BA single honours Music: Commercial Music with Foundation Year 2020/21

Year of entry

A number of our degrees are also offered with an additional foundation year (Year 0). Whether you are a school-leaver or someone considering returning to study but don’t have the entry requirements for your chosen subject, a foundation year course may be just what you’re looking for.

A foundation year is the first year of a four year programme which:

  • provides an introduction not only to study at University but also to your chosen subject
  • offers you a highly supportive environment where you can develop the self-confidence, knowledge, skills and understanding for further study.

Following the Foundation Year you may explore areas including:

  • Performance in popular music
  • Composition and songwriting
  • Notation and theory in popular music
  • Music business and enterprise
  • Music production

Why study this subject?

The Commercial Music programme is a single honours degree programme designed for students with a background in popular music, and with an interest in developing skills in the areas of performance, songwriting and composition.  There is particular focus on the development of performance skills and instrumental technique in popular music styles alongside associated areas of commercial music in production, composition, music theory and music business as well as optional modules in areas such as instrumental & vocal teaching, film music and improvisation skills.  There will be opportunities to perform, record, produce and compose music using specialist facilities which include performance rehearsal rooms, recording studios, Apple Mac suites and surround sound mixing studios. Commercial Music is housed in the University’s new Creative Arts building, along with the Creative Music Production & Technology course and there also are opportunities for collaboration with students on the BA Music course, as well as with other students from other disciplines, such as Performing Arts, Drama and Media.

“Choosing to Study Commercial Music at Canterbury Christ Church University has been a fantastic decision. From day one it enables you to gain a further understanding of the commercial music industry, whilst developing the skills needed to become a part of it. University has given me the confidence and the platform to perform original music and advance my skills in a professional working environment.” 

Oliver, Commercial Music graduate

Why study this course at CCCU?

Situated halfway between London and mainland France, Canterbury is a UNESCO World Heritage city with a tradition of innovation in sound and music. In the 1960s and 70s, the city became famous for the ‘Canterbury Sound’, a form of progressive music bringing together pop, jazz, classical and electronic music, most famously associated with The Wilde Flowers, Caravan and Soft Machine.

Founder member of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop and trailblazing electronic composer Daphne Oram taught at the University in the 1980s, and we honour her legacy at CCCU with a new Creative Arts Building, an outstanding facility with recording studios and rehearsal spaces, a catalyst for the next generations of musicians, producers and sound designers.  This building provides many opportunities for musicians from diverse backgrounds to work and collaborate with each other, as well as with students from other courses based in the building, working in areas such as games design, photography and graphic design.

Contemporary Canterbury is now bustling with musical life: a scene of internationally-recognised bands including Syd Arthur and Jack Hues and the Quartet; the Wintersound festival for new music and sound; Free Range, a weekly series of experimental music and poetry events; and the City Sound Project, featuring the best in urban music. Music at the University boasts a dynamic, internationally-active staff who have performed all over the world, including at The Sydney Opera House, The Hollywood Bowl, Le Poisson Rouge (New York City), Abbey Road Studios, Tate Modern, The National Theatre and for the FA Cup Final.

Top reasons to choose this course

Our students have gone onto work with Sam Smith, win a BAFTA for innovative game sound, and win BASCA Composer of the Year for Sonic Art. In addition to the music community, you will also have the opportunity to work alongside students specialising in Dance, Drama and Technical Theatre, Game Design, and Radio, Film & Television and have the benefit of the expertise of professional staff who regularly conduct, perform or run their own ensembles, festivals or record labels.

As well as the outstanding facilities in the Daphne Oram building, students will gain access to the St. Gregory’s Centre for Music (a beautiful professional concert space), the Maxwell Davies building (featuring a number of rehearsal and workshop spaces) and the Coleridge Annexe (featuring a unique 15.1 speaker array for surround sound mixing) as well as the St. George’s Students’ Union gig venue.

Canterbury is a small city with a huge potential for you to make your mark. In short: we are starting a new Canterbury Sound - a brand new scene of creative musicians and producers - and we’d like you to be part of it. 

