The next stage in a musician’s personal journey
Following the completion of undergraduate study, most musicians head out to find their place in the industry.
But, after a few years, they often start to feel it’s time to sharpen up their skills and take their music to the next level. That’s where postgraduate study comes in.
At ICMP we run two ‘taught’ postgraduate programmes, the MA in Songwriting and the MMus in Popular Music Performance. We’re often asked how and where postgraduate study fits into the landscape for professional musicians, music teachers and academically-minded music graduates. So let’s answer some of those burning questions, specifically in relation to our MMus programme.
What’s the difference between postgraduate and undergraduate study?
There is an unfathomable difference between the two. In many cases, postgraduate students have careers that are already up and running so they’re clear about their professional destination and what this looks like. It’s a great course to study alongside your professional life as a musician or music tutor.
Why does this course appeal to professional musicians?
Professional musicians and music tutors are particularly drawn to the MMus programme as a way of challenging themselves and pushing their abilities as a musician. It’s the best way they can reinvest in themselves and specialise in something profoundly important.
I remember studying and feeling affirmed that I was right in my thoughts - it validated what I already believed. Not that I sought this, but it was a welcome by-product of my postgraduate study.”
Terry Gregory, MMus Programme Leader
Our postgraduate courses are also available to study part-time over two years, making studying more manageable alongside full-time employment or other professional commitments.
Change the way you think about yourself and music
ICMP’s MMus programme provides students with the opportunity to reinvest in themselves and specialise. It’s a lot less prescribed than any undergraduate programmes. There’s more room for negotiation and space to pursue exactly what you want to study.
Students encounter many opportunities to perform, record and lead projects and to assist on collaborations with like-minded music makers. Overall, the programme changes the way students think about themselves and music through theoretical concepts and critical thinking.
How do musicians get the most from postgraduate study?
Postgraduate students need to start by thinking about their own levels of musicianship, technological skill, musical literacy and academic literacy.
They need to be able to self-evaluate - several of the modules ask students to submit a rationale or proposal for what they want to study on that module, why and what it’s going to do for them.
In the music industry, a qualification isn’t likely to get you a gig alone – but it does show a certain skill set, your experience and the amount of investment you’ve made in yourself.
What subject areas can students explore?
The potential subject areas for postgraduate exploration are broad and entirely driven by the students themselves. The only criteria is that students can demonstrate a rationale for why it’s going to help them and how this will meet the programme’s requirements. We’ve had everything from papers investigating ‘Evolving Definitions Of Funk’ to ‘The Brotherhood of New York Hardcore.’ Joining the course will allow you to enjoy an intense period of study digging deep into a subject area that enthuses and excites you.
If you want to study Swedish Death Metal, then yes you can but you have to be able to tell us why it’s going to improve you as a professional. It’s about challenging yourself and taking yourself beyond your comfort zone.”
Terry Gregory, MMus Programme Leader
Encounter a melting pot of music and styles
The course attracts many different nationalities too with students from Hong Kong to the US and everywhere in between. Plenty of EU nationals also join us leading to a fantastic melting pot of music and styles. This alone is a particular trigger for considering deeply what music is.
Often our students open a musical door to find there’s not only a room there but a whole world behind it which they want to walk into. Our job at ICMP is to guide them through that so they can come out the other side.
Funding Postgraduate study
UK and EU students studying postgraduate programmes can borrow up to £10,609 per year from the Student Loans Company. This money is paid directly to the student and is sufficient to cover course fees* and also provide a contribution towards living costs.
For students to be eligible for SLC funding, they must be studying a designated course. Courses at ICMP are designated each year by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. Please visit gov.uk/masters-loan for more information.
* ICMP Postgraduate courses cost: £8,500 for UK and EU Students • £10,500 for Non-EU Students
MMus Popular Music Performance
The MMus in Music Performance encourages you to develop the highest levels of instrumental expertise, performance abilities, academic research and critical reasoning skills. You’ll also explore your leadership and musical management skills via the role of musical director of an ensemble, culminating in a performance of challenging original and existing repertoire.
The Masters in Songwriting course is a practice-based, industry-led programme, placing your development as a songwriter in a critical and contextual setting. Working in a peer community, with teaching and support from current industry songwriting practitioners and academics, you’ll explore and refine your creative output and goals, considering artist, commercial and intellectual outcomes.