Geography and Music

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Geography is about places and people. It is about understanding why 'here' differs from 'there', how people's lives vary in these different places, and how our own lives are dependent on people and places, near and far. 

Geography is the 'best of both worlds', as it combines the earth and social sciences through exploration of themes including sustainability, development, climate change and geomatics (GIS) methods.

 

 

Why study Geography?

Studying Geography expands your understanding of the interactions people have with the environment, both physical and human. An ability to link environmental processes and social and spatial behaviours is a defining feature of geographical practice. As a result, Geography is clearly important in understanding today’s pressing global and local issues from climate change to sustainable development. At Bath Spa you learn geographical concepts, theories and knowledge and also gain skills that can improve your career prospects. Geography graduates are valued by employers for this unique combination.

At Bath Spa, we take an integrated approach to Geography, so you will gain an understanding of both the human and physical aspects of the subject. However, a key feature of our course is that you can specialise more in the physical or in the human side as your interests, abilities and career plans evolve.

Course structure

The course allows you to do both physical and human Geography or to specialise in one or the other after Year 1.

Fieldwork is an integral part of your learning and underpins our commitment to a relevant, interesting and useful degree. There are various field days during modules, as well as residential fieldwork options in the UK and overseas in Years 2 and 3. You will visit places and landscapes such as Avebury, Mendip, the Somerset Levels, the Welsh National History Museum, the Royal Geographical Society in London, and the Jurassic Coast of Dorset. Residential courses currently go to Spain, the Lake District and Northern India. 

 

 

A special feature of our course is the opportunity to gain valuable experience, and academic credit, through volunteering in the local community. You can also study abroad for one term, either in a European university or further afield in Australia or the USA. 

 

Modules

Year 1

Your first year (level 4) is centred on a core double module (40 credits) Environment, People and Place. This deals with what makes Geography an exciting, varied and applied subject. The module offers an integrated approach to the study of the geo-social and earth sciences and what makes this module special lies in our attention to developing skills as well as knowledge: you will learn how to use the technologies, methods, techniques and equipment that geographers need to use, with increasing confidence. You will also start to build your employability profile under our guidance. The practical application of subject knowledge is the underlying philosophy of this module.

In addition to the core module we usually offer these options (all 20 credits) from which you can choose one or two:

  • Investigating Earth Environments;
  • Global Development;
  • Visualising Society;

The remainder of level 4 is made up with at least 40 credits from a complementary module of your choice, such as Biology, Sociology, Criminology, or an interdisciplinary module focusing on Sustainability in Life and Work.

Year 2

Your second year (level 5) also centres on a core double module (40 credits) titled The Enterprising Geographer. The aim here is for you to acquire specialist skills in geographical research methods, human and physical, and to extend your abilities as a team player and as a professional. The Enterprising Geographer puts the subject and the sectors it serves in historical context and highlights the relevance of geographical knowledge to many different professional sectors. Your research skills are developed through two extended research projects where you will apply your growing mastery of your subject to real-world problems and issues. This module also gives you the chance to engage with the Royal Geographical Society and other professional bodies as we begin to help you map out potential career paths. The rest of your studies are optional, and the usual module choices are (you can choose four):

  • River and Coastal Systems;
  • Climate Change and Sustainability;
  • Environmental Hazards;
  • Geographical Fieldwork (includes a residential fieldtrip to Northern India);
  • Global Cities;
  • Criminology and Criminal Justice;
  • Work Placement;

All optional modules are 20 credits each.

Year 3

In your final year (level 6), you take the skills and knowledge perfected throughout the degree to design, conduct and write up your very own geography Dissertation (40 credits). There is a huge variety in choice in what you do for a dissertation and throughout the study you will benefit from one-to-one tuition and expert guidance. The rest of the third year is made up from 20 credit optional modules such as these (you can choose four):

  • Climatology;
  • Coastal and River Management;
  • Advanced Geographical Fieldwork (includes a residential fieldtrip);
  • Development and Disasters;
  • Globalisation and Work;
  • Global Mobility, Risks and Environmental Justice;
  • Identities and Inequalities;
  • Community Engagement (includes a local volunteering placement).

Course assessment

You will experience a variety of different assessment methods throughout your degree. These include essays, industrial project reports, scientific project reports, presentations, posters, field-craft assessments, reflective items, time-constrained tests and examinations. These will give you a rich and diverse skills learning experience, be of real benefit in the search for a good career, and be useful in your professional activities.

Each module will have a different set of assessment items, and not all will include an examination. These assessment items enable you to demonstrate that you have achieved the learning outcomes.

