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Department of Music, School of Arts

BA in Global Popular Music

Programme Code: W301


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Subjects Preferred: Three A levels or equivalent with BBB (or equivalent); Music A level is NOT required.

Start of programme: September 2015

Mode of Attendance: Full-time

The BA Global Popular Music offers a unique programme that allows students to focus on popular and contemporary music styles and cultures in global perspective.

The degree includes regional courses that build on the expertise of SOAS staff in music in the Middle East, Asia and Africa, world music performance, practical skills courses in multimedia, approaches to the study of popular music, and opportunities for directed independent study projects on topics ranging from K-Pop to hip-hop, Latin to Rai.

The programme leads into careers and vocational pathways including arts management, festival administration and curating, music journalism, teaching, performing and composing, album production, and management and consultancy within the music industry in Europe, Asia and Africa.


Programme Structure

Year 1

You will take six introductory courses plus one unit of open option courses.

Year 1 compulsory courses:
Year 1 Optional Course:

Performance 1a - 155800061 (0.5 Unit) - full year

Year 2

You will take one compulsory course and must choose one skills course in recording or in radio presenting and at least two courses on popular music (including, among others, Global Hip Hop, Pop and Politics in Israel, Music of Cuba. You can also select other courses offered within the Music Department (including generic courses such as Music and Gender, regional courses on musical traditions of Asia and Africa, and performance, available from the lists below, and up to one unit from our open option courses.

Year 2 compulsory course:

The Music Business - 155800053 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2

Year 3

You will take two compulsory courses and choose one skills course, one popular music course and other courses offered within the Music Department (including generic courses such as Music, Shamanism and Healing, regional courses, and performance, available from the lists below, and up to one unit from our open option courses.

Year 3 compulsory courses:

Directed Study in Popular Music - 155800088 (0.5 Unit)
Urban Soundscapes - 155800083 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1

Area Courses
General Courses
Project Courses
Performance Courses

Programme Specification


Teaching & Learning

Teaching & Learning

The Department of Music has been highly rated for teaching and research in all recent assessment exercises, and is regularly ranked amongst the top Music departments in the UK in Good University Guides.

The Department has a unique concentration of expertise in popular music of the major regions of Asia, the Middle East and Africa, and their diasporas. Its staff, research associates and teaching fellows have wide-ranging experience in the music industry, including the production of high profile albums, radio and print journalism, and concert and festival organisation.

Our students have access to the world renowned SOAS Library, which holds numerous books, journals and recordings relevant to the study of ethnomusicology and world music, as well as the nearby British Library Sound Archive and other London libraries and museums. The Department also maintains a large working collection of musical instruments from Asia and Africa.

A Student's Perspective

The enthusiasm that the lecturers have in their subjects is infectious and it ensures everybody succeeds. The extra curricular music scene is pretty unique and seriously enjoyable, one day you could be playing the kora, the next, gigging with the Cuban Big Band, the next, looking after Mory Kante and talking music with him after a gig in the Brunei Gallery! It’s all here under one roof.

Liam Barnard