This exciting one-year course allows you to develop strong technical drum skills, performance creativity and musical literacy in a short period of time, with the view to becoming a well-rounded professional portfolio musician. A highly personalised programme, your learning will be concentrated on the drums, while you collaborate with your fellow students who are studying guitar, bass, vocals and keys.  

In a fast-changing, increasingly digital international music industry, there are more opportunities than ever for musicians and audiences to come together for performances in innovative ways. As well as strengthening your technical and creative capabilities, this highly relevant performance CertHE allows you to build digital proficiency and entrepreneurial business skills as you set yourself up as a competent and flexible drummer and musician. 

Become a better drummer with ICMP London

At the heart of your CertHE is a focus on your primary instrument – drums – but you’ll expand your musical literacy collaboratively too, by playing alongside and studying with fellow CertHE guitar, bass and keyboard musicians and vocalists. You’ll have frequent opportunities to connect and perform with your CertHE peers, as well as students from ICMP’s spectrum of courses.  

Examining a selection of popular music styles, genres and repertoire, you’ll gain a solid understanding of theory, technology and technique for live, recorded and live-streamed performance scenarios. You’ll also cover subjects such as music theory, live performance skills, music technology, stylistic techniques and the music business. 

Across your year of study, you’ll learn in ICMP’s world-class industry-standard facilities and will be guided by our experienced tutors. Our teaching staff are all renowned educators and music business professionals who will provide you with key insights into today’s music industry. They’ll also organise for you to attend regular networking opportunities, industry events, masterclasses hosted by special guest artists, and gigs at venues around London.  

Perfect your drumming skills with ICMP

As well as lectures and seminars, you’ll participate in a selection of skills sessions – both one-to-one with your ICMP drums tutor, and during collaborative workshops and ensemble practice with your fellow students. A core feature of ICMP programmes is collaboration and ‘A&R-style’ peer feedback, so you’ll often give and receive performance appraisals as you develop your unique identity as a drummer.    

Once you complete the CertHE drum course, you’ll have acquired exceptional technical skills on the drums, as well as robust knowledge and experience of recorded, live and live-streamed performances, allowing you to work successfully across many different areas of the modern music industry. If you’d rather continue with your studies, the CertHE offers a pathway straight to the second year of the BMus (Hons) Popular Music Performance and BA (Hons) Creative Musicianship degrees, where you can further develop your career as a professional drummer and portfolio musician.

Fees & Funding

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

Full Programme Specification


Successful completion of the CertHE Popular Music Performance (Drums) course at ICMP leads to the award of CertHE by the University of East London.



Key facts

  • A thorough one-year foundation course that acknowledges the rapidly changing global music scene and promotes live, live-streamed and recorded performance scenarios.
  • Develop world-class music theory knowledge through practice-as-research learning and enhance your technical drumming skills to an advanced level.
  • Undertake regular one-on-one tuition sessions with expert ICMP drum tutors.
  • Expand your musicianship and employability skills across a variety of popular music styles and genres.
  • Explore your unique identity as a drummer through weekly activities that encourage both collaborative and solo work.
  • Understand the modern drummer and their role in an ensemble context, the embedding of technology and the importance of timekeeping and groove.
  • Study alongside other instrumentalists whom you'll collaborate with throughout the duration of the course.
  • Produce a comprehensive portfolio of industry-standard performance work and recordings to use in your future career and aid in the promotion of yourself to the wider industry.
  • Build a broad musical network and perform at a selection of London music venues.
  • Study the music industry and build entrepreneurial skills to enhance your portfolio career opportunities.
  • Progress to the second year of an ICMP undergraduate degree on successful completion of the course.
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Course details

During your one-year CertHE studies, you’ll focus on developing your performance abilities and technical skills using acoustic drum kits, electronic drum machines, hybrid kits, percussion and synths. You’ll also learn to record, create backing tracks, play to click and more. Your experienced tutors will provide you with a thorough overview of the modern music industry, as you begin to understand your strengths and identity as a drummer and progress your talents to an impressive industry level. 

live performance skills

In this practical module, you’ll build your core stylistic and stagecraft skills for drums across a variety of genres in popular music – essential for professional ensemble performances. While mainly concentrating your study on the drums, you’ll also expand your skills by getting to know a secondary discipline (either instrumental or vocals). A core part of the module is giving and receiving critical feedback on performances, then incorporating this into your own development. As you progress, you’ll build a comprehensive performance portfolio – while developing skills in using industry-standard performance technology like in-ear monitors, backing tracks and click tracks. 

