COURSE OVERVIEW

The BA (Hons) Songwriting course is a practically focused, industry-aligned course designed for those looking to become a professional songwriter.

Songs are the lifeblood of the music industry. To become a success, the modern songwriter needs to be courageous, creative, collaborative and enterprising. On the BA Songwriting degree, we’ll support you to develop each of these attributes.

As a specialist music industry education provider, we don’t attempt to ‘teach’ you how to write songs but, instead, guide you through a structured and personalised journey that enables you to develop your own individual writing ability and creative style. Whether you’re a writer–performer with your own artist project, a writer–producer most at home in the studio, or a songwriter looking to co-write and pitch on the projects of others, we’ll support your individual journey within a collaborative setting.

Each week, you’ll explore the art and craft of contemporary songwriting, and will write at least two songs to brief which cover a range of topics, styles, genres and approaches. You’ll collaborate with other ICMP London students to develop your material and will engage in small group ‘A&R-style’ feedback and critical discussion with your songwriting tutors and talented peers, regularly critiquing each other’s works-in-progress across all three years of the deg

Our core aim is to nurture your creative individuality and independence as a songwriter and empower you with the knowledge, skills and understanding required to establish and maintain a songwriting career, in whatever form you choose. You’ll achieve this with the help of our impressive teaching faculty, made up of highly experienced songwriters and music producers, all of whom have active careers in both the music industry and the higher education sector.

Our songwriting course offers many opportunities for collaborative work, both within ICMP and with the wider music and creative industries, providing excellent opportunities for building your showreel and networking within the music business. The final year sees a research-based creative project and frequent interaction with established industry professionals, allowing students to leave ICMP ‘career-ready’.

By the time you graduate from your songwriting degree course, you’ll have a deep understanding of the discipline; an impressive creative repertoire of work; a grasp of the history and culture of songwriting; solid production and recording skills; and expertise in musicianship, business, entrepreneurship and live performance. You’ll also have gained a working knowledge of the way the music industry operates, thanks to regular songwriting-specific masterclasses and events and visits from industry specialists.

Fees & Funding

Course Fees: UK Students | EU/EEA/International Students

Please visit our Fees pages for information on access to Student Loans. Please note, students eligible for Loans are able to borrow the full course fee for ICMP degrees, unlike some other UK music schools where students are required to pay additional top-up fees themselves. 

Full Programme Specification

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Successful completion of the BA (Hons) Songwriting course at ICMP London leads to the award of Bachelor of Arts by the University of East London.

Redesigned and Revalidated in 2021 

This course has recently gone through a redesign process with our validating partner UEL, making it one of the most current Songwriting degree courses in the UK. Please visit icmp.ac.uk/study-at-icmp/2021-course-redesign for further detail on why we periodically redesign our courses and the benefits this has to you as an ICMP student. 

I love studying on the BA Songwriting course because the constructive, nurturing class environment has brought about a dynamic change in my creativity and productivity."

Alistair Pope
BA (Hons) Songwriting Degree

 

UCAS CODES

Key facts

  • A practice-based exploration of the art and craft of contemporary songwriting. 
  • A personalised learning experience which equips you with the knowledge, understanding and skills to build a career in the music and wider creative industries/music ecosystem.
  • Develops your unique creative ‘voice’ through structured weekly individual and collaborative songwriting activities.
  • Challenges you to write songs using new methods and approaches, exploring beyond your usual stylistic territory
  • Professionalises your writing ability through entrepreneurial business practice, helping you to understand how the modern music industry operates.
  • A high level of contact teaching hours, delivered in small groups in world-class facilities.
  • The London location provides opportunities to showcase your songwriting at top London venues.
  • Connections with the wider music industry enable you to build an impressive songwriting network.
  • Face-to-Face Tour

Student Stories

Sha Supangan

Electronic music producer, DJ and songwriter Sha speaks about why she chose ICMP to pursue her songwriting career.

Trudi Veremu

Trudi speaks of the benefits of utilising ICMP's connections to the music industry.

COURSE DETAILS

Year 1 (Level 4)

Year 2 (Level 5)

Year 3 (Level 6)

During your first year on the course, you’ll develop your technical and creative skills by exploring a range of songwriting approaches, methods and styles. Working in small groups, you’ll begin to expand your song portfolio by writing, performing and producing both individual and co-written material, and will undertake weekly tutor and peer feedback sessions to help develop your critical awareness of the process of songwriting. You’ll also examine the importance of songs, which are the lifeblood of the music industry.

