Jazz, Popular and Commercial Music (Level 3 Entry Only) BMus (Hons)

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Study professional musicianship at undergraduate level. Develop practical, technical and theoretical expertise through intellectual discipline. Gain the skills needed to enjoy a varied and exciting range of creative careers.

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The course is based at 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, have earned our courses a strong reputation.

Why us?

  • Aimed at people who have achieved Grade 8 or an equivalent standard in music performance
  • This course has produced many outstanding professional musicians over the years
  • Research in Music at Sunderland has been described as 'internationally excellent' by the latest Research Excellence Framework (REF)
  • You have the unique opportunity to study in a world class venue in Sage Gateshead
  • This is a tried and tested practical programme that is distinct from the offers of other regional universities
  • All of the staff on the course are respected professional practitioners as well as educators

Course structure

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

Your practical skills and theoretical knowledge will be assessed via written examinations, course work and practical assessments.

As the emphasis on the BMus is on developing appropriately high levels of practical musicianship, there are detailed assessments of your practical and instrumental skills in live performances and private recitals where you will be expected to demonstrate the application of your theoretical understanding of your musical practice.

You are also assessed on your skills of expression, taste and judgement.

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)


Some modules have prerequisites. Read more about what this means in our Help and Advice article.

  • Facilities for music and performing arts include:

    • Specialist music technology suites
    • Rehearsal rooms
    • A range of musical instruments
    • Individual access to specialist Foley, Post Production and Music studios
    • Our extensive libraries also offer thousands of books, journals and other resources
    Music facilities
  • 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
    Sage Gateshead


This course is based at Sage Gateshead. You also have access to all the facilities of the University of Sunderland.








Entry requirements

Our typical offer is

  • GPA 3.0 or above from High School Diploma along with one of the following at the required grade - SAT I and SAT II, ACT or Advanced Placement

If your qualification is not listed above, please contact the Student Administration team at admissions@sunderland.ac.uk for further advice.

We also require three passes at GCSE grade C or above, which must include Mathematics and English Language, or an equivalent qualification, for example; a minimum of Level 2 Key Skills in Communication and Application of Number. If you have studied for a new GCSE for which you will be awarded a numerical grade then you will need to achieve a grade 4 or above.

If English is not your first language we will require an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) with an overall score of 6.0 and at least 5.5 or higher in each component: reading, writing, listening and speaking. An alternative approved Secure English Language Test (SELT) can also be considered if the applicant's element scores are equivalent to those required for IELTS.

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 and 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

Part-time fees

Tuition fees for part-time students are £5,000 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.

If you are not sure whether you qualify as a UK, EU or international student, find out more in our Help and Advice article.

Take a look at the Your Finances section to find out about the scholarships and bursaries that may be available to you.

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This information was correct at the time of publication.

Sage Gateshead at night


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.

Career options

Some examples of potential roles are:

  • Freelance performance, such as musical director, cabaret accompanist, cocktail pianist, 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 or 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.

Work placements

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

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.

  • This is a great place to be for people who want to develop their skills as professional musicians.
    Adam Cornell

    Adam Cornell

  • It's a world-class course in a world-class venue.
    Bradley Johnston

    Bradley Johnston

  • If you want to push yourself and be the best you can be, I would definitely recommend studying here.
    Thomas Dixon

    Thomas Dixon

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