BA Hons Top Up available in Exeter & Gateshead September 2023

Are you looking to top up an FDA (Foundation Degree) or HND (Higher National Diploma) in music, music technology, multimedia or other related subject to a full BA hons?

If you are, then there are limited places available on our BA Hons Top Up at both Exeter and Gateshead Academy of Music & Sound Centres starting at the end of September 2023.

Our BA top up is a flexible, creative, year long programme (2 x 12 week semesters) that tops up a level 5 qualification to a BA (Hons).

There are modules in composition, performance, writing library (stock) music as well as the opportunity to specialise in music management and undertake a large scale project in an area of your choosing.

Our course page is HERE> 

If you don't have a previous level 5 qualification please do still get in touch, because if you've been active in the music industry in some capacity for over 5 years we can consider your experience to 'fast track' you onto this qualification, saving you both time and money.

Academy Group Photo.

The BA (Hons) top up in Exeter and Gateshead is validated by the University of West London, as such it is fully eligible for a tuition fee loan, maintenance loan and grant (where applicable) to support your living costs whilst you are studying.

If you have special educational needs, or a mental health condition you may be able to unlock further support through DSA.

Our city centre campuses offer small group delivery in high quality creative spaces, backed up by experienced tutors and support staff.

Get in touch today!

Contact Us 


University of West London logo

AMS Partner University Ranks Highly In The Times

AMS are delighted to share excellent news on behalf of our partnership University, University of West London. UWL has been named “University of the year for Teaching Quality” and “University of the Year for Student Experience” in The Times & Sunday Times Good University Guide 2023. 

UWL are now ranked in the top ten universities in London and have risen to an impressive 40th place in these latest national rankings.

This is the first time that both awards have been given to one university in the same year, and it is also the second time in the last three years that UWL has received the student experience accolade.

Receiving these two awards is a tremendous achievement and one that perfectly captures the ethos of UWL as a university. We are proud to work along side UWL to deliver a high quality of teaching and support across all our campuses and online as part of The Academy of Music and Sound.

The University of West London shared the following statement on their great news:

“Our students are at the heart of everything we do and that is why we have a relentless focus on delivering the best possible student experience so that they may thrive and achieve the success they deserve. It is gratifying to have that effort recognised with this latest accolade for student experience. This comes on the back of our successful National Student Survey results earlier in the year.”

AMS delivers our BA and M.Mus courses across our UK campuses and online in partnership with UWL. You can find all of our BA and M.Mus information over on our courses section and enquire directly below.

You can find out more about the University of West London and the awards presented below.

AMS Student using Manson Guitar Works Guitar

Manson Guitar Works Gift AMS Exeter Iconic Guitars

Manson Guitar Works has supplied iconic instruments to some of the music industries’ biggest names. From Muse to Led Zeppelin to Foo Fighters, Manson have crafted guitars that have played a part in entertaining audiences all over the world. As much as Manson has a global influence, after being based in Devon since the 1980’s, they have a connection to music much closer to home.  

Manson Guitar Works is a long-term supporter of the arts and music education, reflected in their recent generosity in the form of a guitar donation for the use of our AMS Exeter students.

This donation offers our students the opportunity hone their craft using some of the best quality instruments available. Learning skills that will take them forward into their musical careers. We could not be more thankful to Manson Guitar Works for this outstanding gesture.

We spoke with co-owner of Manson Guitar Works, Adrian Ashton recently about his time in the music industry, working with Manson and the generosity the company has shown to AMS.  

When asked about the motivation behind the donation, Ashton had the following to share: 

“We’ve always supported music education and the arts. Having a recent tour of the AMS premises and seeing familiar faces reminded us of the importance of collaboration between all the music industries. No new musicians means no new guitars!

We created an allocation of instruments that can be donated to charities and institutes that normally have a musical theme. So it made perfect sense to equip the AMS sites with some instruments that can take a lot of use and being played every day. It’s great seeing the instruments in the academy, Jon Wilson, Exeter manager was a student of mine in the past, it just all made perfect sense.”