CREATIVE SONGWRITING: EXPLORING SONGCRAFT

This module will equip you with core knowledge, skills and understanding as a songwriter, as you observe, reflect on and challenge your own writing process. You’ll explore the fundamental elements of songcraft through a combination of analytical and practical songwriting activities. You’ll also work individually and collaboratively to develop a repertoire of original songs within a specified range of thematic, structural and stylistic briefs, while you examine a variety of cultural, historical, social and political contexts for your songwriting. By the module’s conclusion, you’ll have a developed a brand-new body of work, plus a body of research that will support the development of your future songwriting material.

CREATIVE SONGWRITING II: ESTABLISHING SONGCRAFT

In this module, you’ll develop, edit and complete a portfolio of original songs within a specified range of thematic, structural and stylistic briefs. You’ll apply the fundamental elements of songcraft in a practical manner, embedding research from a variety of cultural, historical, social and political contexts into your songwriting. You’ll also examine the role of creative intention in your writing and will be supported in identifying frameworks for self-reflection that will aid your continuing development as a songwriter.

THEORY AND MUSICIANSHIP FOR SONGWRITERS

The overall aim of this module is to expand your musical literacy and confidence by providing you with a grounding in theory and musicianship skills. You’ll study melody, rhythm, harmony, developing your aural recognition and using these skills as a basis for realising new composition and performance works. You’ll also be introduced to core instruments while you learn how to engage musically in a variety of ensemble contexts. Each musical concept you study in this module will be outlined theoretically, technically and contextually, so you’ll gain a complete 360 degree understanding of its nature. You’ll then apply these principles in a practical manner to your songwriting.

FUNDAMENTALS FOR WRITER–PERFORMERS

In this module, you’ll explore what it means to be a live performer in today’s musical landscape. You’ll develop your understanding of how to play solo and in a group, while improving your stage craft and learning how to communicate your music to audiences in both ‘live’ gig and online ‘livestreaming’ performance settings. You’ll also consider the many other elements that go into creating a great live performance – from choosing the right venue and considering how you construct a set, to deciding how to move and talk on stage.

The module is assessed through an end-of-term performance, where you’ll demonstrate the practical skills you’ve learned, plus the submission of a research document which shows you understand how to put on a successful live performance.

FUNDAMENTALS FOR WRITER–PRODUCERS

This module will provide you with an introduction to a digital audio workstation (DAW) based approach to writing, developing and presenting song material, as you explore how skills within the digital recording realm can be invaluable for songwriters. You’ll learn how to use the DAW as a creative tool in the songwriting process and, through a combination of applied listening, research and practical instruction and application, will produce your own innovative music.

MUSIC BUSINESS FOR SONGWRITERS

Songs are the lifeblood of the music industry. As a songwriter, it’s crucial to understand the importance of copyright and to have a complete grasp of the wider creative industries as you develop your portfolio career. This module provides a solid grounding for establishing a practical knowledge of the music business. You’ll start to establish an insider’s understanding of today’s music industry, from the point of view of a songwriter. You’ll explore the modern music industry’s three main sectors – recorded music, live music and publishing – and the processes and practices that take place within each area. Through case studies and applied projects, you’ll learn about music revenue streams and the inter-relationship between areas within the music industry.

  • Introduction to the music industry 
  • Music business processes and practices 
  • A&R process 
  • Music copyright 
  • Creative industries business model
  • Music recording and production
  • Live music
  • Music publishing 
  • Artist management in the music industry
  • Music rights and royalties
  • Sales and distribution in the music industry

In Year 2, you’ll continue to develop as a songwriter, with more focus on industry application. This includes writing to brief and continuing to hone your skills as a writer–producer. You’ll also explore songwriting in communities and marketing strategies, and have the opportunity to design your own creative performance project.

APPLIED SONGWRITING: EXTENDING SONGCRAFT

In this module, you’ll develop your technical knowledge of songcraft within a variety of creative contexts and projects. You’ll begin to contextualise your work according to the norms and standards of professional songwriting practice, producing a new body of work in the process. Through a combination of research and practical application, you’ll critically examine a variety of roles within your individual and collaborative songwriting practice while you reflect on your own areas of strength.