Good teaching is important to us, and our graduates and consistently rate the quality of teaching on the course highly. In our friendly department you will benefit from small classes, specialist expertise, and up-to-date technologies, including ArcGIS, GPS survey instruments, campus river gauging and digital ‘met’ stations. Our rural site is a superb ‘natural laboratory’ where you will learn a range of scientific techniques including field sampling and the use of laboratory instruments for sediment and water analysis. Through your degree you will also develop 'people' skills such as communication, team work and critical thinking - skills that are highly valued by employers.

Teaching methods

Geography encourages your learning through a variety of formats: lectures, seminars, team work, laboratories, IT workshops, and in the field - for 'hands on', real life experience.

Our location, nestled in a parkland valley setting just outside Bath, is a beautiful and unique 'natural laboratory' in which to pursue environmental education and we make the most of the setting. We have all the latest technologies and learning resources and Geographers have access to IT laboratories with geographical software such as ArcGIS and Idrisi. In addition there is a comprehensive stock of field and laboratory equipment. Practicals take place in well-equipped science laboratories or out in the grounds of the Newton Park campus. You will find free wireless internet access is available in the Department and across our campus. We subscribe to an extensive range of online journals so you can access the latest geographic research in seconds. 

Other resources available include Leica Smart Rovers, handheld Global Positioning System devices, survey seismograph, Russian and standard sediment corers, teaching microscopes, stream flow meters, particle size analysis kits, digital Schmidt hammers, digital weather station, campus stream gauging station, digital dictaphones, digital video cameras and laptops. Do please note that not all field courses are run every year and that all off-campus events and their funding are subject to annual review. Also, module availability may vary over time - if a particular module is of interest and you want to know more, just get in touch with us and we'll be happy to help!

 

Departmental Research

The Department hosts two active research groups covering physical and human geography, ensuring that your teaching is informed by up-to-date, specialised staff expertise. The research groups often inform dissertation ideas for students and you will benefit from our annual Research Seminar Series which includes external guest speakers and is open to all.

All our academic staff are professional geographers who undertake research and scholarship at the cutting edge of their discipline, publishing papers in international journals, textbooks for undergraduate use, and speaking at international conferences, as well as making media appearances. All research undertaken is of direct benefit to students. Indeed, some of our work is about enhancing the learning of geography at university. Students have co-authored papers with members of staff, and some have remained with us to carry out postgraduate research leading to doctorate level.

Teaching quality excellence

We are proud of the quality of our teaching in Geography at Bath Spa. During your degree you will taught by experienced, specialist staff, who undertake research in their specific areas of expertise, as well as into the learning and teaching of different aspects of geography.

Subject tutors regularly attend Professional Development Workshops that inform curriculum development and we regularly attend academic and commercial conferences. We subscribe to industry societies and their journals, such as the Royal Geographical Society with the Institute of British Geographers (RGS-IBG), the Association for Geographic Information (AGI), the Development Studies Association (DSA), Remote Sensing and Photogrammetry Society (RSPSoc), American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS), the British Cartographic Society (BCS), GIS Professional, GIM International.

Application method

All full time applications are through UCAS

Course enquiries

Want to know more about studying Geography at Bath Spa? We have Open Days and Visit Days throughout the year. If you can't make any of those, we are also happy to arrange individual visits for you to have a look around at the facilities and ask any questions you may have. You can get in touch using the contact details adjacent. We hope to see you here soon!

Please contact Dr Rebecca Schaaf, Subject Leader for Geography: r.schaaf@bathspa.ac.uk 

Have a look at our related courses:

BSc Global Development and Sustainability

BA Geography (Human)

BSc Geography (Physical)

Entry requirements

260–320 UCAS Tariff points with minimum 80 points from geography or a related subject such as science, sociology, economics.

We welcome applications from mature students with an Access to HE qualification. If you have non-standard qualifications we will consider any prior learning and professional experience in your application.

Career opportunities

Our graduates possess a diverse range of skills, knowledge and expertise, suitable for many careers and occupations. This is due to the great appeal of your geographical skill-set to employers. Environmental bodies, utilities, planning, police and armed forces, retail and financial services, heritage management, local government and school teaching are typical destinations. Many geography graduates are hooked on the subject and undertake further study, including doctoral research here in the department.

The opportunity to undertake a work placement as part of your degree is an excellent way of gaining some experience in the workplace, while guest speakers from industry contribute to your learning experience throughout the course. This engagement with potential employers will stand you in good stead for making those all-important career decisions when you move into the world of work.

Since 2010, employers such as Geomatics Group, At-Bristol, Discover Battle, Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre and The Ministry of Defence have recruited graduates from this course. Students have also gone into roles including  Assistant Geomatics Surveyor, Renewables Developer, Business Analyst, Oceaneer and Press Officer.