Course module structure
Year 1
Semester 1Semester 2
Introduction to Performance Performance for Stage
Audio Sequencing and Recording Commercial Music in Context
Theory and Notation in Popular Music Songwriting, Composition & Arranging
Year 2
Semester 1Semester 2
Performance for Stage and Screen Solo Performance
Music Enterprise and Entrepreneurship

Options - 2 from list

Popular Music Analysis and Performance
  • Media Music
  • Commercial Songwriting
  • Performance Techniques 1: Improvisation in Theory and Practice
  • Applied Music Psychology
  • Music and Culture
Year 3
Semester 1Semester 2
Performance in the Recording Studio Advanced Solo Performance
Options – two from list:
  • Independent Project A
  • Film Music
  • Performance Techniques 2: Repertoire and Styles
  • Individual Songwriting
  • Instrumental and Vocal Teaching
Options – two from list:
  • Independent Project B
  • Film Music Portfolio
  • Performance Techniques 3: Advanced Improvisation Skills
  • Music Business Futures
  • Music for Therapy and Wellbeing
In the first year of the Commercial Music course you will study six 20 ­credit modules. In semester one you take Introduction to Performance, Audio Sequencing and Recording, and Theory and Notation in Popular Music. In semester two you take Performance for Stage, Commercial Music in Context, and Songwriting, Composition & Arranging.

In the second year you take three core modules in semester one and a combination of core and optional modules in semester one. In semester one you take Performance for Stage and Screen, Music Enterprise and Entreprenuership, and Popular Music Analysis and Performance.  In semester two you take a core module in Solo Performance and two optional modules from Media Music, Commercial Songwriting, Performance Techniques 1 (Improvisation in Theory and Practice), Applied Music Psychology, and Music and Culture.

In the third year you will take a combination of core and optional modules in both semesters. In semester one you take a core module in Performance in the Recording Studio and two optional modules from Independent Project A, Film Music, Performance Techniques 2 (Repertoire and Styles), Individual Songwriting, Instrumental and Vocal Teaching.  In semester two you take a core module in Advanced Solo Performance and two optional modules from Independent Project B, Film Music Portfolio, Performance Techiques 3 (Advanced Improvisation Skills),  Music Business Futures, and Music for Therapy & Wellbeing.

Did you know

We have a student run project record label.  You can listen to some of the releases here:

Our graduates are working in a range of careers.  Some of them discuss their experience since graduating here:

Commercial Music is taught in the University’s new Creative Arts Building and has rehearsal spaces, practice rooms, Apple mac rooms and recording studios. You can find out more about the building here:

Our staff are all involved with professional practice as performers, composers, writers and producers.

You can study French, German, Italian, Mandarin Chinese and Spanish as part of, or alongside, your course.

more info

Foundation Year Zero

As a student on a Faculty of Arts and Humanities Foundation Year course you will undertake 4 core modules introducing you to study in the arts and humanities and university level skills. 

Core Modules

Semester One

  • Life and Study

A module introducing you to Life and Study at university, equipping you with the personal management skills you need to make the most of your time here. 

  • Understanding Arts and Humanities 

A module introducing research methods and key skills, such as academic writing, referencing, presentations and critical reading. 

Semester Two

  • Being Human

A module introducing modernity and how it is identified and researched. You will choose your own individual example of modernism, whether it be an object, a work of art, an idea or a piece of literature. 

  • School Core Module 

A module designed to equip you with the skills relating to your chosen subject area, providing you with a seamless transition to level 4/year one.   

Complementary Modules 

In addition you will be offered two complementary modules, one to be studied in each semester. For this subject you will study:

Semester One

  • Music Production Fundamentals 

You will be introduced to fundamental concepts of software sequencing and mixing and will learn basic skills in editing, arranging and processing audio content.

Semester Two

  • Music and Performing Arts in Context 

You will engage with the contextual issues around music and performing arts, including models of transmission and cultural influences from around the world.

Core Modules


Introduction to Performance (20 credits)

The aim of this module is to enable the development of skills in performance through the study of an instrument/voice. Alongside the development of instrumental skills students gain rehearsal and performance experience by participating in student ensembles under the direction of a tutor.

