COURSE OVERVIEW

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

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 showcase your material with a professional band 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 degree.

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 dissertation and frequent interaction with established industry professionals, allowing students to leave ICMP ‘career-ready’.

By the time you graduate from your songwriting 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, visits from industry specialists, and ICMP’s connection with Tileyard Studios in London – our exclusive industry partner which is home to the UK’s largest professional music community

Songwriting Degree Fees & Funding

Taking a songwriting course at ICMP London makes financial sense too, with the fees for ICMP music degrees significantly less than those at many traditional universities, and, also much lower than other UK music education providers - making studying music at ICMP in London great value as well as great fun.

2019/20 Course Fees: £7,500 (UK & EU Students) | £9,700 (Non-EU Students)

Please visit our Fees page for information on access to Student Loans.

EU Students, applying to start their course in 2019, will continue to be eligible for both home fee status and have access to student finance. This entitlement will remain in place for the duration of the course. Read more

Full Fees Information | 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.

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 industry
  • 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.
  • Connection with Tileyard Studios and wider music industry enables you to build impressive songwriting network.

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.

Creative Songwriting

To be a successful songwriter, you’ll need the skills to write and perform a repertoire of original songs across a range of thematic, structural and stylistic briefs. This module will enable you to develop those skills, as well as to develop co-writing techniques and experience, a practical research-based approach to exploring your creativity, and a deeper understanding of the cultural, historical, social and political contexts of your songwriting. Our personalised approach will guide you through a variety of styles, genres and forms, and provide opportunity to explore different approaches to writing.

The Practicing Songwriter

For a songwriter, the ability to produce live and recorded demonstrations of your repertoire is critical. In this module, you’ll begin developing the skills and knowledge required for both performance and production. You’ll learn to create collaboratively with other performers, produce arrangements of the original repertoire of others, acquire the knowledge and skills to enable a creative and stylistically relevant approach to song production, learn how to prepare suitable charts for use in showcase workshops, and develop the necessary introductory instrumental skills.

Theory for Songwriters

Theory is an essential component of any songwriter’s skillset. This module will equip you with the core skills to read, write, play and sing music to a standard suitable for writing original songs in a variety of musical genres. You’ll cover such subjects as music harmony and theory, aural and transcribing, and rhythm studies.

Music Culture, Context and Criticism I

There are many ways of recognising and interpreting the development of popular music genres, and this module will help you develop the skills necessary to justify intellectual positions, and describe and explain popular music as a cultural phenomenon. It’s delivered using a structured approach to investigating, analysing and critiquing current debates and theories relating to the context within which popular music is produced, performed and consumed.
In Year 2, you’ll continue to develop as a songwriter, with more focus on industry application. This includes writing to brief, developing business and entrepreneurial awareness, and the option to focus on either live performance, or composition and production. Modules also build on your critical and contextual knowledge in preparation for a Dissertation in Year 3.

Applied Songwriting

In this module, you’ll develop the skills and techniques required for applied songwriting in a variety of musical contexts, and will explore a number of different approaches to meet a range of industry briefs. In the individual songwriting project, you’ll continue your creative writing development, examine A&R principles in more detail, and create repertoire for a specified artist project, while bringing musicianship and production skills to the home/small studio environment.

Marketing and Monetising Your Music

In order to build successful careers, it’s essential that all songwriters develop an awareness of the various facets of today’s rapidly evolving music industry and their inter-relationship. This module will enable you to explore and develop a professional approach to the three main industry sectors: recorded music, live music and publishing. Crucially, it will also enable you to develop an understanding of current monetisation models, how to develop successful marketing and promotion strategies, the role of management, and how to take advantage of changes in practice brought about by the impact of the internet and new technologies.

Music Culture, Context and Criticism II

To be a successful songwriter it’s extremely helpful to be able to explore the relationships between popular music genres and experiment with a range of analytical approaches. This module builds on prior foundational work, further developing your capacity for intellectual engagement with popular music through analysis and critique, and involving you in the current debates and theories relating to the context within which popular music is produced, performed and consumed.

Music Composition for Songwriters (option)

On this module, you’ll be able to develop your skills in such areas as reading, composing and performing music, while demonstrating your own original material. You’ll study and develop such key skills as writing melodies, arranging and creative harmonic construction that will significantly enhance your composition abilities.

Principles of Creative Production (option)

On this module, you’ll broaden and improve your production skills by developing a ‘sonic identity’ for your writing projects. You’ll be able to study further studio, technical and creative skills suitable for producing a variety of original and well-defined recorded demos for songwriting pitches, and form a showreel for a new artist project. You’ll also learn higher-level vocal techniques for both a studio environment and live performance, and engage with the analysis and practice of mixing techniques.

Principles of Creative Performance (option)

This module enables you to develop and enhance crucial live performance and arrangement skills, including the planning, design and live performance of suitable arrangements of original songs. You’ll also have the opportunity to continue analysing and developing your individual and collaborative communication skills including the relationship with the audience.
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, create a business strategy for entry into the music industry, and author a Dissertation on a topic of your choice.

Creative Identity and Repertoire

As a songwriter, it’s essential that you develop a creative and commercial skillset to the level required to successfully execute a commercially viable songwriting project. This module will enable that development, allowing you to refine the identity and brief for your project, continue to write creatively relevant material and learn about all aspects of creative management and placement of your project in the marketplace.

The Business of Songwriting

It’s essential that songwriters have a detailed understanding of the modern music industry, with a particular focus on relevant business opportunities and challenges. This module is designed to enable you to explore entrepreneurial business models and approaches across all areas of the industry, including such key areas as marketing, product management, advertising, PR and branding. This is achieved through the analysis of case studies combined with working practically on developing, managing and refining your own product.

Professional Project

On this module you’re provided with the support necessary for you to identify, plan and complete a project of your own choosing to a professional standard. You’ll have opportunity to understand the challenges and demands of working as a creative artist, and discuss and analyse project management best practice and methodologies prevalent in artistic project contexts.

Dissertation

The dissertation – a major element of your undergraduate degree – requires you to plan, develop and realise an appropriate, independent research project under relevant subject-specialist supervision. This will enable you to demonstrate how you’ve developed and applied the skills of critical and/or historical analysis acquired in the programme so far, offer a critical analysis of a wide range source material, demonstrate independent thought, and write lucidly. The dissertation is split into two parts, which are a series of lectures and seminars designed to inform your own work, supported by supervised sessions looking at the development and execution of your dissertation.

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, Learning and Assessment hours per year
Year 1: 448hrs | Year 2: 378hrs | Year 3: 252hrs

Self-study hours per year:
Year 1: 752hrs | Year 2: 822hrs | Year 3: 948hrs

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: 18% Written | 51% Practical | 31% Coursework
Year 2: 0% Written | 59% Practical | 41% Coursework
Year 3: 0% Written | 40% Practical | 60% 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.

UCAS code W3W8Uni code i25

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

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.
Jonathan Whiskerd | Songwriting Tutor | ICMP London

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

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.
Daniel Green | Songwriting Tutor | ICMP London

Luke TomsSongwriting

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