Bowie and Sheeran are up against Elbow, Jungle, Royal Blood and Sam Smith for the accolade of British Artist of the Year.
It is the second nod for Smith this week after he received no less than six Grammy nominations — the same number as Beyonce and Pharrell Williams.
Joining Swift in the International Artist of the Year category are Dolly Parton, Gregory Porter, Lorde, Pharrell and Prince.
The shortlist was selected from a long list of the most played British and international artists of the year on BBC Radio 1, BBC Radio 2, 1Xtra and BBC Radio 6.
The awards this Thursday will be hosted by Chris Evans and Fearne Cotton and will be simulcast on BBC One, Radio 1 and Radio 2.
One Direction, Coldplay, Paloma Faith, Calvin Harris and Ed Sheeran will all be performing at the event at Earls Court in London.
Bob Shennan, director of BBC Music, said: “The BBC Music Awards exist to celebrate the past 12 months in music. The shortlists feature an amazing range of hugely talented artists.
“Each and every one has made a unique mark on the music industry. They have experienced phenomenal success and it’s wonderful to see new acts featuring.