UCAS code


Start date

1st January 1970

Course length

1 Year


This vibrant and dynamic one-year course will see you develop an impressive overview of technical vocal skills, performance creativity and musical literacy in a very short space of time. A practical tailored programme, you’ll focus on your future career as a vocalist, but you’ll also work with your fellow students keen to launch careers as professional guitarists, bass players, keyboard players and drummers.

In a progressive and increasingly digital global music scene, there are more opportunities than ever for audiences and musicians to connect in innovative new ways. As well as building your technical and creative abilities, this highly current vocal performance course will see you grow your digital and entrepreneurial business skills, as you launch yourself as a competent and confident vocalist to the industry.

Perfect your singing in London with ICMP

At the heart of your CertHE is developing your technical ability on your principal instrument - in your case, your voice – but you’ll also improve your musical literacy by playing with and studying alongside those on your course studying guitar, bass, drums and keys. You’ll also have many chances to work and perform with students from the whole spectrum of ICMP programmes.

As you explore popular music genres, styles and repertoire, you’ll develop a thorough understanding of technique, theory and technology for live, livestreamed and recorded performances. You’ll also learn about stylistic techniques, music technology, the music business, and how to pull off an effective live performance.

In addition to lectures and seminars, you’ll take part in skills sessions - both one-on-one with your ICMP vocal tutor, and with peers during collaborative workshops and ensemble practice. A central focus of education at ICMP is teamwork, as well as regular ‘A&R-style’ peer-to-peer feedback, so you’ll learn to give and receive performance critiques and use these to improve your performances.

study vocals in London at ICMP

Across your CertHE year, you’ll learn in ICMP’s state-of-the-art industry-standard facilities as you’re supported and guided by our expert tutors - all highly qualified educators and professional musicians. They’re ready to give you comprehensive insight into the modern music business and how it operates. They’ll also ensure you to participate in a host of music business events, masterclasses featuring special guest artists, networking opportunities and performances at venues across London.

At the end of your studies, you’ll graduate with exceptional technical vocal skills and essential live, recorded and virtual performance experience, so you’ll be ready to forge a successful career across whichever music business path you choose to progress. If you’d prefer to keep up with your learning, the CertHE Vocal course offers a direct path to the second year of the BMus (Hons) Popular Music Performance and BA (Hons) Creative Musicianship degrees, where you can continue to advance your skills for a career as a portfolio musician and professional vocalist.

Fees & Funding

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

Course Fees | Programme Specification | Programme Handbook

Click to view the full terms and conditions of applying to study at ICMP.

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


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Key facts

  • An all-encompassing one-year course that celebrates the evolving global music scene and encourages recorded, live and virtual performance events.
  • Experience individualised learning with regular one-on-one sessions with expert ICMP vocal tutors.
  • Explore your unique identity as a vocalist through solo and collaborative project work.
  • Develop your vocal technique to ensure a safe and sustainable performance career.
  • Understand how to excel in both a lead and ensemble environment, and the industry requirements on a modern professional vocalist.
  • Develop your sight-singing skills that offer the opportunity to engage in additional professional scenarios.
  • Expand your musicianship by studying an extensive selection of popular music styles and genres.
  • Study alongside other instrumentalists who you will collaborate with throughout the duration of the course.
  • Receive a strong overview of the modern music industry and gain entrepreneurial skills to boost your career.
  • Connect with an extensive musical network and perform at key London music venues.
  • Choose to progress to the second year of an ICMP undergraduate degree on successful completion of the course.
  • Graduate with a full portfolio of recordings and performance work to showcase in your future career.
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Course Ambassador

Vula Malinga

Vula Malinga is the course ambassador for vocals on the CertHe course. 


Born in the United States to South African parents, Vula was raised in Hackney, London. Her religious parents supported her singing talents by allowing her to join the church choir, which resulted in her becoming one of the lead singers for the London Community Gospel Choir.


This brought her to the notice of Basement Jaxx, with whom she sang lead on their single "Oh My Gosh". The collaboration continues to this day, and led to her supporting fellow Basement Jaxx singer Sam Sparro on his tour.


In 2008, Malinga began developing her own music under her own record label, DivaGeek Records, releasing her first single "Wondering Why" in October.


