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Funded module: Songwriting: Professional Portfolio

Masters-level songwriting course


This event is based on a module that forms a central part of the MA: Songwriting degree at the University of the West of Scotland.  Developed and delivered by top industry professionals the degree has supported and developed many songwriters, musicians, community music practitioners and researchers since its inception in 2012.  Supported by members of Deacon Blue, Teenage Fanclub, Belle & Sebastian, film composer Patrick Doyle and Paolo Nutini – who funds a full scholarship every year – the programme aims to create a professional and creative environment for the development of new music. Graduates typically write, record and release an album as part of the degree.

The Professional Music Brief module, which forms a part of the programme, is being offered as a standalone course with full, transferable credit.  The module replicates a professional environment in which students respond to a series of set briefs within a workshop structure designed to support the development of effective creative practice (including collaborative practice) producing a range of new material and engaging in detailed critique sessions with tutors.

This SCQF Level 11 (Masters Level) module will give participants an opportunity to:

  • Explore and apply professional songwriting techniques
  • Produce a professional portfolio of songs
  • Collaborate with other creatives
  • Experience time-limited creativity
  • Critically reflect on professional creative practice

Upon completion of this module, participants will have the skills and knowledge to develop their songwriting practice further.


Prerequisites and course expectations

Applicants to study this module will be asked to submit a portfolio of two songs, simply recorded and presented as a link to Soundcloud or other similar online location, and a personal statement (max. 500 words) outlining why they are interested in the course.  Where applicants do not hold an undergraduate degree, they should be able to demonstrate professional experience, either in music or in a relevant professional field or area of practice.  Applicants are encouraged to contact the programme leader, Dr Jenn Kirby ( or if they have any questions around their suitability for the course.

As a Masters level course, this module requires a significant time commitment and will be delivered over five weekends.  The course will comprise of 40+ hours of content.


Delivery format

The workshops will focus on developing participants' individual and collaborative songwriting practice.  Participants will be invited to examine various modes of songwriting through intensive workshops centered around broad conceptual and industry-based practice led by UWS facilitators and industry guests.  Each of these workshops will be followed by a songwriting brief reflective of the workshop given.  Participants will then produce a response to the songwriting brief.  During this time, tutors will be on hand to give tailored advice to students and assist with both compositional and conceptual development of their creative works. 

Once completed, participants will take place in a live peer-led critique session, facilitated by tutors, where their songs will be discussed in terms of suitability to the brief given and possible modes of development.  Marking criteria will be based on each participant's ability to respond appropriately to given briefs within the context of each workshop and their participation in critique of both their own works and that of their fellow contributors.

Participants will develop chosen works for recorded performance.  This will take place within the professional studio spaces at UWS Ayr campus where possible (given current and potential future restrictions) or will otherwise be supported online.  NB: students will be able to borrow recording equipment from UWS if necessary.

Finally, students will prepare finished portfolios and a short, written reflection supported by tutors.

Please note that students will be required to dedicate significant independent study and practice alongside the scheduled sessions.


Planned schedule

Week 1: Solo Songwriting

Friday 10am to 5pm: Workshop/brief/critique

Saturday 10am to 5pm: Workshop/brief/critique

Week 2: Collaborative Songwriting

Friday 10am to 5pm: Workshop/brief/critique

Saturday 10am to 5pm: Workshop/brief/critique

Week 3: Reflection and Revision

Saturday 10am to 5pm: Workshop/feedback

Week 4: Recording and Production

Saturday 10am to 5pm

Week 5: Portfolio preparation, write-up and hand-in

Two hours of drop-in sessions available


Funding & Fees

Funding may be available to delegates via the UWS Upskilling Fund.  The UWS Upskilling Fund is a budget for delivering training to Scottish industry sectors, provided and moderated by the Scottish Funding Council.  To receive this funding, delegates must reside in Scotland or work for an organisation operating (with a business address) in Scotland.  If you are successful in obtaining funding, a registration fee of £50 will apply only.  Please also contact us to discuss other potential funding mechanisms if you are not eligible for the UWS Upskilling Fund.


If you would like to find out more about this course, Upskilling Fund eligibility or register your interest, please get in touch with our dedicated CPD team at










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