World's First Heavy Metal Degree Dubbed 'A Waste of Time'

Campaigners have slammed a UK college degree which offers a two year course in writing and performing heavy metal. Does rock have a place in modern education?

Ultimate Guitar

The world's first college degree in heavy metal has been revealed in the UK, but campaigners have dubbed it "a waste of time."

The two-year course at New College in Nottingham is the first of its kind, and offers opportunities to work in bands, write and perform songs, and explore music theory and marketing. Student require previous college grades to qualify for the course.

Liam Maloy spent seven months developing the course and defends its educational qualities. "It's a degree, so it will be academically rigorous," he told the BBC. "In the past, heavy metal has not been taken seriously and is seen as lacking academic credibility when compared with other genres such as jazz and classical music. But that's just a cultural construction."

But education campaigners have criticised the course. Chris McGovern, chairman of the Campaign for Real Education, said: "There are too many degrees being offered that lack credibility in the marketplace. I suspect that may be the case with this course, unless you want to be a heavy metal star, in which case why would you need a degree in the subject?"

He continued: "It might seem an attractive, easy option to some people. But you don't need to do a degree in heavy metal. It's a waste of time."

What do you think? Do musicians benefit from a degree in heavy metal, or would they do better to focus their efforts on doing the same activities in their local music community? Let us know what you think in the comments.

