Songwriting

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How to Apply

World-leading course. Professionalise your songwriting and facilitate your personal artistic ‘voice’. 1 year (full-time) 2 years (part-time).

  • 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

“All of the networking and experience that I gained on the course will have a big impact on my future. I am now more enlightened and enthusiastic about starting out and this course has given me a renewed sense of confidence.”
– Stevie Rae Stephens, Songwriting graduate

Why study Songwriting?

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  • unpublished songwriters wishing to develop their craft to professional level.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 and formalising their prior experience.

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

Course structure

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. 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.

Modules

  • Songwriting Skills is a twelve-week ‘bootcamp’ in which you are asked to generate lyric ideas as part of a daily set of tasks and routines. You 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, many will go on to become part of your final Major Project showcase.
  • History Of Song is the first of our research modules and here you are asked to investigate your own personal history of song. Lectures focus on song-form, lyrical perspectives, character and identity whilst you are asked to choose a range of your own favourite songs. You then utilise Bath Spa’s extensive international library resources to research the techniques and principles which distinguish these tunes. Research here serves to formalise your instincts for song.
  • 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 is partly PhD training and partly 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. Along the way, you train as a postgraduate researcher.
  • Major Project is 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 up to you to define; this is your calling card and the beginning of a new journey.

Course assessment

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.

Currently, the first two trimesters are taught at Corsham Court with its songwriting rooms and library. We have 4 project rooms – with iMac, audio interface, speakers, weighted digital piano and microphones – which affords you the facilities for pre-production and writing.

In the third trimester you’ll have access to Newton Park’s industry standard recording studios. We want you to feel welcome at all of our campuses and to particularly enjoy the libraries at Corsham Court, Newton Park and Sion Hill. You’re also welcome at the Students Union.
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, Komedia and The Pound Arts. There is plenty of opportunity for songwriters to try out material at the many open mic nights taking place across the region and we’ll encourage you to participate in our own various performance nights.

Resources

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

Teaching methods

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. Songwriting circles can be a particularly dynamic environment for both networking and analysis and developing the language of creative critique.

Application method

Application forms are available online and should be completed and returned to us either electronically or through the post. If you have any queries please contact the admissions department:

Telephone: (01225) 875624.

International students should visit our international pages for more information about our entry requirements, fees and scholarships, and student support.

Course enquiries

Please contact Julianne Regan (Course Director, MMus Songwriting, Corsham Court):

j.regan@bathspa.ac.uk

d.moor@bathspa.ac.uk

Entry requirements

You’ll already be engaged with songs and songwriting culture, although lack of knowledge of music theory is not a hindrance. You need ‘ideas’.

Where you do not have a degree but have experience and a ‘track record’, 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

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.

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.’

Career opportunities

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.

What students say...

MMus Songwriting Alumni


“I studied my award-winning DL MMus at Bath Spa University in order to increase my job prospects. It has enabled me to apply for the next tier of jobs that I previously wouldn't have been considered for. I feel every aspect of my writing, both academic and musically speaking, has improved. It has made me realise that, before anything else, creating music should be fun, time consuming (in a good way) and more than anything else, personal. An excellent course, an excellent experience.”

Stuart Vallans, 2015

"We enrolled because we wanted academic recognition, and ended up gaining new skills and inspiration."

Maryann Tedstone, interviewed in the Guardian, 19 June 2013

"I learned more in one year on the MMus than I had in the whole ten years I'd been writing songs previously. The course helped me grow as a musician, a creative writer, a collaborator, and as an academic. I loved every minute of the course, thanks to the passionate lecturers, positive atmosphere, beautiful setting, and of course, all the wonderful songs shared by the class on a weekly basis"

Guy Nottage, 2012

"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. I now have the deluxe edition titanium 500-piece 'Songwriting' toolkit in my possession. Now it's up to me to use it. I could not recommend this module highly enough to any serious songwriter, whether at the start of their career, or a highly seasoned professional"

David Brogan, 2012