Performance for Stage (20 credits)

The Performance for Stage module continues to develop skills in performance through the study of a specialist instrument/voice.  Alongside the development of instrumental skills students continue to gain rehearsal and performance experience by participating in student ensembles. 

Audio Sequencing and Recording (20 credits)

This module is designed to provide students with a grounding in Apple’s LOGIC and the applications and techniques of MIDI and audio sequencing. The module will focus on commercial music recording and production methods and will relate specifically to the practical production of demo-format recordings.

Theory and Notation in Popular Music (20 credits)

This module aims to provide a thorough grounding in music theory, and to enable students to develop their ability to read, write, and aurally recognise relevant melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic elements of popular music. The module also aims to develop an understanding of how these theoretical elements are applied to the practice of popular music, for example, in songwriting/composition, improvisation, and analysis.

Commercial Music in Context (20 credits)

The aim of this module is to provide an understanding of the historical and cultural context of a range of styles and genres of commercial music.  These will be considered by tracing the development of constituent strands of music to the present day.  In addition, recorded examples from each style will be considered analytically in order to identify their salient characteristics and their relationship to other styles.  The module will focus on popular music since 1900 and will introduce a number of simple conceptual frameworks that will enable students to discuss popular music with more confidence and precision.

Songwriting, Composition and Arranging (20 credits)

This module develops techniques in songwriting, composition and arranging. The module fosters the acquisition of practical skills needed for the creative industries, whilst stimulating students towards the development of an individual style via a creative portfolio. In addition to informing students about the industry conventions of songwriting, composing and arranging, the module also will develop awareness of (for example) extended harmony; ensemble textures and idiomatic instrumental techniques.


Performance for Stage and Screen (20 credits)

Building on the level four performance modules this module further develops skills in performance through the continued study of a specialist instrument/voice. The module begins to develop an understanding of performance practice for both stage and screen contexts.

Solo Performance (20 credits)

Building on the skills acquired in previous performance modules this module further develops skills in performance through the study of a specialist instrument/voice.  The module focuses on the development of students as soloists or featured instrumentalists, with a continued emphasis on developing an understanding of industry expectations of musical performance practice.

Music Enterprise and Entrepreneurship (20 credits)

This module aims to develop students understanding of the creative, technological and managerial elements of the music business as an industry, becoming aware of key areas of the sector and specific expectations related to employability and career development.  It considers a wide range of music industry activities and career possibilities which may include focuses on music publishing, law & copyright, performance & recording management and the release, access and discovery of recorded music, for example.

Popular Music Analysis and Performance (20 credits)

The aim of the module is to build upon the knowledge gained at level one in Commercial Music in Context, Theory and Notation in Popular Music, and Performance modules, introducing students to more advanced forms of popular music analysis. Musical material will be analyzed in depth, with an emphasis on the musical texts, as well as their cultural and stylistic context. The module aims to develop students’ ability to identify and relate key musical characteristics, patterns, and traits in popular music works, and to apply this insight to the performance of relevant repertoire.

Year Three

Performance in the Recording Studio (20 credits)

This module has a particular focus on studio performance technique.  As with previous performance modules, the study of a specialist instrument or voice is the central core activity and students will develop necessary skills for competent studio performance within a recording session.

Advanced Solo Performance (20 credits)

The aim of the module is to further enable progression in the knowledge and skills gained within the Solo Performance and Performance in the Recording Studio modules.  Students will further develop skills in live/solo performance, and the study of a specialist instrument or voice continues to be the central core activity.  The focus on performance technique in a live context aims to develop the students understanding of professional practice and industry expectations of performance.

Likely Optional Modules

Year Two

Media Music (20 credits)

The aim of the module is to give students an introduction to the skills, approaches and insights needed to produce music for various media.  Students will develop the ability to compose music that enhances narrative and moving images and will learn to engage those stylistic conventions and techniques most commonly encountered in bespoke media music.  Students will develop sequencing and arranging skills needed in the production of smaller-budget media music and will also be presented with opportunities to develop skills in sound design that may be used alongside or as an alternative to more traditional compositional techniques. 