She also sang support vocals for Dizzee Rascal and has supported him on live appearances, including Live Lounge, Later... with Jools Holland and the 2009 BBC Electric Proms.


Course details

During the one-year CertHE course, you’ll focus on developing your vocal performance abilities and technical skills, as you learn how to perform safely and keep your voice in the best possible condition. Your experienced tutors will provide you with a good overview of the modern music business, as you explore roles as a vocalist, backing singer and musical director, and advance your talents to a professional industry level.

live performance skills

​In this practical module, you’ll build your core stylistic and stagecraft skills essential for an industry-standard performance. You will explore a range of popular music genres, including Pop and R&B, while developing your own sound, style and presence. You'll develop a deeper understanding of performance by critically analysing a variety of performances, including your own, and applying this to aid your own development. In addition to performance, stage presence and musical direction, this will be your opportunity to learn about and practice using performance technology such as in-ear monitoring (IEM) and click tracks. By the end of this module, you will have significantly increased your confidence and ability as a performer.

  • In-person and recorded performance skills for vocalists
  • Stagecraft skills for vocalists
  • Connection with lyric
  • Live performance technology
  • Stylistic repertoire
  • Sustainable vocal performance
  • Rehearsal techniques
  • Backing vocals skills such as blending
  • Communication skills for performances
  • Ensemble performance as a vocalist
  • Acapella vocals
  • Vocal arrangement techniques
  • Using backing tracks in performances


This module will give you the academic knowledge and practical vocal training to arrange, perform and record music across many popular genres and styles. You’ll build strong foundations in music theory and music notation, as you gain key skills in sight-reading to elevate your vocal performance skills. You’ll also be introduced to the essentials of music technology and its application in popular music performance, including the use of keyboards, music notation software and digital audio workstations (DAWs). Learn through a mix of vocal skill sessions, seminars and one-on-one vocal tuition with a vocal tutor who will encourage and support your growth.

  • Vocal warmups
  • Application of technique to style
  • Connection with lyric
  • Expanding your vocal colours
  • Understanding your voice
  • Music notation
  • Fundamentals of music theory
  • Digital audio workstations
  • Sight-singing and chart reading
  • Music technology essentials
  • Stylistic awareness


Building on the previous module – Theory, Technique and Technology – this module advances your skills in vocal technique, music theory and music technology to a higher level. You’ll develop notation and keyboard skills using industry-standard music technology, such as notation software. You’ll also expand your knowledge of arranging, recording and performing by exploring a range of more challenging styles of popular music. Combining critical analysis, with one-to-one sessions with your keyboard tutor and committed practice, you’ll develop a selection of vocal skills and techniques to be proud of.

  • Refining vocal technique
  • Music technology
  • Music notation software
  • Musical literacy
  • Music theory
  • Digital audio workstations
  • Arrangement skills
  • Keyboard skills

music business for performers

In this module, you will dissect the music industry and gain an understanding of how the different sectors impact the creative industries. You will use case studies, peer discussion and seminars to examine industry structures and functions like revenue flow, music copyright and the inter-relationship between the key areas of music. A successful portfolio career is key to longevity in the music industry; you will explore the variety of roles within the industry, as well as ways that you can diversify your income. This module will also provide you with the skills you need to set up, maintain and navigate social media as a DIY artist.

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

performance and identity

During this module, you'll explore your identity through performance, focusing specifically on current music practices and popular music styles like Pop, R&B and Afrobeats. You'll delve into the essence of performance and have the opportunity to debate concepts including stardom and fandom, identity, stage personas and stage presence. Informed by your own research, group discussion and reasoning, you will be able to present yourself and your artistry before a panel of your peers. By experimenting with different industry-aligned approaches to documenting and sharing practice, such as vlogs, video, audio and blogs, you will expand your critical analysis skills, inquiry skills and academic research. Ultimately, this module will allow you to  come face-to-face with yourselves as musicians, artists and performers and embark on an experience of your individual artistry.

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


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 vocal 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 your year of study, you'll be in timetabled teaching activities, such as lectures, seminars, practical classes and workshops, for typically 15 hours a week. You’ll also have personalised one-to-one tutorials scheduled throughout the year.


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


CertHE Popular Music Performance (Vocals) 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 316VUni 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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