As well as Manson’ joining us on campus, members of staff from AMS Exeter were also welcomed into the Manson Workshop earlier this month. Having a tour of the premises and seeing the instruments being made was a unique experience for our team.

Check out some behind the scenes images below.

Ashton is actually a bassist, not a guitarist some may be surprised to know. When asked about why he chose to pursue the bass as his instrument of choice he said: 

“My early music influence was punk rock and, in my view, all the exciting players in that genre were playing the bass guitar. JJ Burnel from The Stranglers, played very intricate lines, but you could also include Paul Simonon of The Clash, Paul Gray of The Damned and many others.

Once set on the bass, the legends of technical bass appeared on my radar, including of course the late, great Jaco Pastorius, who really set the bass world on fire. It served me well at B.I.T. where every live playing workshop required a bass player but with a mix of 40 guitarists to each bass player you found yourself getting to perform 10 or more times over the guitar students at the college. Definitely a plus for bass.

I really enjoy bass and have been fortunate enough through founding Bass Guitar Magazine to have met and spoken to almost every one of my bass heroes. On one occasion I interviewed Billy Sheehan of Mr. Big, Steve Harris of Iron Maiden and John Entwistle of The Who in the same morning. I’ll never forget that!

Being musically educated helped my journalism career.  When professional players knew I could talk their language, I could earn their respect and create a more successful interview. “How do you solo through a II, V, I progression?”, usually gets more respect than, “What star sign are you?” Music education gives you that.” 

AMS Student using Manson Guitar Works Guitar

Ashton not only studied music at Berklee College of Music and The Bass Institute of Technology in Los Angeles but also obtaining a degree in Law. We thought it would be interesting to share Ashton’s insights on music education how it has effected his career.  

“I’ve spent a good time in music education, with courses at Berklee College of Music and The Bass Institute in Los Angeles. Whilst there is always the time-tested and, if you make it, great alternative of just joining a band and hoping you’ll be successful, music education allowed me to gain skills I probably wouldn’t have got that way; plus, at 27 I was already past my sell-by date! Whilst establishing my business, music education allowed me to get sight-reading gigs, teach, write for magazines, and set up my own music school, which as well as being great fun, allowed me to have an income. Performing at the school was also a great way to get ready for gigs in styles that I wasn’t so familiar with such as jazz, big band and blues.”

Matt Bellamy and Adrian Ashton
Image: Jolyon Holroyd Photography

We were also curious about his career highlights from his time working within Manson Guitar Works. He shared the following:  

“There have been so many moments I’ve had working with artists and the team here that occasionally I do have to stop and just remind myself of how great the music business can be. I am not sure I can single one moment. Recording with Martin Grech with us both using Manson guitars was a playing highlight, our recent ORYX guitar project with Adam Nolly Getgood has also been an amazing venture. Having Matthew Bellamy as a business partner makes each day exciting; we aim to achieve new heights in the business as he does with his music. They all sit equally with coming to work with a small but really dedicated team I’m super proud of.”


This donation from Manson Guitar Works is one of those moments within our team here at AMS that has made us stop and consider how genuinely great the music industry can be, as Ashton has said. We know that for our students at AMS Exeter, this donation could spark a new sense of inspiration, leading our students to play something new and exciting for the first time. 

To find out more about the history of Manson Guitar Works and their outstanding clientele base, head over to their website & socials.

Website | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube | Twitter

Becky Grinham Lavender Justin Novak release

Exeter Alumni Becky Grinham releases 'Lavender'

First collaborating back in early 2020 just as the Covid-19 pandemic hit, AMS Exeter Alumni Becky Grinham has teamed up with South West based producer Justin Novak to create a one-stop series of Dance Pop tracks paying homage to 80’s production, with technology and songwriting of today. The result? 'Lavender'; a gorgeous and punchy, synth-heavy and groove-inciting, Dance-Electronica Pop track, that delivers a rollercoaster of questions and emotions based on the experience of going through mental health therapy.

Out for release today (Friday 16th April), the track might just be the perfect intro to the summer, and these new freedoms we find ourselves faced with. At the same time, the track feels nostalgic – the sweeping synths and summer guitar riffs a pointed reference to the sensitive storyline portrayed by vocalist and lyricist Becky, reflective of her own personal experiences. 

