Across the dynamic Cert HE Songwriting and Artist Development course, you’ll develop your songwriting and performance skills and start defining your identity as a creative artist, supported every step of the way by ICMP’s expert tutors.

This groundbreaking one-year course covers a host of modern genres, from hip-hop, R’n’B, grime and drill to indie, rock and pop. Whether you’re a solo artist, rapper, band frontperson, acoustic singer–songwriter or something else entirely, you’ll be introduced to different aspects of contemporary songwriting, covering a range of styles, themes, genres and writing methods.

During the year, you’ll regularly engage with peers on the course’s ‘sister’ programme – the Cert HE Songwriting and Production – as well as ICMP entrepreneurs and musicians across different degrees. As you progress through the year, you’ll gain a comprehensive understanding of both songwriting and live performance, while learning to analyse your own work and that of your peers through ‘A&R-style’ feedback sessions and small group discussions.

You’ll spend your time at ICMP being inspired by London’s best songwriters, musicians and creative artists – ICMP’s highly successful tutors – who all have extensive careers in both higher education and music. You’ll also be encouraged to take part in regular songwriting and performance events – such as ICMP’s renowned Songwriters’ Circle nights – plus masterclasses and visits from music industry representatives.

Upon completion of the Cert HE Songwriting and Artist Development course, you’ll have developed the beginnings of your first professional songwriting portfolio, and will have built the skills and creative flair to confidently showcase your music live. You’ll be more than ready to show off your talents as a writer–performer in the music industry or, if you’d prefer to continue your studies, you can head straight into the second year of ICMP’s BA (Hons) Songwriting and Artist Development or BA (Hons) Songwriting and Production degree to further develop your talents as a vibrant writer–performer.


Completing a Cert HE Songwriting and Artist Development makes financial sense as the fees for ICMP courses are similar to those at many traditional universities, making studying at ICMP in London great value and great fun.

For information about loans, please see our Fees pages. If you’re eligible for a loan, you may borrow the full course fee for the year.

Course Fees 

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Successful completion of the Cert HE in Songwriting and Artist Development course leads to the award of Certificate of Higher Education by The Institute of Contemporary Music Performance.*

* Please note, this course is currently subject to validation, we expect this process to be completed in Spring 2024.


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Key facts

  • Designed specifically for writer–performers with their own artist projects.
  • Write unique songs across different genres and styles.
  • Explore modern songcraft, with a focus on toplining, lyrics and concepts, chords and arrangement.
  • Discover your creative voice as an artist, with regular collaborative and individual writing activities.
  • Develop your performance skills with weekly playback sessions to develop your confidence and gain valuable feedback.
  • Establish a songwriter/artist support network and foster connections with the wider creative industry.
  • Learn how the contemporary music business operates
  • Showcase your songwriting and performance skills at top London venues.
  • Graduate career-ready for a smooth transition into songwriting and performance or transfer to Year 2 of ICMP’s BA (Hons) Songwriting and Artist Development degree.


Course details

Across your year on the ICMP CertHE Songwriting and Artist Development course, you’ll be introduced to an exciting range of songwriting approaches, styles and techniques to help you develop your practical and creative skills. You’ll build your critical awareness of songwriting by engaging in peer and tutor feedback sessions and you’ll start to expand your song portfolio by producing, writing and performing both individual and collaborative material.


In this module, you'll examine, reflect on and test your writing process, gaining the skills and knowledge you need to be a successful songwriter. Working both individually and collaboratively, you'll produce a collection of original songs, as you discover the cultural, historical, social and political aspects of songwriting through a number of academic and applied practices. By the end of the module, you'll have developed a body of research and portfolio of work to be proud of - ready to present to industry to guide your future music business career.

  • How to write to brief
  • The songwriting process
  • Song collaboration and development
  • Stylistic, structural and thematic briefs


In this module, you'll build on learnings from the earlier Creative Songwriting module to create and edit a portfolio of original songs. You'll apply essential elements of songcraft to your work, backing it up using social, political, historic and cultural research. You'll also realise self-reflection skills while continuing to enhance your songwriting abilities.

  • Create a portfolio of unique songs
  • Understand creative intention in songwriting
  • Research cultural and historical contexts in music


By providing you with a foundation in theory and musicianship, you'll expand your music literacy and confidence in this module. Learning about melody, harmony and rhythm, you'll build your aural recognition skills to push new boundaries in your performance work and compositions. You'll also engage musically in a variety of ensemble contexts, exploring a range of different instruments. Each concept you study will be looked at contextually, theoretically and technically, so you'll gain a thorough understanding of its nature and can easily apply these principles to your future songwriting.

