This dynamic one-year course allows you to develop strong technical bass skills, musical literacy and performance creativity in a short space of time, with the view to becoming a well-rounded professional portfolio musician. A highly tailored programme, you’ll focus intensely on the bass, while collaborating with peers who are studying guitar, drums, keyboards and vocals.  

In a rapidly evolving and increasingly digital global music scene, there are more opportunities than ever before for performers and audiences to come together in innovative new ways. In addition to technical and creative abilities, this highly current performance CertHE allows you to build entrepreneurial business skills and digital proficiency that will set you up as a flexible and competent bass player and musician. 

Play bass at ICMP in London

At the core of your CertHE is a focus on your principal instrument – bass – yet you’ll expand your musical literacy by studying with and playing alongside fellow CertHE guitar, keyboard, drum and vocal musicians. You’ll have regular opportunities to collaborate with these CertHE peers, as well as students across all other ICMP programmes.  

Exploring a range of popular music repertoire, styles and genres, you’ll gain a firm understanding of theory, technique and technology for live, recorded and live-streamed performance scenarios. You’ll also cover topics including live performance skills, stylistic techniques, music theory, music technology and music business. 

In addition to seminars and lectures, you’ll participate in regular skill sessions – both one-to-one with your ICMP bass tutor, and during collaborative workshops and ensemble practice with peers. A key focus at ICMP is collaboration and ‘A&R-style’ peer feedback, so you’ll frequently give and receive performance critiques to help you develop your unique identity as a bassist.   

Perfect your bass skills with ICMP

Across your year of learning, you’ll be taught in ICMP’s high-tech industry-standard facilities and guided by our expert tutors, who are all highly experienced music industry professionals, providing you with a deep understanding of the modern music industry. They’ll also arrange for you to attend regular industry events, networking opportunities, performances at London venues, and masterclasses hosted by special guest artists. 

Upon completing the CertHE, you’ll have gained exceptional bass technical skills, combined with strong live, recorded and online performance know-how, allowing you to work successfully across multiple areas of today’s music business. If you’d prefer to continue with your studies, the programme offers a direct pathway to the second year of the BMus (Hons) Popular Music Performance and BA (Hons) Creative Musicianship degrees, where you can further establish your career as a professional bass player and portfolio musician.

Apply to study at ICMP via UCAS

UK Students - Apply via UCAS

If you’d like to study with us this year, then you’ll need to start thinking about submitting your UCAS application. The deadline for degree applications is 6pm, Wednesday 26th January 2022.

UCAS codes for this programme are: Course Code: 316B • Institution Code: i25
UCAS Application Information

Fees & Funding

Course Fees: UK Students | EU/EEA/International Students

Full Programme Specification

ICMP Music School Logo

Successful completion of the CertHE Popular Music Performance (Bass) course leads to the award of Certificate of Higher Education by The Institute of Contemporary Music Performance.

Following the granting of Degree Awarding Powers, our programmes are going through a rigorous quality approval process to transfer responsibility for the award to ICMP. Applicants registering onto a programme from September 2022, on successful completion, will receive their award from ICMP. 



Key facts

  • An innovative one-year foundation course that recognises the evolving global music scene and promotes recorded, live and digital performance scenarios.
  • Receive personalised learning via regular one-on-one sessions with expert ICMP bass tutors.
  • Develop advanced bass technical skills and music theory knowledge through practice-as-research learning.
  • Explore your unique identity as a bass player through weekly activities that encourage solo and collaborative work.
  • Progress your musicianship across varied popular music genres and styles.
  • Study alongside other instrumentalists whom you will collaborate with throughout the duration of the course.
  • Produce an exceptional portfolio of recordings and performance work on the bass to use in your future career and promote yourself to the wider industry.
  • Study the modern music business and learn entrepreneurial skills to enhance your portfolio career opportunities.
  • Build a comprehensive musical network and perform at numerous London music venues.
  • Progress to the second year of an ICMP undergraduate degree on successful course completion.
  • Apply Now


Course details

During your one-year CertHE studies, you’ll focus on developing your performance abilities and technical skills on the bass guitar, five-string bass and synth bass, while also exploring digital music technologies and gaining a solid understanding of the ins and outs of the modern music industry. You’ll start to recognise your strengths and identity as a bass player as you progress your talents to an industry-standard level. 

live performance skills

During this highly practical module, you’ll strengthen core stylistic and stagecraft skills for bass as you engage in professional ensemble performances across a range of popular music genres. While focusing on bass, you’ll also broaden your skills across a secondary discipline – either vocal or instrumental. A key aspect of this module is receiving and providing feedback on performances and implementing this in your own work to evolve your development. You’ll work towards creating a complete performance portfolio while gaining practical skills and experience creating backing tracks, exploring backing vocals, performing to a click track and using industry-standard music technology such as in-ear monitors. 

  • Stagecraft skills for bass 
  • Stylistic repertoire 
  • In-person and recorded performance skills for bassists 
  • Rehearsal techniques 
  • Live performance technology 
  • Communication skills for performances 
  • Backing vocals  
  • Ensemble performance as a bass player  
  • Understanding your place in the rhythm section  
  • Tonal and timbral choices 
  • Understanding your gear  
  • Using backing tracks in performances 


This module gives you the academic knowledge and practical bass training to arrange, perform and record music across various popular genres and styles. You’ll establish strong foundations in music theory and music notation, as you elevate your performance skills by enhancing your sight-reading for bass. You’ll also examine the essentials of music technology and its application in popular music performance, including the use of keyboards, digital audio workstations (DAWs) and music notation software. In this module, you’ll undertake bass skill sessions, seminars and one-to-one tuition classes to support your development. 