But ultimately 'Lavender' is a soundtrack for everyday life with its ups and downs. As the last 12 months have shown us, there really is “light at the end of the tunnel” – and this sentiment really pinpoints the hazy, summery feel of the track.

Of the track, Becky says, "Justin created the most magical, hard-hitting instrumental influenced by his love for 80’s production, but there was this emotional undertone that I could feel pulling me in that I really wanted to bring out through the vocals and lyrics. I was going through CBT at the time and was trailing different forms of meditation, but completely unknown to me until last year, apparently songwriting is a great form of therapy! Lavender is about finding your inner calm, what makes you feel at peace with yourself, practice of meditation – whatever you interpret that is good for your mental health. For me that is blissful dreams, the 5,4,3,2,1 anxiety grounding technique and now songwriting. As for the vocals, I really tuned into an emotional delivery but still wanted to keep its' elements of Dance and Pop music."

'Lavender' will be part of a series of songs to be continued. So be sure to watch this space... 

'Lavender' is released on the 16th of April 2021 and is available to stream in all the usual places.


Read what the press have said...

“If you’re looking for an uplifting tune to get your summer started or something to freshen up your aerobic playlist then you need this in your life. Fast.” – Listen With Monger

“Opening with a breezy synths, the pop beat kicks in with a summery vocal that is guaranteed to lift your spirits” – MusoMuso

Hear Justin’s insight…

I wanted to explore the sounds of the 80’s and give my personal interpretation on that era with a modern sound. The drums for Lavender are based heavily on the Roland TR-808 with additional drums coming from the Linn drum and other popular drum machines from that decade. The synths I used in the record were the Korg Polysix, MonoPoly and the SH-101. I did a lot of research on how sounds were processed and manipulated at that time.. Of course I don’t have all the gear that was used to make records back then! However I made heavy use of emulations that similarly effect the sounds like tape and analog distortion and not shy of a decent amount of plate and gated reverb!

Justin Links: @JustinNovakOfficial

Becky Links: @BeckyGrinhamVocals / https://linktr.ee/BeckyGrinhamMusic

Read our interview with Becky Grinham on the AMS Blog here.

tedxyouth ted talk ted talks gandy street exeter

TEDxYouth Virtual Conference at Exeter Gandy Street

TEDxYouth at Gandy Street is a virtual conference coming to Exeter on the 21st of November. They are looking for young student speakers like yourselves to speak up about what important issues matter to you. 

TEDxYouth is independently organised event, promising a program of local, self-organised events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TED Talks video and live virtual speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection. A great opportunity to share and spread knowledge!

This inaugural theme is set to cover "Bridging the Gap", and the conference aims to "create a sustainable and collaborative future for future generations." In a statement the team behind the event said; "we are passionate about providing a platform to inspire the generations to come."

They also invited young people to apply to speak about topics they are passionate about, be it science, politics, sustainability and even music! Applications closed on 14 September.

Watch this space for more details about the event! In the meantime, ahead to the TED official website for more info.

More about TEDx

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized (subject to certain rules and regulations).

More AMS news here.



exeter rsl level 3 diploma results day 2020 gcse exeter centre

AMS Exeter welcomes new L3 students as record results achieved

AMS Exeter is set to welcome a wave of new students, as record results from this years class of 2020 was announced last week.

Last week it was Results Day for our RSL Level 3 Diploma students, and we were so pleased and proud to announce that there was a staggering 97% high grade pass results from our L3 Diploma students in Exeter!

Congratulations to all our incredible students who got their results last week. We know you all worked incredibly hard and we are certain the future is going to be very bright indeed!

"We are so so proud of our students and staff today," says Jemma of our Exeter team.

