UCAS code

Start date

16th September 2024

Course length

1 Year (2 years Part-time)


In this practice-based and highly personalised MMus Masters in Popular Music Performance course, you’ll take your already impressive musicianship and performance skills to the next level.

Whether you’ve just completed your undergraduate music degree and wish to continue immediately with postgraduate studies, or you’re keen to build upon your notable experience in the music industry, this challenging course will see you accomplish even greater proficiency on your chosen instrument. 

With the ability to study the masters as either a one-year full-time or two-year part-time programme, you’ll advance your instrumental technical expertise along with your performance capabilities, critical reasoning qualities and academic research skills. 

As an MMus student, you’ll be expected to work autonomously, engaging in self-directed study but with guidance and support from members of ICMP’s experienced professional faculty. Across your studies, you’ll be encouraged to identify your own personal learning requirements, select your essential resources, and design and implement a plan for achieving them.  

All MMus in Popular Music Performance students are required to undertake a substantial practice-as-research performance project, which leads to the production of a significant body of recital work on your instrument. With support and supervision from a faculty mentor of your choice, you can negotiate the form this project takes – whether a written dissertation, live or live-streamed performance, video-recorded recital or more. 

On top of four highly specialised core units, you can choose to study one of multiple optional modules, which include an investigation of a performance tradition, the use of music in health and wellbeing, and studies in instrumental pedagogy for prospective music teachers.

This course is sponsored by our industry partners:

bmus course sponsors


Our supporting industry partners are:


Alongside generously sponsoring courses, rooms and providing equipment, our industry partners also offer ICMP students access to exclusive discounts, events and opportunities.

This dynamic course will see you collaborating regularly with the highest calibre performers in your fellow classmates. You’ll explore your leadership and musical management skills as you take on the role of ensemble musical director, culminating in a performance of challenging original and existing repertoire. You’ll also benefit from a regular schedule of visiting lecturers who’ll discuss their different approaches, philosophies and ideas with you, including musicians, academics and guests from the wider creative industries. 

Music technology and digital diversity will enhance your learning experience. As an MMus student, you’ll have direct access to ICMP’s world-class facilities filled with industry-standard hardware, software and instruments, including a 24-track recording studio, high-tech Mac labs and dedicated performance spaces which can all be booked free of charge outside of class hours, seven days a week. 

Ultimately, the MMus in Popular Music Performance course will take you on a journey that will change the way you think about yourself as both a musician and a person. You’ll graduate with the skills, self-reliance and motivation needed to build and sustain a successful portfolio career as a talented music professional – whichever step you decide to take next. 

Financial Support

Student support for postgraduate music masters courses is available to students studying at ICMP.

Eligible students on designated masters courses at ICMP will be able to access the postgraduate masters loan in the same way, and at the same value, as they could at a publicly funded provider. Eligible students will be able to borrow up to £12,471. If you opt to study part-time, your loan would be split into two installments over the two years.

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 MMus in Popular Music Performance (Guitar, Bass, Drums) course leads to the award of a Masters Degree by The Institute of Contemporary Music Performance.


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Key facts

  • An advanced specialist programme equipping you with the knowledge and skills for successful employment in the music industry. 
  • Develop your creativity and confidence as a performer and academic with rigorous scholarship and enhanced instrumental technical ability, music literacy and performance skills.
  • Engage in bespoke one-to-one instrumental lessons with an expert ICMP tutor of your choice. 
  • Discover your leadership and management potential as an ensemble musical director.
  • Undertake personalised assessment projects that suit your talents, areas of interest and career aspirations.
  • Connect with the wider London music industry to build an impressive musical network.
  • The London location provides opportunities to perform in gigs at top city venues while immersing yourself in the global music scene.
  • Study as one-year full-time or two-year part-time programme (UK students only).
  • Apply Now


Course Details

This one-year postgraduate programme will see you broaden and deepen your advanced musical competencies, while you develop your critical thinking and independent learning. You’ll progress your instrumental expertise to the highest level, as you master skills as a musical leader, innovator and collaborator. A challenging, highly specialised programme, you’ll receive time, space, support and opportunities to expand your learning in your chosen direction. You’ll graduate as a professional, well-rounded musician and academic, with an impressive performance portfolio you can use for future endeavours.  

Advanced Instrumental Studies

In this module, you’ll develop skills designed to advance your instrumental ability to an exceptional level. With one-on-one guidance from your tutor, you’ll cover theoretical, technical, practical, conceptual and epistemological issues relating to your chosen instrument, as you examine a range of approaches to the performance of popular music. Your assessment will culminate in a live recital performance, which you’ll then analyse and evaluate, providing an opportunity for critical self-reflection. 

  • Private instrument tuition 
  • Advanced instrumental techniques 
  • Examine issues relating to your instrument  
  • Critical self-reflection 
  • Popular music performance techniques 
  • Personal and professional development 

Advanced Ensemble Studies

In this module, you’ll explore every angle of the ensemble experience as you gain high levels of collaborative artistic and technical skills. You’ll develop a sophisticated understanding of the roles and responsibilities of each ensemble member within the context of interpretive, creative and improvisatory musical performance. Your autonomy as a leader, director and performer will be enhanced, as you explore demanding ensemble rehearsal and performance scenarios. You’ll complete the module having confidently taken part in collaborative performance projects across a range of contemporary music genres. 