What students say...

 Tim Johns, Geography, graduated July 2012:

“I thoroughly enjoyed my course at Bath Spa University and would recommend it to anyone interested in pursuing a career in the environmental industry. Academically, the course was fantastic and offered the opportunity to learn a diverse range of skills that would equip anyone with the necessary attributes to enter the world of work, or pursue postgraduate studies. At Bath Spa my learning was not just restricted to the classroom; I had the opportunity to undertake a live Dissertation project working in conjunction with the Environment Agency. This was an invaluable experience giving me the opportunity to work with industry professionals. My advice to those starting their studies would be to take full advantage of the facilities Bath Spa has to offer, including the excellent support from staff and tutors. Just remember from the offset… you have to work hard to play hard and all things are achievable no matter what!”

We take the views of our students very seriously, and evaluations of each module are undertaken each year, incorporating feedback from all students. You will also have the opportunity to represent your peers at committee and board meetings that meet regularly to discuss the shape and evolution of your course.

Please look at the video clips to see what our students have said about studying Geography at Bath Spa University.

Alice - second year Geography student

Read about the activities and achievements of our students and staff in our annual Geography Newsletter:

Geography 2013

Geography 2014


newsletter 2015.pdf

 

Music courses at Bath Spa University are ranked 10th out of 71 providers nationally for overall satisfaction, and BA (Hons) Music scored 97% for overall student satisfaction in NSS 2015!*

Great opportunities for music-making and an exciting and varied programme in classical, jazz, musical theatre, opera and world music.

Performance

This is a highly practical course. Every week a day is dedicated to ensemble performance and related activities for students in all years - these include choirs, orchestras, wind band, big bands and gamelan. There are also numerous other ensembles including brass, wind and string groups and an experimental ensemble called Material. There are regular student performances through the year, both at the Michael Tippett Centre, and in Bath as well as beyond. Each year, the School promotes opera and musical theatre productions, in which music students take part. Recent operas have included Philip Glass's Satyagraha, Mozart's The Magic Flute, Purcell's Dido and Aeneas, Handel's Semele and Puccini's Il Trittico. Musical theatre productions have included Sondheim's Into the Woods, CompanyA Little Night Music and Seussical.

To see which instrumental and vocal tutors are currently available for one-to-one practical tuition please click here.

Composition

Composition students work in a wide variety of musical styles and genres and have regular opportunities of working with professional performers. Recent visiting ensembles who have performed student work have included Ensemble Bash, Plus Minus, the Kreutzer Quartet and the New London Chamber Ensemble. There are also regular opportunities for performances of student work by our own student ensembles and there is a commission project for all final year composition students.

Orchestra and Choir

Visiting performers and composers

We have regular visits from high-profile international performers and composers. Recent visitors have included Peter Donohoe, Mark-Anthony Turnage, Judith Weir, Joanna MacGregor, Tim Hugh, David Matthews, Trevor Wishart, Denis Smalley, Graham Fitkin and Kathy Hinde.

Facilities

Based at the Michael Tippett Centre, we have excellent facilities including:

  • A purpose-built concert hall with superb acoustics
  • 17 practice rooms, three with electronically variable acoustic
  • A wide range of medieval, renaissance and baroque instruments, and a large collection of percussion and orchestral instruments
  • A Javanese Gamelan
  • A high spec music technology laboratory
  • Five recording studios 
  • Two band rehearsal rooms
  • Large well-stocked Music Library and a wide range of online musical resources

Bath and nearby Bristol are busy centres for performance with many international music festivals, touring operas, concerts and shows. Bath particularly has an extensive semi-professional and amateur life with many opportunities for students to join in music-making in the city.

Partnerships

We are proud to have very valuable partnerships with a variety of organisations in the region. These enable our student work to reach a wide audience and they also facilitate student placements and professional networking. They include:

  • Bath International Music Festival
  • Bath Philharmonia
  • Bath Abbey
  • The Holburne Museum
  • Iford Arts
  • Wiltshire Music Centre
  • Bath Young Recital Artists Trust

Why study Music?

There is a strong practical element to the course. Each year there are music-making opportunities ranging from large works for choir and orchestra (such as Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610, Faure’s Requiem, and Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms) through to opera and musical theatre productions. There are regular opportunities for students to perform in prestigious venues off campus - recent venues have included the Assembly Rooms, Guildhall, Bath Abbey, Wells Cathedral, Bath Pump Room and Oxford's Holywell Room. Our jazz students perform widely too, including in our arts centre Burdall's Yard. There are also opportunities to develop teaching and community music skills, to explore musicology and to develop interdisciplinary creative projects with students from other courses within the university.

