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Music BTEC Level 3 Diploma at St Brendan's Sixth Form College

Course description

This course is aimed primarily at students who are interested in developing practical musical skills together with music theory and industry knowledge.  It is a highly practical course and is centred on performing, composing and learning about the industry. Upon enrolling you will also become a part of the Performing Arts Academy: see the relevant leaflet for details.

The BTEC Level 3 Diploma is equivalent to two A Levels and covers the core aspects of practical music skills, composition and relevant industry knowledge. Students studying on this programme will have a keen interest in developing their knowledge and skills and will almost certainly be intending to pursue a career in the industry. This course attracts UCAS points in the same way as two GCE A-levels.

Course content

Students are required to study a range of units over two years. Assessment is a mixture of internal and external.

The following units are currently offered:

  • Unit 1: Ensemble Music Performance
    Externally assessed
  • Unit 2: Practical Music Theory and Harmony
    Internally assessed
  • Unit 3: Professional Practice in the Music Industry
    Externally assessed
  • Unit 4: Music Skills Development
  • Internally assessed
  • Unit 5: Music in Context
    Externally assessed
  • Unit 6: Creating a Music Product
    Internally assessed
  • Unit 9: Composing Music
    Internally assessed
  • Unit 12: Music Promotion
    Internally assessed


  • Unit 16: Music Performance Session Styles
    Internally assessed

Entry requirements

  • Entry is via successful audition and we are expecting Instrumental / vocal skills at a minimum of Grade 4/5 standard.
  • A minimum of 5 GCSE’s at Grades A*-C or at point 4-9 (including English Language). Level 2 vocational qualifications (e.g. BTEC/OCR) must be a merit grade or above and will count as 1 GCSE equivalent.
  • GCSE Music at grade C or a BTEC First qualification in Music at Merit or above is highly desirable but not essential.
  • Students must be prepared to perform regularly and will preferably already have some experience of doing so.
  • A keen interest in popular music.

As performing to a high standard and demonstrating and monitoring technical improvement are such important aspects of the course it is compulsory that all students take regular instrumental/voice lessons.  Lessons are available in College and students should sign up with a peripatetic teacher at the start of the year, or continue with their own lessons outside of college. The college operates a bursary system that offers financial support for lessons to some students. If the cost of lessons is prohibitive it may also be possible to have them less frequently e.g. once a fortnight rather than once a week.

  • All students will be required to attend an audition in the summer term prior to starting the course.
  • Candidates will be expected to prepare a solo piece on their first instrument and will be given an additional group piece on the day.
  • Candidates will receive an invitation to attend audition following receipt of their application.


The course is structured around a number of assignments, some of which will be short-term (gigs, written projects) while others will require evidence of long-term progression (instrumental lessons, practice logs, etc.).  Each unit has a learning content and outcomes that are clearly stated, and students will be kept informed of their progress. The external units are taken under controlled conditions.

Financial information

A subscription to a basic Spotify account or similar streaming service is required for access to study playlists for use in the class and at home. There is a charge for instrumental lessons although funds may be available for those who may find the cost of these prohibitive.  Students will be expected to provide their own stationery and pay for printing credits. They will need to provide their own instruments and spares (guitar strings, drum sticks, plectra etc).

Future opportunities

The BTEC Level 3 Diploma provides a sound basis for students wishing to proceed to HE courses in Popular/ Commercial Music.  It can lead to careers in performing, teaching, and composition as well as related areas in publishing and media. It combines well with most other subjects but compliments in particular Music Technology, Theatre Studies and Media Studies.

Further information

Music performing facilities include:

  • Fully equipped performance space including professional sound and lighting systems
  • Computer suite with high end PC’s running ProTools 11, Reaper, Sibelius 7
  • Pro Tools 11 based digital recording studio incorporating a ‘live’ room and separate control room, complete with significant outboard equipment for effects and processing 
  • An excellent range of industry standard microphones
  • Six practice rooms equipped with pianos and/or PA systems.
  • A wide range of band equipment, including amplifiers, acoustic and electronic drum kits
  • We have a wide range of working professionals who provide peripatetic instrument/voice teachers who come into college to support students. We can also recommend specialists if needed.

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact St Brendan's Sixth Form College directly.

Last updated date: 24 October 2016

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