UCAS code


Start date

16th September 2024

Course length

1 Year


Whichever way you look at it, without songs, there is no music industry. This concept is central to our belief at ICMP, so you’ll always see us treating the role of the songwriter with the significance it so rightly deserves.  

A homage to the fundamentals of the art and craft of songwriting, the CertHE Songwriting is a practical one-year industry-aligned course. With guidance from some of the music industry’s top songwriting tutors, you’ll develop your songwriting identity, while learning vital industry skills as you produce and perform your own original creative work.  

At ICMP, we support and guide our songwriters using the principles of focused teaching – ensuring that theory and knowledge underpin constant hands-on practice and experience. Across your year of learning, you’ll cover six essential modules, each introducing you to a real-world aspect of songwriting and production. You'll have practical opportunities to plan live or online gigs, explore music technology in industry-standard studios, make music videos, and master a range of vocal techniques and instruments. 

You’ll examine the art and craft of modern songwriting, and each week will write at least two songs to brief that cover a variety of styles, genres, topics and approaches. Throughout the programme, you’ll collaborate with your fellow songwriting students to nurture your material, engaging in ‘A&R-style’ feedback and analytical discussion in small groups with your songwriting tutors and peers as you regularly appraise each other’s works in progress.  

Your expert ICMP tutors – all highly experienced industry professionals – will organise regular A&R-style workshops to help you evolve your writing style. They’ll encourage you to explore your musical passions in an inclusive and diverse learning environment while you refine your creative portfolio week on week. You’ll delve into all aspects of the music business – specifically from the perspective of a songwriter – as you study the intricacies of music publishing, recorded music, live music and more. 

A comprehensive course focused on the specific needs of songwriters and artists, the CertHE Songwriting also offers direct pathways to ICMP bachelors degrees in songwriting, creative musicianship, creative music production and music production for film, TV and games

Upon completion of the course, you'll have the enviable technical skills and creative know-how to bring your songs to life, as you either move on to further innovative music study at ICMP or take your exciting first steps into a remarkable portfolio career in songwriting. 

I really enjoyed my time at ICMP and all the amazing classes and opportunities to collaborate and network with other musicians and industry professionals, both in-person and online. It has really changed my life, setting me on my musical path. I am extremely grateful for the knowledge and experience I have gained and the progress I have made!” – Jasmina, CertHE Songwriting student


Please visit our Fees pages for information on access to Student Loans. UK students eligible for Loans are able to borrow the full course fee for ICMP programmes.

Course Fees | Programme Specification | Programme Handbook

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Successful completion of the CertHE in Songwriting course leads to the award of Certificate of Higher Education by The Institute of Contemporary Music Performance.


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Key facts

  • One-year foundation course for emerging songwriters and artists, with a real-world focus on the music and wider creative industries and our current music ecosystem .
  • Explore contemporary songwriting across a wide range of styles and genres.
  • Equip yourself with critical thinking skills and practical songwriting experience.
  • Develop your fundamental understanding of songcraft while providing extensive hands-on practice.
  • Advance your writing and production using modern technology such as phones, laptops and DAWs.
  • Build your understanding of today’s music industry and the role of songwriters.
  • Follow your passions with this tailored course, delivered by diverse music industry tutors.
  • Connect with a large network of songwriting peers, ICMP students and industry contacts.
  • Learn in London in modern teaching spaces and cutting-edge music studios.
  • Apply Now



Course details

Throughout the one-year CertHE, you’ll begin to develop your creative and technical skills by exploring a range of songwriting approaches, methods, genres and styles. Working in small groups, you’ll expand your creative song portfolio by writing, producing and performing both individual and co-written songwriting material. You’ll take part in weekly tutor and peer feedback sessions to help you grow your critical awareness of the songwriting process. You’ll also discover the importance of songs – which are undeniably the most vital element in all the music industry. 


This module will equip you with core skills, knowledge and understanding as a songwriter, as you observe, reflect on and challenge your personal songwriting process. You’ll discover the core elements of songcraft through a mix of practical and analytical songwriting activities. You’ll also work individually and in groups to create a repertoire of original songs within a specified range of structural, thematic and stylistic briefs, while you examine a variety of historical, cultural, social and political contexts for your songwriting. By the time you complete the module, you’ll have a produced a brand-new body of creative work, plus a body of research that will strengthen the creation of all future songwriting material. 

