World class: UWE Bristol's music technology courses of 'international standing'

Issue date: 19 February 2016

Music technology students

Music technology courses at the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) have been declared 'amongst the best in the UK and of international standing' after an inspection by industry assessors.

Assessors lavished praise on the university's three BSc (Hons) programmes following a visit last month, congratulating course leaders for forging strong links with industry and producing graduates with a blend of academic and 'real world' skills.

The university received accreditation and complimentary remarks from professional industry body Joint Audio Media Education Support (JAMES), which endorses relevance, quality and continuing innovation in music and sound education.

The praise means JAMES - a consortium of music and entertainment industry organisations - considers UWE to be among the top few universities in the UK for music technology from 40 institutions offering the subject.

In their report, the assessors said: “The assessors are highly impressed with these courses and how they strongly reflect the needs of our rapidly changing industry. They applaud the depth of the technical tuition, the musical requirements and practicality of the courses. They consider these courses to be amongst the best in the UK and of international standing.”

They added: “The assessors are particularly pleased that entry to these courses includes a serious musical qualification and applaud this essential aspect of these courses. The assessors also applaud the enthusiasm and commitment that the course leaders bring to the course.”

For their assessment, two inspectors from JAMES spent a day at the university to review paperwork, course specifications and assignments, listen to student recordings, and interview students and staff.

The assessors – both seasoned music industry professionals with experience of working at Abbey Road Studios – found students on the UWE courses to be 'very technically astute, enthusiastic and keen to learn and gain experience'. In their report, they said they were 'very impressed' with teaching staff, their qualifications and their enthusiasm for the courses.

Martyn Harries, senior lecturer in audio and music technology at UWE Bristol, was 'chuffed' with the assessors' verdict.

He said: “Universities don't get comments like that about their courses very often. I'm incredibly pleased our efforts are paying off and that we are taking the courses in the right direction. We haven't stood still – we have changed the courses from what they were three or four years ago and introduced a broadcast course the year before last, and we've partnered with BBC Radio and Music Operations.

“One of our strengths is that we don't narrow down students' options. Most students come in and want to work on Adele's next album in the studio but there are very few jobs in this area because 'bedroom' technology is replacing all but the very high-end studios.

“Our job is to broaden out the students to give them skills to go into other branches which will welcome their skill set. The media is one area – that industry loves technically-trained creative people.

“The praise from JAMES is down to a lot of hard work, being given the right resources and having an incredibly talented team which are complementary – each member has different skills but they complement each other when they come together as a team. We have our feet on the ground and are closely connected with the real world and industry.”

UWE Bristol has 280 students on its three well-respected music technology courses: Creative Music Technology, Audio and Music Technology, and Broadcast Audio and Music Technology. Recent graduates from the courses have progressed into coveted positions within the BBC, Hackenbacker sound studio, SIS LIVE, MACH Acoustics, Focusrite, Lionhead studios, Sonnox and Solid State Logic, and gone on to study Masters and PhD level software development and music composition.

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