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Undergraduate course

Independent Music Production BA (Hons)

Combine your passion for music with your enthusiasm for technology. Learn advanced studio production skills to produce your music, your way.

music producer

This programme is for producers whose focus is on themselves as the artist. We welcome musicians who want to become experts with production technology and savvy in the mechanics of the music industry. It is for those who want to take control over their own careers by producing, marketing and releasing their own music, all in-house. The contemporary DIY musician.

York campus

  • UCAS Code – J932
  • Duration – 3 years full-time | 6 years part-time
  • Start date – September 2021
  • School – School of the Arts

Minimum Entry Requirements

    96 UCAS points

    3 GCSEs Graded at C/4 or above (or equivalent) including English Language

Tuition Fees

    UK and EU 2021 entry £9,250 per year full time

    International 2021 entry £12,750 per year full time

York St John Abbey Road Sessions

Course overview

This degree is one of a suite of Music Production courses that share the same core ideals, but offer a different focus in the field. The other degrees in the suite are Music Production BA (Hons)Digital Music BA (Hons), and Music Production & Creative Business BA (Hons).

Our Independent Music Production BA focuses on the DIY musician. It prepares you for writing, producing and selling music where you are the artist.

Developments in digital technology mean there are new opportunities for musicians. If you're an artist and want to produce your own music, this course was designed for you. We'll teach you music production skills and the necessary industry knowledge to produce and sell your own music products.

On this course you will:

  • Learn the production skills needed to be confident and creative in modern music and media industries.
  • Develop your musical understanding through writing and arranging commercial tracks.
  • Learn advanced recording techniques with acoustic theory to capture and process sound.
  • Use an array of digital technology to sequence, synthesize, sample and mangle sounds and beats for specific purposes.
  • Produce your music and develop your project management and artist development skills.
  • Develop critical thinking and academic skills, and contribute to current debates around production, examining modern distribution platforms, analogue recording technologies and film music.
  • Learn the practical business skills needed to establish and market your music. 
  • Gain essential confidence in handling contracts, copyright, sync rights and product promotion. 

Course structure

Level 1

In the first year modules cover the core technical, creative and managerial facets of production. At the same time you will learn to bring all these aspects together to produce music for your Production Portfolio. At the end of the year your Portfolio will demonstrate your development and achievement as a creative artist-producer.


Compulsory modules include:

  • Independent Music Production Portfolio (30 credits)

This module is delivered in small group tutorials where the focus is on your creative output and the formation of your professional identity as an independent music producer. You will draw together specific skills learned in other modules and deploy them holistically in the creation of marketable music products that embody your artistic personality.

  • Sound Engineering and Music Technology (20 credits)

This practical module provides you with essential knowledge of the techniques and technology for music production, using both analogue recording studio hardware and Digital Audio Workstations such as Pro Tools and Logic Pro. Key tasks covered include recording, editing, comping, sequencing, signal processing, sampling and synthesis.

  • Introduction to Production Musicology (20 credits)

This module is about the academic field of music production. By studying key historical and theoretical sources in reference to seminal recordings you will gain the tools for analytical and critical thinking that will ultimately inform your creative and practical work.

  • Making Music (10 credits)

The aim of this module is to develop your understanding of music as the raw material of production. You will learn the rudiments of melody, harmony, rhythm and structure and how to apply them creatively in a variety of composition tasks.

  • Critical Listening Skills (10 credits)

This introduces one of the fundamental skills required of any worker in the music industry – the ability to listen critically to a sound source and accurately determine its component material. You will learn to identify sounds and treatments applied in existing productions, enabling you to effectively apply them within your own productions.

  • 21st Century Music Business (10 credits)

This module provides you with a contextual understanding of the contemporary music business. By considering how key music industry institutions, legal frameworks and record labels have developed, you will gain a solid foundation for working in the 21st Century music industry and media industries.

  • Project Management and Productivity (10 credits)

A key transferable skill of the music producer is the effective management of time, resources and talent in the organisation of large scale recording projects, album releases, studio installs and live events. Therefore you will study project and time management, evaluating a range of methods and techniques so that you can develop your own personal productivity systems best suited to you needs

  • Sound and Acoustics (10 credits)

You will gain a fundamental understanding of sound and acoustic theory and apply the knowledge in various recording and listening environments. You will be able to illustrate how a music studio, such as your own facilities, should be designed or arranged for the best acoustic response.

