Practical Technology Column: UAL Awards and Diplomas
Thursday, April 1, 2021
As he finishes his survey of some of the qualification options in music tech, Tim Hallas turns his attention to options from University of the Arts London.
This range of qualifications is relatively new to me, and I only discovered them during my research for the Music Teacher Music Technology in Education conference last autumn. The University of the Arts London is a specialist college that offers teaching in a range of creative subjects. But they have also started to offer accredited qualifications for schools and colleges in music and music production.
The qualifications are available at Levels 1, 2 and 3 and there are different lengths available at all levels to accommodate different commitments from potential students. These are identified as Awards, Diplomas and Extended Diplomas, depending on the level. The bigger qualifications contain additional modules to create a qualification of the same standard but equivalent to a greater number of GCSEs or A Levels.
All of the qualifications are described as covering music performance and production, which I think is a really good idea. Many qualifications separate performance and production into separate courses or, if a teacher is more confident in one than the other, the teacher then chooses to focus on certain modules at the expense of others.
The UAL qualification gives performance and production equal weighting, and students are expected to be able to be equally proficient in both. The qualification is divided up into units and there are modules that cover performance skills, analysis, history and recording techniques, and each qualification culminates in a final project involving both performance and production. Students are expected to direct this themselves and it could be a recording of themselves performing, or, at higher levels, a more collaborative project involving multiple performers and different elements of production.
UAL Music Performance and Production qualifications are all internally assessed. Most of the modules are marked by the teacher and then internally verified by someone from the same establishment. However, the final module in each award or diploma is also externally moderated by the exam board.
This is very similar to a lot of other vocational qualifications and the internal assessment allows for students to complete work at their own pace rather than working to board deadlines or submission dates. UAL give suggested lengths of time that each qualification should last (one or two years depending on the qualification), but the way I interpret it, if it needs to take longer, that would be ok.
The course looks like an excellent offering for music technology students and it's refreshing to see a course that requires both performance and production.
Other qualifications at this level also offer multiple module choices that teachers (or occasionally students) can choose from to create their own bespoke course. However, the UAL Music Performance and Production course has predefined modules for each level and length of course. This means that all students leave knowing the same things – much easier for the admissions officers of ‘next steps’ establishments to know what a potential student may have covered.
These are some great looking courses and are offered at a range of QCF levels and lengths to suit students who have different levels of interest or timetable availability. The Level 3 qualification looks more suitable for FE colleges or schools that have space for vocational qualifications in their timetable, but the Level 1 and 2 qualifications could be great courses to offer in schools, pupil referral units, or local music centres.
As a still relatively little-known set of courses, the UAL Music Performance and Production qualifications merit a closer look by schools that are looking for something to do with students who are interested in production.
The combination of skills really suits young people who like to produce and release their own music, so the courses have a target market readily available. I recommend checking out their website for more information about all the subjects and qualifications they offer as an awarding body.