Songwriting (Distance learning)

MA

Postgraduate degree

Key facts

Award
MA Songwriting (Please note, this was previously MMus Songwriting)
School
College of Liberal Arts
Campus or location
Distance learning
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.

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

The world leader in online Masters-level songwriting study, this course teaches creativity, technique, research and context to refine your professional song portfolio.

  • A pioneering curriculum – the world’s first songwriting Masters Degree.
  • 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 course is aimed at:   

  • unpublished songwriters wishing to develop their craft to professional level;
  • published songwriters wishing to achieve academic accreditation whilst exploring their creativity.

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

Also available as a campus based route.

“As a songwriter - a revelation, life-changing. I feel I have finally found the magic 'key' that unlocks the door to that elusive 'secret' knowledge have always intuitively known the great songwriters must possess.”

David Brogan, Songwriting (Distance Learning) graduate

What you'll learn

Overview

From day one you’ll write songs, using alternative strategies designed to work alongside your current creative approaches. 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 mood and meaning. All the while 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 series of online lectures which are supported by private tutorials and international online seminars. You engage with a range of alternative creative strategies, and through this process you will develop a feel for lyrical imagery, metaphor and narrativity in song. Meanwhile you apply experimental approaches to harmonic constructions and melodic devices. Of the songs generated here, many may go on to become part of your final Major Project showcase.

History of Song
The first of our research modules and here you investigate the techniques and the cultures of the songs you love. Lectures focus on song-form, lyrical perspectives, character and identity, whilst you study a range of your own favourite songs. There is also the option to study a genre or ‘movement’ that has influenced your songwriting, e.g. Americana, post-punk, musical theatre, indie, grunge, electronica etc. You then use Bath Spa’s extensive international library resources to research techniques, principles and cultures that distinguish the tunes your are studying. Research here serves to formalise your instincts for song, technique, its cultures and its contexts.

Collaborative Songwriting
Reflects an increasing industrial tendency towards multiple writers on the world’s most successful songs. Your collaborations are open for you to negotiate. This may be with another songwriter or team, producer, performer or DJ. Songwriters on the course have collaborated with poets, choreographers and film directors. It is open for you to decide. All we require is that you negotiate the many human and professional decisions and choices required of the collaborative experience.

Context and Methodology
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, and for many this is the beginning of their research career.

Major Project
Where you 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 post-graduate papers express your intellectual and analytical development.

How will I be taught?

The Distance Learning option is a blended learning design which combines formal online lectures with regular personal tutorials. Week to week you study a workbook of specific tasks which are reviewed and discussed with your tutor. Peer-based teaching and learning occurs in our regular Songwriter’s Circle webinars in which students from all over the world meet to share and critique their work.

 

Opportunities

Distance Learning

You can choose to study this Master’s degree through distance learning: there is no requirement for you to come to Bath. Our distance learning route is world-leading in its innovation of teaching and learning songwriting online. Students have attended the course from Australia, the USA, Malaysia, Turkey, Ireland, Germany, Greece, Puerto Rico, Singapore and the UK.

Combining regular personal tutorials with a range of online teaching and learning tools, the course combines personal and social contact with asynchronous videos, lectures, masterclasses and technique exercises.

Group webinars see songwriters from around the world meeting live to share songs and critiques, while our low-residency weeks in historic Corsham Court provide lectures and events around which our social connections are formed. You're welcome to come along to visit us in Corsham Court, although this is not compulsory as our lectures and classes are filmed for streaming anytime, anywhere.

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 going on to PhD study, and many of our alumni are currently doing their doctorates.

Facilities and resources

Where the subject is taught

We have four project writing rooms complete with iMac, audio interface, speakers, weighted digital piano and microphones – which afford students the facilities for pre-production and writing.

In the third trimester you’ll have access to Newton Park’s industry standard recording studios.

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

We’re looking for the mobile, adaptive creatives of the future. We like you to be engaged with songs and songwriting culture already; performing artists developing their product are particularly welcome. You’ll possess flair for writing, as well as a good undergraduate degree. However, where an applicant does not have a degree, they are required to 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.

How do I apply?

Simply prepare three of your best songs on a Soundcloud playlist. Then tell us a little about yourself on our application form.

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

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

Interview and portfolio guidance

Whether on the radio or on an application, your songs need to speak for you. We’re a popular music course, so we tend to favour songs with the potential to reach a large audience. Make sure your songs are sung by somebody who represents them well; a great song can rarely survive an out-of-tune vocal.

Get ahead

Polish off those tunes, get singing and practicing, and get ready for an intense, stimulating and enjoyable year or two.

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