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Community Music BA (Hons) - University of Sunderland

Course overview

This course is aimed at everyone who is musically skilled, from school leavers to professional musicians, who want to put their talents to work with people in a broad range of educational and community settings.

You will gain a unique combination of:

  • Musical development
  • Professional development in how to inspire, motivate and organise others to enjoy music-making

Sage Gateshead logo‌The course is based at The Sage and you will be part of the community of musicians at one of the UK’s most exciting music venues. You will be regularly involved with visiting artists and masterclasses as well as participation projects that have already reached over a million people across the North East. 

 Work placement JAN 2016

You will be taught by musicians from The Sage Gateshead and academic tutors from the University. Our professional teaching, together with the excellent facilities, has earned our courses a strong reputation. According to The Guardian University Guide 2012, Sunderland is within the UK’s top third of universities that offer music courses.

‌The skills of musicianship and educatorship are developed in parallel, so that each informs the other, resulting in a well-rounded musician with an appropriate set of skills for a ‘portfolio’ career in music. As a ‘musician who also teaches’, the range of career paths for our graduates includes youth work, teaching music, performing arts and social work.

Work experience

All students studying on-campus undergraduate music courses can take up a CV-enhancing work placement, a University-led industry initiative, or a professional and business development boot camp. *By the term placement, we mean we are offering you a taste of the industry which might last anything from two days to four weeks on a part-time basis. 

If your aim is solely to be a professional performer, you may wish to consider Jazz, Popular and Commercial Music.

Course content

Modules on this course include:

Year 1 (national level 4)

  • Music in Context 1 (20 Credits)
  • Creative Artistic Practice 1 (20 Credits)
  • Musicianship 1 (40 Credits)
  • Professional Practice 1 (40 Credits)

Year 2 (national level 5)

  • Music in Context 2 (20 Credits)
  • Creative Artistic Practice 2 (20 Credits)
  • Musicianship 2 (40 Credits)
  • Professional Practice 2 (40 Credits)

Final Year (national level 6)

  • Major Professional Project (60 Credits)
  • Performance Project (40 Credits)
  • Negotiated Independent Study (20 Credits)

Part-time study

If you study this course on a part-time basis you will typically complete 40-80 credits in a year, rather than the 120 credits of full-time students. All modules are taught during the day time and you will be studying alongside full-time students.

Teaching and assessment

Teaching methods include projects, feedback on performances, lectures, seminars and e-learning. We encourage you to develop independent study skills and to initiate your own projects with the support of tutors and other students.

In your first year you will shadow and work alongside experienced music leaders and facilitators. By your final year you’ll have developed the skills to design, manage, implement and evaluate a major project in a community setting, and stage a performance within The Sage Gateshead’s public programme which showcases you as a musician. Throughout the course our tutors will encourage you to develop valuable skills in communication, teamwork and problem-solving.

Assessment methods include projects, presentations, essays, critical evaluations and public performances.

To find out more about modules, credits and how you will be assessed, please see how courses are taught. Information about our policies relating to student experience and quality assurance processes can be found on the Academic Services website.

Key Information Sets

All UK Universities and colleges display Key Information Sets (KIS) on their undergraduate courses. The KIS gives you a quick overview of some standard information about a course, and has a link to more detailed information on Unistats.

Facilities & location

The Sage Gateshead is a renowned centre for music and musical discovery that offers both performance and participation projects.

The taught elements of the course happen in the organisation’s iconic building in Gateshead, and students benefit further from access to the Sage Gateshead’s broad programme of music learning and participation across the North East region. The building’s excellent facilities include:

  • 26-room Music Education Centre
  • Rehearsal space
  • Two auditoria with outstanding acoustics

Gateshead College also supports students on this course. Its £39 million Baltic campus is next to The Sage Gateshead. It offers the following:

  • 200-seat performance theatre
  • Learning Resource Centre
  • Music rehearsal and recording studios
  • Modern classrooms with integrated IT

The University of Sunderland has a high-class library service with thousands of books, journals and other resources. Further facilities include:

  • Specialist music technology suites
  • Sound therapies suite
  • Rehearsal rooms
  • Musical instruments including a Steinway grand piano

Entry requirements

Our typical offer is 112 UCAS points from a minimum of two A Levels or equivalent (e.g. 1 x AVCE double award). Read more on the new UCAS Tariff point system for 2017.

We accept a maximum of 6 points from Level 3 Key Skills qualifications.

We also require three passes at GCSE grade C or above, which must include Mathematics and English Language; or a minimum of Level 2 Key Skills in Communication and Application of Number.

If English is not your first language, please see our English language requirements.

If you are studying a HND or Foundation Degree you may be able to enter onto the final year of our degree courses. For more information, please contact

Other acceptable qualifications

BTEC National: 112 points from a BTEC Certificate or Diploma.

Access Courses: We would require successful completion of an Access to Higher Education course that is accredited by the Quality Assurance Agency. We would also require a minimum of grade C in GCSE in Mathematics and English Language or the equivalent as part of your course.

Scottish Highers: Our typical offer is for 112 points.

Irish Leaving Certificate: Our typical offer is for 112 points.

International qualifications: Please call the Student Helpline for advice on other acceptable qualifications. The number from outside the UK is +44 191 515 3000.

