Available as either on-campus or distance learning options, this course researches creativity, structure, technique and context to refine your professional song portfolio.
- A pioneering curriculum – the world’s first Songwriting Masters
- Taught by professional, published songwriters and performers
- Prepares you for a range of internationalised, professional futures in music and its wider industries
“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 net exports and UK music is stronger than ever. Popular song is at the heart of this industry, and global demand for new songs is greater than ever. Focusing your portfolio through research prepares you to contribute to this exciting field.
You’ll develop and focus your creative song output, applying practice-based learning at our Corsham Court and Newton Park world-heritage research centres. We maintain strong links with industry professionals, guest artists and guest lecturers.
You’ll develop a range of new creative strategies, alongside a critical perspective on your songs and their relationship with their audience and industry. This is informed by a researched blend of practical, theoretical and scholarly practice – the kind of teaching and learning unique to Bath Spa University.
From day one you’ll write songs, utilising alternative strategies designed to work alongside whatever creative approach you’ve enjoyed to date.
Lyric-writing, and a fluent command of imagery, metaphor and narrative is nurtured as the chords and melody take shape around language’s mood and meaning. All the while, you’ll investigate the power and potential of various song forms, different 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.
- 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.
Assessments range from simple audio sketches in the early stages to full album productions in the final stages; each of which is assessed for its quality and market focus. On the research modules, formal, researched and referenced post-graduate papers express your intellectual and analytical development.
You can choose to study this Master’s degree through distance learning. Our distance learning route is world leading in the innovation of teaching and learning songwriting online. Students have attended the course from Australia, the USA, Malaysia, Turkey, Ireland, Germany, Greece, Puerto Rico 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 are encouraged 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.
You can choose to study with us at Corsham Court or alternatively you can study as a Distance Learning student. Whichever route you choose, the curriculum will be the same; you’ll enjoy the same modules, learning outcomes and criteria.
At Corsham Court there are regular taught sessions running across each of the three trimesters. Lectures, visiting speakers, seminars, workshops, presentations and playback sessions work on song material and research outcomes. Songwriting circles are a particularly dynamic environment for both networking and analysis and developing the language of creative critique.
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.
Please contact Davey Ray Moor (Course Director, MMus Songwriting, Corsham Court):
For enquiries about the Distance Learning format of this course, please contact Davey Ray Moor (Course Director, MMus Songwriting, Distance Learning)
We offer places on the basis of the student's experience, potential and commitment as a songwriter. Normally, but not invariably, applicants have a first degree (or equivalent music industry experience) plus a substantial body of recorded work, equal to that which would be obtained as part of a related undergraduate course. Applicants should submit their application together with 3 songs on a weblink accompanied with lyrics. Applications are invited from candidates with a range of academic disciplines and from a variety of national backgrounds. Where an applicant does not have a degree, he or she is required to complete an APEL (Accreditation of Prior Learning Experience) 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 which are comparable to those in a higher education award.
Polish off those tunes, get singing and practicing, and get ready for an intense, stimulating and enjoyable year or two.
The range of professional outcomes from this course is as broad as the world of song. Our graduates now work as:
- Signed artists
- Signed writers
The course is also an excellent grounding if you’re interested in going on to a PhD.
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."
"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