Songwriting (Campus Based)

MA

Postgraduate degree

Key facts

Award
MA Songwriting (Please note, this was previously MMus Songwriting)
School
College of Liberal Arts
Campus or location
Corsham Court
Course length
MA full-time: three trimesters (one calendar year); MA part-time: six trimesters (two calendar years).

Entry requirements

Entry requirements for our postgraduate courses vary. We are generally looking for a good honours degree or equivalent. Some courses also require an interview or the submission of a portfolio of work. We positively welcome Accreditation of Prior Learning (APEL).

Please contact our admissions team for more information: admissions@bathspa.ac.uk.

Professionalise your songwriting and facilitate your personal artistic ‘voice’ on this world-leading course.

  • A pioneering curriculum – the world’s first Songwriting Masters.
  • Prepares you for a range of internationalised, professional futures in music and its wider industries.
  • Taught by professional, published songwriters and performers.

Songwriting remains one of the UK’s biggest exports, with UK music stronger than ever. Popular song is the heart of the industry; global demand for new songs is high. Focusing your portfolio through research prepares you to contribute to this field.

The MA is for students with a thorough grounding in their own specialism who wish to extend and develop their songwriting knowledge and skills at advanced academic level, in a creative environment.

Therefore, the course is aimed at:   

  • unpublished songwriters wishing to develop their craft to professional level;
  • published songwriters wishing to achieve academic accreditation while exploring their creativity and formalising their prior experience.

We maintain strong links with industry professionals, guest artists and guest lecturers.

Also available as a distance learning route.

“I can now apply for jobs I previously wouldn't have been considered for. Every aspect of my writing, both academic & musically speaking, has improved. I realise that creating music should be fun, and more than anything else, personal. An excellent course, an excellent experience.”

Stuart Vallans, Songwriting student, 2015

What you'll learn

Overview

From day one you’ll write songs, using alternative strategies designed to work alongside your current creative approaches.

Applying practice-based learning at our world-heritage research centres, through a range of creative strategies and critical perspective on your songs’ relationship with audience and industry, you’ll develop and focus your output. This is informed by a blend of practical, theoretical and scholarly practice – teaching and learning unique to Bath Spa University.

Lyric-writing, and a fluent command of imagery, metaphor and narrative is nurtured as chords and melody take shape around language’s meaning, and vice versa.You’ll investigate the power and potential of song forms, modes of address, perspectives, time-frames and characters.

Having stretched the range of creative options available to you within your own artistic palette, you’ll turn your hand to research; this is your entry to the post-graduate world. You’ll identify the industrial context relevant to your songs; your knowledge of your field will become intensified through primary research, secondary research and contact with guest speakers from industry.  

Collaborating with songwriters from near and far will increase your creative and networking range; ahead of your Major Project contextual and collaborative research perform the vital tasks of shaping your song outputs.

Course structure

Songwriting skills
A twelve-week process during which you’ll develop a feel for sensory imagery, metaphor and a facility for narrative tension. Meanwhile you apply various creative approaches to harmonic constructions and melodic devices. Of the songs generated here, some may go on to become part of your final Major Project showcase. The aim is to allow songs and writings of all genres to flourish.

Song, identity and culture
Here you investigate and unravel your personal songwriting ‘DNA’. You’ll look at your own work and that of others, in the context of artistic identity and culture. Lectures focus on style and genre, lyrical perspectives, character and identity, whilst you study a range of your own favourite songs and artists.You may wish to approach your study of song through a focus on genre, social or artistic movement, perhaps through a thematic perspective you may choose to develop. You then use our extensive library resources to research techniques and principles which distinguish these songs.

Professional collaboration
You’ll negotiate collaboration with other students within a professional context. For example, songwriters might collaborate in the traditional manner of successful and acclaimed songwriting teams, or may work with choreographers, film makers, poets, composers, arrangers or remixers. All we require is that you negotiate the human and professional decisions required of the experience. You’ll work within a professionally focused environment in a manner appropriate to your  interests. The module acknowledges that contemporary arts practice is an evolving concept that functions across an international community, aided by technology and powered by innovative collaborative practice.

Research methodologies and context
A ‘pathfinder’ contextual study into an economic/cultural context for your future song outputs. From folk to hip-hop, indie, metal, etc., each industrial context possesses a uniquely different set of venues, publishers, labels, agents, producers and performers. Each of these contexts are defined by a set of modes and approaches which ultimately reflect audience and market. You assemble a methodology with which to report on a socio-economic cultural context appropriate for your particular form of song. This training is a firm foundation for further study as a postgraduate researcher, should that be your goal.