  • Stagecraft skills for drums
  • Stylistic repertoire 
  • In-person and recorded performance skills for drummers
  • Rehearsal techniques for drummers
  • Live performance technology 
  • Communication skills for performances 
  • Backing vocals  
  • Ensemble performance as a drummer  
  • Playing to click
  • Playing with in-ear monitoring
  • Playing to and building backing tracks
  • Hybrid and non-traditional drum set-ups  


This module will give you the practical drums training and theoretical knowledge to perform, record and arrange music across many popular styles and genres. You’ll build a strong grounding in music notation and theory, while developing skills in sight-reading for drums and boosting your performance skills. You’ll also explore key music technologies – like keyboards, music notation software and digital audio workstations (DAWs) – exploring ways these tools are used in popular music performance. The module offers learning through focused drums skill sessions, one-on-ones with your tutor, and seminars to support your musical advancement.   

  • Rudiments and vocabulary
  • Fundamentals of music theory  
  • Basic keyboard skills
  • Music technology essentials
  • Sight-reading/sight-singing 
  • Fundamentals of music theory   
  • Music notation  
  • Stylistic awareness
  • Digital audio workstations 


This module expands on the previous module – Theory, Technique and Technology – to take your current drum skills, practical knowledge of music technology and grasp of music theory to a higher level. You’ll have access to high-tech music technology – such as DAWs and music notation software – to help improve your notation and keyboard skills. You’ll advance your understanding of industry-standard performance skills by arranging and recording music across a range of more complex styles and genres. You’ll also develop impressive technical competency on the drums through intense practice, an analysis of music theory and one-on-one sessions with your drums tutor. 

  • Technical drums skills  
  • Music theory 
  • Music technology 
  • Digital audio workstations 
  • Musical literacy 
  • Arrangement skills 
  • Keyboard skills
  • Music notation software

music business for performers

Having a thorough grasp of how the music industry operates and understanding the ways today’s creative industries can shape your future, is essential when establishing a successful portfolio career. In this module, you’ll discover the key structures and functions of the music industry – looking at trends, current practices, industry models and processes – so you can appreciate how the business side of the industry interacts with the creative world. Looking at case studies and participating in peer discussion around topics like music copyright and industry revenue flow, you’ll gain notable insight into how the different areas of the music business interconnect. 

  • 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

During this module, you’ll discover popular music performance approaches, and analyse them within the context of new and traditional music practices using academic research, inquiry skills and critical analysis. You’ll explore how these approaches impact the choices a drummer might make in a professional performance career, as you investigate themes such as identity and stage personas, stardom and fandom, sexuality and the auteur. Studying well-known techniques for documenting practice, you’ll get hands-on with blogs, vlogs, audio and video. Reflecting on your performances, you’ll find yourself going beyond the descriptive, into deeper analysis and evaluation that will help 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 


At ICMP, you’ll learn on campus in Kilburn and will regularly use our live rooms, tech suites and in-house music studio facilities, as well as classrooms and lecture rooms. While you’re a student at ICMP, you’ll have access to these facilities outside of class time so you can rehearse and record your own music whenever you like. 

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

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

As a University of East London (UEL) student, you’ll also enjoy access to a range of UEL facilities, including the 24/7 multimedia libraries which contain over 300,000 books, journals, audio-visual resources and archives, 500 electronic books and 25,000 electronic journals and databases. 

Teaching and Learning

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

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 (Drums)

course applicants will typically have A-levels, a BTEC Diploma or Extended Diploma, or an International Baccalaureate equivalent to 48 UCAS points, or an ICMP Higher Diploma. 

In addition, you should hold a GCSE Grade C or 4 or above in English, or suitable equivalent, such as Level 2 Key Skills, Functional Skills or Adult Literacy/Numeracy. 

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

International students will typically hold a relevant equivalent qualification – please check your qualification with our Admissions team. In addition, you should 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 316DUni 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. 


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020 7328 0222

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