MA in Songwriting

Bath Spa University

Program Description

MA in Songwriting

Bath Spa University


World-leading course. Professionalise your songwriting and facilitate your personal artistic ‘voice’.

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.

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  • unpublished songwriters wishing to develop their craft to professional level;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.


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 are 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.

Course structure

Songwriting Skills

A twelve-week process during which you will 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, some may go on to become part of your final Major Project showcase. The aim is to allow songs and writings of all genres to flourish.

History of Song

Investigate your own history of the song, unravel your personal songwriting ‘DNA’. You will look at your own work and that of others, in the context of artistic identity and culture. Lectures focus on song-form, lyrical perspectives, character and identity, whilst you study a range of your own favourite songs. You may wish to approach your study of the song through a focus on genre, social or artistic movement, perhaps through a thematic perspective, you may choose to develop. You then use our extensive library resources to research techniques and principles which distinguish these songs.

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 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 for the collaborative experience.

Context and Methodology

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 is 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. This training is a firm foundation for further study as a postgraduate researcher, should that be your goal.

Major Project

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 yours to define; this is your calling card and the beginning of a new journey.

How will I be taught?

The Campus-based option has 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.

The Distance Learning option is a blended learning design which combines formal online lectures with regular personal tutorials. Week to week you study a workbook of specific tasks which are reviewed and discussed with your tutor. Peer-based teaching and learning occur in our regular Songwriter’s Circle webinars in which students from all over the world meet to share and critique their work.

We encourage Distance Learning students to attend our Low Residency Week in September at Corsham Court. This include lectures, visiting speakers. workshops and master-classes – a one-week condensed version of the year’s programme which establishes networks and front-loads the year’s teaching.


Distance Learning

You can choose to study this Master’s degree through distance learning: there is no requirement for you to come to Bath. Our distance learning route is world-leading in its innovation of teaching and learning songwriting online. Students have attended the course from Australia, the USA, Malaysia, Turkey, Ireland, Germany, Greece, Puerto Rico, Singapore 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're welcome 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.

Graduate careers

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.


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

Prepare three of your best songs on a Soundcloud playlist. Tell us as much as you can about yourself on our application form.

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.’

Cost & Fees

Year 1 tuition

  • UK/EU students full-time: £7,000 / part-time: £3,500
  • International students full-time: £13,500
This school offers programs in:
  • English

Last updated August 29, 2018
Duration & Price
This course is
Campus based
Start Date
Start date
Sept. 2019
1 year
Full time
- Tuition fees for 2019-2020 school year are to be published in January 2019.
United Kingdom - Bath, England
Start date : Sept. 2019
Application deadline Request Info
End date Request Info
Sept. 2019
United Kingdom - Bath, England
Application deadline Request Info
End date Request Info