And it's good news for the next wave of L3 Students. Ahead of GCSE results day (20 August 2020) our Exeter centre announced that anyone who has applied and passed their audition for the L3 Music Diploma at AMS Exeter, has been automatically accepted and can look forward to starting their course at our Exeter centre in September – so for some, the stress is significantly off for results day. Well done to everyone who passed and thank you everyone who applied. We can't wait to meet you and see all your faces in September!


exeter diploma music course rsl level 3 why study at exeter music exeter exeter university college music and sound ams uk

Why Study in Exeter?

September is on the horizon, and we’re still very much open for applications for the new academic year. Exeter would be a great place to decide to study with AMS – with course options in RSL Level 3, Foundation Degree in Music and Sound, BA Hons in Music and Sound, and of course our hugely popular M.MUS in Popular Music Performance, it’s also a great dynamic, interesting, student oriented city in its own right.


So, whats the city’s appeal?


Exeter is such a dynamic cultural hub, which is steadily and surely getting back on its feet after coronavirus. In terms of music, it’s got much to offer with independent venues like Exeter Phoenix & Old Firehouse Exeter, Northcott Theatre , Lemon Grove, the Corn Echange, and home to lots of incredible independent shops and the unique and quirky Gandy Street. Exeter has also has its share of music related enterprises including the famous Manson Guitar Works, who make guitars for the likes of Matt Bellamy (Muse) and Mikey Demus (Skindred)!

Exeter has always been a historic and cultural hub, but in 2019 the Cathedral City truly came into its own. New, quirky bars and cafes opening left, right and centre make Exeter a fun and vibrant city to explore throughout the year. Being so close to the countryside also gives Exeter a special appeal – you’re just a short hop one way to the stunning South West Coastline, and a hop in the other direction to the picturesque beauty spot that is Dartmoor National Park. Best of both worlds!

It also means that proper muddy festivals are not far away either; Beautiful Days (run by the Levellers) happens every year (well, apart from 2020…..) as well as the cheerful Chagstock Music Festival in the heart of the moors – plus you’re only a short hop on the train to Glastonbury, home to the most famous festival of all.

What courses are available at AMS Exeter?


RSL Extended Diploma Music Practitioners Level 3This popular course internationally recognised qualification with regular updates to mirror the developments within the music industry. It is written and developed by industry specialists with education professionals. Fully-accredited by OfQual and DfES, it is the equivalent to 3 A-levels with an outcome of up to 168 UCAS points.


Foundation Degree in Music & Sound – Our bespoke Foundation Degree is developed to mirror the modern music industry, helping students gain the skills to be independent, multi-skilled music practitioners, fluent with various forms of multimedia. The Foundation Degree in Music & Sound is fully validated by the University of West London, which encompasses the London College of Music. A Foundation Degree is a combined academic and vocational qualification, equivalent to two thirds of an honours degree, it is anticipated that those who complete the Foundation Degree in Music & Sound will progress to the BA (Hons) top-up in Music & Sound.


BA Hons in Music and Sound – Equivalent to the 3rd year of a degree, this flexible top-up year is designed to follow on from our Foundation Degree in Music & Sound, but would also suit any applicants studying a music related HND, Foundation Degree or indeed those with recognised industry experience backed up with qualifications (Fast-Track). Validated by the University of West London, the course has been developed to mirror the modern music industry, allowing students to learn the skills to become independent, multi-skilled music practitioners, fluent with various forms of multi-media. We provide the time, space and the opportunity to develop your own sound and work on your material alongside gaining valuable vocational skills.


M.Mus Popular Music Performance – In partnership with the London College of Music and University of West London, this qualification has been developed to address the needs of contemporary musicians on a practical, academic and professional basis delivered by highly qualified professionals active in the music industry. Explore in-depth an area of musicianship that interests you, combine practical and academic study with extensive ensemble work and individual tuition to expand and develop your competitive edge, and gain academic recognition to explore theories and ideas.

Who will I be learning from?

Our dedicated and passionate teaching team are all professional musicians with several years experience both in teaching and the music industry. You’ve got the likes of Ben Green our Foundation course coordinator + RSL production tutor – a talented guitarist and frontman for Exeter band Pattern Pusher, as well as a hard working sound production engineer and producer, recording for many local acts. Emma Waston, our BA course Coordinator, RSL and Foundation degree vocal tutor – an experienced professional musician, namely a vocalist and music teacher, specialising in music performance, music event management and the music industry.

