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Programme Overview

Bachelor of Arts (Honours)
in Popular Music


NFQ Level


4 years (8 semesters)

CAO Codes
MT931 - MT935


Application Deadline
1 February 2023 (CAO)
31 May 2023 (non-EU)


Entrance Test
25 March 2023

Course Fees (EU)
€3,007 + tuition fees (if applicable)


Course Fees (non-EU)





Applications should be made to:


Those applying to the CAO should use the instrument-specific codes:

  • MT931 Electric Guitar
  • MT932 Electric Bass Guitar
  • MT933 Keyboard
  • MT934 Drums
  • MT935 Voice (restricted - no late applications accepted)


Admission Requirements

For admission to the programme, standard applicants must:

  • meet the minimum entry requirements;
  • sit the Entrance Test; and 
  • complete Garda Vetting.


Minimum Entry Requirements

Leaving Certificate in at least six subjects (i.e. H5 in two subjects, and O6/H7 in four other subjects); one of the subjects must be English or Irish. There is no specific requirement for Maths (a grade F2 or higher in foundation level Maths is recognised as one of the subjects for entry).


In addition to the Leaving Certificate, academic qualification can also be considered from:

  • UK A-Levels and similar European / international examinations (see CAO advisory document for further information);
  • those holding relevant FETAC Level 5 & 6 qualifications;
  • mature candidates with relevant subject experience.


Non-EU minimum entry requirements are available through the MTU International Office.


If your first language is not English, you must provide evidence of English language proficiency.


Entrance Test

This is a Restricted Access Course and all applicants will be assessed through a combination of video submissions, a live audition and a written paper (overseas applicants are encouraged to attend in-person).

Each candidate who sits an Entrance Test is awarded up to a maximum of 600 points and must achieve the minimum threshold of 276 points to be considered eligible. 

Places on the course are allocated according to the rank achieved as a result of this assessment procedure; i.e. Leaving Certificate exam points are not used to rank candidates. 

Candidates are not allowed to defer the results of the Entrance Test.


Video Submissions

All self-tape video submissions must be uploaded to YouTube as unlisted videos, with the links forwarded to by 17:00 on Friday 10 March 2023.

All candidates should begin their videos by speaking - to the camera - their full names and CAO numbers (if applicable). Before performing each piece, candidates should introduce the work with a title and composer (if known). 

Smartphone video is acceptable provided both the video and audio are of a reasonable quality.

Performances may be unaccompanied, have live accompaniment, or have backing tracks (if a backing track is used, it should be audible on the video recording).


Each candiate should submit approximately 8 - 10 minutes of video - quality trumps quantity.

  • Bass guitarists should perform two or three contrasting pieces.
  • Drummers should perform two or three contrasting pieces, demonstrating their musical strengths and interests.
  • Electric guitarists should perform two contrasting songs or instrumentals demonstrating 'rhythm' and 'lead' techniques. Candidates must also present a two-octave scale of G major and a GMaj7 arpeggio.
  • Keyboardists should perform two contrasting pieces, present two own-choice major scales (two octaves, hands together) and, choosing two notes as roots, present major seventh, dominant seventh, and minor seventh chords.
  • Vocalists should perform two contrasting songs and also present, using any vowel, a major scale and its arpeggio. You may perform one original song and one contrasting cover, or two cover versions. 


Live Audition

Candidates will have a short in-person audition with aural tests (sing back a melody and clap back a rhythm) and a sight-reading exercise on their instrument/voice. 


Written Paper

Candidates must sit a one-hour written paper on Saturday 25 March 2023 at MTU Cork School of Music. A sample paper is available here.


Garda Vetting

Vetting is conducted by the National Vetting Bureau (formerly known as the Garda Central Vetting Unit). The National Vetting Bureau (NVB) helps to assess the suitability of all applicants on this programme. It is important to note that participation in or completion of this programme may be affected by subsequent disclosure/discovery.


Course Information

This is a four-year programme leading to the award of a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Popular Music. This modern, four-year, Level 8 music degree provides a comprehensive training in popular music performance with ancillary and supporting courses in a huge variety of disciplines. Each student is assigned a matched group of peers to form a small popular band ensemble, this becoming the centre of the learning experience. Lectures, classes, and music technology labs provide supporting skills to the core training in performance.


Singers and instrumentalists who play guitar, bass, keyboards or drums in a pop style will study together: performance skills, ensemble, theory and harmony, songwriting, music technology and music business, law and entrepreneurship. Those wishing to specialise in music and technology have access to some of the most sophisticated electronic and computer equipment available in the country.


Graduates will be able to compete in the busy world of commercial music in Ireland, for recording contracts, gigs in clubs and concert halls, TV and stage shows, corporate entertainment, and the fertile melting pot that is the Irish singer-songwriter circuit. Synergies with the classical, jazz and traditional musicians on the BMus course will open creative doors and career opportunities such as those fostered in the famous performing arts schools and colleges of the UK and US.


Based in the heart of Cork City, MTU Cork School of Music occupies a purpose-built conservatory building, regarded as one of the best facilities in the world for creative and performing arts education with an amazing technological infrastructure. For more info, visit our facilities page.


Individual Tuition

This is at the core of your degree throughout your four years, and you will receive a one-hour or thirty minute one-to-one lesson weekly in your chosen area.