  • Music theory and musicianship
  • Rhythm, melody and harmony
  • Improve your aural analysis abilities
  • Explore core instruments and their dynamics


During this module, you'll gain a practical, in-depth understanding of the modern music business. As you develop a portfolio career as a songwriter and artist, it's important to understand the way the wider creative industries work and get a strong grasp of concepts like copyright. You'll investigate the three main areas of modern music - live music, recorded music and music publishing - and the processes and practices of each. You'll also examine music's key revenue streams through real-world projects and case studies, exploring the inter-connection between the key aspects of the music business.

  • Music business processes and practices
  • The artist and repertoire (A&R) process
  • Creative industry business models
  • Music industry sales and distribution
  • Artist management
  • Music rights and royalties


Across this module, you'll be introduced to a digital audio workstation-based approach to developing, writing and presenting songwriting material. You'll explore how to use DAWs as creative tools in your songwriting process, producing unique, innovative music using a blend of research, applied listening and practical instruction and application. By the end of the module, you'll have a full grasp of how invaluable digital recording skills can be to the process of songwriting.

  • DAW-based songwriting techniques
  • How to record digitally
  • Creative DAW use in song composition


Through this module, you’ll learn what it means to be a live performer in today’s ever-changing music landscape. By playing both in a group and on your own, you’ll improve your performance skills and stagecraft, learning how to communicate your music to a crowd in both live and online ‘livestreaming’ settings. You’ll also consider the various elements that make up a fantastic live performance – from choosing an appropriate venue and building a memorable stage set, to deciding how to move and communicate on stage.

Assessment-wise, you’ll take part in an end-of-year performance where you’ll have the opportunity to display the practical skills you’ve learned across the module. You’ll also submit a research project demonstrating your understanding of how to stage a thrilling live performance.

  • Live performance skills
  • Solo and ensemble performance techniques
  • Stagecraft for live and online audiences


Across your year on the CertHE Songwriting and Artist Development course, you’ll study at our university campus in Kilburn in classrooms, lecture rooms, live rooms, tech suites and our in-house music studio facilities. As an ICMP student, you can play and record your music whenever creativity strikes, with access to our writing, collaborating, rehearsing and recording facilities outside of scheduled sessions.

You’ll be taught via various learning and teaching methods, including lectures, music technology workshop tutorials, small group tutorials and performance workshops.

For help with finance, welfare, personal development, safeguarding and anything else, you’ll be guided by ICMP’s Student Services Department. Our Professional Development team at ‘The Hub’ will also support you with tailored music industry career tips, and songwriting and performance opportunities.

Teaching and Learning

On the CertHE Songwriting and Artist Development course, your learning will be in small workshop groups for practical skills, and small mixed groups for seminars and writing classes. Some lectures will be in larger groups.

You’ll be expected to continue learning independently through self-guided study when you’re not attending lectures, seminars and other scheduled classes. This usually involves collaborating on individual and group projects, coordinating coursework assessments, reading articles and books and studying in the library. You’ll also have access to a range of excellent learning facilities, including our many performance and practice rooms, industry-standard tech suites and ICMP’s Learning Resource Centre.

Throughout your one-year course, you’ll be in timetabled teaching activities for typically 10 to 12 hours a week. These involve lectures, seminars, workshops and practical classes. You’ll also have personal one-to-one tutorials throughout the year.


Modules on the Cert HE Songwriting and Artist Development course are assessed in a variety of ways, including course work submission, performances, practical examinations, essays, projects and written exams.


To enter this course, applicants should have their A levels, Extended Diploma or a BTEC Diploma, or an International Baccalaureate equivalent to 80 UCAS points.

Applicants should also hold a GCSE Grade C or 4 or above in English and Maths, or an equivalent including Functional Skills, Level 2 Key Skills or Adult Numeracy/Literacy.

We welcome applications from mature candidates who may not have formal qualifications but can showcase their suitability for the course through relevant experience and skills.

All potential candidates will be invited to attend an audition/interview.

This course is also available as a three-year BA (Hons) Songwriting and Artist Development degree option.

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 our BA (Hons) Songwriting and Artist Development course.

UCAS code 3656Uni code i25


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