  • Ensemble skills 
  • Leadership skills 
  • Collaboration
  • Roles and responsibilities 
  • Critical self-reflection 
  • Music technology 
  • Creative project realisation 
  • Creative and collaborative approaches in the arts 

studio performance

This module will see you head into the studio, where you’ll be given the opportunity to experience a wide range of professional studio production practices. On top of gaining technical skills in composition, arrangement, production, distance recording and post-production, you’ll cover important musical communication abilities, such as leadership, team building, collaboration and coaching, plus techniques for recording both small and large ensembles. You’ll also learn about software music production by completing an individual composition or arrangement project using only synthesiser, samples and dub technology. 

  • Studio production practices  
  • Recording techniques  
  • Composition and arrangement  
  • Ensemble techniques  
  • Collaboration  
  • Pre-production techniques  
  • Post-production techniques  

music and wellbeing (optional)

In this optional module, you’ll address the key factors that can affect a musician’s mental and physical wellbeing, as you develop practiced-based research skills in this area. You’ll gain a sophisticated understanding of these factors, critically analysing how they impact the personal and professional lives of musicians. You’ll then evaluate and critique models and strategies that have been found to improve confidence, performance and wellbeing across the creative industries.  

  • Mental and physical wellbeing approaches for musicians 
  • Initiatives promoting musicians’ wellbeing 
  • Personal and professional development   
  • Practice as research 
  • Critique strategies found to improve confidence, performance, wellbeing 
  • Critical self-reflection 


You’ll investigate the concept of performance tradition in music in this optional module. To do this, you’ll do a detailed study of the origins, history, development, context, theory, practice and repertoire of the tradition of performance. You’ll attend events showcasing your fellow students and other talented guest artists as you analyse and critique performance techniques and learn what makes an exemplary performance. There will also be plenty of opportunities to examine and appraise your own performances, as you discuss the influences that have inspired you as a musician.  

  • Performance and practice traditions 
  • Historical, theoretical and musicological frameworks 
  • Sociological, cultural and technological conventions 
  • Instrumental skills 
  • Skills in practice as research 
  • Critical self-reflection 

instrumental pedagogy (optional)

In this optional module, you’ll gain an understanding of the key principles relating to educational and psychological theories of learning, and will learn what it takes to be a successful and effective instrumental music teacher. Exploring the specific educational practitioner roles and contexts that are of interest to you, you’ll investigate ideas including peripatetic teaching, community work, coaching, mentorship and group teaching. Even if you’re already an experienced teacher, this module will deepen your appreciation of the connections between your teaching approach and your own performance practice. By the end, you’ll be well versed in current educational pedagogy, having observed educators working in diverse contexts along the way. 

  • How to be an instrumental music teacher  
  • The principles of teaching 
  • Planning and assessing teaching  
  • Teaching observations 
  • Critical self-reflection 
  • Personal and professional development 
  • Equal opportunities, diversity and safeguarding in music performance and education  

performance research project

In this 60 credit point research module, you’ll undertake advanced, autonomous planning to present a practice-as-research performance project in whatever form you choose – whether a live, live-streamed or recorded recital, written dissertation, verbal commentary, PowerPoint presentation or another music-related output. You’ll be encouraged to explore a diverse range of musical genres and styles to help you realise your own unique instrumental voice and showcase it to an exceptionally high level. As you progress your personal journey towards mastery of your instrument, your tutors will empower and support you – particularly as you critique and analyse your own work, allowing you to continue developing as a performer. 

  • Advanced instrumental skills 
  • Practice-as-research skills 
  • Solo and collaborative performance repertoire 
  • Performance approaches for complex and diverse popular music 
  • Critical self-reflection 
  • Personal and professional development    


You will be taught at our campus in Kilburn, utilising our live rooms, tech suites and in-house music studio facilities as well as classrooms and lecture rooms. You will have access to use these facilities outside of class time while you are a student at ICMP in order to rehearse and record your music. 

You will be taught through a variety of teaching and learning methods including lectures, small group tutorials, performance workshops, music technology workshops tutorials and one-to-one instrumental tuition. 

You will have access to the Student Services Department for support and advice concerning welfare, finance, personal development, safeguarding and more. You'll also have access to our Professional Development team ‘The Hub, who provide bespoke music industry careers advice and access to unique industry opportunities.

Teaching and Learning

On the MMus in Popular Music Performance programme you will be taught by lecture, seminar discussion, and practical workshops as appropriate at ICMP's bespoke facilities in Kilburn.

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, concert venues, rehearsal facilities 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 hours per week
Semester A • Year 1: 6hrs

Total Teaching, Learning and Assessment hours per year
Year 1: 117hrs

Total self-study hours per year
Year 1: 1683


Modules are assessed through a variety of means, including performance, recitals, practical exams, submission of projects and portfolios, presentations, coursework and written work.


Successful applicants will typically have gained a good Honours degree (upper second or first) or equivalent in music and will be able to demonstrate advanced musicianship across a broad range of theoretical, technical, practical and conceptual competencies.  

ICMP also welcomes applications from established practitioners who are keen to undertake study at the postgraduate level but who may not possess a degree in music. Students wishing to apply through this route should contact our Admissions team in the first instance for further advice.

International: English language requirement – minimum level B2 of the CEFR.

Please note: International students, who require a visa to study in the UK, are only eligible to study on this course full-time.

When completing our full application form for the MMus in Popular Music Performance,  you will be required to write a personal statement outlining your interest in the course. This should include previous study, goals and aspirations, areas for development, and why you feel you'd benefit and are suited to this course.

You’ll also be asked to attend an audition/interview. Further documentation or evidence in support of your application may be required in certain cases.


 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

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