BA (Hons) Professional Musicianship


At BIMM Birmingham, we understand that live performance is the key to you becoming a great singer, so you’ll spend a lot of time on stage to help you develop and find your niche as a performer. You’ll also further hone your skills by receiving tuition in vocal techniques, music theory and styles across a wide range of genres from pop and punk to folk and funk.

The degree is both academically and musically challenging, providing the perfect balance between practical and technical skills, and theory and analysis. You’ll explore and develop your potential career pathways through research and professional projects, and will learn the essential business skills required to work successfully in the music industry. Plus you’ll get to plug into one-of-a-kind networking opportunities and collaborate with likeminded fellow musicians during your time on the course.

Through a range of optional modules, including Solo Performance, Music Business Studies, Music Teaching Practice and Online Music, you can tailor the degree to fit your own personal goals. Life at BIMM will stretch you as a musician, composer and performer, but will inspire you as a singer too, as you attend unique Masterclasses by some of the best vocalists and musicians in the world. So to make your way as a vocalist, connect with us, and we’ll connect you to a life in music.

Click here to find this course on UCAS.

Validated by:

2018/2019 Fees

Student Loan Finance Available 

Year 1

All students take the following core modules in their first year of study. Module names and structure may be subject to change.

  • Essential Styles

    A comprehensive study of different styles of music and associated practitioners, designed to facilitate stylistic development and awareness in each discipline. This module is closely linked to Techniques and is invaluable for anyone wishing to become a studio or touring musician. Aural Perception skills, as well as associated techniques and historical context, are all focused on here.

  • Techniques

    Closely linked to Essential Styles, this module is designed to develop technical ability in an applied way, and facilitate enhancement of musical vocabulary. A disciplined approach to regular practice will be essential.

  • Applied 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.

  • Artist Development and Entrepreneurship

    Here, musicians will develop an understanding of exactly what it takes to become a professional artist. This module dissects every aspect of live performance at local, national and international levels. Musicians will learn how to make the correct decisions that could give them or their band the edge in one of the world’s most competitive industries.

  • Live Performance Workshop

    This module is all about the preparation of songs to professional standards, being made to work in a live setting. Parts, arrangement, tone, feel, and performance will all be broken down and analysed in detail, with aspects such as musical communication, performance ability, and how to sound great through a big PA addressed.

  • Music Theory and Notation

    A comprehensive study of the theory behind the music, including practical applications of theoretical concepts. This module will also facilitate the development of sight-reading ability and transcription skills, to better prepare musicians for the range of situations likely to be encountered throughout their careers.

Year 2

All students take the following core modules in their second year of study, as well as one optional module. Module names and structure may be subject to change.

  • Research Methods

    This module helps musicians and project managers understand how to conduct research using a variety of different methods. The research skills and data generated can be used to plan and prepare for your BA Year 3 Professional Project in the following year. The ability to carry out research is an invaluable resource to musicians who wish to develop informed ideas, viable music projects and realistic business plans.

  • Professional Musicianship

    This module studies the comprehensive history of popular music from 1900 to 1970, analysing the social and political conditions that influenced the development of the art form, as well as evaluating key releases from influential artists.


    This module aims to provide a comprehensive history of popular music and the music business. It encourages students to analyse the key economic, social and technological developments that shaped the growth and development of the industry, evaluate the impact of key releases from influential artists and labels, then apply this learning to their own creative practice.

  • Performance in Context

    This module will develop and improve students’ live performance technique through the detailed study and performance of a wide range of reference material. By studying the work of professional musicians, students will be encouraged to critically analyse their own performance with clarity and objectivity. They’ll be required to deliver a well-constructed live set that communicates effectively with an audience and will be asked to identify the performance elements that ensure their work is technically and musically accomplished.

  • Applied Music Theory and Critical Listening

    This module assists musicians with ear training, transcription, and music notation reading skills. Students will create and analyse musical passages, apply advanced chord and scale material to their chosen instrument, and investigate the influence that other genres of music have had on contemporary pop and rock.