* Source National Student Survey 2015.

Course structure

Year 1:

For single honours students there are no optional modules in Yr 1: all students take the same modules.

Performance Studies consists of one-to-one instrumental or vocal lessons, with workshops on performance techniques, aural awareness, and conducting. Students can opt for classical or jazz performance and are assessed on their contribution to ensembles.

Creative Forum is a composition skills module which includes free composition, while focusing on a range of compositional techniques, notation, arranging, orchestration, and the use of music technology.

Music in the West and Global Musical Styles include study and research skills for musicians, analytical skills and the close study of landmark musical works and genres from medieval to pop, with a series of seminars around cultural and musicological issues in music today.

Year 2:

You develop skills in teaching and in the area of music management and promotion through the Professional Musician module. This offers you the opportunity to undertake a placement in an organisation of your choice. In addition to the Professional Musician module (which is core) there are a number of optional modules. You continue to develop your musical skills, and increasingly you will specialise in areas of particular strength and interest – for example in performance, composition or musicology in classical or jazz styles. There is a wide choice of modules, ranging from Performance to Music Analysis.

Year 3:

You have the freedom for creative output in specialisms such as performance or composition together with the choice of a wide range of supporting modules, from the Opera Project to Music Psychology and Music in Action (which is a community music module). Practical workshops in performance and composition are a key feature of the course.

Magic Flute opera perforamance

Modules

Year 1:

  • Performance 1 (including first study instrumental/vocal lessons, optional second study, aural awareness, conducting, ensemble skills)
  • Creative Forum 1 (composition skills, harmony, music technology)
  • Music in the West (musical styles, set works, research skills, critical musicology)
  • Global Music (musical styles, ethnomusicology, field work)

Year 2:

  • Professional Musician (including a work placement, introduction to teaching, marketing and the music industry)
  • Performance 2 (in Classical and Jazz streams)
  • Creative Forum 2 (including collaborative composition with dance or film, as well as orchestration and arrangement)
  • Musical Theatre Practice (taught in collaboration with Drama)
  • Opera Project
  • Musicology 2
  • Music Analysis

Year 3:

  • Performance 3 (includes a public recital)
  • Composition (a composition portfolio)
  • Independent Study (dissertation or lecture recital)
  • Musicology 3 (popular music and music for screen)
  • Music in Action (Community Music)
  • Musical Theatre Project
  • Opera Project
  • Music Psychology

Course assessment

We assess students through coursework (including compositions and essays), spoken presentations and through practical assessments such as recitals, technicals and rehearsals.

Facilities on campus are superb, and include a purpose-built concert hall (the Michael Tippett Centre), a suite of sound-proofed practice rooms, a wide range of specialist instruments (including three Steinway grand pianos), networked music technology labs, digital recording studios, band rehearsal rooms and a well-stocked music library. There is also a wealth of online resources and all lecturers make use of our Virtual Learning Environment (Minerva) where course materials are made available to students.

Music workshop

Teaching methods

Music is taught through workshops, masterclasses, lectures, seminars, individual tutorials and instrumental/vocal lessons. All of our teaching sessions are highly interactive, whether face-to-face or online (for example, through wikis or discussion boards).

Practical workshops in performance and composition are given by distinguished full-time staff who are all practising performers, composers and musicologists. Clarinettist Professor Roger Heaton is one of this country's foremost performers of new music, recording regularly for CD and radio, and was formerly Music Director and Conductor of Rambert Dance Company; Dr Matthew Spring is a leading performer of early music with his group Sirinu, and his major book 'The Lute in Britain' has recently been published by Oxford University Press. Dr Charles Wiffen is a pianist and musicologist who has performed and recorded widely in the UK (including in the BBC Proms) and abroad and has previously taught at the Royal College of Music and Trinity College of Music in London.

Students have the opportunity to work regularly with distinguished visiting lecturers, performers and composers in a masterclass format. Recent visiting performers and composers have included Dame Emma Kirkby, Ensemble Bash, the Smith Quartet, Jason Rebello, Andy Sheppard, Gavin Bryars, Graham Fitkin and Mark-Anthony Turnage.

To see which instrumental and vocal tutors are currently available for one-to-one practical tuition please click here.

Application method

All full time applications are through UCAS

Course enquiries

Please contact Bath Spa Admissions by email or phone +44 (0)1225 875609

Entry requirements

280-320 UCAS Tariff points, preferably including Music at minimum grade B, plus a good standard of practical instrumental/vocal performance at Grade 8 (ABRSM) or equivalent.