Major project
Bring all your research and preparation into focus. You are asked to present a showcase artefact representing the songs developed during your time on the course. Usually this is an album. For some it will be several projects for differing contexts, like a writer’s showcase for a publisher. Some students choose to perform live and record the performance, though most students engage with contemporary production processes. Your final showcase is yours to define; this is your calling card and the beginning of a new journey.

How will I be assessed?

Assessments range from simple audio sketches in the early stages to full album productions in the final stages; each of which is assessed for quality and market focus. On the research modules, formal, researched and referenced papers express your intellectual and analytical development, and presentation skills bring your work to life.

How will I be taught?

There are regular taught sessions running across each of the three trimesters. Lectures, visiting speakers, seminars, workshops, tutorials, presentations and playback sessions work on song material and research outcomes. Students play their songs to one another in a supportive yet dynamic environment facilitating networking and analysis and developing the language of creative critique. This can be in a live capacity or via playback.

Opportunities

Graduate careers

There is a broad range of professional outcomes from this course and our graduates now work as:

  • Signed artists
  • Signed writers
  • Lecturers
  • Researchers
  • Agents
  • Performers
  • Teachers
  • Therapists
  • Publishers

The course is also an excellent grounding if you’re interested in further study; a number of our alumni have progressed onto PhD study.

Facilities and resources

Where the subject is taught

 

You’ll have access to Corsham Court campus, including its songwriting rooms and library, although much of the curriculum is taught at Newton Park campus. At Corsham Court, we have 4 project rooms, which afford you facilities for pre-production and writing.

In the third trimester you’ll have access to Newton Park’s industry standard recording studios. We’ll encourage you to network and get to know the lively artistic and creative communities around Bath. We have strong links with local venues such as Moles, The Nest and Komedia. There is plenty of opportunity for songwriters to try out material at the many open mic nights and we’ll encourage you to participate in our own various performance nights.

Resources

  • Four independent songwriting / pre-production rooms (Corsham Court)
  • Three independent project studios for Major Project recording (Newton Park)
  • Access to Lynda.com, an online instructional video library
  • International Networked Online Library Resource

Fees

UK and EU students full time

Course fees
2017/18 entry £7,000
2018/19 entry Published Jan 2018
2019/20 entry Published Jan 2019

UK and EU students part time

Fees shown below are for part time study over two years, although some courses may be available over longer periods.

2017/18 Entry

Course fees
Year 1 £3,500
Year 2 Published Jan 2018

2018/19 Entry

Course fees
Year 1 Published Jan 2018
Year 2 Published Jan 2019

2019/20 Entry

Course fees
Year 1 Published Jan 2019
Year 2 Published Jan 2020

International students full time

Course fees
2017/18 entry £13,500
2018/19 entry Published Jan 2018
2019/20 entry Published Jan 2019

Interested in applying?

What we look for in potential students

You’ll already be very much engaged in songwriting - this course is not suitable for beginners. However, lack of knowledge of music theory isn’t a hindrance. You need ‘ideas’.

Where you don’t have a degree but have professional experience, we positively welcome you. Please complete an Accreditation of Prior Learning Experience (*APEL) form. 

*APEL allows an applicant to convert informal learning into certificated learning. This is particularly significant where a potential student’s work and life experience has afforded them knowledge, skills and abilities comparable to those in a higher education award.

Interview and portfolio guidance

Prepare three of your best songs on a Soundcloud playlist. Tell us as much as you can about yourself on our application form.

Whether on the radio or on an application, your songs need to speak for you. We’re a popular music course, and have tended to favour songs with the potential to reach a large audience. However, we are wholly supportive of projects that are more left-field and experimental, as long as they are song-based. If you are not a singer, make sure your songs are sung by somebody who represents them well.

 

How do I apply?

Ready to apply? Click the "apply now" button in the centre of this page.

Need more guidance? Head to our how to apply pages.

Get ahead

Bring an open mind, some good ideas, a robust work ethic and, to quote Jarvis Cocker in Pulp’s ‘Common People’, a ‘thirst for knowledge’.

Admissions service: +44 (0)1225 876 180
Email: admissions@bathspa.ac.uk
Course leader: j.regan@bathspa.ac.uk