This site uses cookies to improve your user experience. To find out more see our Cookies Policy.
By using this site you agree to these cookies being set.
Jazz, Popular and Commercial Music BMus (Hons) - University of Sunderland

Course overview

This course offers the opportunity to study professional musicianship at undergraduate level, developing practical, technical and theoretical expertise through intellectual discipline.

The course is based at The Sage Gateshead 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, masterclasses and links with other music-related organisations.

You will be taught by musicians who have established national profiles in the fields of jazz, popular and commercial music. The professional teaching, together with the excellent facilities, has earned our courses a strong reputation. Research in Music at Sunderland is ranked as 'internationally excellent' in the latest Research Excellence Framework (REF).

Modules include ‘Critical Studies’, ‘Professional Studies’, ‘Instrumental Studies’, ‘Ensemble Studies’, ‘Aural Studies’, ‘Harmony’ and ‘Performance’. There is considerable flexibility over the choice of modules, allowing you to tailor the course to your particular skills and interests.

 Work placement JAN 2016Work 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. 

The range of career paths for our graduates includes freelance performance, recording, broadcasting, composition, arranging, production, publishing, management and teaching.

This course is aimed at people who have achieved Grade 8 or an equivalent standard in music performance.

Course content

Modules on this course include:

Year 1 (national level 4)

  • Instrumental Studies (20 Credits)
  • Ensemble Studies (20 Credits)
  • Music Technology Studies (20 Credits)
  • Harmony (10 Credits)
  • Arranging (10 Credits)
  • History (10 Credits)
  • Keyboard Studies (10 Credits)
  • Aural Studies (10 Credits)
  • Critical Studies (10 Credits)

Year 2 (national level 5)

Major Option (choose one)

  • Performance (40 Credits)
  • Production (40 Credits)

Minor Options (choose one)

  • Performance (20 Credits)
  • Production (20 Credits)
  • General Musicianship: Aural Studies 2 and Keyboard Studies 2 (20 Credits)
  • Composition (10 Credits)
  • Stylistic Studies (10 Credits)
  • Critical Practice (10 Credits)

Complimentary Studies (choose one)

  • Percussion Studies (10 Credits)
  • Vocal Studies (10 Credits)

Electives (choose two)

  • Composition and Arranging (10 Credits)
  • Improvisation Studies (10 Credits)
  • Teaching Studies (10 Credits)

Final Year (national level 6)

Major Study (choose one)

  • Performance (50 Credits)
  • Production (50 Credits)
  • Composition and Arranging (50 Credits)
  • Dissertation (50 Credits)

Minor Study (choose one)

  • Performance (30 Credits)
  • Production (30 Credits)
  • Composition and Arranging (30 Credits)
  • Dissertation (30 Credits)
  • Critical Evaluation (20 Credits)
  • Professional Studies (20 Credits)

Teaching and assessment

Our teaching staff are all professional musicians with established national profiles. Teaching is through practical modules, supported by lectures, seminars and workshop discussions.

Assessments are designed to create opportunities for the development of graduate skills such as teamwork, communication, planning, self-organisation, problem-solving and critical reasoning. They also reward creativity, communication and performance skills.

To find out more about modules, credits and how you will be assessed, please see the page 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 the home of this course. It is a renowned centre for music and musical discovery that offers both performance and participation projects. Its excellent facilities include:

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

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

  • Specialist music technology suites
  • Sound therapies suite
  • Rehearsal rooms and musical instruments

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 require a performance standard equivalent to Grade 8, Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music, and at least Grade 5 music theory.

When you come for an interview, there will be an audition that involves performing two contrasting pieces and undertaking sight-reading and aural tests. You will also be required to complete a 90 minute written examination which will include questions on music theory and music recording and production and you will be required to write a short composition in standard notation, and to write about your interests and experience of music.

Please note that a fee is payable for the audition.

Fees & finance

Full-time fees

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.

