MA Songwriting and Production
This Master’s programme is based at USW’s purpose-built campus, in the creative centre of Cardiff.
The MA Songwriting and Production course is delivered in the context of a thriving contemporary music and cultural scene in Wales. This innovative Songwriting and Production programme will inspire you to develop your own artistic voice, and make serious connections within the world of songwriting.
As well as offering numerous opportunities for collaboration, the course embraces the DIY philosophy of being able to fully produce your own original songs.
Designed for those interested in songcraft and studio production, you’ll learn a range of traditional and contemporary songwriting approaches, and have access to our well-equipped studios, rehearsal and writing rooms.
Your major project is reviewed and judged by an industry panel that includes our course ambassador, Gruff Owen CEO of Libertino Records.
Songwriting & Production and Blended Learning
In most cases we prefer to be on campus, experiencing our songwriting workshops and creative events in real time. However, just like the rest of the music industry, we have had to rethink our approach and embrace new models to help minimise the risk. This has been an invigorating refresh, and one that has brought about new habits to embrace more permanently such as asynchronous songwriting co-writes, overseas guests beamed in via satellite, remote mixing and mastering etc.
Songwriting 1: Skills and Strategies
This module will introduce the student to foundations and principles in the art & craft of songwriting. A wide range of techniques will be examined in weekly workshops such as structure & arrangement, lyric writing, melodic and harmonic prosody; as well as more conceptual approaches to accessing creativity, and nurturing & experimenting with your artistic voice.
Songwriting 2: Creative Co-writing
This module will provide the student with weekly opportunities to tackle ‘live’ briefs with professional songwriters and creative practitioners; and to explore a range of contemporary and exemplary methods and techniques.
Students will expand their work in a collaborative environment, by incorporating elements such as arranging, recording and mixing.
Typically, students will work in teams of two or more, up to a usual maximum of six.
Digital Music Production
This module provides the student with a thorough introduction to audio and MIDI recording, editing and processing within the computer domain to an advanced level.
Indicative content includes: recording and editing audio; composing beats and drum patterns; recording, creating and editing MIDI; building and editing song arrangements; mixing; automation; working to picture; production analysis
Students will engage with sound engineering and music production techniques within a modern recording studio, exploring multi-session & multi-track techniques, mixing/editing, delivery systems, and operational management.
Performance: Practice and Presentation
This module provides the student with the opportunity to develop practice and performance skills. Live performance will be developed through rehearsal, tutorial guidance and ‘gigs’. The student will use established and/or experimental processes to achieve their aims.
Indicative content includes: how to get a gig – strategies and networking; persona and appearance; presentation (visuals); programme planning (‘the set-list’); managing the stage space; vocal techniques; physicality
Creative and Cultural Entrepreneurship
This module provides opportunities for students to work individually and in collaboration to develop skills in thinking critically and creatively about entrepreneurship and, in particular, social entrepreneurship. ‘Real-world’ briefs are set by industry and feedback is provided from the industry sector on entrepreneurship initiatives developed by the students.
Topics covered include: contexts for, and controversies about, creative and cultural enterprise; entrepreneurial self-evaluation, resource analysis and network development; business planning, finance and operations; contracts, rights and intellectual property
Getting Down to Business: Songwriting and the Music Industry
Students will investigate the following areas:
- The traditional and new “DIY” pathways and opportunities within the music and creative industries.
- The placement of practical work within promotional, economic and marketing contexts.
- The role of technology in the promotion and dissemination of original music.
- The business structures and their legal, political and ethical considerations.
- Examination of achievable career goals and analogous contact networks.
This module aims to provide students with an opportunity to engage in a major in-depth portfolio project, allowing exploitation of knowledge from course modules. Feedback on Major Projects is provided by our Course ambassador, CEO of Libertino Records, Gruff Owen.
Taught by practising songwriters, producers, and published academics, the course is also delivered through a series of master classes from industry professionals.
The course incorporates desktop and studio-based production processes, with key business skills such as publishing, promotion, distribution and session planning.
Emphasis is on practical activities and encouraging you to find your own voice when developing material. Teaching sessions take place in a supportive environment, where students provide feedback on each others work. Practical sessions are underpinned by skills development and an understanding of theories about best practice in songwriting and production.
The songwriting course embraces singer/performer songwriters, as well as those who do not wish to perform their own material; solo and group outputs; creative collaboration; and material produced in studio/digital environments. The degree can also be studied by distance learning; UK and international students may choose to study using their own studio base and equipment.