Single Hons applicants will be interviewed.

Students with instruments

Career opportunities

During the course you will explore the constantly changing needs of the employment market, and you will undertake a placement in Year 2. (Recent placements have included the Bath International Music Festival, Bath Philharmonia, the BBC Proms, Welsh National Opera, BBC Music Magazine, Dorling Kindersley and Real World).

Career possibilities include:

  • Performing
  • Teaching
  • Music in the community
  • Composing for concert, screen, stage and education
  • Music and arts management
  • Music promotion and publishing

Graduate Profile: Jason Thornton

Jason Thornton is the music director of Bath Philharmonia. He has worked extensively with many of Britain’s orchestras and choirs including, City of London Sinfonia, London Mozart Players, Halle Orchestra, English Northern Philharmonia, London Philharmonic Choir and the Philharmonia Chorus. Abroad he has worked with the Cyprus Chamber Orchestra, Jykvaskyla Sinfonia (Finland) and the North West Symphony Orchestra (Seattle). Recent performances have included collaborations with Peter Donohoe, Natalie Clein, Joanna MacGregor and Sir Willard White.

 Kill It Kid band members

Graduate Profile: Alastair King

As a composer, Alastair has written music for many film and television productions. He has contributed additional music to 'Harry Potter and the Order Of the Phoenix' (Warner Brothers), the Academy-Award winning Wallace and Gromit movie, 'The Curse of the Were-Rabbit' (Dreamworks/Aardman), 'Shrek' (Dreamworks) and 'Chicken Run' (Dreamworks/Aardman). He is also Principle Conductor of the Chamber Orchestra of London and has conducted a variety of other orchestras and choirs including The London Symphony Orchestra, BBC Concert Orchestra, Northern Sinfonia, London Session Orchestra, Metro Voices, RSVP Voices, the Bach Choir and the Choir of the King’s Consort.

Graduate Profile: Trish Brown

Trish is a versatile vocalist, sax player, conductor and musical director. She MD’d Lil’ Big Band for three years at Bath Spa University and more recently The Trish Brown All-Stars. Her love for music is also expressed in her work as an arranger and singer songwriter, with her current project The Trish Brown Band performing a fusion of originals and jazz standards around the South West. Her recent performances have been at Glastonbury Festival 2011 and Marlborough Jazz Fest 2011, as well as Bristol Harbour Festival 2011. Trish is also an arts professional, having worked in music management and promotion. She currently works at St George's Bristol as an Events Manager.

Since 2010, employers such as The Ministry of Sound, The Mayflower Theatre (Southampton), Apple, the Royal Opera House and Wells Cathedral School have recruited graduates from this course. Students have also progressed into roles including Singing Teacher, Music Therapist, Musician (session, composer and teacher), Music Technician, Music Therapist, Royal Opera House Steward, Private Music Teacher.

What students say...

Kate Stevens:

Why did you choose your course and what do you like about it?

"Music has always been a huge passion of mine, especially within Theatre. Bath Spa offered me all the subjects and topics of music that I wished to concentrate on. I love their wide range of ensembles to be involved in, and the performance opportunities that you get as a BSU Music student. In my first year the choir and orchestra performed in Bath Abbey, conducted by Jason Thornton, performing Faure’s Requiem and other orchestral works. We have also performed new compositions by Harrison Birtwistle and Gavin Bryars. There are also Master classes available for each taught instrument, by professional musicians. The course is a musician's dream."

What do you like about Bath Spa University? 

"Bath Spa has a beautiful campus, with lots of places to escape to, like the lake – but beware the swans! The location of the campus is out of Bath, but only a 5 minute journey to the centre, which I feel is perfect as you don’t feel crowded, and with its open spaces you can really breathe in the country air."

 Dixieland Jazz band

Joe Gatley: 

Why did you choose your course and what do you like about it?

"Music at Bath Spa appealed to me because of its strong emphasis on performance, and also being part of a vibrant School of Music and Performing arts. This has allowed me to work and socialise with students from related courses such as Drama, Performing Arts and Commercial Music. Every year the music department stages Opera and Music Theatre productions to a very high standard, which is something that really interests me. There are a large number of ensembles to take part in, and also the support and facilities to start your own if you wanted to. Through these ensembles the music department puts on concerts through-out the year, with many opportunities for solo performances."

What do you like about Bath Spa University?

"Bath Spa University has a very friendly atmosphere, and has a campus in fresh, rural surroundings that is not too big so you feel familiar with it almost straight away. Everything on campus is quite close together, and the library is well stocked and has good computer facilities." 

To see which instrumental and vocal tutors are currently available for one-to-one practical tuition please click here.