and traditional methods adding to the existing body of knowledge which should only ever be seen as being of a transitory nature.

  • Optional – Recording, Mixing & Production 2

    This module enables students to engage at a high level with music production and music technology applications. The module focuses upon advanced skills and concepts from the world of music production covering aspects such as recording, editing, mixing, mastering, synthesis and sampling. The module will instil a strong sense of production aesthetic and will empower students to work on projects with strong cognitive and technical skill, all within the remit of industry standard music technology hardware and software. Under limited tutor guidance, students will produce a substantial musical artefact and academic portfolio.

  • Optional – Composing for Media

    This module further develops the concepts and techniques covered in the Level 5 module Composing & Arranging. The module expands on the traditional composing and arranging techniques, and focuses specifically on the skills required to compose and arrange music to moving picture. The module covers advanced compositional techniques and theory but remains within the commercial boundaries. The nature of this subject means that the composition is open to any style and the focus will be more on producing music that is appropriate to a given setting, mood or emotion. The module will also cover the necessary technical aspects of working to moving picture.

  • Optional – Music Teaching Practice

    This module deals with the development of a sound set of teaching skills, from one-to-one tuition to small and large group classroom work. Small teaching practice business models are discussed and musicians can investigate full-time teaching as a career option either in mainstream education or as a private practitioner.

  • Optional – Analytical Perspectives

    Most successful entrepreneurs, musicians and industry professionals are keenly aware of the traditions in which they perform and of current developments in popular culture. Creative artists and entrepreneurs employ such knowledge to produce innovative and potentially impactful material. This module casts a critical eye over contemporary popular culture, giving students indispensable tools to approach their own projects in creative and original ways.

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Minimum requirements

Minimum of 2 A-levels at grade C or above (64 UCAS Points), OR BTEC Level 3 equivalent, and five GCSEs at a minimum grade of C/4, including English Language. Overseas students where English is not their native language must meet a minimum English language requirement of IELTS 6.0. We require a minimum of 5.5 to be achieved in each band.

After this course:


Graduates can progress directly to employment in the music industry in roles such as solo performer, band member, session musician, backing vocalist or songwriter, or can continue their study with a Postgraduate Certificate (PGCert) in Learning and Teaching at BIMM Brighton.

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How to apply

All degree applications must be made via UCAS. To request an audition and/or assessment call 0844 2 646 666. All students will be invited to attend an audition and/or assessment. International applicants who can’t attend an audition and/or assessment will be sent demo guidelines and an application form for a remote assessment.

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Course Specification

Mode of attendance:
Length of course:
3 years
Awarding institution:
University of Sussex
Teaching institution:
BIMM London
UCAS code:
Language of study:
Final award and exit awards:
BMus (Hons)
Admissions Criteria:
Minimum of 2 A-levels at grade C or above (64 UCAS Points), OR BTEC Level 3 equivalent, and five GCSEs at a minimum grade of C/4, including English Language. Overseas students where English is not their native language must meet a minimum English language requirement of IELTS 6.0. We require a minimum of 5.5 to be achieved in each band.

Teaching this course

BIMM Tutors

From headlining the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury with Moby and playing drums in the soundtrack to the Hollywood movie ‘Nine’, to performing for The Queen and being a vocal coach on the Russian version of The X Factor, our BIMM London tutors have done it all. Imagine what you could achieve with direct access to their knowledge, guidance, experience and enviable industry connections!

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Making it in music:

Success Stories

Our students prove that talent and hard work are an impressive mix, with many forging a career in the music industry as performers and music industry professionals.

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