Any other qualifications: If you have any other qualifications not listed here, you may still be eligible. Please contact the Student Helpline for advice: 0191 515 3000.

Returners to Learning: If you are a mature student, you may benefit from our dedicated Returners to Learning Progression Scheme. For further information email or call the Student Helpline: 0191 515 3000.

If you wish to be considered for direct entry to a different year of a course, please contact the Student Helpline: 0191 515 3000.

Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL)

If you feel you already know some of the topics covered in this course, either due to previous learning or from experience of work, then you may not need to study all of the course.

Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) is the name given to the process of gaining credit towards a qualification because of something you have learnt in the past. If you are eligible for APL you won't have to learn the same topic again, and so you can be exempt from a module, set of modules or year of a course. 

Read more about APL in the Quality Handbook (.pdf). If you think you may be eligible for APL, please contact the course leader.

Additional requirements

We are interested in your musical skills and your potential as a music leader and team player. At your interview we will invite you to play and/or sing, and also provide a short written task.

The course involves community projects and so we require students to have undergone the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) (previously CRB) process. You will need to have successfully completed the DBS process, for which there is a fee, before starting the course.

Fees & finance

Fees and finance 

The annual fee for this course is: 

  • £9,250 if you are from the UK / EU
  • £10,750 if you are an international student

If you are not sure whether you qualify as a UK, EU or international student, please see the International section of this website.

Scholarships and bursaries may be available to you – please see the Fees and Finance section of this website for more information.

Part-time fees

Tuition fees for part-time students are £4,880 per 120 Credits.

Please note that part-time courses are not available to international students who require a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK.

Employment & careers

There is increasing demand for well-qualified musician-educators and facilitators, thanks to the expansion in the range and quality of community music.

Recent developments in music education in the UK recognise the need for musician-educators with a broad understanding of many different kinds of music-making as well as particular specialisms, to support a broad range of participants of all ages and abilities to benefit from music-making.

The Sage Gateshead is a major national employer of musician-educators, and is at the forefront of national developments in music learning and education, so the knowledge and skills acquired on the course are current and relevant to the rapidly-changing face of music education.

Roles include working for public bodies that promote community music, as well as for broader initiatives aimed at particular groups within the community. A number of music venues also have active programmes of community music.

Another career option is a ‘portfolio’ mix of performance, teaching and community work. You could also consider further training in order to qualify to teach music in schools.


We encourage you to explore short work-based opportunities either with The Sage Gateshead itself or with the many projects attached to the venue. Contact for more information and to arrange a placement.

University Language Scheme

It is usually possible to take a module from the free University Language Scheme. This can be studied on top of your 120 credits or in some cases, can earn credits towards your degree.

Language skills increase your international mobility and you can choose between French, German, Spanish, Mandarin, Japanese and Arabic at a range of levels. If your first language is not English, please check with your tutor about entry requirements. 

Staff and students talk about the benefits of the University Language Scheme: 


The University of Sunderland is committed to ensuring that every student has an impressive range of opportunities to enhance their CV and gain valuable experience:

  • Work placements
  • Graduate internships
  • Studying abroad
  • Student Ambassador Scheme
  • Mentoring
  • Starting your own business
  • Student jobs and volunteering
  • Careers advice

For full details, please see our Employability page.


Support for your learning

You can expect stimulating contact time with tutors from both the University and from The Sage Gateshead. If you have queries or difficulties, you can book an appointment with tutors to gain more in-depth support and guidance.

The course leader arranges study skill sessions and student learning groups to support your academic work. Further drop-in sessions at The Sage Gateshead are held by the Higher Education Co-ordinator who is based at Gateshead College.

Support for your development

To help ensure the course is meeting aspirations for personal development, we invite students to fill in questionnaires at the end of modules. This provides a structured way for you to keep us up-to-date with your views.

During your course, and particularly towards the end of it, we encourage you to make full use of the resources at our Careers and Employability Service. The Service helps you explore your options, clarify your ideas, develop a career focus and make effective applications.

For more information about all the support services you will have access to as a Sunderland student, please see Student support and guidance.

Apply for this course

Interested in this course? Apply straight away through UCAS, or read our 7-step guide to applying to university. 

Part-time study: if you want to study this course on a part-time basis, you need to apply directly to the University of Sunderland by downloading the part-time application form (.pdf).

    Next Open Day

  • Date: Thursday 23rd February 2017
  • Time: 3:00pm-8:00pm
  • Type: University Open Day
  • Location: Science Complex, City Campus, Sunderland SR1 3SD

Contact Sunderland

Contact the Programme Leader for specific questions about the course:

John Kefala-Kerr
Tel: 0191 515 3180

Social media: To see what events we run and to ask a question about this course, contact the Faculty of Arts, Design and Media on Facebook and Twitter.

Contact the Student Helpline for further information about studying at the University of Sunderland:

Tel: 0191 515 3000

The details

Course Name Community Music
Classification BA (Hons)
Course Mode Full-time/Part-time
Course Level Undergraduate
Duration 3 years
Study Location On-campus (Sunderland)
Starting 18 September 2017
UK/EU Fee £9,250
Intl Fee £10,750

Entry requirements

112 points

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