FD Music Performance & Production (1)

Start Date
Course Course
Performing Arts and Music
Hillsborough Campus

About this Course

Validated by The Open University, the Foundation Degree in Music Performance & Production is an innovative programme located in purpose-built facilities at Hillsborough Campus. The course offers a highly practical focus and provides the opportunity to develop specialist skills in music performance, production and composition, whilst simultaneously gaining a broader understanding of the industry and the interrelationship between musical disciplines. The course is delivered through a series of lectures, seminars, workshops, performances and professional projects, supported by experienced academic staff, professional musicians, producers, studio engineers, performers and high quality, tailored industry support. Students will draw upon critical approaches which underpin effective and professional practice and engage with contemporary thinking both within and beyond their specialist area. The course prepares students for employment, further study and self-fulfilment within a wide field informed by critical, historical, conceptual, and ethical dimensions and their own relationships with audiences, clients, consumers and co-creators, enterprise, industry and markets.

Key Units

Year 1 (Level 4)

Semester 1
Practical Musicianship [1] (20 credits)
Develops appropriate reading skills and successful practice and rehearsal strategies to allow for preparation and performance of both solo and group material to an audience.

Elements of Composition (20 credits)
Develops awareness of the different elements of musical composition through the study of compositional techniques in the creation and development of melodic, rhythmic, harmonic and structural ideas.

Popular Music in Context (20 credits)
Examines the contexts within which popular musical culture has evolved and continues to develop. This module will introduce, and give opportunity to apply, research skills needed for other modules at Levels 4 and 5, and give a context for practical study on other modules. 

Semester 2
Practical Musicianship [2] (20 credits)
Students build performance and rehearsal skills through the preparation of a variety of material across a variety of styles for performance in a series of short ensemble performances culminating in a larger scale performance. 

Composition in Context (20 credits)
This module builds upon the elements of composition and prepares learners for Level 5 through the investigation and application of stylistic convention across a number of genres and a practical investigation of common instrumental combinations and resources.

Live Sound and Recording (20 credits)
Learn and apply principals of music technology relating to sound capture and amplification for studio recording and live sound engineering. 

Year 2 (Level 5)
Semester 1
Harmony and Composition (20 credits)
This unit builds on skills developed at level four and investigates common harmonic and contrapuntal conventions that are used in different musical styles and genres and prepares learners for the portfolio required for the composition/songwriting module in Semester 2.

Advanced Practical Musicianship (20 credits)
This module builds on skills developed for Level 4 modules in performance and investigates professionalism in performance and the need for versatility as a working musician. The module will help prepare students for the session styles and improvisation module in semester two. 

Music Studio Production (20 credits)
This module will enable learners to produce recordings to professional standards by developing their practical and theoretical skills. This is a progression from the Level 4 Recording and Live Sound module and will give students opportunities to record independently and with confidence, to enable an option of running recording studio sessions as part progression on to Music Process and Production in the second semester.

Semester 2
Composition/Songwriting Portfolio (20 credits)
This unit allows learners the opportunity to investigate and apply the skills and techniques developed throughout the course in the creation of a portfolio of completed songs/compositions in any chosen style/genre.

Session Styles and Improvisation (20 credits)
This unit builds upon previous performance modules and investigates the role of the session musician and the role of improvisation in the performance of music.

Music Process and Production (20 credits)

The module will enable students to work in real work situations to research, plan, promote and manage an enterprise project. This will prepare students for work, as well as give students who are progressing onto level 6 experience is managing a substantial project as part of a team.

Entry Requirements

Entry Requirements are normally set at 64 UCAs points from:

  • A Level
  • BTEC or equivalent Merit/Pass/Pass
  • Other Level 3 in courses related to music performance/production equivalents with supporting performance or theory grades (Grade 6 and above)
Students should also have English Language GCSE at Grade C/4 or above (or equivalent e.g. Functional Skills at Level 2).

International students should have IELTS Level 6, with minimum score of 5.5 in all skills areas.

Applicants should have a genuine interest and passion for the subject and be able to demonstrate this articulately along with motivation, confidence and creativity. Students do not need to have a theory qualification to enter the programme.

In line with The Sheffield College’s commitment to widening participation, we encourage applicants from a diverse range of backgrounds. If students are mature learners, they may present a more varied profile of achievement that is likely to include extensive work experience and/or a range of professional qualifications in their work sector. References, alternative experience and skills will all be taken into account. 

Use of prior credit will be considered on an individual basis. In terms of APCL (Accreditation of Prior Certificated Learning) you will be expected to provide detailed transcripts of previous qualification. These will be mapped against the Course Modules to check for compatibility and currency. To gain APEL (Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning) prospective students will be required to present a portfolio of evidence for assessment. Any final decisions on your acceptance will be made in line with The Sheffield College’s policy guidelines and regulations on the following: APCL (Accreditation of Prior Certificated Learning) and/or APEL (Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning).


The majority of units in this course are assessed through a combination of written coursework (essays, portfolios, analysis etc.) and practical assessments (e.g. presentations, performances etc.)