100 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Let people do what they like. What really is a weaste of time is spending your whole life criticising everything other people do.
    You mean like how you just criticized people for criticizing other people?
    "You mean like how you just criticized people for criticizing other people?" I can't stand comments like this.
    Stop criticizing "!..!_Rock_!..!" for criticizing "TheGuitarGuyBr" for criticizing people who criticize other people.
    A degree in heavy metal is in my opinion ridiculous. If education is intended to make you employable or teach you skills ,I like to think education serves this latter purpose, I don't see the point of this degree.
    You do realise that not all University degrees are inherently designed to be vocational right?
    Agreed, but one thing I wait for if this class picks up is when some guy barely scrapes by and gets the degree, and is still a crappy musician but flaunts his degree to people like he's somebody special.
    ZOSO <(")
    A waste of time is when someone spends thousands of dollar, and years of their life in college studying something that they'll never use in they're life, all because 'You're supposed to go to college'.
    That'd be a waste of brain. How can you study something for 4+ years and never use it in you life? Everything is useful if you know how to be resourceful.
    Cool idea but the amount of money you have to pour into a metal band to get the ball rolling these days is enough without having student debt to worry about as well! Having a piece of paper saying you're qualified is not going to make your band automatically successful
    Crazy. "There are too many degrees being offered that lack credibility in the marketplace. I suspect that may be the case with this course, unless you want to be a heavy metal star, in which case why would you need a degree in the subject?" Everything about that statement makes great sense.
    Some people don't realise that not everyone goes to University to get a job out of it. Some people don't know what to do and instead of doing something that bores the shit out of them they decide to do something fun for them, see where it goes and make other decisions in the future based on their then goals and desires, and that's a good ethos to have. Having a desire to be educated and to focus on the knowledge you can attain is a great attitude to have. You don't need to know what you want to do, you can always go back to Uni, college whatever at any time. Lots of people settle for something they hate or end up in a dead end job because they never follow their goals. Just make sure you follow them up and you'll get where you want to be.
    if someone wants to follow their dreams and be in a metal band, they should go and be in metal a band, not spend tens of thousands of pounds on a bloody degree in heavy metal.
    Spending those pounds to a be a "metal scholar" (you know, for those of us that actually like to study musical trends) seems more understandable than doing it in order to obtain the metal glory.
    Your live shouldn't be based around finding work, yes. But it also shouldn't be based around expensive schools for knowledge you could find elsewhere. Knowledge is never pointless but sometimes degrees can be. As someone mentioned, the real experience of being in a metal band is probably easier and more beneficial.
    Sounds like a pretty cool idea. Might actually improve the quality of the music being produced in the industry, given time.
    Name 10 big acts that have come from doing music degrees, where the degree has benefited them other than finding people.
    Dream theater. And Tool. probably some of the most musically talented bands out there.
    Yeah, but what I am getting at is that the degree doesn't necessarily help them other than finding each other. I mean even Dream Theater left to pursue the band and didn't finish the degree right?
    I hear what you're saying, bu if these bands are some of the musically complex, there is a correlation there.
    Although he usually doesn't perform on his own, Chris Broderick has a degree in classical guitar from the University of Denver.
    I can give you three off the top of my head: Dream Theater, Judas Priest,and Iced Earth.
    You have a flawed argument in my opinion. Someone who is in a band, wants to be successful and devotes his time to music gets at a point where he goes to college. Most likely if he got his mind set on music, chances are very high he'd go to music school. The talent/motivation/hard work came before the college, and after it. You can see it in the Alumni of Berklee for example, Dream Theater member and John Mayer dropped out soon, so they really didn't technically get their degree. It does show that they were set on music anyways.
    Groundation met up in a music academy. What's a "big act" though?
    For all intents and purposes its a music performance degree specialising in Heavy Metal. Saying this degree is a waste of time is pretty much saying all music performance degrees are a waste of time.
    I was just thinking this. Can a degree in jazz or classical music really be said to have more credibility in the marketplace? I suppose it depends on what you want to do as far as a music career, but the degree should teach you all the same skills these other performance degrees would if it's meant to be academically rigorous. I suppose thinking this degree is a waste of time comes back to the fact that genres like jazz and classical are seen today as serious areas of study while heavy metal is not.
    Exactly. Norah jones has a music performance degree in jazz piano, and she turned out just fine.
    A lot of people, society and even colleges themselves included, believe that college is all about getting a degree that you can flash like a membership card and get a job. I think this is a testament to what it's REALLY about: learning. I don't know about you guys, but I think knowledge is, in fact, power. Fuck the almighty "degree," I want to know more than I did yesterday.
    Degrees are important though. Does a student of medicine knows as much as a licensed physician? I wouldn't be studying a masters degree today if a I didn't earned my licentiate degree before. Then again, I don't live in the states, I live in the 3rd world, where having a degree is actually something special (only about 15% of the society as a whole can obtain that kind of higher education) Degrees are not just a testament of learning, but also of actually doing, doing scientific research, doing professional activities that defines your career as such. It won't get you a job, it'll give you the tools to perform professional activities, finding a suitable job has more to do with social networking and overall economic, politic and social structures and policies inherent to the specific society in which you are living.
    The degree is merely a piece of paper that says "I know how to do ____". I've been to great doctors and awful doctors, both had degrees. In the end, it doesn't come down to if you have the piece of paper or not, it's still what you actually know.
    I'm certainly not saying I disagree with you, but my point was that that piece of paper and title of "graduate" are just that: a piece of paper and title. Yes, they signify that you're educated, but they mean absolutely nothing in themselves. Your education does. People here in the US don't often give a shit about actually learning. They just want a piece of paper that makes other people give them money.
    I see the valid point behind it. They teach theory, marketing, and social skills. In a sense, they're taking band, an Economics class, drama class, a theory class, and a public speaking class and rolling it into one. They then relate it to metal heads, most of whom, wouldn't go to college anyway.
    In Britain most metal heads try to stay in college for as long as possible, it isn't difficult to get a place in college over here. Very, very easy in fact.
    It's the exact opposite for us in the US, most of the time, there are exceptions.
    Insanity ninja
