Higher National Diploma (HND) in Music Production

Level 6 Edexcel/BTEC Award


Two Years


This two year Higher National Diploma course gives learners the opportunity to acquire a wide range of skills in Sound Engineering, Music Production and other aspects of the music industry such as running a music business, understanding the science of sound, legal and health issues. Taught by professionals working in the industry, this course will prepare learners for careers in the media, entertainment and music fields. Learners will work with performers and musicians in a purpose built industry standard professional recording studio. Editing, mixing and production take place in a state-of-the-art all iMac digital sound production facility. All workstations are equipped with software including Pro Tools, Ableton Live and Reason.

Entry Requirements

One of the following:

  • Leaving Certificate (Minimum of H5 in two subjects at Leaving Certificate Higher Level)
  • Full Level 5 QQI Award in Sound Production or equivalent
  • Mature applicants are welcome

Course Modules (Year One)

  • The Music Industry
  • Marketing and Promotion for Musicians
  • Professional Development
  • Applied Sound Principles
  • Recording Technology
  • Creative Software Techniques
  • Applied Music Theory
  • Performance
Module Information

Module Information

Higher National Certificate in Music Production or Higher National Diploma in Music Production

Level 6 Edexcel/BTEC Award

Course Content


The Music Industry

This unit will introduce students to the structure of the industry, focussing on revenue flows, employment opportunities, business activities and growth potential. Students will analyse income streams of various areas and assess which revenue streams are relevant to their own personal career goals.

This unit serves as an introduction to employment in the music industry, focussing on financial opportunities in the wider context, along with students own personal career plans.

Topics covered in the unit include: the music industry sector, revenue, employment types, roles within the music industry, relationships and collaboration within the music industry and financial planning for the future.

Marketing and Promotion for Musicians

This unit provides students with knowledge that will form a ‘toolkit’ of information about freelancing and marketing activities they can use to further their career in the music industry. These ‘tools’ include offline techniques, such as effective networking, as well as online and social media marketing. Students will also be exposed to resources and utilities that will help them to create a professional marketing presence. Students will investigate and research the relative merits of each of these tools, helping them to evaluate the most suitable marketing activities for their area of practice, as they embark on the journey as an industry professional.

By the end of this unit, students will be able to define the various roles in the music industry, explain the different marketing activities available to them, and which ones are most relevant to them.

Professional Development

In this unit, students will explore the many potential avenues of employment relating to their specialism, building an awareness of how to present themselves to the marketplace and embarking on the journey of professional development.

On completion of this unit, students will have made decisions around their vocation and will demonstrate the level of autonomy needed for success in the music industry.

Music and Society

This unit examines the creation of meanings from the interactions between society and popular music. Students will explore the important and influential role of media into today’s society and how debates on identities of gender, race, class and sexuality, relate to media representations and, in turn, impact on the artist, a genre, sub-genre and product.

Through focussing on the influence of a subculture on a contemporary music artist, genre or product, students will become armed with invaluable knowledge of the social world and musical developments. They will grasp key terms and concepts, which will provide them with a useful toolbox to explore the musical world they inhabit.

On the completion of this unit, students will understand how society shapes developments of popular music, through the fields of musicology, cultural anthropology, ethnography and semiotics. Their value as a creative professional entering the music industry will be enhanced, in any role.

Applied Sound Principles

This unit explores the characteristics and underlying physics of sound waves, wave propagation and how sound is interpreted by human beings. In addition, key concepts of acoustic principles will be analysed and creatively applied, to produce a range of samples and reverb responses that can be used in variety of music and sound design projects.

Topics included in this unit are: the properties of sound waves and the harmonic series, the anatomy of the human ear and how characteristics of sound are perceived, calculating room dimensions and standing waves, creating impulse response samples, and application of impulse response samples.

On successful completion of this unit, a student will describe the intrinsic properties of sound waves and how they travel. They will then describe how the human ear collects this information and how this it is then perceived by the brain. Using this knowledge, they will then produce a range of calculations and samples that will be creatively applied to their own sound sources.

Recording Technology

The aim of this unit is to provide students with the knowledge of the techniques used by sound engineers and music producers when using technology to record audio sources. While they will learn  fundamental recording techniques, they will also learn how to use recording technology in creative ways. Studio setup procedures will be explored as well as the factors that affect the quality that audio is recorded at.

The preproduction processes used by engineers to make the recording process as smooth as possible will also be considered. Studio techniques will be investigated allowing students to explore the recording equipment used by industry professionals, which can further be developed towards live, studio, location and broadcast sound.

By the end of this unit, students will be competent with the audio equipment used to record audio sources to industry standards and be comfortable with all preproduction planning that helps make a recording session successful.

Creative Software Techniques

This unit explores the creative possibilities within different DAWs. It assumes a basic level of knowledge but will build on this in areas such as MIDI sequencing and virtual instruments, Audio recording and editing, software synths and ‘mixing within the box’ using software mixers. It will also start to build an awareness of the strengths of certain DAWs in certain areas such as composing, producing, sequencing, audio production and editing and post-production.

Topics included in this unit are MIDI sequencing, Virtual instruments, Audio recording and Editing, Software synths, Mixing in the box, Beat programming and Loop-based sequencing.

On successful completion of this unit, students will use DAW software in a creative and innovative way, improve on technical skills and achieve more polished results.


