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The Details
Course: BA (Hons) SongwritingDuration: 3 Years
Start Date: September 2021Study Mode: Full-Time
OverviewEntry RequirementsStructureFees and Payments

Course Overview

Our BA (Hons) Songwriting was designed for those who have aspirations of being an artist, writing music for the church, or working within the broader music industry.

The course is focused on developing the range of techniques, skills and approaches required to be a songwriter. Throughout your study you will receive expert tuition and practical experience in the areas of lyric writing, melody composition, prosody and form. Further modules will focus on the development of a portfolio of material, both in a recorded and live performance context. 

As a Songwriting student you will study directly alongside musicians and sound, video and lighting technicians. This unique environment provides regular access to those with the skillsets to bring your songs to life—whether on stage or in the studio. 

In order to fully develop your skill, the Songwriting degree contains a regular roster of guest speakers and lecturers, as we draw upon those that have expertise in every area of the music industry to help prepare you for life beyond your studies. When combined with the strong Biblical discipleship ethos that exists at Nexus ICA, the result is that you will be better equipped within your career, church and beyond. 

A vibrant, faith-filled community

Nexus ICA is committed to the education of the whole person, and a strong sense of community is an integral part of what we do. There are regular opportunities to spend time together as a whole school, and staff and students come together weekly in order to socialise, pray and worship together. 

It is a key part of our educational ethos that education best takes place in smaller groups. Our staff-to-student ratio allows us to adopt a unique approach, where staff have the time to work alongside each student and create an experience that is tailored to them. 

There are many opportunities throughout the duration of the course to get involved in a variety of aspects of life here at Nexus ICA. Students are encouraged to contribute to a wide-range of causes and events during their time here, creating a diverse learning experience that will enrich many aspects of your life. 

Committed to your career

There is a growing demand for songwriters, both within a church context and within the wider music industries. The Songwriting BA (Hons) can be the springboard between you and an incredibly rewarding and long-lasting career. 

The course is designed to develop the many employability skills that enable people to thrive within their careers, and each student should leave Nexus ICA with radically improved communication skills, work ethic and time management—the attributes that, time and time again, enable people to ensure they are always in demand. 

If you aspire to become a professional songwriter, then this course can help turn these dreams into a reality.

The requirements for entry will be finalised shortly as part of the approval process. As an indication, we expect them to be similar to our current undergraduate courses, as outlined below:

Academic

64 UCAS tariff points
GCSE English at Grade 4 (Grade C if you studied previous to 2017)

Non native English-speaking students need to meet our following English language requirements: IELTS 6.0 or equivalent. Visit our International Students page for more information.

Interview

Prospective students will be required to undertake an interview to assess their suitability for the course. Interviews take place over Skype, or in-person at Nexus ICA should this be preferable.

If you require any support relating to this, please do not hesitate to Contact Us or for more info see our FAQ page.

Songwriting Portfolio

You will need to demonstrate your compositional ability by submitting two songs you have written.

Need help?

Applying for a course can be daunting. See our application guidance page for further tips, and if there’s anything else you require please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Year One

Lyrics, Harmony & Melody

Lyrics often communicate the message of any song and it is the melody that carries that message. This module seeks to give you an effective and well-informed approach to composing these two core elements of a song married with a harmonic understanding to serve the two. This introduction to the three aspects of song craft is why this module sits in the opening semester of your degree. This module leads directly on to the Form and Production module in the second semester but ultimately opens your studies with the tools and frameworks you’ll be using throughout your entire degree.

On completion of this module, you will be have learned:

  • How to observe the world and your experiences as a lyricist
  • How to use established methods of constructing song lyrics and melodies
  • How to capture your ideas quickly and effectively
  • The habit of regularly composing

Arrangement & Accompaniment

As effective as a song’s lyrics and melody may be, the way it is accompanied builds its appeal and draws people in. The building blocks of accompaniment are the understanding of music production and music theory, and this module seeks to cover the theory through the lens of production. Designed to build concurrently with your studies on the Lyrics, Melody and Harmony module, this module will focus on the established and wider frameworks for harmony, arrangement and accompaniment before turning to look at its application within the popular music idiom.

On completion of this module, you will have learned:

  • How to build on the harmonisation of the major scale
  • The construction of chords
  • The role of other instruments in an arrangement and how to write for them using notation
  • How to program your arrangement and accompaniment successfully within a DAW

Pursuit of Worship 1; Identity & Principles

Through this module, you will be equipped with the relevant core skills and competencies in the area of worship. The structure of the module allows you to engage with the material alongside other students and staff with plenty of opportunity for discourse, questions and exploration of the topics taught.