APPLIED SONGWRITING II: EMBEDDING SONGCRAFT

In this module, you’ll embed your technical knowledge of songcraft in a body of work that achieves a set of stated outcomes. Through in-depth research and the use of music technology, you’ll synthesise a range of concepts, techniques and approaches as you realise finished songs suited to a specified creative context. Critical reflection on your creative process, and justification of decisions you’ve made, is at the heart of this module. Through a combination of reflective practice and peer feedback, you’ll examine the specific ways the creative choices you make while songwriting can go on to impact what is communicated to your audience.

SONGWRITING AND COMMUNITIES

This module will explore the role of the songwriter and the purpose and power of songs within a variety of non-commercial contexts. Songwriting and Communities is an experiential module that will encourage you to look beyond the typically identified commercially focused scope of the professional songwriter. During the module you’ll be encouraged and equipped to facilitate real-world community songwriting via self-initiated projects. You’ll learn theoretical and practical skills and approaches that will serve to enhance your understanding of the nature and opportunity of collaborative songwriting in a variety of contexts.

CREATIVE PERFORMANCE PROJECT

In this module, you’ll have the chance to conceive your own creative performance project. In realising your project, you’ll explore the myriad of possibilities available to you as a performer in both the offline and the online worlds. The modern performer has to be adaptive, independent and multi-skilled. On the Creative Performance Project module, ICMP’s bespoke, project-focused teaching is designed to encourage autonomy, self-discovery and innovation, so you’ll be encouraged to thoroughly examine all the resources and techniques available to you. Through practical workshops, demonstrations, collaborative exercises and critical discussion, you’ll explore the conceptual and psychological aspects of performing life, plus the practical application of both established and emerging performance techniques.

CONTEMPORARY PRACTICE FOR WRITER–PRODUCERS

In this module, you’ll examine contemporary production practice from a variety of contexts. You’ll apply technical knowledge of DAWs and a range of sample-based processes to create a showreel of professional sounding productions. You’ll learn about vocal production techniques, recording and editing, mixing and basic mastering. Through a combination of applied listening, research and practical instruction and application, you’ll create a sonic identity for your own music, justifying your creative choices with relevant academic and sonic references.

MARKETING STRATEGIES FOR SONGWRITERS

Success as a freelance musician depends on your ability to sell yourself and your services. With that in mind, this module covers fundamental marketing principles, traditional marketing theories and contemporary marketing approaches and tools. This includes branding, advertising, promotion, pricing, distribution, PR, positioning, consumer behaviour, social media, competition, innovation, audience building, viral marketing, building an online presence, market research, analysis and product development and life cycles.

You’ll evaluate how the changing marketing environment has created new challenges and opportunities for creatives, and how marketing and branding is evolving and adapting to meet the changing needs of professionals in the creative industries. You’ll develop an understanding of consumer behaviour and how customer-driven marketing strategies are designed and turned into marketing plans that can be implemented to solve real-world problems. You’ll also explore the concept of creatives as a brand, considering key areas such as brand partnerships and commerce versus credibility. By the end of this module, you’ll have developed a fully assessed marketing plan.

In your final year, you’ll start to build professional momentum and experience, with opportunities to present a complete portfolio of songs, submit a self-directed professional project, and create a business strategy for entry into the music industry.

ADVANCED SONGWRITING: CREATIVE IDENTITY AND REPERTOIRE

In this module, you’ll use your high command of songcraft to originate, plan, develop and manage a viable songwriting project. You’ll engage in detailed research that will underpin the formation of a cohesive repertoire of original work. You’ll be coached in professional artist and repertoire (A&R) practice, taking full creative ownership of your project, so you’re able to reflect on your project development critically and articulate a clear understanding of your own writing. The seminars will help you apply and contextualise your learning from other Level 6 modules to your own creative projects, enabling you to ruminate on your journey so far as an emerging professional songwriter.

PROFESSIONAL PRACTICE

The aim of this module is to support you in the development of your professional and academic skills; particularly in the planning, execution and evaluation of a music-related professional creative project. This will include developing your practical and conceptual understanding of the codes, conventions and issues associated with the entire project process. You’ll synthesise your experience and knowledge and employ a range of transferable skills in communication, negotiation, analysis, project planning and project management. The module is also a great opportunity to promote your professional practice through community or charitable work.