    All My Friends Are Metalheads (sorry, couldn't resist) and roughly half of them have dropper out of college and pursued jobs. When I say all, I mean roughly half. Since that happened they've cut their hair and started listening to Mumford and Sons. Fu*king institutions.
    but college in the UK is 16-18...
    A real degree takes about 5 years to obtain.
    Sorry, how do you figure that? Apart from medicine, most other degrees only take 5 years if you go for a MA AND DPhil.
    THis is a university course, not a college course, but most readers are in the US.
    Most engineers in the top 3 unis around here are huge metalheads. I'd say peeps drop out or don't even go to college in states, which is a regretful thought. What is america doing to their youth?
    if your really like "Metal" just get a classical or jazz degree...then pump the distortion and tune down the strings...the result = metal degree
    Frank M
    This way seems to be like a person wanting a cadillac but buying a toyota then changing the finders doors and engine to get the look you want...there is more than just distortion that goes into playing Metal Music...
    British, you're crazy. But it's awesome!
    Come on, I'm pretty much not ****ed in the head. Unless I'm at Anfield. And Stewart Downing has got the ball.
    It's just as much a waste of time as any music major.
    Terrible season start, average/good ending, for the third year in a row. Come on, Liverpool. Just come on... EDIT: I really need to stop washing away my EPL frustration around here, this is a music website ffs...
    The trouble is so many degrees these days are so pointless anyway. The argument that a degree in heavy metal is the same as one in classical music is absurd and 90% of music degrees are pointless in the real world. Coming from someone who is studying music.
    Awesome picture. This is pretty cool, though. It'd certainly be interesting, to say the least. Especially if they could get Ozzy or something to come talk to classes.
    Våd Hamster
    Almost all narrow art degrees are a waste of time. The practice itself, if applicable, is often not financially sufficient, and the material isn't interesting or deep enough to sustain itself.
    see, as a life-long metal head, this sounds cool as hell. but what would i honestly do with it?
    theres more pointless stuff to learn in university, like medievil literature
    One thing I am sure a lot of people in bands can benefit from is some proper education in marketing from what I have seen. So on that, it may be good.
    I'd say the reason that classical music and jazz are taken seriously is the way they are set up. These two kinds of music have very distinct feels and tones, are created completely different with different ideas and methods. Pretty much everything else is based on these two streams of music, seeing as for example Heavy Metal originally derives from Blues, which again derives from Jazz. Here and there, in certain genres, symphonic metal or black metal for example, classical elements are added into it. I'd like to hear of a genre of WESTERN music, that is not preceeded by either jazz or classical music.
    link no1
    I don't see much difference between this and the music courses I have been on. All the core elements are here like marketing and theory, it's just aimed at metal fans rather than the usual indie/rock/pop fans. To be honest, I would have rather done this than the course I was on just so I wasn't stuck playing music I didn't like.
    My music teacher, for his performance in his degree, did the whole of darkside of the moon with 3 mates. I recon that's pretty cool.
    "I suspect that may be the case with this course, unless you want to be a heavy metal star, in which case why would you need a degree in the subject?" Isn't that the case with almost all degrees? You won't get an economics degree if you wanted to do physics
    While true to a point, some people end up doing work that doesn't explicitly involve the degree they recieved. An example would be a political science major going off to do work for a non-profit organization. They've learned skills that will help them in that career, though they aren't working specifically in the realm of political science. A lot of degrees can be flexible to your interests if you don't want to work directly in your field the traditional way.
    any music degree is like a 5 thousand dollar guitar. its not going to make you sound any better if you didnt sound good in the first place.
    Funny, I went to music college. Before I went, I was a mediocre guitarist. When I left... well, I was still mediocre. But plenty of other mediocre guitarists had turned into awesome players. Don't diss the impact studying your instrument on a daily basis can have on your musical ability.
    As much as as I would like to think that this is a good idea I have to agree with the campaigners. Third-level music courses are quite difficult to get jobs out of as it is, without dividing them out into even more specific niches.
    A degree isn't to just learn about a subject. It also proves that you are able to learn to degree level.
    His point is actual legitimate. The purpose of getting a degree is to use it as a proof of your legitimacy of education in a topic as towards getting a career in that subject, and you really don't need a degree in order to join a band, so I do see it practically as a waste of time.
    Frank M
    I think it's agreat idea...anytime one can get together with others of similar mind in structured discussions only good can come from it. New ideas, different or better technics, ways to become better at your craft or improve talent, light arguing about doing things ain a better way. School would get you more on the inovative side and not just banging around on the same ole tunes in the same ole way...too bad the course isn't offered here in NC, USA.
    I'm actually working on my music education degree right now to start a History of Hard Rock and Heavy Metal curriculum when I start teaching.
    El Krayno
    I studied music at this college and Liam Maloy was my tutor. He taught me a great deal about academia, so when I went to uni I got a first. I'm currently studying to do a master's degree. Some of my fellow students have gone on to other degrees or have found work as sound engineers. I think this is an awesome idea and if I wasn't already in academia I'd probably do it myself. Anyone who says its an easy qualification and a waste of time is a hater and can quite frankly get F****D.
    The idea that any college degree offers "credibility on the marketplace" is basically a joke. This is just as good as a degree in classical music or history, etc. Very few degrees are job training. So, nothing new here.
    Degrees in jazz and classical music are seen as perfectly fine. Why should a degree in metal not be seen as fien also? I went to college for a year to learn music performance. As part of that, I had to perform a couple of metal songs. But I also had to learn a shitload of music theory, music business and legal stuff, how to sight read (a skill I have sadly been negating of late), how to record using modern industry tools... put it this way, learning to play Surfing With The Alien was the LEAST difficult part of my third semester. It's a degree in the arts. Of course people are going to have a problem with it. People will also have a problem with degrees in modern dance, film-making, drama, etc etc. Fuck them. People who do arts degrees usually don't give a crap what others think anyway. I doubt a degree for metalheads is going to be any different. Also, as a music performance degree, I would imagine there is a minimum skill-level required to be eligible. I doubt this is going to be open to all and sundry, you're going to need to show you have some chops first.
    the kormak
    It is possible to get a degree studying Harry Potter, so I would say complain about that one before this, although a general music degree would probably be more beneficial as it opens you up to new styles and techniques and broadens your abilities as a musician, instead of sticking with one particular genre. Just sayin'...
    It bugs me that they use the phrase "lacks credibility in the marketplace", as if that's the only reason someone would choose to study something.