Department of Music,
Faculty of Arts and Humanities
This course focuses upon composition of contemporary music and offers two distinct pathways. You can choose to specialise in instrumental composition, in which you will explore a broad range of compositional approaches and techniques with a strong emphasis on inquiry-led practice. This will include collaboration with professional performers and peers, resulting in numerous live premieres of work, and/or the scope for interacting across disciplines.
You may also have the opportunity to make mixed-media work, and collaborate with artists working with other media (visual, design, text). Alternatively, you may specialise in electronic/electroacoustic composition, in which you can explore creative applications of analogue/digital technologies, studio-based composition techniques, real-time audio processing techniques, aesthetics of sonic art, historical developments in electronic music, temporal/spatial-audio and post-digital aesthetics, amongst others.
At the start of the course, you will be offered intensive training in the knowledge and methods of your chosen field; this is followed by opportunities for independent research and exploration. By the end of the course you will have developed and refined your own compositional voice and will be able to situate creative work within a broader contextual framework.
The MA also includes composition for film and film sound recording, recognising training needs for those wishing to enter the creative industries as composers, sound designers and game contributors.
You'll need to provide a portfolio with your application.
We are an All-Steinway School.
- Film Sound and Composition
Film Sound and Composition equips students with the necessary skills to score to picture in styles that suit the student’s compositional background and develop a ‘show reel’. Students will complete two videos and a short analytical essay. At least one should demonstrate the candidate's additional skills in producing Foley, effects, sound design and dialogue.30 credits
- Influences and Inspirations: independent study of compositional practice
This module provides an opportunity for students to study the major influences on, and inspirations behind, their own compositional practice. Students on the module shall choose either an individual composer, group of composers, or compositional school, and undertake an independent study that explores their approach, compositional language, technique, and/or aesthetic concerns. Students shall choose a topic, in consultation with a supervisor, involving either analysis, criticism or reflection on an aspect of compositional practice, and use a range of written texts, testimonies, scores, recordings, performances and other relevant bibliographic sources, to address such a topic. Assessment involves the submission of an essay proposal, or plan, which is subsequently followed by a full scholarly essay submission.30 credits
- Collaborative practice, public engagement and impact
Collaborative practice, public engagement and impact’ supports projects that entail an aspect of collaboration, co-operation, knowledge exchange or impact. Students are supported to form relevant partnerships within or outside the module, department, faculty or university, which may be with an/another artist or practitioner (e.g. scientist, engineer), or with a venue such as a concert hall, gallery, museum or media outlet. Within the context of these partnerships students will design and execute projects leading to a live performance, presentation or event. KE or impact-focussed projects will be mandated to involve a public audience. Projects may involve diverse media and may be presented in a live or digital/mixed format. In order to accommodate a wide range of arts and humanities practices, including novel formats engendered through the module, the assessment format will be approved on an individual basis within specified parameters appropriate to the project.30 credits
Indicative projects include:
- Collaboration with an/another artist within or outside the student’s discipline to produce a new artistic work
- Collaboration with a scientist, engineer or other academic, to produce an event, experiment, demonstration or new tool
- Co-operation/partnership with an external organisation, venue or media outlet to produce or present work to a public audience
- Innovative presentation
- Composition Portfolio
Creative Portfolio invites the candidate to collate a diverse body of work, including a number of small and medium-scale projects and two large-scale projects. The total duration should be around 25 - 40 minutes of music/sound, although this will vary depending upon the nature of the project. Total number of projects should not exceed 5. Projects may include musical compositions, works of sonic art, audio-visual pieces, sound installations, web based media/events, live-electronic performances, interactive media, amongst related uses of creative media. The portfolio will be accompanied by a 2,000 word commentary.60 credits
Optional modules - one from:
- Electroacoustic Techniques
Electroacoustic Techniques introduces students to a wide range of compositional methods and techniques,30 credits
as required for the creation of electroacoustic music. Students are encouraged to think about individual sound
objects, layers and interactions between such objects, before considering larger compositional structures and
forms. The module does not foreground music technologies. However, students will be introduced to a range
of different technologies and will use these to create small etudes before composing a larger work. Examples
drawn from the sonic arts cannon will be presented and discussed in class. Although primarily acousmatic,
students may opt to produce sonic art works, audio-visual works, installations, web based systems, in
consultation with the teaching team.
- Instrumental Techniques
This module will deal with the techniques and methods of instrumental composition relevant to the contemporary composer through a combination of compositional tasks modelled on the practice of a wide range of 20th and 21st Century composers.30 credits
The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it's up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research; funding changes; professional accreditation requirements; student or employer feedback; outcomes of reviews; and variations in staff or student numbers. In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and take reasonable steps to minimise disruption. We are no longer offering unrestricted module choice. If your course included unrestricted modules, your department will provide a list of modules from their own and other subject areas that you can choose from.
The course is taught through lectures, seminars, workshops and tutorials. These are combined with departmental study days and extracurricular listening groups, professional workshops, and performance opportunities, all of which makes for a stimulating and supportive study environment.
You'll be assessed through practical, experiential and theoretical methods that include compositions and essays. A written essay will assess your knowledge of a broad range of current artistic practices along with your skills in evaluation, analysis and criticism, information organisation and writing.
- 1 year full-time
- 2 years part-time
MA Composition developed and strengthened my compositional voice with tutorials, live opportunities, and conferences. It gave me the opportunity to collaborate with an engineer on a very unique sound installation. Most significantly, it changed the way I think and write about music with group discussions and focused dissertation study. This is a valuable and rewarding degree for composers who welcome a challenge.
You’ll need a 2:1 in music or a combined degree with a substantial music component.
Degrees in other related subjects may be acceptable depending on your background.
When you apply you'll need to provide a portfolio of your compositional work. The portfolio must include one or two examples of your best work and can be in many different formats depending on your style of composition - instrumental composers are invited to submit copies of scores, but any recordings of performances (or even midi files) are most welcome. Electroacoustic composers are invited to upload soundfiles of their works.
To submit your portfolio, you should do one of the following:
- upload your video recordings with your postgraduate online application
- provide an online link to your composition portfolio in your postgraduate online application
Overall IELTS score of 6.5 with a minimum of 6.0 in each component, or equivalent.
If you have any questions about entry requirements, please contact the department.
Fees and funding
University funding and scholarships opportunities are available each year. Please check the department funding webpages for music specific scholarships. Department scholarships details are released in the January prior to the start of your course.
You can apply for postgraduate study using our Postgraduate Online Application Form. It's a quick and easy process.
+44 114 222 0495
Any supervisors and research areas listed are indicative and may change before the start of the course.
Recognition of professional qualifications: from 1 January 2021, in order to have any UK professional qualifications recognised for work in an EU country across a number of regulated and other professions you need to apply to the host country for recognition. Read information from the UK government and the EU Regulated Professions Database.