This unit encourages the student to investigate all of the aspects involved in staging a musical performance to showcase their skills. A variety of performance areas are covered in this unit including: performance techniques, audience expectations, planning a rehearsal phase, commercial costs, hiring musicians, stage plans, technical specification lists (tech specs), communicating with a venue and promoting an event.

On successful completion of this unit, a student will be able to plan, promote and execute a successful showcase that meets the expectations of their audience.

Course Modules (Year Two)

  • Creative Research Project
  • Advanced Music Production
  • Advanced Sound Production
  • Advanced Composing using Technology
  • Advanced Performance Skills
  • Musicology
  • Creative Portfolio
  • Modules above are subject to change
Course Modules (Year Two)

Course Modules (Year Two)

Higher National Diploma in Music Production

Level 6 Edexcel/BTEC Award

Course Content

No exams – all assessment through assignments


Music Studio Production

Produce recordings to professional standards by developing your practical and theoretical skills. You will select an artist or band and work with them over the course of the year to produce a professional-standard music track.

Assignments: Group Project Studio Recording and Mix;  Individual Mix Project


Computer Music Composition and Production

Learn more about the music composition, production and audio features made available by modern computers. Develop a high standard of competency in Ableton Live.

Assignments: Compose and produce an electronic track; compose a genre-specific track and accompanying report


Applied Music Production Techniques

Explore production techniques and styles from the 1940s up to the present day. Apply this knowledge by creating a production within a specific genre and style. Through your research and practical work, collect ideas, techniques and approaches that can become a personal "toolbox" for a successful career as a producer.

Assignments: Written report on Historic and Contemporary music producers; Recording and mix of genre-specific track


Research Project

This unit is designed to make you confident in the use of research techniques and methods. It addresses the elements that make up formal research including preparing a proposal, choosing methodologies, carrying out the research itself and presenting your findings. These skills are essential for academic progression.

Assignments: Research Proposal; Research Project; Research Presentation


Audio Electronics

Understand how basic electronic circuits work. Develop practical skills in soldering connectors and building simple circuits, and practical experience in the use of test equipment. Develop safe and effective habits of practical working. Learn a logical approach to understanding and testing the types of circuits commonly encountered in the music production industry.

Assignments: Audio Amp construction; signal generation


Public Performance Technology

Study hardware and software currently being used in performance events. Examine how this technology is being used by contemporary artists. Combine both these areas of knowledge to stage your own performance in which performance technology plays a central role.

Assignments: Written report on Historic and Contemporary performers; Give a live performance using contemporary technology to enhance your personal expression


Critical Music Listening

Understand the individual musical characteristics in a performance or recording. Explore the essential musical ingredients that contribute to a performance or production. Learn about sonic problems that may have a negative effect upon music performance or production. Develop the skills to accurately balance combinations of musical and other sonic elements in a performance or production.

Assignments: Midi / Music Theory assignment; Musical Piece Analysis


Preparation, Process and Production in the Creative Arts

This unit deals with the practical application of skills and techniques required in the preparation and production of creative work. You will carry out a specific role as part of the DFEi Music team. This involves organising and promoting live events, as well as creating and marketing a compilation album showcasing DFEi’s best musicians. Working together as a class, you will negotiate and decide a project brief, identifying a clear market or target audience. The development process is intended to allow you to refine ideas, develop skills and ultimately produce a professional standard of work At the end of the year you will be asked to reflect on, review and evaluate the project.

Assignments: Project Plan; Presentation analysing how well the project was executed


  • Edexcel/BTEC Award: Higher National Certificate in Music Production or Higher National Diploma in Music Production

Special Features

Second year students run a music enterprise managing their own label. They record original music and take charge of all aspects of the project, from recording and production, to running live events, design and marketing.

Progression Opportunities

While the HND course has a strong practical element, learners are also armed with the academic expertise and qualifications required to gain advanced entry into degree programmes both here in Ireland and in the UK. Learners who successfully complete the HND will usually require just one more year in a UK University to gain their degree

Progression Examples

BA in Creative Music Production (DL704)

Dún Laoghaire Institute of Art Design and Technology

BA in Music Production (GC455)

Pulse College Dublin

One Year Top up Degrees

BSc in Creative Industries Popular Music Technology (PH10)

University of South Wales

Advanced Entry Links into 2nd or 3rd Year of Degree Programmes

BA in Creative Music Technologies (4F74)

University of South Wales

BSc in Music Technology (J931)

University of South Wales Trinity Saint David

Career Paths

Opportunities exist throughout the music industry and beyond: TV and radio, live sound, theatre, recording studios, music marketing and management.

Thank You

we will be in touch shortly


Rachel Johnston

2018 Graduate. Employed in DLR's Grainstore as resident sound engineer.

I started off on the Sound Engineering course in DFEi and then I progressed in to Music Production. It’s a very  “hands on” course.  So you get time working in the…

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Rachel Johnston

2018 Graduate. Employed in DLR's Grainstore as resident sound engineer.

I started off on the Sound Engineering course in DFEi and then I progressed in to Music Production. It’s a very  “hands on” course.  So you get time working in the studio. It is less about the academic side and more about putting your hands to the test. You get a chance to see how a label works and how the industry works. We made an album in DFEi and we brought events outside the college to venues like Grand Social and The Underground. We learned how to promote the event and put our technical skills into practice.

 I am delighted to be working as the Sound Engineer in the Grainstore.  (DLR’s  Youth Arts Facility)  I may return to study in the future but for the moment I am getting great experience and enjoying the job.

Course Coordinator

Patrick Wall

Patrick Wall

Thank You

we will be in touch shortly