BSc (Hons) Songwriting and Music Production
My experience on this course was amazing, I loved how versatile and challenging it was. It allowed you to be creative with a focus on songwriting and production techniques, and plenty of opportunities to perform live. Every teacher was really helpful and supportive. In the end the course was exactly what I was looking for, and it took me to a whole new level.
Jake F - My week at a Glance
My Week at a glance
Week at a glance – Hi! I’m Jake, I recently completed the final projects of my degree in Music and Sound Design Technology and in this blog, I will give you an overview of a typical week in my third and final year at Herts. My average third-year week would usually include two days of lectures, one or two shifts at work and the rest of the week spent working on assignments and socialising with friends.
I only had two days a week of lectures in my final year which meant I could be very flexible with how I spent my time. I would always attend all my lectures and typically spend another two to three hours working on assignments on these days during the evenings. The rest of the week I would usually aim to work six hours, but this varied as I had other commitments. It is not necessary to work six hours per day but as I am aiming for a first-class grade, this was enough for me to learn and practise everything I needed too without overworking myself.
During my final year, I worked at the Forum at UH (University of Hertfordshire) as a live sound and lighting technician, something I really enjoyed doing as it was the first time working in a job related to my sound engineering course. Usually, I would work two shifts a week, Wednesday night and Friday evening which worked out at around 12 – 15 hours a week, sometimes it was more and sometimes less. The fact the shifts were in the evening and at night was good as it allowed me to focus on my assignments during the day, but club nights would see me often working till 04:00 or later which did leave me tired the next day but this was part of the job and it was a great experience overall.
It was especially important that I put aside time for myself to relax and socialize with friends and to take time out of all the work I was doing. I and a friend from my course got into a routine of playing table tennis each night to get some light exercise and to take a break from the assignments. In the final year can be stressful sometimes, so it is particularly important to look after yourself by exercising, eating healthily (and enough!) and spending time with friends or relaxing by yourself
I think being at Uni is about finding the right balance of work and fun that works for you, it is a wonderful way to practise self-discipline and time management and you will learn a lot about yourself.
Thanks for reading!
Jake F - Guide to the facilities
As a sound engineering student, you have access to everything you need to prepare you for working in the industry. It is a very practical subject so having the right equipment, software, and hardware, is vital for getting the hands-on experience you need. Most of my work was done in the FMM, Film Music & Media building which has computer labs with all the latest programs, surround sound ‘satellite’ rooms, an acoustically treated room for film sound, and many other musical spaces and practise rooms. You also have access to the Art and Design buildings where you will find fully kitted out music studios with performing and recording rooms with the latest mixing desks and computers, a Foley studio which I used a lot for films, and the loan store. The loan store allows you to borrow equipment such as microphones, musical instruments and other equipment like video cameras and accessories.
Having access to these spaces was vital as part of my learning experience as there is no substitute for hands-on learning but Herts gave me everything, I needed to ensure I am prepared to start work or go onto further education.
I also had some lectures in the Forum where I learned about live sound and acoustics. I had the privilege to work at the Forum which gave me an even more extensive knowledge of live sound setups. The facilities at the Forum are incredible and working with such a high standard of equipment was always exciting. There are two music rooms in the Forum, the main auditorium which is a large capacity club room with a full lighting rig and a custom sound setup. There is also the attic which is a smaller venue which hosts Herts Jam which is a student-run music event held three times a year. The Forum has seen some big artists and bands play there, such as Enter Shikari and even the music video for Ed Sheeran’s Lego House was filmed there.
As well as the specialist spaces, you have everything you would expect as a student like lecture halls and access to the library on campus where you can borrow books and magazines and use computers and printers. You also have access to the online library to check if they have a book and if it is available.
UH (University of Hertfordshire) exceeded my expectations of professional equipment and facilities and I would highly recommend anyone looking to study music technology or sound engineering to consider Herts. Despite graduating during the Covid-19 outbreak and it being a strange time, I feel prepared for my future, whenever and wherever that may be!
Jake F- Why I chose Herts
Why I chose Herts
When I attended the open day and had the subject talk, Herts was able to relay confidence in their teaching abilities and the course itself, that other universities I visited were not able to do. They really sounded like they knew their stuff, and this was backed up by statistics in student satisfaction and almost 100% of students being in further education or work within six months of graduating. The course itself also sounded more suited to me as it was a mix of creative and technical teaching compared to some universities being much more technical and less practical and creative.
The facilities were impressive, and I could picture myself working in the labs and studios as we were shown around. I had never accessed any sound equipment before I had gone to university so seeing these facilities up close was a very motivating experience.
