BA(Hons) Commercial Songwriting Music Course - ACM

BA (Hons) Commercial Songwriting – ACM London / Birmingham

The 3 Year Commercial Songwriting Degree with Real-World Practical Industry Connections.

The Commercial Songwriting programme provides its students with the knowledge, skills and experience necessary to discover and channel their inner-songwriter, covering a combination of lyric creation, score production, music industry studies, song arrangement, writing for original artists, co-writing, writing to brief for Film, TV and Sync, recorded music production, audio design for video games, music publishing and rights management.

ACM London / Birmingham Degrees are validated and awarded by Falmouth University, the UK’s ‘highest ranked arts university’ (Guardian University Guide 2017).

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Course Overview

BA(Hons) Commercial Songwriting is a full-time course; typically, students should expect to spend 35 – 40 hours per week on a combination of taught and self-directed study. Each module is delivered over a 15-week Study Block, typically comprising of 12 weeks of learning and teaching and 3 weeks of assessment and feedback.

Students will engage in a variety of learning activities, including lectures, seminars, private and group tutorials and specialist workshops.

Assessment tasks include portfolios, written coursework (eg: essays, case studies, reports and dissertations), projects and live performances.

Commercial Songwriting Modules

In the first year of the programme, students will study the following compulsory modules.
All compulsory modules must be passed in order to complete the award. Rules governing progression and degree classifications are explained in Falmouth University’s Academic Regulations.

  • Live Performance for Songwriters
    Study Block 1 – 20 credits This module aims to explore and develop the concepts, principles, methods and techniques utilised by professional performers to create effective and convincing live performances of original work. As well as defining the roles and responsibilities of the professional performer, it calls for students to evaluate and interpret classic stage performances and make informed musical judgments in the reproduction of specific contemporary musical genres and styles and interpret them into original performances.
  • Songcraft
    Study Block 1 – 20 credits The focus of Songcraft is the understanding of the mechanics of the art of songwriting. As part of the module you will create original pop songs through the utilisation of a wide variety of methods, drawing on a range of stimuli and influences. The module will examine and discuss how today’s great hit writers work, from classic pop writers to modern experimental composers. You will study songs at various points in their development, from minimal top line compositions featuring a simple melody and lyrics to full arrangements. On completion of the module you will demonstrate your ability to create complete songs in a range of styles. You will undertake critical reflection on the songwriting process and explain your chosen methods and your rationale for using them. Songcraft is a mixture of directed and self-directed study, with tutorials and group work taking place alongside lectures. You will be expected to take a strategic approach to time management and ensure you complete tasks as required.
  • Lyrical Development and Song Topics
    Study Block 2 – 20 Credits Building on Songcraft, Lyrical Development and Song Topics will build on the work done in Songcraft. In this module you will further develop the specialist skills, techniques and methodologies involved in lyric writing. The course content will provide an essential cornerstone in the continued evolution of your voice as an artist, and will enable you to generate more refined lyrics and titles to include in your growing portfolio. You will explore advanced methods for generating lyrical content, and develop the ability to write large quantities of material in a short time, and to control the quality throughout the editing process. In this module you will be expected to generate original lyric ideas, as well as undertake a critical analysis of both the development process and the resulting songs, which will be submitted as part of your portfolio.
  • Producing Scores and Charts
    Study Block 2 – 20 Credits Through Producing Scores and Charts you will develop the necessary skills and understanding to create industry-standard charts and lead sheets, which can be used to convey your ideas and compositions in professional situations. The module will explore a range of methods for producing charts, and will examine real-life examples from live TV shows, studio sessions and live tours to consolidate your learning. Rather than the specialist skill of musical notation, the focus will be on the effective and clear communication of ideas. On completion of the module, you will have the ability to create professional-level charts and lead sheets, and will demonstrate your understanding through your explanation of the process and description of the rationale. As part of Producing Charts and Sheets you will be expected to take a strategic approach to the module and manage your time effectively in order to complete the required tasks. The module comprises directed and self-led study; lectures are supplemented by tutorials and group work.
  • Composition and Technology
    Study Block 2 – 20 Credits This module aims to give students a solid grounding in musical arrangement and basic composition in order to develop and enhance their overall musicianship. The emphasis is on the acquisition of the practical skills necessary for the creative arrangement of original material and rearrangement of existing musical material, as well as the communication of these ideas to other musicians.  
  • Music Industry Studies
    Study Block 1 – 20 Credits The UK Music Business module provides a comprehensive overview of the UK music industry and its relationship with other major European markets. It explores the interaction between record companies, publishers, managers, agents, writers, artists and merchandising, with particular focus on how they operate in the digital age. Key to this module is sponsorship and product placement, and how artists and managers incorporate these revenue streams into a coherent business strategy. Lectures will include cases studies on the commercial affairs of important artists in the UK and Europe. The outcome of the module will be a demonstrable understanding of the UK/European music industry, and the practical application of this theory within the context of your own work.

