Professional/Short course Therapeutic Songwriting

Entry year
Course code
Professional/Short Course
School of Health and Social Wellbeing
At least five days
Course Director
Luke Annesley

15 credit level 7 module

Page last updated 26 October 2023


The 15 credit Therapeutic Songwriting module is taught by two very experienced practitioners in the field, Bob Heath and Will Lawton.

This module can be taken as classroom only, or as a full module, which includes a written assignment and viva presentation. All in-person teaching sessions take place at weekends.

It is suitable for music therapists, either qualified or in training, and also welcomes professionals from other fields such as education, social care, counselling, psychotherapy and community music. Musicians from any tradition or genre are welcome, and there is no expectation of previous expertise in songwriting.

The module is delivered in partnership with the UWE Bristol's Centre for Music, and participants will have access to the excellent facilities available at the Centre, based on Frenchay Campus.

On successful completion of this level 7 (Masters level) module, you will be able to:

  • Demonstrate a critical awareness of the history and philosophies of therapeutic songwriting and an understanding of how these are embedded into established psychotherapeutic frameworks.
  • Demonstrate competence in active and creative listening skills in relation to music.
  • Show an understanding and competence in the application of melody and harmony in therapeutic songwriting.
  • Critically reflect on student's own development of therapeutic songwriting.
  • Demonstrate competency in a range of musical skills including use of guitar and piano in songwriting.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of group songwriting approaches.

Entry requirements

You must have evidence of employment or volunteering opportunity where songwriting can be applied.

Careers / Further study

This module can contribute towards MA Therapeutic Music Studies.



The course content typically includes:

Historical and cultural background

  • Historical background to therapeutic songwriting
  • The songwriting process
  • Philosophy
  • Psychological context
  • Working in a culture-sensitive way
  • Introduction to main approaches to songwriting

Musical techniques

  • Basic guitar technique
  • Use of keyboard
  • Use of acrostic techniques
  • Removing protective hurdles and blocks
  • Harmonic structures
  • Improvisation

Therapeutic skills

  • Active listening
  • Creative listening
  • Staying in the music
  • Suspending value judgements
  • Client-led approaches to lyric creation
  • Group songwriting


  • Technology of recording
  • Ethics of recording
  • Use of recorded materials

Learning and Teaching

The teaching sessions will involve a variety of teaching and learning formats including workshops, lectures, individual and small group activities, and discussions (the teaching and learning methods will be adapted to the cohort size).

Scheduled learning - the workshops will include workshops, small group activities, and group discussions/seminars.

Independent learning includes hours engaged with practice of techniques, essential reading, further reading and self-directed study, reflective writing, preparation for lectures and in-class activities, and assignment preparation and completion.

This module generates 45 hours of scheduled study time in therapeutic songwriting lectures and workshops.

You will also be expected to spend:

  • at least 12 hours applying the songwriting in practice
  • approximately 60 hours engaged in independent academic study and practice of the songwriting techniques
  • 25 to 30 hours completing the coursework assignment.

Study time

Preparation for and completion of the assignments will take up approximately 25 learning hours and 60 hours remain for independent study connected with this module.

Placement learning: Learning in practice will comprise a minimum of 12 hours.

Scheduled learning: will account for around 45 hours on this module and will involve lectures, seminars, demonstrations, workshops and small group work.

Independent learning: (approximately 88 hours) includes hours engaged with essential reading, reflective writing, presentation preparation and portfolio completion.


Summative assessment of all learning outcomes aims to capture in the main competencies and aspects of critical understanding which are required for M-level. The assignments will involve reflective practice as well as appraisal and discussion with examiners and peers in order to demonstrate the integration of theory and practice and to allow you creative ways of integrating complex thinking and practice.

The portfolio will include:

  1. Recordings of songs written on practice.
  2. A written self-appraisal.
  3. A written reflective piece on your development in the area of songwriting practice, referencing the recordings.
  4. An in-person viva presentation of songwriting practice as a case study.

The total word count of the written parts of the portfolio (2+3) will be 3,000 (+/- 10%).


Study facilities

The College of Health, Science and Society has an excellent reputation for the quality of its teaching and the facilities it provides.

Get a feel for the Health Professions facilities we have on offer here from wherever you are.

Prices and dates

Supplementary fee information

Please visit full fee information to see the price brackets for our modules.


Please click on the Apply Now button to view dates.

How to apply

How to apply

Please click on the Apply Now button to apply for your CPD module, which you can take as a stand-alone course or as part of an undergraduate or postgraduate (Masters level) programme.

Extra information

If the course you are applying for is fully online or blended learning, please note that you are expected to provide your own headsets/microphones.

For further information