Courses get down to brass tacks

September 12, 2003

Esther Ingram looks at what's new and of note on the timetable this autumn.

Cornetist Thomas Glendenning has brass band music in his blood. For him, like his father, grandfather and great-grandfather, playing music is almost a way of life. Now he aims to blow his mind as well as his soprano trumpet as the first applicant to a new MA in brass band studies at Durham University.

He said: "There is so much depth to brass band music. It's not just about playing, it's about the fantastic compositions, the way the music sounds, the culture and the amazing people you meet - it's so much more than just the notes on the page."

Mr Glendenning, 30, did his first degree in music ten years ago. He is a chorister at Durham Cathedral and also teaches music.

The course will run alongside a community outreach programme for people who have an interest in brass band studies but cannot manage full-time studies.

Ray Farr, conductor-in-residence and teaching fellow at the new Centre for Brass Band Studies at Durham, said: "We are aiming to continue to develop brass band leaders and conductors and to encourage the development of young people in both playing and conducting."

Durham's MA is just one of thousands of new degree courses available this autumn.

A BA in global citizenship will be on offer at University of Wales College, Newport, in 2003-04, with students exploring issues including democracy, human rights and conflict resolution and cultural diversity. The three-year course received backing from Oxfam and Amnesty International.

Angela Grunsell, programme manager of Oxfam Development Education, said:

"Many of the issues facing people in the UK can be solved only in a global context: everyone's lives affect and are affected by international processes, events and legislation. Tomorrow's employment will require individuals who understand the responsibilities, dilemmas and opportunities of a globalised world, in which the gap between rich and poor is set to increase."

Media studies will also receive a boost with two courses being established at City University. Depending on external funding, the media sign diploma course will train deaf people in TV broadcasting skills.

Bencie Woll, professor of sign language and deaf studies, said: "Because of changes in legislation, there is an increased need for people qualified and trained to produce that information."

The first doctorate in journalism has also been set up by City. It is designed for mid-career journalists, who will submit a body of work and undertake supervised research to produce a thesis or piece of broadcasting.

Iain Stevenson, senior research tutor in the department of journalism, said: "The course aims to give the student time and space to reflect on journalism as a profession and a craft and to think of the wider implications of their work."

Scottish nurses keen to get back to work after a period of absence can join a return-to-practice scheme at Stirling University. The course will combine online learning, a dissertation and clinical practice.

Other developments in the health sector include a new MSc in dementia care at Bradford University in collaboration with Manchester University. Places will be part funded by National Health Service Workforce Development Confederations.

Jenny Mackenzie, course coordinator, said: "The course is designed to equip students to take the lead in further developing the services they offer to people with dementia and their families."

For people who want to travel the world, Plymouth University's BSc in cruise operations management could provide the opportunity. With support from Princess Cruises, the course includes hospitality, marine studies and business modules, with an optional sandwich year spent working aboard a cruise liner.

Course coordinator Philip Gibson said: "The placement gives people who are keen to work in hospitality and to work abroad the opportunity to test it out before committing themselves."

But it is not only civilians who can take advantage of the expanding range of university courses. Naval officers can now opt for an MSc in technology (maritime operations). Run in collaboration with Kingston University, the masters degree will build on an existing military course to give officers civilian accreditation.

David Edmondson, work-based learning facilitator at Kingston, said: "The course has two benefits for the officer: first, while working in the Navy it can distinguish them from other candidates. Second, if the officer is not retained by the Navy, they have the MSc to help forge their way in the civilian world."

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