In the second year of the programme students will be required to complete the following compulsory modules, together with two elective modules. All compulsory modules and the chosen electives must be passed in order to complete the award. Rules governing progression and degree classifications are explained in Falmouth University’s Academic Regulations.

  • Song Arrangement
    Study Block 1 – 20 Credits In Song Arrangement you will deconstruct and analyse classic song arrangements to gain an understanding of the essential components and vocabulary, including hooks, chord sequences, melodies and riffs. Your study will cover classic works from the fifties and sixties as well as contemporary examples, and you will apply this learned theory by transforming a rough song format into a full arrangement. The outcome of the module will be the demonstrable ability to analyse arrangement techniques and explain the rationale behind them. Additionally, you will be able to communicate the arrangement process in a clear, comprehensive manner that is appropriate for professional situations. The module is made up of directed and self-led study, with scheduled lectures supplemented by tutorials and group sessions. You will be expected to develop a strategic and time-efficient approach to ensure you complete tasks as required.
  • Co-writing Processes and Project
    Study Block 1 – 20 Credits The focus of the Co-Writing Processes and Project module is collaboration with fellow writers with the specific goal of creating original material for your own portfolio and for other bands and artists. The module will explain a number of collaborative processes, which you will put into practice by producing a wide variety of co-written material. Upon completion of the module, you will be able to create complete songs through collaborative working. In addition, you will be required to reflect critically on the process, explain your chosen methods and rationale and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of your approach.
  • Writing to a Brief: Commission, Film, TV and Sync
    Study Block 2 – 20 Credits Contemporary media offers a wide range of sync opportunities to composers and songwriters, and Writing to a Brief: Commission, Film, TV and Sync examines the role of composers and songwriters within these media. A key part of this module will be the analysis and deconstruction of songs and composition used in film, TV and advertisements. Further study will explore the functionality and effectiveness of online listings and agencies such as Sonic Bids and Broadjam, as well as networking and techniques for building your profile as a composer. Upon completion of the module you will demonstrate your ability to create a complete song or composition to meet the parameters of a pre-defined brief, for example, for film, television or advertising. Additionally, you will be required to reflect critically on the process, explain the methods you have used and discuss your rationale for using them.
  • Performance and Technology
    Study Block 2 – 20 Credits This module aims to explore the creative application of technology in musical performance, and to challenge learners to reconsider concepts of musical performance through exposure to novel ideas and processes.

Elective Modules:

