Music and Visual Design

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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.

A course that will develop your visual and graphic design ability and skills.

  • Study and combine two areas of creative practice
  • Taught by practicing members of staff
  • Excellent workshops and technical support

Why study Graphic Arts?

Graphic Arts is studied as a subject within the Creative Arts course, so you’ll select another subject to study alongside it. The way subjects interact varies, so the shape of the course depends on the subject you combine with Graphic Arts. For example if you decide to combine Graphic Arts and Creative Writing the subject may function differently than if you study Graphic Arts and Music.

You’ll choose one of the following subjects to study alongside Graphic Arts:

Course structure

You’ll be able to study and practice a wide range of disciplines from typography, illustration, photography, printmaking, web design, book binding and media. As the course progresses you’ll find the emphasis is placed on you; you’ll pursue your own areas of interest, with support from specialist academic and technical staff.

In your first year you’ll develop your practical skills and thinking. You’ll gain new knowledge and hands on experience, through practical typography projects, introductions to industry standard software and lectures on art theory and history.

In years two and three we’ll encourage you to develop your individual areas of practice and contextual research through live project briefs, weekly group seminars, critiques, lectures and individual tutorials.

Modules

  • Year 1
    Attend practical project led workshops, as well as historical and contextual studies lectures, complemented by optional modules in print and photography.

  • Year 2
    Undertake self directed studio practice in your chosen area and work on live design projects.

  • Year 3
    Complete self directed studio practice, work on more live design projects, and work towards your degree show exhibition.

Course assessment

You’ll be assessed by practical portfolio submissions or exhibitions of coursework, supported by research/context folders. At various stages of the course you’ll be required to give presentations, curate exhibitions and work collaboratively.

As part of your historical and contextual studies programme, you’ll be required to demonstrate your understanding and research through short written tasks and group presentations.

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 Norway, Germany, Japan, Australia and the USA

Field trips

You’ll have opportunities to participate in regular field trips across all the Creative Arts course modules. As a department we run at least four London study trips per year. We also organise international study visits to places like Berlin, Paris, New York and Venice (please note that you’ll have to pay for some study visits).

Work placements, industry links and internships

There are opportunities for you to undertake work placements as part of the wider Creative Arts professional practice programme. Past Graphic Arts students have worked with companies such as Oakwood DC.

Competitions/awards

We’ll encourage you to participate in competitions such as the Porthleven Prize and the Gane Trust Travel Grant among many others. Each year you are asked to enter the Penguin Book Cover competition. Our students have been nominated for, and won, awards such as the Threadneedle Prize, the Lynn Painter-Stainers Prize and the Royal West of England student drawing prize.

Each year we offer three prizes to our second and third year students:

  • The ‘Beyond the Studio’ Student Prize for Entrepreneurship in Art
  • The Outstanding Art Student Prize
  • The Excellence in the Creative Arts and Contemporary Arts Practice Development Prize

Teaching methods

You’ll be taught by staff who are practising designers and researchers through technical demonstrations, individual tutorials, group critiques, lectures and seminars. Teaching takes place in workshops (year 1) and studio spaces (years 2 and 3).

You’ll benefit from a programme of visiting speakers who will talk about their own practice and their experience working as contemporary designers, curators, artists, makers and publishers within the creative industries.

Application method

All full time applications are through UCAS

Course enquiries

For more information please contact Martin Thomas on m.thomas2@bathspa.ac.uk

Entry requirements

If studying A Levels: 260 UCAS points from A Levels, including a grade B in an art/design related subject

If studying a BTEC Extended Diploma: Overall Merit grade (Merit Merit Merit)

Art Foundation Diploma:  Merit

If applying for a combination of Art, Textiles, Ceramics and Visual Design, then we would invite you for an interview and ask you to bring a portfolio of creative work with you to support your application.

Career opportunities

List of current alumni careers

Graduate careers include:

  • self employment as designers;
  • curatorship;
  • gallery administration;
  • teaching;
  • art administration; and
  • community based art work.
  • 90% of students go on to work and/or study in the Art subject area.