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

Employment & careers

Our course will give you the skills to enter a varied and exciting range of careers, such as freelance performance, recording, broadcasting, composition, arranging, production, publishing, management and teaching.

Some examples of potential roles are:

Freelance performance such as musical director, cabaret accompanist, cocktail pianist, cruise ship musician, holiday resort musician, touring jazz group, theatre orchestra, circus orchestra, social club band, corporate functions, touring pop group, ballroom dancing ensembles, nightclub band, function/dinner dance band, dance clubs with DJs.

Recording/Broadcasting such as session musician, television music producer, radio big band, studio music sequencing, television/radio music editor, library music company editor/producer.

Composition and arranging such as film music composer, editor, arranger, copyist, commercial jingles, a freelancer working on commissions.

Performance Support such as tour manager, tour equipment technician, sound equipment technician.

Industrial Music Specialist such as music editor, records company executive, advertising specialist.

Management such as music agency, records company, marketing, concert promotion.

Product Design such as instrument manufacture, music computer software design, music sampling specialist, sample library.

Publishing such as tuition publications (magazines, books, videos), journalism (reviews, articles, and so on).

Retail such as instrument retail sales, instrument demonstrator, music computer software sales, sample library.

Teaching/Education such as peripatetic music teacher, private music teacher, school music teacher, college/university lecturer.


We encourage you to explore short work-based opportunities either with The Sage Gateshead itself or with the many projects attached to the venue.

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 Enterprise Place

If you have a good idea for a new business and have the dedication and motivation to make it happen, then we want to hear from you. The Enterprise Place, based on-campus at St Peter's Gate Business Centre, is the perfect environment for entrepreneurial students and graduates to turn their business ideas into reality. You will have access to free hot desk space, IT facilities, specialist advice and support and business mentors and networking opportunities.

To find out more about how we can help you start a business, please contact the University's Enterprise Team:

Tel: 0191 515 3751


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 more information, visit:


Support for your learning

The experience and expertise of the teaching staff create a stimulating environment for your journey of discovery, reflection and achievement. This nurturing atmosphere, combined with our inspiring curriculum, will encourage you to realise your full potential in your chosen musical career.

The course leader arranges study skill sessions and student learning groups to support your academic work. If you have queries or difficulties, you can book an appointment with tutors to gain more in-depth support and guidance.

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.

"The level of tuition provided was superb."

Jamie McCredie - Graduate

Jamie McCredie - Graduate

Full-time session musician

The quality of the tutors running the course attracted Jamie McCredie to study BMus (Hons) Jazz, Pop and Commercial Music.

"The level of tuition provided was superb," said Jamie. "Being taught, sometimes on a one-to-one basis, by lecturers who are musicians really made a difference. Many teachers in music departments do not have the expertise and experience offered by the staff on the BMus course."

Since graduating Jamie went on to study a Masters in Composition at Newcastle University, before returning to the Performance Academy to run the Advanced Popular Music course. After this Jamie continued his studies at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, graduating with a Masters of Jazz Performance.

Jamie now works as a full-time session musician for jazz, session and pop outfits, and running his own quintet in London.

When asked what has helped Jamie the most in his career, he said: "Fearlessness! Carving out a career in music these days is extremely tough, however, any success I may have achieved in music, I put down to the great tuition and advice offered by the BMus team. They are the real deal."

"My advice to students? Learn to improvise, sight-read, and learn standards. If you really want to do it, you can, but you must take it seriously."

Apply for this course

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

Want to know more about this course or the University of Sunderland? Download your personalised prospectus or come to our next Open Day to see the facilities and talk to academic staff:

    Next Open Day

  • Date: Saturday 12th November 2016
  • Time: 9:30am-4:00pm
  • Type: University Open Day
  • Location: Sir Tom Cowie Campus at St Peter's

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 Jazz, Popular and Commercial Music
Classification BMus (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

Related courses

If Jazz, Popular and Commercial Music BMus (Hons) isn't right for you, try these courses instead:

Search for something different?