  • Optional – Studio Musicianship

    This module involves practical analysis and application of studio styles and techniques for guitar, bass, drums and vocals. In addition to lectures, workshops and practical elements, musicians will develop an overview of the basics for studio musicianship and beyond. This learning and experience should support the final practical studio recording assessment and viva.

  • Optional – Studio Recording

    This module is designed to help studio musicians understand basic engineering principles and take responsibility for the sonic direction of their recordings. This knowledge will help any musician to get a quality sound in even the most basic of studios. The module also covers studio-based arrangement skills.

  • Optional – Music Business Studies

    This module provides a thorough investigation into the music business and will provide students with an understanding of the various agreements they might be expected to enter into during the course of a career in music. Musicians will gain insight into the structure of the industry and will be able to interpret key terms used in management, recording, and publishing contracts.

  • Optional – Music Publishing

    This module introduces students to the principles and practice of copyright, the business mechanics of music publishing and the roles and structure of the collection societies. The module goes on to examine diverse applications, including music and media, film, television, radio and the internet.

Year 3

All students take the following core modules in their third (and final) year of study, as well as one optional module. Module names and structure may be subject to change.

  • Professional Project

    Three years of hard work come together in the realisation of the student's final year project. Theoretical and conceptual material will be delivered on site, but the module provides the student with a unique opportunity to implement these ideas in a practical setting undertaken via self-directed study of a project idea of their choice. Past projects have included musicians taking a band on the road, combining touring with an album release and press campaign, establishing a private tuition business and music events management.

  • Professional Development

    Musicians are encouraged to consider and facilitate their own personal and business development, an essential activity for band members, songwriters and singers alike. The module will take students through the stages of identifying professional development needs, with specific topics covered including effective team working, stress management, time management and goal setting.

  • 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.

  • Ensemble Performance

    Building on the skills and knowledge acquired in previous live performance modules, students will work together to arrange and perform original compositions and turn them into effective live performances. Musicians map their work against that of professionals and make recommendations for future working practice.

  • 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 – Solo Performance

    A high-level performance module based on the development of solo performance skills for guitarists, bassists, drummers, and vocalists. Musicians perform either on their own or using backing tracks. Work is compared to professional material and students must critically assess their progress and attainment.

  • Optional – Music Theory and Analysis

    This module will explore some of the more advanced musical techniques and features found in rock and popular music and how its musical syntax has evolved. The work in this module will include the analytical study of the various harmonic, melodic and rhythmic procedures that have been used in a variety of rock and pop genres, such as funk, progressive/art rock, metal and jazz rock/fusion. A variety of works are looked at from a practical and musicological perspective and the potential application of a range of musical techniques to original and existing compositions is discussed.

  • Optional – Online Music

    This module is designed to give students a practical knowledge of the working patterns of the online music industry, giving an understanding of the growing relationship between, and interdependence of, the music business and the internet. Topics include researching the interaction between the internet and the music industry; online investment and funding; digital rights management; social media; social networking; and digital distribution.

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Minimum requirements

Minimum entry requirements are five GCSEs at C or above (including English Language), plus two A-levels at grade E or above, or an equivalent Level 3 vocational qualification (32 UCAS points). Applications by experienced musicians without formal qualifications may also be considered through APEL. 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 producer, DJ, sound engineer, film and television composer and computer music designer, or they can continue their study with a Postgraduate Certificate in Learning & Teaching at BIMM Brighton or a Master’s Degree elsewhere.

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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 insititution:
University of Sussex
Teaching Institution:
BIMM Birmingham
UCAS code:
Language of study:
Final award and exit awards:
Certificate of Higher Education (exit award only at level four), Diploma of Higher Education (exit award only at level five), Bachelors Degree with Honours.
Admissions criteria:
Minimum entry requirements are five GCSEs at C or above (including English Language), plus two A-levels at grade E or above, or an equivalent Level 3 vocational qualification (80 UCAS points). Applications by experienced musicians without formal qualifications may also be considered through APEL. 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 launching the career of Oasis and scoring nine Top 40 singles with the band Sleeper, to winning a Mercury Music Prize as part of Gomez and knocking Take That off the top spot, our BIMM Birmingham tutors have done it all. One even has the Godfather of Soul, James Brown, as her real life godfather! 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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