Pop Awards

Tomas Sarosi

Help Musicians launched the Pop Awards to help popular music students with the costs of postgraduate study.

The History

Intensive postgraduate study is vital if the next generation of musicians are to achieve their potential, but the costs are astronomical. Taking living expenses and tuition fees into account, the cost of a two-year postgraduate degree can easily reach £40,000.

Help Musicians' postgraduate awards offer support to students who wish to complete their studies at the leading UK conservatoires and performing arts colleges. The charity has been making awards to postgraduate music students of between £1,000 and £5,000 since the 1970s.

In 2018, the average award for a postgraduate musician was £2,420 helping 125 students with their next year of study. In 2019 we hope to award £300,000 through our postgraduate awards.

The Postgraduate Awards were previously run on a nomination basis where Heads of Departments at select conservatoires and performing colleges put forward students who qualified for the grant. However, the charity is now reviewing how accessible and inclusive the Programme is to ensure that any potential barriers there may be in applying for funding are removed. The new open and direct application process also aims to alleviate some of the administrative burden on the Heads of Department and empower the students to take control of their futures.


Who can Apply

This year our Pop Awards are open to students who are either hoping to start a postgraduate degree or move in to a second year of postgraduate study in September 2020.  We will also accept applications from students studying Traditional Music at Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. 

Our Pop Awards are only open to students who wish to study performance at the following conservatoires or performance institutions: 

  • Leeds College of Music
  • Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
  • Royal Northern College of Music


Please read the full application guidelines before submitting your application.


From 20 April 2020 we will accept applications from students who wish to study a performance degree at one of the conservatoires or performing arts colleges above.

To apply for our Pop Awards, students must:

  • Be intending to study a postgraduate degree in September 2020. (ie. Mmus, MA, PGDip, Artist Diploma)
  • Have lived in the UK for at least 3 consecutive years at the start of the academic year in which they will be supported by the award
  • Be in financial need
  • Demonstrate that they have the musical potential and ambition to create a successful and sustainable career within the musical theatre industry

Help Musicians strongly encourages applications from students from underrepresented backgrounds, including those from BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) backgrounds, D/deaf and disabled people; and those from lower socio-economic groups.

Through our Opera Awards, we are unable to fund:

  • Non-music performance degrees such as composition, music technology, music education, music therapy, arts administration and music business
  • Undergraduate courses
  • PhDs, MPhil, DMus, Doctorates
  • Study from the previous academic year
  • Applications from students not intending on studying at the above institutions

Please contact creative@helpmusicians.org.uk if you are not sure whether you are eligible or if you have any queries regarding our eligibility criteria.


How to Apply

To apply for our Pop Awards, you must complete our online application form. 

Please read the application guidelines for full details on how to apply, the process involved and audition requirements should you be shortlisted.

Do not hesitate to get in touch with the Creative Team should you have any queries. You can email us on creative@helpmusicians.org.uk or call on 020 7239 9119. 

The deadline for applications is Monday 18 May at 5pm. Any applications submitted after this date will not be accepted. 


Some of our awards are made in memory of people who loved music during their lifetimes. If you would like to establish a scholarship, or make a donation to help us sustain these important awards, call our fundraising team on 020 7239 9114 or email fundraising@helpmusicians.org.uk.

Your contribution could make a real difference to a young musician. Find out more about how you can Sponsor a Rising Star.