Another member of our Foundation team is Steve Down, who’s been teaching guitar and music theory for over a decade, as well as being an active professional musician. He graduated with a 1st Class degree in Music from Southampton University and Masters in Jazz from LCM, and has since worked live and in the studio with many artists including Joss Stone, Jeff Beck and Beverley Knight, having also performed at prestigious venues and events worldwide like Wembley Stadium, and The Royal Albert Hall. Over in the office we’ve got Laura Wright who heads up our centre management, but also a professional and talented musician in her won right. And that’s to name but a few of our great staff!


Meet the tutors on our Exeter Staff Spotlight page.

What’s the deal with Coronavirus?


Of course, coronavirus has sadly impacted many of our local venues and arts centres, but with several of them having recently received Arts Council England funding, we think Exeter will be quick to get back on its feet.

Online learning: Since March we’ve swapped the studio for home and come September we’re confident we’ll be in a great position to offer flexible, online learning to students should we need to. We’re also spreading out, finding new spaces for learning so classrooms can be bigger and class sizes smaller. We were quick to adapt to the changes back in the Spring, and received some hugely positive feedback from our students.

Come September we’re readily adapting, in a great position to provide optional online learning and small class sizes should we need to. There’s still space on many of our courses for 2020/21 and we really look forward to hearing from you!

Group tutor sessions and live online performances have kept me feeling involved and uplifted during these crazy times
– Ella Crossland, Exeter student, April 2020.

Attend an open event

Want to learn more and chat to our team one-on-one? Lucky you, we’ve got a virtual open day coming up and there’s plenty of places left! Join us on Zoom on 13th August to meet some of our team, including our foundation tutor Ben Green, and get an in-depth, comprehensive look at our courses and get all your burning questions answered. Applications for AMS are generally ongoing and there is no official closing date.  We can’t wait to (virtually) meet you all!

Book your place now.

How do I apply?

It’s simple. Just fill out a short online form, and we will get back to you in the following few days.

Take me to the application form.


And if you have any more questions or queries, feel free to to in touch with our friendly team!  We’ll get back to you as soon as possible, and we really look forward to hearing from you, about your musical experience and your musical interests.


Contact us 

ams exeter open day rsl level 3 virtual open event exeter music study learn music

Join us for our second online Exeter open day!

Our Exeter Open Day is moving online! Book today and join us on 6 July for a comprehensive look at our RSL Level 3 Extended Diploma — and what studying at AMS Exeter is all about.

Join our friendly team via Zoom, as they guide you through our courses for prospective entry in September 2020.  This is an opportunity for you to hear more about our courses on offer in September 2020 and chat about general student life here at the Academy of Music & Sound Exeter.

The evening will take place via Zoom, and will last for about an hour – create an account at www.zoom.us. All those we have met and that have enquired about our courses will be automatically invited, and also we will post the Zoom meeting link up here nearer the time – so check back!

We really hope you’ll come along and find out all about studying with us!

At the AMS Exeter Open Day, you can find out all about…

⭕️  RSL level 3 Extended Diploma Music Practitioners

  • FULLY funded Rock School accredited music course for 16 – 19 year olds
  • An internationally recognised qualification with regular updates to mirror the developments within the music industry
  • Written and developed by industry specialists, with education professionals
  • Fully accredited by OfQual and DfES
  • Equivalent to 3 A-Levels and can yield up to 168 UCAS points

Read more on our dedicated course page.

To book a place, simply pop an email to [email protected]

See you in Cyberspace!

academy of music

Exeter Uncovered calls for Devon bands to take part in new Stay Home Sessions

The Stay Home Sessions launches Thursday 14 May with live performances from, SVVIM, Okay Bye, Ollie Dixon and Soote Sprite via the instagram account of the Grassroots publication and digital platform Exeter Uncovered.

The event promises several hours of live music from some of Exeter's brightest talents. Check out the incredible event poster below (artwork provided by Grace Elizabeth of Okay Bye) and make sure you tune in next Thursday!