  • Introduction to the fundamental elements of songcraft 
  • Guided analysis within a variety of styles, genres and forms across cultural, historical, social and political contexts 
  • Introduction to lyrical, musical and structural form and technique 
  • Examination of a variety of approaches to songwriting in individual and collaborative settings
  • Development of skills in giving and receiving feedback on songs 


In this module, you’ll learn to develop, edit and complete a portfolio of original material within a defined range of structural, thematic and stylistic briefs. You’ll apply the essential elements of songcraft in a highly hands-on manner, using research from a variety of social, cultural, political and historical contexts to underpin your songwriting. You’ll also explore the role creative intention can play in your songwriting as you identify frameworks for self-reflection that will benefit your ongoing advancement as a songwriter. 

  • Practical application of the fundamental elements of songcraft 
  • Editing, redrafting and completing songs  
  • Intention leading to musical, lyrical and structural congruence
  • Technology in songwriting 
  • Peer feedback and analysis of songs written individually and collaboratively 
  • Songwriting to a range of briefs 
  • Research and analysis of songcraft within a variety of styles, genres and forms, across historical, political and cultural content and contexts 


This module will expand your musical literacy and confidence by providing a thorough grounding in theory and musicianship skills. You’ll study melody, harmony and rhythm, which will develop your aural recognition and help you explore innovation in new composition and performance pieces. While you learn how to engage musically in a variety of ensemble contexts, you’ll also be introduced to a range of new core instruments. Each musical concept you explore in this module will be outlined theoretically, technically and contextually to help you gain a substantial understanding of its nature. You’ll then apply these principles in a practical way to your songwriting. Subjects as music harmony and theory, aural and transcribing, and rhythm studies.

  • Melody
  • Rhythm
  • Harmony
  • Aural cognition
  • Voice and instrumental skills
  • Composition
  • Ensemble skills

Performance fundamentals for songwriters

In this module, you’ll explore what being a live performer in today’s contemporary musical landscape means. You’ll expand your understanding of playing solo and in a group, while you improve your stagecraft and learn to communicate your music effectively to audiences in both online ‘livestreaming’ and ‘live’ gig performance settings. You’ll also reflect on the many elements that go into crafting a great live performance – from deciding how to move and talk on stage and constructing the set to choosing the right venue. 

You’ll be assessed through an end-of-term performance, where you’ll demonstrate the practical skills you’ve learned to date, in combination with the submission of a research document that demonstrates that you’ve clearly grasped how to put on a successful live show. 

  • Performance technique 
  • Aural training 
  • Healthy vocal technique 
  • Tools for finding vocal harmonies
  • How to use a PA
  • Making charts for learning and communicating music
  • Collaborative skills
  • Authenticity in live performance 
  • Making a great cover 
  • Arrangement techniques for live group performance drawing on a range of popular music genres
  • Practicalities of putting on a live performance
  • Stagecraft and how to hold an audience’s attention  

Production fundamentals for songwriters

In this module, you’ll receive a solid introduction to a digital audio workstation-based (DAW) approach to writing, developing and presenting songs, as you learn first-hand how skills within the field of digital recording can be invaluable for songwriters. You’ll learn how to use DAWs as a creative songwriting tool as you produce your own innovative music using a blend of research, applied listening, and practical instruction and application.  

  • Introduction to DAWs  
  • Basic digital recording techniques 
  • Applied listening 
  • Using technology to inspire original songwriting ideas 
  • Arrangement, texture and atmosphere 
  • Found sound and an introduction to sampling 
  • Introduction to synthesis 
  • Introduction to programming 
  • Introduction to mixing
  • Congruence  


As a songwriter, it’s crucial to understand that songs are the lifeblood of the music industry. As you develop your portfolio career, you’ll need to have a complete grasp of the importance of copyright and comprehend the basic workings of the wider creative industries. In this module, you’ll start to gain an insider’s knowledge of today’s music business, particularly from the perspective of a songwriter. You’ll examine the contemporary music industry’s three main sectors – live music, recorded music and publishing – and the processes and practices of each area. Through applied projects and case studies, you’ll explore specific music revenue streams and the inter-relationship between these important sectors of 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  


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 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 and more. 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.

Teaching and Learning

On the Cert HE 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 your year of study, you'll be in timetabled teaching activities, such as lectures, seminars, practical classes and workshops, for typically 10-12 hours a week. You’ll also have personalised one-to-one tutorials scheduled throughout the year.


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:

17% Written
33% Practical
50% Coursework


Applicants will typically have A levels, BTEC Diploma or Extended Diploma, or International Baccalaureate equivalent to 48 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.

All applicants will be invited to attend an audition.

Please note: International students, who require a visa to study in the UK, are not eligible to study on this course, instead we encourage you to apply for either our three-year BA (Hons) Songwriting degree or our one-year postgraduate MA Songwriting course.

UCAS code WW38Uni code i25


 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. 

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