BA (Hons) Popular and Contemporary Music

Programme Information

Programme Start September 2018
Title BA (Hons) Popular and Contemporary Music
Calendar September – June
Type Full-Time
Length 3 Years
Typical Class Size 20
Awarding Institution Programme is subject to validation

Who is the programme for?

The BA Hons Popular and Contemporary Music programme is about developing independent, creative and entrepreneurial artist musicians. The course provides the opportunity for musicians to grow as performers, develop their own unique style and be fully equipped with the knowledge and skill to flourish in the rapidly changing music economy.

Why Barcelona?

Barcelona is one of the world´s most exciting music cities and home to numerous music festivals such as ; Sonar, Primavera Sound, and La Merce. There are great opportunities for live performance in the city of Barcelona as well as our own live music venue in Sitges.

The IAB provides a space where creation, production, performance and artistry merge to foster innovation.

The IAB is a world leading creative community, which encourages its students to collaborate and think beyond the norm. Whilst studying at the IAB Music students have the opportunity to work with dancers, actors, film makers and performers across the arts in a supportive creative and entrepreneurial culture.

About the Programme

The BA Hons in Popular and Contemporary Music has one simple aim – to provide all of its students with the creative, technical, business and entrepreneurial skills to gain and sustain a rewarding and dynamic life as a distinct and successful artist in the world of popular and contemporary music.

The programme does not foster one particular style or genre of music but provides musicians with the opportunity to develop their own work, be it electronic dance music, rock, pop, fusion, or more experimental work.

Distinguishing Features
  • Focus on performance, innovation and experimentation
  • International collaborative nature of the institution
  • Development of individual creative identity as a musician artist
  • Integration of performance, creation, technology and entrepreneurship
  • Being part of one of Europe's most creative and exciting Institutions with the opportunity to collaborate with artists from across the performing and recording arts
  • One to one music tuition in principle instrument (see below)
  • Proximity to Barcelona - one of Europe's most lively music cities with a great lifestyle
Teaching Staff and Associates

Central to the success of any programme is the quality of the teaching staff. All the staff who teach on the programme are experts in their field and have had successful careers as performers, composers or music entrepreneurs.

Principle Instruments

Musicians studying at the IAB will have access to a broad range of industry standard technology and equipment including:

  • Voice
  • Keyboard (piano and synth)
  • Guitar (electric and acoustic)
  • Bass (electric and acoustic)
  • Brass (trumpet, saxophone, trombone)
  • DJing and electronic music
  • Other instrumental tuition may be available on request
Resources and Technology
  • Our own off campus live music performance venue – open to the public
  • Digital audio music recording facilities
  • Digital Audio Workstations
  • Audio-visual production facilities
  • Ensemble and solo music practice and rehearsal facilities
  • Touring PA and backline equipment
Programme Content and Key Areas of Study

Although the programme is made up of separate units of study the programme as a whole is integrated with different elements of study joining together and feeding into each other.


Through weekly one-to-one sessions students will develop advanced technical and creative performance skills in their chosen instrument or singing voice (see above). Also within this area you will explore and develop advanced understanding of music theory for popular and contemporary music.

Performance and Music Projects

Performance in different creative contexts is vital for a career as a professional musician. The IAB offers opportunities across a wide range of areas for the artist musician. These include:

  • Concerts and Live performance within a band or as a solo artist
  • Creating Music Theatre Events
  • Creating Music for Dance and Theatre
  • Creating new Musical Theatre

Over the three years of the programme students will develop and refine their individual approach to the creation of music. Students will be supported in finding their own style, targeted to a specific segment of the music industry. The IAB does not impinge on the direction and intentions of individual musicians but rather supports them in becoming unique individual music artists.

Producing, Music Technology and Recording

The creation, performance, recording and distribution of music is dominated by technology. Over the course of study students will develop an advanced understanding of the use and potential of music technology from digital audio workstations and recording studios to live sound production.

Audio Visual Media Production

Music and media, especially on line media are converging forms. An artist musician needs to be adept and aware of the relationship between music and media, both as a creative tool and a vehicle for marketing, promotion and distribution.

Entrepreneurship and Music Business

To be able to work as an artist musician one has to be fully aware of the legal and contractual element which underpin music. One also needs to understand how the business operates and how to capitalize on creativity. All artists need to be entrepreneurs. At the IAB we help you to develop the skills, knowledge and ability to operate and flourish as an artist musician.

About the Programme

The BA Hons Popular Music degree is delivered over three years and is made up of 180 European Credits (ECTS) and 360 UK Credits. The degree is fully compliant with the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) framework. The figures in brackets below are European Credits.

Year 1: Core Skills of the artist Musician

Year One is about the development of core skills and knowledge across music performance, musicianship, music business, and music technology. This will be underpinned by a study of the form, structure and context of popular and contemporary music.

Year 2: Developing your Identity as an Artist Musician

In year two the student will continue to refine and develop their musicianship but the focus shifts from skill development to the application of those skills in substantial music performance and creation projects. Year 2 provides the student with the opportunity to focus on the development of their own identity as a musician artist. The year provides considerable opportunity for the students to develop their own music direction.

Year 3: The Professional Autonomous Artist Musician

In the third year a student will have developed with a clear understanding of their direction and creative vision. In the third year we provide the student with the opportunity to consolidate their creative practice, through substantial creative and performance projects. We also work with students to develop their musical vision and develop strategies to move towards the next stage of their career.

Teaching and Learning

The IAB is a practice-based institution where learning through doing is core. Whilst the programme does have lectures and seminars the dominant feature of the teaching and learning is hands on practical and experimental work.

The BA Hons Popular and Contemporary Music degree is indebted to the art school model. Instead of focusing on history, theory, technique and dry virtuosity the focus of the IAB is on experimentation, innovation, individuality and developing new ideas and challenging the old.

This programme will start in September, 2018

English Language Requirement

All of our programmes are taught and assessed in English.

Foundation Certificates: IELTS 5.5 BA and MA degrees: IELTS 6.5

Students applying from countries where English is the main language do not need IELTS qualifications

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