“In an ever-changing industry where listening formats, recording processes and budgets are constantly evolving, songwriting and production are still a good way for a musician to have a long, fulfilling and successful career. It is hugely encouraging to see the University of South Wales offering [songwriting and production] to masters degree level. Creative areas can often be solitary places, so the opportunity to learn from others and share ideas in a creative environment such as the ATRiuM should prove an invaluable experience.”
Greg Haver, Record Producer – The Manic Street Preachers
We regularly revalidate courses for quality assurance and enhancement
At USW, we regularly review our courses in response to changing patterns of employment and skills demand to ensure we offer learning designed to reflect today’s student needs and tomorrow’s employer demands.
If during a review process course content is significantly changed, we’ll write to inform you and talk you through the changes for the coming year. But whatever the outcome, we aim to equip our students with the skillset and the mindset to succeed whatever tomorrow may bring. Your future, future-proofed.
An Honours degree at class 2:2 or above in music or other related arts subjects.
Applications are also welcomed from those with other equivalent qualifications, or those with significant prior practical/professional experience.
The course welcomes international applicants and requires an English level of IELTS 6.0 with a minimum of 5.5 in each component or equivalent.
Full-time fees are per year. Part-time fees are per 20 credits. Once enrolled, the fee will remain at the same rate throughout the duration of your study on this course.
August 2023 - July 2024 Fees
Full-time UK: £9500
Full-time International: £14950
Part-time UK: £1055 per 20 credits
August 2024 - July 2025 Fees
Full-time UK: TBC
Full-time International: £15850
Part-time UK: TBC
At the University of South Wales, you’re investing in so much more than a degree. We strive to provide our students with the best possible experience, no matter what you chose to study. Whether it’s access to top of the range mac books and PCs, state-of-the-art facilities packed with industry-leading equipment and software, masterclasses and events led by industry experts, or a wide range of clubs and societies to meet likeminded people, better tomorrows start with extra perks.
Each course also has their own unique student benefits to prepare you for the real word, and details of these can be found on our course pages. From global field trips, integrated work experience and free course-related resources, to funded initiatives, projects working with real employers, and opportunities for extra qualifications and accreditations - at USW your future, is future-proofed.
As a student of USW, you’ll have access to lots of free resources to support your study and learning, such as textbooks, publications, online journals, laptops, and plenty of remote-access resources. Whilst in most cases these resources are more than sufficient in supporting you with completing your course, additional costs, both obligatory and optional, may be required or requested for the likes of travel, memberships, experience days, stationery, printing, or equipment.
Funding to help pay for (or cover) course tuition fees and living costs
Whilst you’re studying, you’ll have two main financial obligations – tuition fees and living costs. There’s lots of financial help available from the University of South Wales and external funding sources, that may provide loans (which have to be paid back) and grants, scholarships and bursaries (that don't).
To learn about course fees, funding options, and to see if you are eligible for financial support, visit our Fees and Funding pages.
USW Postgraduate 20% Alumni Discount 2023/24
The University of South Wales is offering a 20% reduction in tuition fees for all University of South Wales* graduates starting a taught/online*** MA,MSc, LLM,MBA or DBA course from September 2023 (this includes students starting a course in January/February 2024). T's and Cs apply. Click here for more details and eligibility criteria: USW Postgraduate Alumni Discount 2023/24
In addition to working professionally as a songwriter or in song production, potential careers for graduates of this course could include working as facilitators in community and arts outreach activities, as educators in formal teaching settings, and as practitioners
such as performers, producers and writers.
There are also opportunities as researchers, administrators/managers of organisations, festivals and music events, or within music journalism and publishing, A & R, radio, freelance production, music promotion, or as part of other media production teams such as advertising, event management and games.
Graduates can also progress to a PhD or research degree.
Our Careers and Employability Service
As a USW student, you will have access to advice from the Careers and Employability Service throughout your studies and after you graduate.
This includes: one-to-one appointments from faculty based Career Advisers, in person, over the phone or even on Skype and through email via the "Ask a Question" service. We also have extensive online resources for help with considering your career options and presenting yourself well to employers. Resources include psychometric tests, career assessments, a CV builder, interview simulator and application help. Our employer database has over 2,000 registered employers targeting USW students, you can receive weekly email alerts for jobs.
Our Careers service has dedicated teams: A central work experience team to help you find relevant placements; an employability development team which includes an employability programme called Grad Edge; and an Enterprise team focused on new business ideas and entrepreneurship.