Level 2

Study advanced technical and creative subjects in your second year. Your second year portfolio of creative work will include music produced for and with professional clients. A selection of optional modules will allow you to tailor your production skills to a specific area, such as film music production and sound design.


Compulsory modules include:

  • Developing Your Independent Music Production Portfolio (40 credits)

In this module you will continue to develop your identity as an independent artist, drawing together the skills learned in other modules to produce a portfolio of your music. You will work on some projects with our industry clients acting as executive producers, label representatives or commercial clients.

  • Studio recording and Computer-Based Production (20 credits)

Following from the technical skills gained at Level 1 this practical module develops a more advanced knowledge and understanding of recording skills, building confidence in using the mixing console and key Digital Audio Workstations. Areas covered include creative mic techniques; mixing in a variety of  situations; handling a large scale recording session; and mastering.

  • Critical Studies in Music Production (20 credits)

This module builds upon the academic foundations established in Introduction to Production Musicology. At this level you will engage in contemporary debates and discussions regarding the art and practice of record production, and demonstrate an increasing level of sophistication when making an argument and articulating your research findings in academic writing.

  • Composing and Arranging (10 credits)

Following from the Making Music module you will expand your musical understanding with arrangement theory and practice, exploring the use of various sonic textures and how they can be combined for particular effect. Topics covered may include writing for drum and bass, harmonising a melody, constructing a sound world and creating a hook.

  • Developing a Producer’s Ear (10 credits)

This module continues to develop your appreciation of the core skill of the professional music producer – their ability to listen and accurately identify and communicate what they hear. You will develop an understanding of the importance of audio reproduction and media consideration (e.g. vinyl, CD, high definition, etc.), along with an understanding of the importance of monitor design, amplifier design, listening environments, and listener placement.

  • Marketing and PR for the Independent Musician (10 credits)

You will investigate the marketing and publicity processes and techniques used for selling music products. You will gain a thorough overview of press relations, online strategies and general promotion practices before developing an effective marketing and PR strategy for yourself or an artist you are working with.

Choose one optional module to achieve 120 credits at Level 2.

Optional modules may include:

  • Music Production for the Moving Image (10 credits)

You will examine the ways in which music combines with the moving image to create meaning in film and television production. You will study the functions of music in narrative film, learning film music composition and production techniques and using them to create music to be synced with specific moving image productions.

  • Sound Design for the Moving Image (10 credits)

This module requires you to apply your production skills in the creation and manipulation of non-musical sound in film and television production. Through practical work and the analysis of case studies you will develop an understanding of key sound design elements, such as production sound; foley; dialogue editing; spot effects; sound effects and atmospheres.

  • Electronic Music (10 credits)

This module will introduce creative and technological practices fundamental to the production of electronic music. You will learn about specific genres of electronic production and study the work of influential artists, as well as producing music in a specific electronic genre in response to a client’s brief or label requirements.

  • Interactive Music Production (10 credits)

This module give you the opportunity to engage in research and practice in the field of interactive music production. You will explore alternative controllers, breaking away from the traditional interfaces of the MIDI based piano keyboard by exploring alternative means to generate sound, ultimately creating an interactive music production instrument or installation.

Level 3

Draw on all your previous learning to produce a major piece of work, such as an album or series of EPs  in your Independent Music Production Project. This module is taught in one-to-one supervisions. You’ll deepen your critical thinking with a research project and write a dissertation on a topic of your choosing. We will also support you to develop a personal career plan to prepare you for leaving University.


Compulsory modules include:

  • Independent Music Production Project (60 credits)

This module represents the culmination of the development of your music production potential and your understanding of music product promotion. In this module you will draw together all your creative, technical and contextual understanding in the creation of a substantial music product with a marketing release strategy for it.

  • Advanced Mixing and Mastering (20 credits)

This module considers the role of mixing audio as an artform, with unique artistic elements and processes. You will build up your mixing skills to an advanced specialist level using modern and classic techniques. You will also cover the specific skills of mastering and use your techniques and strategies to create professional audio productions.

  • Progressing Your Music Production Career (20 credits)

This module supports your Professional Development Planning for your future after University. You will develop a grounded career plan based on your personal aspirations and careful research of your chosen area, so that you can go confidently into the world with a solidly researched and realistic action plan for the years after graduation.