Plus, Exeter Uncovered are also now calling for Exeter or Devon-based bands, including AMS student bands and student music projects, to participate for an Instagram live session, for a date TBC.

More details will be released soon. In the meantime, if you're a Devon-based AMS student and you're interested in being involved, please email our freelance marketing officer Izzy: [email protected], stating your interest.


pattern pusher lockdown playlist ams exeter

Feast your ears on our Lockdown Playlist!

Lockdown Listening from our Exeter team.

AMS Exeter's Jemma Sloman has curated an incredible playlist for us – perfect soul food for all your lockdown listening needs. It includes Students and Staff members past and present of AMS Exeter, with all the sounds from our South West centre and hub, buzzing under the umbrella of one perfect little playlist.

So what's in there? It's truly packed full of goodness, featuring tracks like Pattern Pusher's Crazy Enough, and Shakey, Lizzie Kirwan's The Unknown, Shake the Geek's Jenga, and Bad Screens from First Person. Perfect to get tucked into on one of these quiet - or not so quiet - lockdown days.

Plus the playlist also features two tracks from the new band and product of lockdown, Wired Design – made up of two of our Exeter staff members; Jon the Level 3 course leader and Jordan our Exeter technician.

Get locked.



academy of music

NME features alumni Ollie Southgate from Heavy Lungs in Fender Play online tutorial

More ex-AMS students are appearing in the media this week, with Exeter Alumni Ollie Southgate appearing in a Fender Play online tutorial. The tutorial was shared by industry leading music magazine NME earlier in the week (18 February 2020), as part of its promotion regarding Fender Play – “the app that can teach anyone to play guitar – even music critics.”

Here’s a short extract from the article…

“To celebrate Fender Play, NME invited Ollie from Heavy Lungs to The NME Office to see if he could put Deputy Editor and lapsed wannabe guitar hero Dan Stubbs through his paces.”

“Ollie’s intuitive guitar style is informed by a teenage love of innovative Blur guitarist Graham Coxon, and was developed in secret on his older brother’s guitar (Ollie was supposed to be the bassist). He channels his energy into the Bristol band’s blistering punk songs and fearless live performances.”

Ollie was a student at AMS Exeter about a decade ago. He studied the L3 Extended Diploma back in the day. His band Heavy Lungs, dubbed by Loud and Quiet as “yet another great Bristol punk band”, are another talented up-and-coming group to emerge from the South West.

Check out the full article on the NME website and watch the video in the player below.


Want to expand your music skills through online learning? Visit our online platform AMS Online…

beautiful days festival competition ams

Apply to play at one of the South West's best Festivals in 2020!

Apply to play Beautiful Days Festival 2020

Our centre in Exeter has teamed up with Devon’s Beautiful Days Festival to offer up and coming bands and acts the chance of a performance slot. Open to unsigned bands and artists everywhere, this is your chance to play a notable and established festival, hop on the festival circuit, and hopefully get some amazing experience in the process.

So, what’s on offer?

3 performance slots are available to new and/or unsigned artists to play in the Big Top, The Little Big Top and The Bimble Inn at this years festival which will run from 21-23 August 2020. 

APPLY NOW on the Beautiful Days website.

Beautiful Days festival has been running at Escot Park near Exeter in Devon, since 2003 when it was set up by the band The Levellers, and has since been host to some incredible acts such as KT Tunstall, Frank Turner, Echo & The Bunnymen, Happy Mondays, The Pogues, Primal Scream, Seth Lakeman, Manic Street Preachers and Seasick Steve. Great company, eh?

In 2011 Beautiful Days was pronounced “Best Family Festival” by the UK Festival Awards, later winning the “Grass Roots Festival Award” in 2015,  as well as the “Best Medium Festival award from FestivalKidz the same year. Described as an “old school, non-corporate” event, it’s no wonder every festival has sold out in advance. 

Applications will open on 31 January 2020 and run through to 2nd March. Any applications sent before this date will not be considered.


You can read more about Beautiful Days on their website, and check our their Instagram page for updates.