Commercial Songwriting (20 credits)

Commercial Songwriting aims to build on the work completed within Songwriting, Composition and Arranging through the study of more advanced and extended songwriting models, whilst encouraging the students to develop their own distinctive ‘voice’ within their creative work.  The application of technology within the compositional process will be explored as a means to extend beyond traditional songwriting models.  Students will develop arranging skills for a variety of ‘live’ and computer-based instruments and ensembles.

Performance Techniques 1: Approaches to Improvisation (20 credits)

The aim of this module is to enable students to develop skills in improvisation through the study and practical application of relevant musical languages and theoretical concepts. It engages students through a broad yet in-depth presentation of a variety of approaches to improvisation across a range of styles, and exposes students to increasingly complex harmonic progressions aiming to demonstrate how they might approach improvisations on such progressions, and improvise appropriately in the style.  In addition they will be required to analyse improvisations and will transcribe and perform recorded solos, developing aural and notation skills.

Music and Culture (20 credits)

This module aims to introduce students to a broad range of music in its cultural contexts. The technical and critical understanding developed in this module is a firm foundation for any student pursuing in-depth study at level 6. The module also includes the development of transferable skills such as effective academic writing, reflective writing, participation in discussion, and group work.  

Introduction to Applied Music Psychology (20 credits)

The module aims to introduce the students to a wide range of music psychology and music social psychology studies concerning how people make sense of music; how they develop specific musical skills such as improvisation and performance; and how they use music in their everyday lives. The students will explore different music psychology methodologies through a combination of theoretical and practical sessions on topics such as bodily and emotional responses to music, music and the brain, physical and psychological health in performing musicians, musical improvisation, musical identities, music and consumer behaviour and the effects of music on health and wellbeing of older people.

Year Three

Independent Project A (20 credits)

This module will enable students to undertake the research necessary for an extensive creative or dissertation project in the Independent Project B module. The outcomes of this research activity can cover a broad area and may include, for instance, research towards a composition, dissertation or performance.  The module aims to enable students to develop a detailed, critical understanding of their chosen area of study, and to research, refine and present information, techniques, views and opinions in an academic fashion.   The work may be either creative with a practice-based focus or a dissertation.

Independent Project B (20 credits)

This module will enable students to continue to develop a creative project or dissertation based on research developed in the Independent Project A module or work that they would like to further develop from other level 6 semester one modules such as Individual Songwriting, Audio and Sound for Games, Instrumental and Vocal Teaching.  The work undertaken in this module should represent a significant development in the student’s chosen area of study and the module also aims to fundamentally enhance students’ employability through their focus on creative industry/academic standards.

Film Music (20 credits)

The module aims to give students a sophisticated understanding of the process of writing music for film. A historical survey of the process will introduce students to the development of the language of film music, film scoring techniques and to broader cultural and critical issues. The module will cover a variety of composers working in the industry with a focus upon the detail of influential works.

Film Music Portfolio (20 credits)

Following on from Film Music, this module aims to give students a further understanding of the process of writing music for film aiming to further develop the understanding of the language of film music, film-scoring techniques and broader cultural and critical issues. Students will develop composition, production, and software techniques to a professional level, and apply these skills to the creation of music for film. Students will also be required to produce a show-reel of their work and online portfolio, ready to present to a potential client.

Performance Techniques 2: Repertoire and Styles (20 credits)

This module aims to enable students to become increasingly confident and flexible practitioners in a broad range of popular music performance styles.  The module aims to consider a range of musical styles not previously covered in performance modules in the first and second years of study, and to develop skills further in the rehearsal and performance process.  The module will provide a theoretical consideration of stylistic traits and appropriate performance techniques, as well as improvisational and compositional approaches within the selected styles.

Performance Techniques 3: Advanced Improvisation and Arranging Skills (20 credits)

The module aims to build upon the work done in Performance Techniques 1 and Performance Techniques 2 by developing aspects of improvisation and performance techniques to a high level.  Much of the focus will be on jazz, taking the term ‘jazz’ to cover a wide-ranging repertoire of standard and contemporary works.  The module engages students through a broad yet in-depth presentation of jazz to develop the above techniques.  Students will perform, discuss and analyse a range of musical examples taken from the breadth of the genre and their knowledge of repertoire enhance through the study of advanced theoretical concepts.