Throughout this module, you will move towards being able to describe and define spiritual, biblical worship and its implications in real-life responses. A growing recognition of the intrinsic integration of this module and other areas of study would lead to a further understanding of the nature of worship and its impact on daily life.

On completion of this module, you will be have learned:

  • How to understand the biblical principles of worship and incorporate them into your own life
  • How to apply your understanding of worship into a variety of individual and corporate contexts
  • How to relate the theological foundations of worship to your holistic education
Form and Production

Writing great lyrics or a great melody is only one aspect of composing great songs. The way in which they work together is vital to a song’s ability to communicate its purpose. Building on from the Lyrics, Melody and Harmony module in the previous semester, you will take your increasing lyrical and melodic skills as the starting point for further exploration into established methods of song form, music production and prosody (the appropriate relationship of all the elements of the song).

On completion of this module, you will have learned:

  • How to use established methods of song form and prosody
  • How to use song form and music production to draw the listener in
  • How to produce a high-quality demo
Song Analysis

Learning from others often brings clarity to our own understanding and position. Building on from how you began to explore and analyse specific elements of songs through the Arrangement and Accompaniment module, in this module you will broaden your scope to the wider analysis of the entire song, through established methods of doing so.

On completion of this module, you will have learned:

  • How to listen critically and deeply listen to a song
  • How to classify and categorise what you hear
  • How to apply that understanding to influence your composition
  • The research skills to discover the wider context of a song
Live Performance Workshop

In whichever area of specialism your knowledge and competence increases, the ability to confidently deliver performances of a high standard remains a key area for focus. This module aims to equip you with the relevant core skills and competencies relating to the live performance of music. Designed to build concurrently with the rest of your studies at level 4, this module is the platform for applying lots of the content you are learning.

On completion of this module, you will have learned:

  • How to deliver a high-quality performance
  • How to apply your studies in a performance context
  • The ability to work well in a group
  • The requirements of differing performance environments

Year Two

Contemporary Christian Song

As songwriters and as people of faith, in the first semester of your level 5 year you will explore exactly how these two worlds meet. Building concurrently with the broader research of the Integration of Art and Faith module, this module will explore the specific relationship between Christianity and song and apply it to the congregational setting. As the first of two modules focussed on the application of your songwriting skills, this is where you begin to write for real-world environments.

On completion of this module, you will have learned:

  • How and why songs are used in congregational settings
  • The compositional methods used to write Contemporary Congregational Songs
  • How theology, hermeneutics, and context impact the compositional process
  • How to apply your compositional skills to a specific brief

The Integration of Art & Faith

In this module, you will critically engage with the creative arts as they intersect with the Christian faith, throughout church history and into the modern era. Topics will include the nature and purpose of art within the Christian tradition, and the relationship between the artist and their personal faith.

On completion of this module, you will have learned:

  • A range of artist expressions within the Christian tradition
  • The relevant research pertaining to this subject
  • How your own faith can be communicated through your artistic endeavours

Pursuit of Worship 2; Application & Context

Building on the core skills and competencies learned at level 4, the Pursuit of Worship 2; Application and Context module enables you to continue to develop your understanding within the area of worship. With a greater emphasis on being able to analyse and apply those skills at a personal and wider cultural level, this module examines responses in worship from biblical, personal, wider cultural and corporate perspectives. You should be able to draw from others’ experience and opinions in forming a wider understanding of the impact of worship in the corporate life of the church and be able to articulate their findings both verbally and in written form.

On completion of this module, you will have learned:

  • How to engage with the biblical and theological principles relating to worship leading
  • How to research the field of Worship Studies and communicate your findings
  • To engage with the personal, practical, and intellectual skills required to lead congregational worship
Writing to Brief

For all the challenges writing songs as an artist may bring, deciding one’s own artistic identity may offer freedom, but for the employable songwriter one cannot ignore that writing to brief still plays a large role. Since writing to brief often requires a rapid pace, it is important that you began your studies with the fundamentals in your previous year. Now established, your songwriting and production techniques and methods are ready to be married with your developing research and analysis skills to focus your efforts towards real-world compositional environments.