To make sure you’re on the right track, you’ll first present a project proposal – a working document you’ll continue to develop, test and revise over the course of the year. You’ll demonstrate autonomy and self-leadership in determining the detail and scope of your project, and there will be opportunities for you to link with and build upon projects in other Level 6 modules.

  • Developing a project proposal 
  • Presentation and communication skills 
  • Project risk assessments 
  • Research methods and enquiry 
  • Ethics 
  • Analysis and interpretation 
  • Problem solving 
  • Effective planning and pitching 
  • Interdisciplinary practice 
  • Project management best practice and methodologies  

THE ENTERPRISING SONGWRITER

Culminating in a real-world business pitch to a potential investor, in this module you’ll establish entrepreneurial thinking backed up by a solid understanding of business strategies. You’ll explore what it means to be ‘enterprising’ in today’s creative industries – from ideation and modelling, to securing funding and setting up a new venture. You’ll have the opportunity to research and evaluate in detail both the for-profit and not-for-profit sectors. The business proposal and plan you create in this module will carry through for use in The Enterprising Songwriter II module.

  • Pitching a new venture 
  • Developing a business plan 
  • Entrepreneurship concepts and principles 
  • Social entrepreneurship 
  • Profit vs non-profit pursuits 
  • Creating your value proposition (VP) 
  • Developing your unique selling proposition (USP) 
  • Communicating business ideas 
  • Building distribution channels 
  • Songwriting marketing strategies 
  • Market research 
  • The promotion mix in music 
  • Presentation techniques 

THE ENTERPRISING SONGWRITER II

This module helps set you up for a secure future as a self-employed songwriter by consolidating learning in entrepreneurship and business. You’ll draw on skills in marketing, project management, finance and legal, combined with creative thinking, collaborative and problem-solving, to plan a new business venture launch in the creative sector. Supported by expert tutors, this self-directed module will see you develop a range of enterprising behaviours, attributes and competencies to help you tackle the real-life challenges and opportunities of a career in the creative industries.

  • Write a business plan  
  • Financial planning and budgeting 
  • Sources of business funding 
  • Business structures – sole-trader, partnerships, not-for-profit, limited company 
  • Tax and accounting 
  • Budgets 
  • Strategic planning 
  • Project management 
  • Legal considerations 
  • Patents 
  • Licenses 
  • Copyrights 
  • Trademarks 
  • Launching a business 
  • Crowdfunding vs venture capital  

TEACHING, LEARNING AND ASSESSMENT

You will be taught at our campus in Kilburn, utilising our live rooms, tech suites and in-house music studio facilities as well as classrooms and lecture rooms. You will have access to use these facilities outside of class time while you are a student at ICMP in order to rehearse and record your music. 

You will be taught through a variety of teaching and learning methods including lectures, small group tutorials, performance workshops, music technology workshops tutorials and one to one instrumental tuition. 

You will have access to the Student Services Department for support and advice concerning welfare, finance, personal development, safeguarding etc. You'll also have access to our Professional Development team ‘The Hub, who provide bespoke music industry careers advice and access to unique industry opportunities.

As a student of UEL you will also enjoy access to a range of UEL facilities, including the 24/7 multimedia libraries, with over 300,000 books, journals, audio-visual resources and archives, 500 electronic books and 25,000 electronic journals and databases. 

Teaching and Learning

On the BA (Hons) Songwriting programme your learning will be in small mixed groups for seminars and writing classes and small workshop groups for practical skills. Some lectures are in larger groups.

When not attending lectures, seminars or other timetabled sessions you'll be expected to continue learning independently through self-study. Typically, this will involve reading articles and books, working on individual and group projects, undertaking research in the library, and preparing coursework assignments.Your independent learning is supported by a range of excellent facilities, including our Learning Resource Centre, our many performance and practice rooms, and well-equipped tech suites.

Throughout the duration of your course your time will be split as follows:

Teaching hours per week
Semester A • Year 1: 14hrs | Year 2: 10hrs | Year 3: 10hrs
Semester B • Year 1: 13hrs | Year 2:  14hrs  | Year 3: 10hrs

Total Teaching, Learning and Assessment hours per year
Year 1: 324hrs | Year 2: 288hrs | Year 3: 240hrs

Total self-study hours per year
Year 1: 876hrs | Year 2: 912hrs | Year 3: 960hrs

Assessment

Modules are assessed through a variety of means, including practical exams and performance, submission of course work, projects, examination and essays.