Aural Training and Harmony

Also a core subject throughout - you will graduate a fully equipped and rounded musician.


Ensemble Training

A signature of this degree, you will receive intensive training in complete stage band ensembles, also specific rhythm section or vocal section sessions, every week for four years.


Music and Technology

Music and technology is a core subject for the first three years with elective options in Year Four. You will enjoy the best equipped facilities, studios and laboratories in Ireland to learn about sound design, computer music, beat making, computer notation, programming, and PA and studio technology.



Due to our co-location with our sister courses, the BMus, BA in Theatre & Drama Studies, and the BA in Musical Theatre, you will have an unparallelled access to a wide variety of elective modules, particularly in Years Three and Four. These range from orchestral instruments and classical guitar, to songwriting, composition, arranging, conducting, dance, Irish traditional music, lighting design, music therapy, and education. Complete documentation and detailed module content is available here.


Industry Connections

Regular additional workshops are hosted by visiting performers and music industry professionals. A&R sessions are provided each year, as well as industry talks from promoters and bookers. Students of arranging and musical direction enjoy a close collaboration with performing ensembles such as the RTÉ Concert Orchestra.


Performance Opportunities

All students perform a public gig with their band each semester, at both in-house and external venues in the city. Students who specialise in performance in Years Three and Four get the opportunity to present their own gigs which are filmed in TV studio quality, and featured on the School's YouTube channel. Other modules such as songwriting also feature regular performance opportunities.



Further Information

Email or phone +353 (0)21 4807309 / +353 (0)21 4807310.


Semester Timeline


Jan Mon 16

Semester 2 commences

Jun Wed 20

Academic Year finishes

Jun Tue 5


May Mon 28

Advanced Recital Competition final

May Sat 26

Advanced Recital Competition prelims

May Mon 7

Degree Assessments & Examinations

May Fri 4

Semester 2 Lectures end* (confirm BATDS)

Apr Thu 12

Degree Entrance Tests for CAO Applicants

Mar Mon 26

Easter Holidays

Mar Sat 24

Professional Studies 2 (MA in Performance, Conducting and Composition, Year 1)

Mar Fri 23

Degree classes finish for Easter Break

Mar Sat 17

School Closed for St Patricks weekend

Feb Sat 24

Professional Studies 2 (MA in Performance, Conducting and Composition, Year 1)

Feb Mon 12

Reading Week

Jan Sat 27

Professional Studies 2 (MA in Performance, Conducting and Composition, Year 1)

Jan Mon 15


Semester 2 Lectures commence (confirm BATDS)

Jan Mon 8

Degree Performance Assessments

Dec Mon 18

Degree Assessments & Examinations

Dec Fri 15

Semester 1 Lectures end

Nov Sat 25

Professional Studies 1 (MA in Performance, Conducting and Composition, Year 1)

Nov Sat 18

Open Day for CSM Undergraduate Degree Courses

Oct Mon 30

Reading Week

Oct Thu 26

Conferring Ceremony

Oct Sat 21

Professional Studies 1 (MA in Performance, Conducting and Composition, Year 1)

Sep Sat 23

Professional Studies 1 (MA in Performance, Conducting and Composition, Year 1)

Sep Mon 11

Semester 1 classes and lessons commence for all full-time students

Sep Fri 1

Academic Year commences

Aug Thu 31

Registration for 1st year undergraduate and Masters Degrees

Jan Wed 4

BATDS Year 4 recommences

Oct Thu 27

CSM Awards Ceremony for full-time students

Sep Mon 5

Registration for Years 2 - 4 BMus, BATDS, BAPM & Class Meetings

Induction of MA/MSc in Music & Technology

Induction of MA (Performance/Conducting/Composition)


Aug Mon 15

Autumn Examinations

Color Reference





Semester Timeline


Jun Sat 16

Individual lessons Finish

May Mon 28

Grade Examination Week

Musicianship Exam Fortnight

Advanced Recital Competition Final

May Sat 26

Advanced Recital Competition Prelims

May Mon 7

Chamber Music Competition Week

Apr Mon 9

Classes recommence

Mar Mon 26

Easter Holidays

Mar Tue 20

Classes recommence

Mar Sat 17

School Closed for St Patricks weekend

Mar Sun 4

Senior Recital Competition Final

Feb Mon 19

Classes recommence

Feb Mon 12

Mid-term Break2

Feb Sun 11

Junior Recital Competition Final 15:00

Feb Fri 9

Junior Recital Competition Prelims

Jan Fri 19

Term 2 Fees due

Jan Mon 8

All teaching re-commences

Dec Fri 22

Classes & lessons for part-time students finish

Dec Mon 11

Piano Accompaniment Competition Week

Dec Fri 1

Junior Concerto

Nov Mon 6

Classes recommence

Oct Mon 30

Mid-term Break1

Oct Fri 20

CSM Awards Ceremony

Sep Mon 11

Bands, Choirs, Orchestras, Drama group rehearsals commence

Sep Fri 1

Academic Year commences

Mar Tue 14

Application forms available for all part-time courses commencing in September 2016 (accepted from 9am)

Mar Fri 10

Open Day for part-time courses - schedule available from public office during February

Mar Thu 2

Senior Recital Competition Prelims

Feb Tue 14

Senior Concerto

Color Reference