Full details of assessment methods for each module can be found in the Module Descriptions documents listed below. 

Where does this Lead

Students who successfully complete the foundation degree have the opportunity to continue onto Level 6 at The Sheffield College, as the course is mapped to the BA (Hons) Music Performance and Production top-up coursewhere students can further their studies and specialise in their chosen area of performance, production or composition in semester 2.


There are also a wide range of Honours degree courses available across the country, at Universities and Higher Education Institutes such as:

  • The Open University
  • Bath Spa
  • Birmingham Conservatoire
  • Leeds Beckett
  • Leeds College of Music
  • BIMM
  • SOAS (London)
  • University of Salford

Future Opportunities

The programme aims to provide students with a broad ranging study of the field of music and the opportunity to develop detailed specialist knowledge in music performance and production. With strong links to employers in the creative industries, and opportunities for extensive experience of performance, it develops specialist knowledge and skills, appropriate transferable skills, self-awareness and the capacity to engage in reflective practice.

The range of modules provides a starting point for a range of careers in the performing arts, musical and community arts organisations, whether from graduation or with further study, such as:


  • Performing musician
  • Sound technician, broadcasting/film/video
  • Music producer
  • Live sound technician/engineer
  • Composer/sound design
  • Studio engineer
  • Community arts worker
  • Event organiser
  • Music therapist
  • Arts administrator
  • PPC specialist
  • Private music teacher
  • Radio producer/broadcast assistant
  • Secondary school teacher
  • Stage manager

Tell Me More

Validated by The Open University, this exciting course focuses on the practical nature of music production and performance, contextualising it within industrial/professional and theoretical perspectives. This broad ranging course covers a variety of musical disciplines and offers a highly practical focus. It allows students to develop specialist skills and to study chosen areas in depth, whilst also gaining a broader understanding of the industry as a whole and the inter-relationship between numerous specialist areas. 

The programme aims to provide skills that:
  • Cultivate and nurture originality and the development of musical identity
  • Develop an ability in interpretive and technical skills within composition, performance and productions
  • Develop an understanding of the music industry, how it functions and how to develop entrepreneurial skills
  • Develop some analytical and critical awareness of the synthesis between relevant theory and its application in performance, production and composition
  • Develop the practical skills required to use a variety of It formats and music technology
  • Gain an understanding of how cultural and social contexts shape significant developments within popular music
  • Support the development of interpersonal, communication and leadership skills
The course complements the portfolio of Media and Performing Arts courses offered at The Sheffield College, facilitating project collaboration between students from different disciplines – Drama, Musical Theatre, Media, Games Development and Music Performance and Production.

At Level 4, students will study two modules focusing on practical musicianship; studying the context and elements of composition, popular music, recording and live sound. The modules at Level 5 further develop students' musical and contextual skills with harmony and composition, advanced practical musicianship and music studio production; all of which lead to the development of a composition/song-writing portfolio. You will also study session styles, improvisation and music processes and production.

From 2021/22, university level fees at The Sheffield College will be £7,500 per year.

Course Handbooks
Please click on a link below to download the course handbook for this qualification, and other associated documents.
Information regarding OU Regulations can be found here

The Foundation Degree in Music Performance and Production is heavily focused on employability and involves work related learning, live briefs and simulated live briefs. Students work across a range of venues in Sheffield and the surrounding area, engaging in large scale projects involving project management, developing individual portfolios and employability skills.

The Foundation Degree in Music Performance and Production is delivered in purpose built, industry standard setting, comprising of a fully equipped recording studio, production suite, teaching spaces running Logic Pro, Ableton, Reason and CUBASE and 7 fully equipped practice rooms.

Staff Expertise
The course is delivered by experienced staff who are HEA fellows and practicing musicians, studio and live sound engineers with experience working across Europe as vocalists, recording artists and session musicians.

Teaching & Learning
Teaching methods may vary by module to suit the content accordingly, however generally teaching will take the form of lectures, seminars, group and individual tutorials, workshops, presentations and performances.

Tutorials are a vital part of the programme, helping students to review and evaluate their progress. Formal and informal, group and one-to-one tutorials take place at regular intervals and on a weekly basis throughout the programme. Formal tutorials are documented to include topics discussed, guidance, feedback, support, actions and outcomes. They are also an opportunity to inform members of staff of any personal issues students wish them to know. Group tutorials focus on project work, discussion, progress review and current and future information, given as guidance and feedback. Students are expected to take notes and use this opportunity as reflection and potential areas of progress and development of projects. 

How to Apply
Please note that applications for this course should be made through UCAS.
UCAS application code: W3W3
College institution code: S22

Additional Information
Additional information about higher education at The Sheffield College can be found here.

For further information you can call us on 0114 260 2600 or email course-enquiries@sheffcol.ac.uk . Alternatively, please email the University Centre via heunit@sheffcol.ac.uk leaving your name, contact details and title of the course[s] you are interested in, along with a brief summary of your query.

The Sheffield College is a registered provider with the Office for Students.

Terms and Conditions
You can find details of our higher education policies, procedures and T&Cs here

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