On completion of this module, you will have learned:

  • What a brief is and how to interpret it
  • How compositional methods vary for different environments
  • How to apply your songwriting techniques to professional requirements or new environments
  • How to make compositional decisions quickly
Music Technology; A Creative Approach

The use of music technology has always impacted and influenced the world of popular music. From the creative technologies used to record music all the way to the innovative mobile or artistic technologies we have today, music technology within the popular music idiom is ever present. This module will help you gain a wider understanding of what those music technologies are, how to use them, how they can impact your compositional process and ultimately how to create with them.

On completion of this module, you will have learned:

  • What differing music technology protocols are and how to use them
  • The progression of music technology through time
  • How music technology can be used in a compositional and performance environment
Contextual Studies

The Contextual Studies module gives you the opportunity to conduct enquiry-based learning into the various social and practical contexts within which the creative arts and/or worship resides. This will allow opportunity to broaden your awareness and understanding of the relevant evidence base as well as develop critical thinking skills within an area of focus that is of interest to you.

On completion of this module, you will have learned:

  • How sociological, practical and political contexts are affecting the areas of the creative arts and/or worship
  • How to conduct enquiry-based learning, including using suitable research methods
  • How to produce a culturally relevant artefact in written, spoken or video form

Year Three Compulsory

Professional Development & Career Planning

Now at the final leg of your studies, this module spans the entire length of your year to prepare you for the journey that is come. As the culmination of all the professional skills you have learned at levels 4 and 5, this is your opportunity to focus in on both what might be considered ‘traditional’ employability skills and how to focus those skills, in partnership with your entire educational journey, to look towards your career aspirations.

On completion of this module, you will have learned:

  • The requirements of professional environments and how to prepare for them
  • The breadth of careers available to you
  • How your personal faith intersects with the world of employment
  • The key skills you need to be successful

Music Performance & Professional Practice

Now as an accomplished performer or technician, this module enables you to prepare for the professional world of performance that may follow. As a consolidation of lots of the curriculum from your previous two years of study, this is your opportunity to work towards a large-scale performance outside the walls of Nexus Institute of Creative Arts.

On completion of this module, you will have learned:

  • What it takes to put on a high-quality musical show
  • How to apply the skills you’ve developed throughout your degree to a performance context
  • The diverse aspects of musical performance in professional environments

Research Project

This module is your opportunity to undertake a negotiated research project in a subject of your choosing, within the broad parameters of your chosen degree subject. Potential topics could include, but are not limited to, the past, present, and/or future of event technology, worship, creativity, a contextualised and/or historical study of songs and/or artists, the relationship between art and faith, and popular music culture.

On completion of this module, you will have learned:

  • How to design a research project
  • How to integrate your creativity and career aspirations with academic research
  • How to communicate your research in a clear and rigorous way
Artistic Voice

As the course comes to a close, this your opportunity to spend some time developing what could be the beginnings of your own artistic career. As the culmination of all you have learned through the previous two years of songwriting development, this is your moment to dive deeper into a compositional specialism of your choice, research the context of the genre you wish to be part of, the nature of that specific area of the industry and how you offer something unique. Then use that to solidify your artistic persona and ultimately, complete a professional-grade creative submission.

On completion of this module, you will have learned:

  • How to research and explore the industry surrounding your career aspirations
  • How to compose high-quality artefacts similar to the quality of work within your compositional specialism
  • How to determine your own creative voice

Year Three Options

Understanding Creative Industries

The subject of creative enterprise is a rich and ever-changing tapestry of small, medium and large organisations woven together to support, collect, represent, export and generate income for the artist, performer or technician. You may already know what many of these discrete organisations do but why is the wider business the way it is? Where does faith impact your business model? How does it all operate? And what could be better?

On completion of this module, you will have learned:

  • How to analyse and interpret the many roles creative industries play and how they apply to you
  • How to question the way the creative industries operate and to begin to create new solutions
  • The importance of understanding the wider creative industry

Contemporary Worship Practice

Throughout this module, you will explore the relationship between music, theology and worship. You will begin by studying foundational issues such as the essence of music and the interaction between music and theology, before moving on to more specific issues of applying music in a local church setting.

This module will also involve the analysis of existing worship songs, as well as the opportunity to write new ones. You will build on all that you have experienced in your time at Nexus Institute of Creative Arts and will have the opportunity to practically outwork much of what has been taught over your three years of study.

On completion of this module, you have will learned:

  • How to engage with the leading scholarship pertaining to Contemporary Worship
  • How the craft of writing creates engaging and meaningful worship songs

Tuition fees for the forthcoming academic year are set at £7,500 per academic year*. This is in addition to a £300 registration fee (£500 for international students) required to confirm your place on the course. Please see the Fees and Payments page for more details.

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