  • Independent Music Production Research Project (20 credits)

This module enables you to focus on a topic of your choice from your Independent Music Production studies. You will explore this through analysis, experimentation, theory and practice and articulate your research findings in an academic journal article.

Teaching & Assessment

From the day you start with us we consider you to be a working Music Producer. We deliberately keep our group sizes small so that staff can get to know you and your creative personality, and therefore support your individual needs and aspirations.


This course takes a very practical approach to teaching and learning. After covering core skills and theory in workshops you'll bring it all together in your own creative productions. You’ll get detailed feedback on your productions in weekly studio seminar groups so you can continually develop and improve your work before it is assessed. In year 3 you get dedicated one-to-one mentoring to guide you through your major production project.

Your contact hours vary depending on the module. Technical modules like Sound Engineering will have 4 hours a week in studio skills sessions. Music modules, such as Composing and Arranging, are taught through a 1 hour workshop followed by a 1 hour practical exercise each week.

Professional work experience

Develop your craft through constant professional work experience. We have a network of industry partners who come to work with you either as clients or co-producers. Most professional producers work as freelances, managing a portfolio of projects and clients. In our model, you gain realistic work experience as a freelance 21st Century producer.

Assessment Methods

You will be assessed through practical coursework projects. Critical work may be written essays, journal articles or presentations. Although there are no exams on this course, you will be tested on aural and studio skills.


Our staff have ongoing professional profiles as music producers and/or run businesses that inform the ethos and teaching on our programmes. All the lecturers are Fellows of the Higher Education Authority.

Our staff members are:

  • Active recording and mix engineers.
  • Songwriters.
  • Film music composers
  • Electronic music producers
  • Sound designers
  • Studio designers
  • Session musicians
  • Published authors of music technology textbooks.

Entry Requirements


The minimum entry requirements for this course are:

96 UCAS Tariff points

3 GCSEs at grade C/4 or above (or equivalent) including English Language

International Students

If you are an international student you will need to show that your qualifications match our entry requirements. Information about international qualifications and entry requirements can be found on our international pages.

If your first language is not English you must show evidence of English language competence at IELTS level 6.0 (with no skill below 5.5) or equivalent.

International entry requirements

Terms and conditions

Our terms and conditions, policies and procedures contain important information about studying at York St John University. These can be accessed through our Admissions webpages.

Fees and funding

To study for an undergraduate degree with us, you will need to pay tuition fees for your course. How much you pay depends on whether you live inside the UK or EU, or internationally (outside the UK/EU). Tuition fees may be subject to inflation in future years.

UK and EU 2021 entry

The tuition fee for 202 entry onto this course is

  • £9,250 per year for full time study
  • £6,935 per year for the first 4 years if you study part time.

These prices apply to all UK/EU, Jersey, Guernsey and Isle of Man students.

You can find out more about funding your degree by visiting our funding opportunities page.

Funding Opportunities

Placement year funding

If you choose to take a placement year, and your course offers it, you can apply for the Tuition Fee and Maintenance Loan for your placement year. How much you are awarded is based on the type of placement being undertaken and whether it is a paid or unpaid placement. The tuition fee for your placement year will be reduced.

International 2021 entry

The tuition fee for 2021 entry to this course is £12,750 per year for full time study.

This price applies to all students living outside the UK/EU.

Due to immigration laws, if you are an international student on a student visa, you must study full time. For more information about visa requirements and short-term study visas, please visit the International Visa and Immigration pages.

Find out more about funding your degree.

International Fees and Funding

Additional costs and financial support

There may also be some additional costs to take into account throughout your studies, including the cost of accommodation.

Course-related costs

While studying for your degree, there may be additional costs related to your course. This may include purchasing personal equipment and stationery, books and optional field trips.

Study Abroad

For more information on tuition fee reductions and additional costs for studying abroad, please visit our study abroad pages.

Accommodation and living costs

View our accommodation pages for detailed information on accommodation and living costs.

Financial help and support

Our Funding Advice team are here to help you with your finances throughout your degree. They offer a personal service that can help you with funding your studies and budgeting for living expenses. 

All undergraduates receive financial support through the York St John Aspire card. Find out more about the Aspire scheme and how it can be used to help you purchase equipment you need for your course. 

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