  • Education and Training
    Study Block 1 or 2 – 20 Credits This module aims to introduce students to theories, principles and models of education and training leading to the development of teaching skills relating to the delivery of private music lessons. Students will develop understanding of the broad principles of teaching, learning and assessment within a chosen specialism.
  • Music Journalism
    Study Block 1 or 2 – 20 Credits Music Journalism will explore the development, role and future of music journalism in music subcultures, taste making, promotion and distribution. In addition, it considers the varied critical perspectives of music journalists, publishers and publicists all of whom contribute to the varied roles in music journalism. Additionally, it is essential that you apply a critical approach to various scenarios related to music journalism, relating these to commercial objectives and how different content can be applied to varying platforms and publications. The module encourages self-directed study and you will be expected to develop a strategic approach to practice and research. Effective time management is essential. Lectures will be supported by tutorials and group sessions.
  • Advanced Music Theory and Analysis
    Study Block 1 or 2 – 20 Credits Advanced Music Theory and Analysis aims to examine a broad range of advanced music theory topics that will form a basis for analysing creativity in the conception of contemporary music. In addition, learners will be required to understand and apply advanced music theory, and be encouraged to study in detail a range of concepts within a broad spectrum of musical genres and styles. The module predominantly comprises self-directed study and you will be expected to develop a strategic approach to practice and research. Effective time management is essential. Lectures will be supported by tutorials and group sessions.
  • Audio Design for Video Games
    Study Block 1 or 2 – 20 Credits Through Audio Design for Video Games you will be exposed to the myriad of opportunities that the gaming industry offers to the contemporary music professional. You will learn to adopt a suitable and relevant writing style, and examine the various audio types that a gaming soundtrack requires, from basic sound effects to fully orchestral compositions. Further study will examine the role of online listings, agencies and networking in this competitive and exciting industry. The end goal of this module is to enable you to demonstrate your ability to create a complete song or composition to a specific brief within the context of the gaming industry. This will include critical reflection on your processes, methods and rationale.
  • Recorded Music Production
    Study Block 1 or 2 – 20 Credits Through Recorded Music Production you will have the opportunity to gain a comprehensive understanding of record production. The module will focus on how a song (or collection of songs) evolves from a demo or rehearsal room arrangement to a master recording. Key areas of study include song selection and quality control, pre-production and arrangement, choosing a producer, goal setting, mixing, mastering and the psychology of recording. Your lessons will also explore the strategy of bypassing the demo stage and producing a fully finished master following the initial writing stage. You will examine the production of various recordings and assess how it has affected the record’s commercial success. Successful completion of the module will enable you to demonstrate your knowledge of record production and how to apply this in your chosen career path. As the module is part directed and part self-directed, you will be expected to develop a strategic approach and effective time management to ensure you complete tasks as required. Tutorials and group work will supplement scheduled lectures.
  • Composition for Audio-Visual Media
    Study Block 1 or 2 – 20 Credits This module aims to explore the use of music in a variety of audio-visual media, including film, television, radio and games, and to equip learners to compose music to a contemporary brief suitable to a given format. Learners will analyse classic media music forms and be stimulated to discuss and debate the nature of commercial success. They will apply the concept of commercial viability to musical works, mapping their own work against market-leading product. Writers will be encouraged to develop their understanding of the responsibilities of commercial writers, analyse the emotive qualities within music, and link musical content to audience reaction.
  • Tour Management
    Study Block 1 or 2 – 20 Credits It is not uncommon for a manager to control the planning and execution of a tour in the early stages of a band or artist’s career and, to that end, the Tour Management module will equip you with a thorough understanding of touring logistics. In this module you will study budgets, processes and logistics and examine the roles of various crew members. You will learn which areas of a budget are most susceptible to variation as a result of the creative and practical decisions made by an artist, manager or tour manager. Key themes of the module are innovative thinking on budget management and the optimisation of commercial and creative outcomes. You will discuss the principles of effective promotion, including relationships with booking agents and promoters, and investigate the art of effective set list creation for a range of professional situations, from short support sets and small venue gigs to festival slots and arena headline shows.
  • Freelance and Musical Direction Skills
    Study Block 1 or 2 – 20 Credits Freelancing and Music Direction Skills aims to examine and develop the career strategies and professional skills of a freelance musician, including the essential skill of working with musical direction in the contemporary music environment. Additionally, it is essential that you apply a critical approach to the opportunities of freelance employment related to your specialism, justifying how these are part of your own career trajectory. The module predominantly comprises self-directed study and you will be expected to develop a strategic approach to practice and research. Effective time management is essential. Lectures will be supported by tutorials and group sessions.
  • Experimental Sound and Music
    Study Block 1 or 2 – 20 Credits Exploring both an historical perspective and examples from more recent practitioners, this module aims to explore the creation of music and sound utilising a variety of experimental techniques. Interpretations of experimentalism will be discussed and demonstrated using a combination of software, hardware and performance techniques. Students will be encouraged to utilize a variety of these techniques to enhance and improve the originality of their compositions and productions.
  • IP Rights and Publishing
    Study Block 1 or 2 – 20 Credits IP Rights and Publishing takes a detailed look at the publishing industry, one of the major income streams available to songwriters, and will provide you with an understanding of the role of IP rights within this industry. In this module you will study the content and terms of different types of publishing contracts and the importance of copyright law in protecting your intellectual property rights and song rights. Additionally, you will explore scenarios such as songwriting splits, and how to agree on their terms to the mutual satisfaction of all parties. Successful completion of this module will allow you to demonstrate your understanding of the publishing industry and related copyright law by applying this knowledge within the context of your own practice.

In the final year of the programme, students will study the following compulsory modules.
All compulsory modules must be passed in order to complete the award. Rules governing progression and degree classifications are explained in Falmouth University’s Academic Regulations.