The assessment breakdown of this programme is:

Year 1: 17% Written | 33% Practical | 50% Coursework
Year 2: 34% Practical | 66% Coursework
Year 3: 17% Written | 83% Coursework

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS

Songwriting course applicants will typically have A Levels, BTEC Diploma or Extended Diploma, or International Baccalaureate equivalent to 80 UCAS points, or an ICMP Higher Diploma.

In addition, you should hold a GCSE Grade C or 4 or above in English, or suitable equivalent, such as Level 2 Key Skills, Functional Skills or Adult Literacy/Numeracy.

We also welcome applications from mature applicants who may have no formal qualifications but can demonstrate their suitability for study through appropriate skills and experience.

International students will typically hold a relevant equivalent qualification – please check your qualification with our Admissions Team. In addition, you should hold a relevant English language qualification equivalent to CEFR Level B2.

All applicants will be invited to attend an audition/interview. 

This course is also available as a one-year Cert HE option.

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HOW TO APPLY

 If you would like to apply for our BA (Hons) Songwriting course please apply via  the "APPLY NOW" link  below.

At any time during the application process if you need help or further advice just contact our Admissions team who will be happy to assist you. 



By phone:
020 7328 0222

By email:
enquiries@icmp.ac.uk

or

Tutors

Catherine Anne DaviesArtist

Welsh multi-instrumentalist and producer Catherine works under the moniker The Anchoress. Her debut album‘Confessions of a Romance Novelist’, which she also wrote and produced, was released in 2016 to widespread critical acclaim and won HMV’s ‘Welsh Album of the Year’ as well as being nominated for the Welsh Music Prize. On it, Catherine plays a variety of instruments, including piano, guitar, flute, omnichord, mellotron, wurlitzer, glockenspiel and celeste, as well as sampling church bells and an orchestra of typewriters.
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Tim ElsenburgSongwriting

Tim Elsenburg is a producer, songwriter, and musician, currently working on projects in all those fields. His band, Sweet Billy Pilgrim, was nominated for a Mercury Music award in 2009, getting lots of national coverage as the “band who made an album in their garden shed”. Sweet Billy Pilgrim have released three critically acclaimed albums, toured with artists as diverse as Jamie Cullum, Portico Quartet and Field Music, Malian singer Rokia Traoré, The Futureheads, and performed with The Who at the Royal Albert Hall.
Tim Elsenburg | Songwriting Tutor | ICMP London

Hannah Rose PlattSongwriting

Hannah Rose Platt is a Liverpudlian singer-songwriter, steeped in the traditions of American country music. She has toured extensively in the UK and USA and recorded with Grammy Award-winning musicians. Her songs have often been played on radio and TV. Picking up a guitar at the age of five and teaching herself to play, Hannah’s musical education came courtesy of her step-father’s record collection, into which she would dive voraciously, drawing inspiration from a wide variety of music.
Hannah Rose Platt | Songwriting Tutor | ICMP London

Daniel Green Songwriting

Daniel Green's teaching specialisms encompass contemporary composition, songwriting and popular music history. A doctoral student at the University of Salford, Daniel is conducting socio-cultural research to explore the history of the UK singles chart and its influence over popular taste. His research interests have included investigating the use of classical instrumentation within popular music, and in particular researching the British composer and writer Reginald Smith Brindle to produce an experimental portfolio of compositions.
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Luke TomsArtist

Luke is a singer-songwriter, producer, and composer with over ten years of industry experience. He's signed major deals with Island Records and EMI Music publishing, and also toured extensively – both independently and with such artists as Mika, The Feeling, The Zutons, Nerina Pallot, and many more. As a producer and composer, Luke has written extensively for TV and film, with many works published through Sony ATV.
Luke Toms | Songwriting Tutor | ICMP London

Jonathan WhiskerdSongwriting

Award-winning songwriter and recording artist Jonathan Whiskerd is programme leader of the BA (Hons) Songwriting course. He has collaborated with writer-producers Joshua Blair (Mark Ronson, Bruno Mars), Sophie Daniels (Joelle Moses, Westlife), Paul Stanborough (Guy Chambers, Cathy Dennis), Bruce Hughes (Jason Mraz) and Igor Haefeli (Daughter) in studios across the UK and US. Jonathan works as a standalone songwriter on a range of artist projects in London and Nashville.
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