  • Fingerstyle technique 
  • Slap technique 
  • Thumb and finger technique  
  • Basic keyboard skills  
  • Fundamentals of music theory  
  • Bass sight-reading 
  • Music technology essentials 
  • Music notation  
  • Stylistic awareness
  • Digital audio workstations 


Building on the earlier Theory, Technique and Technology module – this extends your current skills in music technology, bass technique and music theory to a deeper level. You’ll advance your notation skills and keyboard skills using industry-standard music technology such as music notation software. You’ll perform, arrange and record music across a variety of genres, tackling more challenging styles of popular music head-on. Through critical analysis and study of music theory, combined with intense practice and one-to-one sessions with your bass tutor, you’ll develop a range of advanced skills and techniques on the bass. 

  • Technical bass skills  
  • Music theory 
  • Music technology 
  • Digital audio workstations 
  • Musical literacy 
  • Arrangement skills 
  • Keyboard skills 

music business for performers

To establish a successful portfolio career in the modern music industry, you’ll need a thorough grasp of how today’s creative industries could shape your future in music. In this module, you’ll develop an understanding of the fundamental structures and functions of the music business, examining current industry practices, models and processes so you can recognise how creative practitioners and businesses interact. You’ll also cover music copyright, and gain insight into revenue flow and the inter-relationships between key areas of the music industry. Learning is focused on case studies, seminars and peer discussion to build a comprehensive understanding of the way the music business operates. 

  • Overview of the modern music industry 
  • The transformation of the music industry 
  • Music rights and royalties 
  • Recorded music 
  • Music publishing
  • Live music
  • The role of artist management
  • The A&R process
  • Sales and distribution
  • Professional music industry membership organisations
  • Trade bodies and collection societies
  • Music marketing and promotion
  • Future music industry developments

performance and identity

In this module, you’ll learn about popular music performance approaches and investigate these within traditional and current music practices and cultures. You’ll also delve into how these concepts affect the choices you might make as a bass practitioner in your future performance career, as you explore concepts like stardom and fandom, stage personas, sexuality, identity and the auteur. You’ll build academic research, critical analysis and inquiry skills, and be introduced to fundamental approaches of documenting practice, including audio, video, vlogs and blogs. Using new self-reflection skills, you’ll advance beyond the descriptive into evaluation, analysis and action planning to heighten your future performances. 

  • Popular music performance theories 
  • Approaches to documenting performances 
  • Video, audio, blogs and vlogs 
  • The wider cultural contexts of performance 
  • Documenting practice in performances, rehearsals and workshops  
  • Using documentation to refine or influence performances 
  • The effect of context on decision making 


During your time on the CertHE, you’ll be taught at our campus in London’s Kilburn and will regularly use our in-house music studio facilities, live rooms and tech suites, as well as classrooms and lecture rooms. As an ICMP student, you’ll have access to this equipment outside of class hours so you can rehearse and record your own music in your own time.

You’ll study using a variety of teaching and learning methods, including small group tutorials, lectures, performance and music technology workshops, and one-to-one bass tuition. 

For support and advice, you’ll have access to the Student Services Department if you have any questions about welfare, personal development, finance, safeguarding or more. You can also call on our Professional Development team – ‘The Hub’ – who’ll provide you with bespoke music business careers advice and unique music industry opportunities. 

Teaching and Learning

On the CertHE Popular Music Performance (Bass) programme, your learning will be in small mixed groups for seminars and small workshop groups for practical skills. Some lectures will be in larger groups. 
When not attending seminars, lectures and other timetabled sessions, you'll be expected to continue your independent learning through self-study. This will typically involve reading books and articles in your spare time, undertaking research in the library, working on individual and group projects, and preparing coursework and assignments. Your learning is supported by a range of excellent ICMP facilities, including our Learning Resource Centre, well-equipped tech suites and numerous performance and practice rooms. 

Throughout the duration of your course your time will be split as follows:

Teaching, Learning and Assessment hours per year:

Self-study hours per year:


Modules are assessed through a variety of means, including practical exams and performance, submission of course work, projects, examinations and essays. 

The assessment of this programme is:


CertHE Popular Music Performance (Bass) course applicants will typically have A-levels, a BTEC Diploma or Extended Diploma, an International Baccalaureate equivalent to 48 UCAS points, or an ICMP Higher Diploma. 

You should also hold a GCSE Grade C or 4 or above in English, or suitable equivalents, such as Level 2 Key Skills, Functional Skills or Adult Literacy/Numeracy. 

We welcome applications from mature candidates who may have no formal qualifications but can demonstrate their suitability for study through appropriate skills and experience. 

International students will usually hold a relevant equivalent qualification – please check yours with our Admissions team. You should also hold a relevant English language qualification equivalent to CEFR Level B2. 

All applicants will be invited to attend an audition/interview.  

This course is also available as a three-year BMus (Hons) Popular Music Performance option. 

UCAS code 316BUni code i25


Please apply via  the "APPLY NOW" link  below.

At any time during the application process if you need help or further advice just contact our Admissions team who will be happy to assist you. 


By phone:
020 7328 0222

By email: