Geography and Music

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Expand your understanding of the relationship between people and places.

  • Friendly, supportive team of lecturers, who are excellent teachers and active researchers
  • Specialisms include river and coastal processes, poverty and development, environmental hazards, sustainability and climate change, culture and identities, geotechnologies and more
  • Field trips currently include residential trips to Barcelona, the Lake District and Northern India

Our students consistently rate the course very highly, with over 90% overall satisfaction in the National Student Survey every year for the past three years.

 

Why study Geography?

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.

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.

Studying Geography at Bath Spa University, you’ll learn geographical concepts, theories and knowledge, while gaining skills that can improve your career prospects. Geography graduates are valued by employers for this unique combination.

Course structure

We take an integrated approach to Geography; you’ll 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 human side as your interests, abilities and career plans evolve.

You’ll graduate with a range of skills that are highly valued by employers. These include scientific techniques and computer skills, as well as people skills like communication, team-work and critical thinking.

Modules

  • Year 1
    The first year of this course introduces you to the exciting world of Geography at university. You’ll acquire foundational geographical knowledge, understanding and skills. You’ll get a taste of a variety of geographies, and there are plenty of opportunities to do fieldwork, visiting local places such as the Mendip, Somerset Levels and Bristol.

    Topics you’ll study include:
    • examining contemporary geographical issues
    • learning about unfamiliar physical environments and different societies and cultures
    • exploring key issues such as development and sustainability
    • how to use the technologies, methods, techniques and equipment that geographers need to use.
  • Year 2
    This year you start to specialise in your geographical interests. Greater emphasis is placed on research methods; you’ll learn a wide range of useful geographical methods and techniques, both in the classroom and in fieldwork settings where you’ll apply your growing mastery of your subject to real-world problems and issues. We also give 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.

    Optional topics include:
    • climate change
    • geomorphology
    • river management
    • environmental hazards
    • exciting new geotechnologies
    • urban geographies of global cities
    • work placement or volunteering overseas
    • field trip to India
  • Year 3
    This year you’ll further specialise your geographical interests. You’ll develop your skills as an independent scholar by undertaking primary research that will enable you to demonstrate the theoretical and practical aspects of your geographical interests. Alternatively, you can undertake an extended work placement with a relevant research report. There’s a huge variety in choice in what you do for a dissertation and throughout the study you’ll benefit from one-to-one tuition and expert guidance.

    The rest of the third year is made up of more specialised topics, including:
    • climatology
    • coastal management
    • development and disasters
    • identities and inequalities in society
    • globalisation
    • environmental justice
    • field trip to Lake District or Barcelona
    • community placement

Course assessment

You’ll experience a variety of different assessment methods throughout your degree. These include essays, project reports, presentations, posters, video clips, fieldcraft 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.

Study abroad

You’ll have the opportunity to study in a wide range of locations around the world. Our students have completed Erasmus+ and Exchange programmes in a variety of countries including Australia, Finland and the USA.

Field trips

'Field trip opportunities have been brilliant and a really valuable experience' – Geography graduate, 2015

We’re committed to giving you a relevant, interesting and useful degree; fieldwork is integral to this. There are various field days during modules, as well as residential fieldwork options in the UK and overseas in Years 2 and 3.

You’ll 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 trips currently go to Spain, the Lake District and Northern India. Please note that you’ll have to make a financial contribution towards some of these residential study visits.

Work placements, industry links and internships

There are opportunities to undertake work placements in your second and third year – this is an excellent way to gain experience in the workplace.

Guest speakers from industry contribute to the learning experience throughout the course. This engagement with potential employers will help you make those all-important career decisions when you graduate.

Competitions/awards

There are prizes awarded each year in recognition of excellence in the core modules. This culminates with the Geography Project of the Year Award, for the best dissertation.

Teaching methods

Good teaching is important to us; our graduates highly rate the quality of teaching on the course. In our friendly department you’ll 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’ll learn a range of scientific techniques including field sampling and the use of laboratory instruments for sediment and water analysis. You’ll experience lectures and workshop or seminar-based teaching, with small groups to enable discussion about specific topics.

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 David Simm, Subject Leader for Geography: d.simm@bathspa.ac.uk

Have a look at our related courses:

BSc Global Development and Sustainability

BA Geography (Human)

BSc Geography (Physical)

Entry requirements

We accept a wide range of qualifications for entry to our undergraduate programmes. The main ones are listed below:

  • A Level - Grades BCC - CCC preferred with Grade C in Geography, Sociology Economics or Science
  • BTEC - Extended Diploma grades Merit, Merit, Merit (MMM) preferred in a related subject.
  • International Baccalaureate - A minimum score of 26 points required.
  • Typical offers for applicants with Access to HE will be the Access to HE Diploma or Access to HE Certificate (60 credits, 45 of which must be Level 3, including 30 at merit or higher).

English Language Requirements for International and EU Applicants

IELTS 6.0 - for visa nationals, with a minimum score of IELTS 5.5 in each element.

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...

 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.

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!”

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

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

Do and make in this practical course, concentrating on performance and composition.

  • Great performance opportunities, from jazz to opera, on this ‘conservatoire in a university’ course
  • Varied and busy programme in classical, jazz, musical theatre, opera and world music
  • 97% overall student satisfaction, National Student Survey 2015

“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.”
–Joe Gatley, BA Music graduate

Why study Music?

This is a practical and creative Music course. You’ll benefit from: dynamic staff, with national and international reputations; great facilities; and opportunities to participate in a wide range of ensembles. You’ll study performance as well as composition, with opportunities to give regular performances in Bath and beyond.

You’ll compose work in a wide variety of styles and have the opportunity to work with film, new media and dance. Work is performed either by our ensembles and soloists or by the numerous visiting professional groups.

Course structure

Magic Flute opera perforamance

Through the course you’ll study practical areas (such as classical or jazz performance on an instrument or voice and composition) and academic content (such as musicology relating to styles and genres from medieval through to pop, jazz and contemporary world music).
You can also study areas such as empirical music psychology, community music, opera and musical theatre, and issues within the music industry.

You’ll play to your strengths, with the opportunity to specialise in areas including music psychology, community music skills, world music and field studies, opera and musical theatre.

We currently have over 30 ensembles open to all students, including: numerous choirs; symphony and chamber orchestra; wind band and jazz big band; jazz small groups; our own Javanese Gamelan; brass, wind and string ensembles; folk; and experimental music groups.

Modules

  • Year 1
    You’ll study performance, including weekly one-to-one instrumental/vocal lessons, composition in a wide range of styles and genres, music technology in our industry standard labs, world music lectures and practical workshops, musicology lectures and seminars, research and study skills.
  • Year 2
    You’ll 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.
  • Year 3
    You’ll 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).

Course assessment

You’ll be assessed through coursework, including compositions and essays; spoken presentations; and through practical assessments such as recitals, technicals and rehearsals.

Study abroad

There are opportunities through the Erasmus scheme to study abroad for a term or longer in year 2 – we have links with university music departments and schools in Europe, particularly Germany, and the USA.

Performances

We give regular performances throughout the year in Bath as well as beyond. Each year we fully stage opera and musical theatre productions, ranging from Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro and Puccini's Il Trittico, to Philip Glass's Satyagraha and Sondheim's Into the Woods and Company to Seussical.

Field trips

In year 2 and 3, particularly the modules ‘Music in its Cultural Contexts’ and ‘Music in Action’, students have the opportunity to engage with music projects in the community.

Work placements, industry links and internships

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

You’ll benefit from masterclass sessions from industry experts. Recent visitors include: Peter Donohoe, Mark-Anthony Turnage, Jason Rebello, Joanna MacGregor, Graham Fitkin, Iain Ballamy and Rosa Mannion.

Competitions and awards

We offer three student prizes to students in Year 3:

  • Performance Prize
  • Composition Prize for the best Year 3 composition portfolio
  • Ensemble Prize for outstanding contributions to ensembles in Year 3

Teaching methods

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

You’ll be taught by, and work alongside, a creative community of experts. Full-time staff are all practicing performers, composers and musicologists. You’ll also be taught by visiting staff, many with international reputations.

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

Students with instrumentsWe accept a wide range of qualifications for entry to our undergraduate programmes. The main ones are listed below:

  • A Level - Grades BCC including Music Grade B or related subject.
  • BTEC - Extended Diploma in Music or related subject accepted at grade Distinction, Merit, Merit (DMM) accepted.
  • International Baccalaureate - A minimum of 27 points required in addition to evidence of Music ability and/or other graded Music qualifications.
  • Access to HE courses - Typical offers for applicants with Access to HE will be the Access to HE Diploma or Access to HE Certificate (60 credits, 45 of which must be Level 3, including 30 at merit or higher) accepted in addition to evidence of Music ability and/or other graded Music qualifications.

Applicants must have, or be working towards Grade 8 Music Practical in first instrument study and expect to achieve a minimum of Grade 5 Music Theory before joining our undergraduate programme.

English Language Requirements for International and EU Applicants

IELTS 6.0 - for visa nationals, with a minimum score of IELTS 5.5 in each element.

Eligible applicants will be auditioned at our Newton Park campus between December and March where you will be invited by email to:
Perform two contrasting items of repertoire at Grade 7/8 level. Sight read a short piece or song at approximately Grade 6 standard. Bring examples of original compositions or theory work. Bring an example of a written essay in music. More details will be provided on invitation.

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).

List of current alumni careers

Graduates from BA Music at Bath Spa University have careers in:

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