Individual Songwriting (20 credits)

Individual Songwriting aims to provide students with the opportunity to extend and enhance a personal songwriting style whilst fostering an awareness of songwriting in a commercial context.  In order to develop students’ practical, creative and technical skills in songwriting to a high level, the module builds upon the work done in Songwriting, Composition and Arranging at level 4 and Commercial Songwriting at level 5 by engaging students with more ambitious projects, such as the completion of an e.p. (extended play).  The emphasis of the module is upon encouraging and facilitating creativity and individuality whilst aiming to achieve a professional and convincing level of competence in songwriting and arranging.

Music Business Futures (20 credits)

The aim of this module is to develop a clear and deep knowledge of the current music industry with a view to predicting and developing future trends being informed primarily by investigation and practice. The module will focus in detail on the many new and emerging technologies available for promotion, discovery, distribution and consumption of music via the Internet and mobile networks that are currently being explored within the industry. There will be a strong emphasis on current and developing trends and a focus on exploring newly emerging avenues of music access, delivery and discovery in the light of shifts from the ownership towards the subscription business model.

Instrumental and vocal teaching (20 credits)

This module aims to develop students’ ability to analyse and reflect on their own instrumental or vocal expertise, in order to transfer knowledge and skills in a flexible and communicative way, mainly in one-to-one or small group teaching situations.  Students will study and evaluate models of teaching in their specialist fields, and investigating current research into traditional and contemporary modes of instrumental teaching.

Music for therapy and wellbeing (20 credits)

This module aims to develop students’ knowledge of the use of music for the enhancement of health, wellbeing and music education with vulnerable populations such as older people with dementia and Parkinson’s disease as well as children and young people with learning disabilities or behavioural problems. The module also aims to expand students’ understanding and awareness of central issues in relation to planning and leading music-making activities with older learners in palliative care and in the community through theory and in practice. Moreover, this module prepares musicians for further studies in music therapy.

The Commercial Music course aims to prepare you as a creative practitioner in performance, production or commercial composition (as a songwriter, or for media, for instance). Graduates have, for example, gone on to work as freelance performers and producers, DJ’s, songwriters, web designers, live sound engineers and freelance instrumental and vocal tutors. Some graduates have elected to continue their education by progressing on to Masters’ degree qualifications and others have decided to train to teach in schools or further education.


Tuition Fees for 2020/21 have not yet been finalised. Course webpages will be updated with Tuition Fee information once these have been agreed.

Additional course costs

Although we aim to minimise any additional costs to students over and above the course tuition fee, there will be some additional costs which students are expected to meet.

Costs applicable to all students

Text books Own purchase text books
Travel to other sites Where travel to other sites is required, this will be payable by the student
Library Fees and Fines Where students fail to return loaned items within the required time they will be responsible for the cost of any Library Fees and Fines applicable
Printing & Photocopying The cost of printing and photocopying undertaken by students to support their individual learning are payable by the student
Graduation ceremonies It is free for the student to attend the ceremony itself. Guest tickets and robe hire / photography are additional costs payable by the student

Course specific costs


With the exception of pianists and drummers, students studying performance modules will be required to supply their own musical instrument and meet any associated maintenance or insurance costs themselves. It is also recommended that drummers have their own cymbals, and that vocalists have their own microphone for rehearsals.

It is recommended that students studying sound production modules should have their own headphones and a portable hard-drive with at least 500GB capacity.

General principle policy

The University’s general principles policy for additional course fees are set out here

CategoryIncluded in the tuition feeAdditional cost to student
Field trips (including trips abroad and trips to museums, theatres, workshops etc) No, if the trip contributes to the course as an optional module. Yes if the trip is optional.
Travel and accommodation costs for placements  No

Travel and accommodation costs for professional placements within the Education and Health & Wellbeing Faculties.

