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2019/20 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

MUSS5661M Electronic & Computer Music Portfolio

60 creditsClass Size: 30

Module manager: Dr Ewan Stefani

Taught: 1 Jan to 30 Sep View Timetable

Year running 2019/20


MUSS5632MElectronic & Computer Music Practice
MUSS5633MElectronic & Computer Music Contexts

This module is not approved as an Elective

Module summary

This module aims to introduce students to specific electronic or computer music topics within the field of academic practice-led research. Students will be involved in the development of practical work, as directed by academic staff. The content of each topic will be determined by current staff research or scholarship interests. Practical work may be linked to the exploration of performance practice and composition through electronic instruments, reconstruction of existing electronic music works, or other projects which explore interactions between electronic devices, computer software and musicians. Practical work is likely to explore different creative applications of sound synthesis, signal processing, analogue or digital electronics, or other forms of electroacoustic practice with the aim of increasing understanding of a specific research topic.


This module aims to provide a supportive framework within which students (a) research; (b) propose; (c) plan; (d) realise and; (e) document a substantial independent portfolio of practical work designed to develop and articulate individual creative identity, technical skill, rigorous methodology, and critical engagement with contextual praxes and discourses (which might include current or historic, critical, aesthetic, theoretical, or philosophical discourse / practice) in one or more areas relevant to electronic music and/or computer music.

Learning outcomes
On successful completion of the module students will:
1) demonstrate that they can assimilate individual creative identity (self-awareness), technical skill and ingenuity, and contextual knowledge of the field of electronic and computer music into a coherent, relevant, original, and achievable portfolio of practical work;
2) demonstrate that they can manage and complete practical work independently, exercising initiative and creative problem-solving skills to deal with any issues that arise in an effective and timely manner;
3) demonstrate that they know how to document and/or present the portfolio at various stages in its lifecycle (including pre-project proposal and mid- and post-project reporting), clearly articulating as appropriate: the purpose of the work within the portfolio; aims and objectives; description of appropriate technical details; development of creative and technological skills; context and relevance within the field of electronic music and/or computer music (referring to current or historic, critical, aesthetic, theoretical, or philosophical discourse / practice).


Over the course of two semesters students will (a) research, (b) propose, (c) plan, (d) realise, and (e) document a portfolio of independent practical work. The emphasis is on independent portfolio development, with a supportive framework provided through tutorials. Students are therefore encouraged to use their tutorials in the way that is best suited to their own, individual ways of working. Indicatively:
- Semester 1 is primarily spent (a) researching, and (b) proposing and (c) planning a portfolio of practical work. In addition to any tutorials undertaken in semester 1, students are encouraged to consider the material studied in other core modules of the MA Electronic and Computer Music programme (Electronic and Computer Music Practice; Electronic and Computer Music Contexts) throughout the research and proposal process. Students are also strongly encouraged to use the Professional Studies module as an opportunity to conduct a literature review and presentation on a potential topic during the planning stages of the portfolio.
- Outline proposals for the portfolio are to be agreed with the tutor by the end of Semester 1.
- Semester 2 is primarily spent (d) realising, and (e) documenting the portfolio of practical work.
Indicative examples of portfolios might include:
• A collection of software patches (designed in Max/MSP, SuperCollider or similar) to be used for the realisation of a performance, installation or other form of interactive musical outcome.
• A portfolio of audiovisual demonstrations of novel techniques for sound design and music generation using electronic instruments and hardware devices resulting from in-depth practical experimentation, implementation of theory, and research into existing hardware configurations and electroacoustic techniques.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours584.00
Total Contact hours16.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)600.00

Private study

The emphasis is on independent portfolio development. Students are therefore encouraged to use tutorials in the way that is best suited to their own, individual ways of working. Additionally, the precise nature of the private study is liable to vary considerably depending on the particular nature of each individual portfolio. However, as a very rough indication, students might expect to spend:
a) 65 hours of contextual and theoretical research;
b) 65 hours drafting proposals and preliminary examples for the portfolio;
c) 65 hours planning the development of the portfolio;
d) 309 hours realising the work to be contained in the portfolio;
e) 80 hours documenting the portfolio (e.g. audiovisual archives and written documentation).

These figures assume approximately one third of the total hours spent on preparation and project planning (items a, b and c), with the remaining two thirds being spent on realisation (d and documentation e) combined. This breakdown is likely to vary according to the individual requirements of each portfolio. Likewise it is expected that there will be a natural overlap between some or all stages of development.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Monitoring of student progress is realised primarily via individual tutorials to be spaced at regular intervals throughout the course.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
PortfolioNormally, practical work equivalent to 11,000 words. Including an audiovisual archive and/or text-based documentation of the portfolio as appropriate: normally equivalent to 4000 words.100.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

As an indication of typical portfolio content and scale, this submission may involve: a substantial suite of innovative software developed for the module (equivalent to perhaps eight exploratory patches and one substantial complete application with an advanced user interface built in an environment such as Max/MSP/Jitter), or a large suite of audio or video demonstrations (equivalent to perhaps one hour of playback time) of novel and advanced electronic synthesis and signal processing techniques for specific and well-defined musical applications.

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 16/09/2019


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