The course lived up to my expectations and I really enjoyed being taught there. The staff were very friendly and incredibly knowledgeable in their respective fields of work and I can’t see how it could have been improved.
I also felt that I could imagine myself at Herts much more than the other universities I visited. This may have been due to it being a campus university where most of the University is based on one campus. This made it seem like a true community and a busy, bustling place full of young people like me. The campus itself was very appealing due to the modern accommodation facilities and other stylish buildings and spaces. The College Lane Campus has a very homely and connected feel due to the Oval building which sits surrounded by accommodation blocks. It, therefore, gave the impression of being very social which was appealing as I was overly excited about meeting many friends during my time there.
Another reason I chose Herts is its proximity to London. I love cities, especially London, and being so close was massively appealing to me. It was only 20 minutes on the train, and I took opportunities to travel there when I could, meeting family and friends and working in the city centre on some occasions. It also meant travelling home was easy as I could get a direct train to Manchester from London.
Going to a university far from my home was not an issue for me, if anything, it was more appealing as I like to experience living in different areas. It can be daunting moving far from your family, but you will meet so many people very quickly and soon, the university will feel like your home.
Meet Matthew Mainprize who has worked on exciting projects like Jurassic World: Evolution since graduating. He is currently working as an Audio Designer at Frontier Developments.Read more stories Find out more about this course
|Current job role||Audio Designer|
|Year of graduation||2018|
|Course of study||BSc (Hons) Music Composition and Technology for Films and Games|
University experience and opportunities
Matthew thoroughly enjoyed his course at the University of Hertfordshire, as it guided him towards his current career path, which he really loves. He says, 'My studies allowed me to develop my interests and skills and provided an environment to learn and apply myself to a specific task over extended periods of time. The teacher support and engagement were very helpful.'
Matthew currently works as an Audio Designer on Jurassic World Evolution and talks about how his studies were extremely useful in helping him decide his profession and subsequently securing his current role.
'I took a while to decide what I wanted to do with my life prior to university, and when I worked out what that was, Hertfordshire was the one place that offered a course that was exactly what I was looking for. It provided me with the option to do a placement year, and this enabled me to get an internship at a Microsoft Games Studio. Without going to university, I would not have had this opportunity, nor the skill-set to get the position.'
Matthew encourages prospective students to make the most of their time at Herts. He suggests, 'Have the best portfolio you can and keep it refreshed where possible. Make best use of your connections from university and collaborate on projects with them. I like to keep up to date with what my other friends are doing with their own personal projects and careers.'
Matthew took advantage of all the opportunities at Herts, both inside and outside of his studies. He advises other students to do the same and adds, 'Always keep an eye out for any opportunities that may appear, and keep your options and goals open at the start. I remember having a number of projects I worked on, featured in the Animation feature film day!'
Aspirations for the future
Still looking to improve himself and progress in his career, Matthew wishes to develop his skills as a sound designer. 'My plans are to continue to learn and improve, whilst working at Frontier. I want to increase my output, value and contribution to the games we work on so that they can be the best that they can be.'
Meet Michael. Michael works as a sound designer and in 2023, he was part of a team that won a BAFTA Game Award for their work on God of War Ragnarök.Read more stories Find out more about this course
|Current job role||Sound Designer at Sweet Justice Sound|
|Year of graduation||2007, 2008|
|Course of study||BSc (Hons) Music and Sound Design Technology|
|MSc Music and Sound Technology (Audio Programming)|
Michael developed many skills during his time at Herts, which he believes helped him in his career as a sound designer. He says, 'My undergraduate degree in Music Technology introduced me to sound design for the moving image, something I hadn't thought about when applying for the course. I had initially been focused on music. There was something about putting sound to visuals that excited me and I've been doing it ever since.'
Michael took full advantage of all the opportunities offered to him during his studies and explains how they really helped him to progress in his career. 'Having the opportunity to work with animation students was one of the best experiences. I also enjoyed having the opportunity to work in a professional studio setting, and take my first steps into sound design on high-end equipment and surround sound. Having the opportunity to learn about so many different aspects of sound and collaborating with different creative disciplines definitely led me on the path I’m walking today.'
Winning a BAFTA and his aspirations for the future
In 2023, Michael won an Audio Achievement BAFTA Game Award as part of a team who worked on the hit video game God of War Ragnarök. Michael said working with his company, Sweet Justice Sound, on the game was a 'career highlight'.
Michael is looking forward to what the future has in store for him and says, 'I’ve been lucky enough to work on some of the biggest gaming franchises during my career. I’m looking forward to continuing to work on amazing games and honing my skills over a long and varied career.'