Travel and accommodation costs for other work placements. 
Text books No Own purchase text books.
DBS / Health checks No Yes
Professional Body registration No Yes
Travel to other sites (e.g. travel to swimming pool for lessons) No Yes
Clothing / Kit Yes, where the clothing / kit is essential for Health & Safety reasons. Yes, where the clothing is kept by the student and not essential for health and safety reasons.
Learning materials Essential learning materials (excluding text books) in connection with the course. Additional materials beyond the standard provision essential for the course or where the costs are determined by the student’s area of interest and the outputs are retained by the student.
Library fees and fines No Yes
Printing and photocopying No Yes
Social events No, unless the event forms an essential part of the course. Yes, unless the event forms an essential part of the course.
Graduation ceremonies It is free for the student to attend the ceremony itself. Guest tickets and robe hire/ photography are additional costs payable by the student.


The Commercial Music course is taught in two semesters each year, separated by a two ­week assessment period in January. Students take 3 modules in each semester. 

The teaching delivery on each module will vary depending on the module content.  Through the year you would usually be taught in lectures, practical workshops, seminars and individual tutorials.

The contact hours will depend on the optional modules selected.  Typically, a 20 credit module with 15-20 students has around 3 - 4 contact hours per week, but there are variations in the case of some modules, particularly where a module might be delivered predominantly by individual tutorials or in smaller groups for instance.

You will also be supported in your learning through regular access to your tutors and through one-to-one tutorials.  In addition, you will meet periodically with your personal academic tutor.  All modules are supported by a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) webpage, providing information about the modules and a variety of learning and support materials.

You will have access to IT and library facilities throughout your course.

All programmes are informed by the University’s Learning and Teaching Strategy 2015-2020

Independent Learning

When not attending lectures, seminars, workshops or other timetabled sessions you will continue learning through self-study.  Typically, this involves working on performance, composition or production projects,  reading, practicing your instrument and rehearsing and preparing for coursework assignments, workshops or seminars.

Your module tutor will direct you towards specific activities to complete before class.

For the Independent Project in year three, you will undertake independent research. You will work under the supervision of a member of the course team and will meet with your supervisor regularly.

Overall Workload

Your overall workload typically consists of around 10 - 12 contact hours per week plus additional hours of independent study, practice and rehearsals for instance. There will be variation to this depending on the modules taken and the year of study. 

Academic Input

The staff team consists of highly qualified academics and practitioners who have a range of expertise and experience.  The staff teaching on the Commercial Music course currently include a Professor, Principal Lecturer, Senior Lecturers and Associate Lecturers.  All of the staff are practitioners and are active as performers, producers or composers, and researchers, for instance. You should note that members of the teaching team might change.

The balance of assessment type depends to some extent on the optional modules you choose, but you will be assessed by a range of methods including practical work (such as performances, recordings, composition work – in the form of recordings or scores), written work (such as commentaries and essays), and presentations.

You will receive feedback on all your assessments and we aim to provide you with your feedback within 15 working days of hand-in.

The new Daphne Oram Creative Arts Building includes specialist facilities for music performance, production and composition and includes rehearsal and performance spaces, practice rooms, recording studios and Apple Mac suites.

We are an academic partner of The Ivors Academy.

The University are a patner and principal sponsor of the Canterbury Festival.

DJ/Producer Matthew Herbert is one of our Artistic Researchers.


Full-time study

Apply via UCAS

Need some help?

For advice on completing your application please contact the Course Enquiry Team:

Tel:+44 (0)1227 928000

Fact file

UCAS course code

  • W341 Commercial Music with Foundation Year

UCAS institution code

  • C10


  • 4 years full-time


  • September 2020

Entry requirements

  • Candidates should have studied at level 3 and have attained 48 UCAS Tariff points, although those without formal qualifications will be considered.

    All applications will be considered on an individual basis according to qualifications, background and experience. Particular importance is placed upon instrumental/vocal ability, songwriting skills and/or sound production experience.

    More entry requirement details.



More about

Last edited 16/09/2019 09:30:00

Save, Print or Share this page

Connect with us

Last edited: 16/09/2019 09:30:00