  • Exit Project
    Study Block 2 – 30 Credits Exit Project aims to enable learners to consolidate the skills and experience gained during the course of their studies and deliver a substantial project associated with their chosen specialism. In addition to specialist skills and knowledge, project management will be required, requiring activities such as the choosing of personnel and repertoire, the organization of rehearsals and recordings, managing a budget, writing a proposal, compiling scores/charts and program notes or creating relevant multimedia presentations. Additionally, learners will also be required to submit a reflective essay that critically analyses and evaluates the processes involved in realising the project.
  • Songwriting Diary and Critical Reflection
    Study Block 1 – 30 Credits In Songwriting Diary and Critical Reflection you will create and continually develop a portfolio of raw material for songwriting under the supervision of your tutor. You will be required to document your progress, keeps records of your raw materials and critically assess your learning and development. This module will demonstrate your ability to create raw materials for songwriting, leading to the completion of songs in various styles. You will be required to reflect critically on your work, explain your methods and discuss the rationale for your choices. The module comprises directed and self-led study; you will be expected to develop a strategic approach to the required tasks and manage your time effectively. Lectures will be supported by tutorials and group sessions.
  • Portfolio
    Study Block 2 – 30 Credits The Portfolio module is your opportunity to research and report on the full spectrum of career opportunities within your specialist area. You will be expected to identify and discuss available career pathways and explain how your craft can be applied within the context of professional opportunities and, if desired, lead to the monetisation of your skills through entrepreneurial practice and artistic excellence.
  • Dissertation
    Study Block 1 – 30 Credits The dissertation module provides an opportunity for you to carry out in-depth research and critical analysis of a topic relevant to the direction and development of your practice. The module also provides a further opportunity for you to gain and develop skills in the structuring, protocols and conventions associated with effective academic and discursive writing.

Our Students | Georgia Roworth

georgia-roworth

Commercial Songwriting & Artist Development
BA(Hons) Degree, 2015-17

ASPIRATIONS
» Writing songs for the big names in the pop and country markets.
» To write a number one hit.
» To create songs that will be enjoyed, related-to, and remembered for years to come.

“The tutors at ACM are some of the most amazing musicians, writers and industry figures you could meet. They continue to inspire me every day at ACM and have already taught me so much. I can’t wait to continue improving my skills and making new contacts within the industry during the rest of my time at ACM.”

Ready for ACM?

Jump over to our Apply Now page, select the relevant course and fill in our online form. Good luck!

Course Details

AWARD
BA (Hons) Commercial Songwriting

MODE OF STUDY
Campus based, full-time.
London | 3 Years
Birmingham | 2 Years Accelerated

FHEQ LEVEL: 6
Degree 360 Credits

UCAS CODES
Course code: WW38
Institution code: A48

Entry Requirements

All candidates will be required to attend an audition / interview.

London | 3 YEAR DEGREE
Birmingham | 2 YEAR ACCELERATED DEGREE

Minimum age 18

All candidates should hold two A-Levels or an equivalent full Level 3 qualification.

We normally require Grade C GCSE (or an equivalent qualification) in English. Candidates should be capable of using the English language fluently, and able to structure arguments and present evidence to a standard appropriate to study at Level ‘4’. Where the application materials appear insufficient to form a clear judgement on the candidate’s fluency, additional documentary evidence (e.g. recent essays) may be required.

Applicants for whom English is a second language are required to have achieved IELTS level 6.0 or equivalent qualification. For details regarding Falmouth University’s language requirements and accepted test certificates click here.

Please note that if you live outside of the EU or EFTA and require a Tier 4 VISA to study in the United Kingdom, we thank you for your interest in ACM but we are unable to accept your application at present for our full time Further Education and Higher Education programmes.

We welcome applications from those who might have completed alternative qualifications and/or have prior experience. In the instance of no Level 3 qualifications being held or the conditions not being met, we will ask for additional material to be submitted in support of your application. Details for this will be provided to you upon successful audition.

* New UCAS 2017 tariff system.

Awarding body
Falmouth University

FEES
£9,000 per year. Student loans are available.

CAMPUS DELIVERY
London / Birmingham

Important Information

Important information pertaining to your studies and the regulations that govern your studentship can be found on Falmouth University’s website by following this link. In particular, you should note the ‘Student Terms & Conditions’, ‘Academic Regulations’, ‘ACM Student Code of Conduct’, and ‘Academic Integrity Policy’.

If you are dissatisfied with the level of service that you have received with ACM and wish to make a complaint, please read and follow ACM’s Complaints Policy and Procedure, which can be found on Falmouth University’s website at this link.