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2022/23 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

MUSS5231M Composition Studies

30 creditsClass Size: 10

Module manager: Dr Scott McLaughlin

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2022/23

Pre-requisite qualifications

Normally first degree in music; demonstrable knowledge of music and musical terminology, and experience of composition and compositional techniques.

This module is not approved as an Elective

Module summary

The precise nature of compositional study in this module is decided in consultation with the module tutor, and is taught tutorially. This module may allow for students to explore and develop more commercially applicable work; thus arrangements/orchestrations for standard ensemble forces may be included. Students may wish to take the opportunity to specialise in a specific area of interest (in choral or brass ensemble music, for example). The second component is a two-week take-away paper which takes the form of several possible commission requests, one of which the student must choose.


On successful completion of this module, students should be able to:
• Write idiomatically for standard instruments and instrumental groupings.
• Show an awareness of stylistic trends as appropriate to the genre/style under scrutiny.
• Demonstrate an awareness of what constitutes professionally viable work which may include the use of electronic resources and music for video and film as appropriate.
• To be able to compose within a limited timeframe via a two-week take-away paper.
• Present orally on matters relating to their compositional work.


The module is delivered by a series of group or individual supervisions through which students may determine the precise nature of their creative work, and develop their compositional material. The two-week take away ‘commission’ assignment includes an oral presentation that is designed to simulate the sort of interactions that may be faced by composers, such as speaking to artists or venues, being interviewed about their work, or pitching for funding or performance opportunities.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours286.00
Total Contact hours14.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)300.00

Private study

286 hours which involves potentially analysing other composer’s scores and/or recordings, exploring multimedia opportunities and potentially collaborating with an artist from another discipline, writing the music for the portfolio/doing the commentary, completing the take-away ‘commission’ assignment, and preparing for and practicing the oral presentation.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Student progress is monitored on a regular basis via the individual and group tutorials and Minerva communication systems. Formative assessment is provided in tutorials where staff give feedback on student progress and advice for future development and presentation of work.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Written Work1 item, accompanied by a commentary of 500-1000 words50.00
Assignmenta 'commission' in the form of a 2-week take-away paper50.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

The ‘commission’ includes an oral presentation alongside the compositional work. The presentation will normally be given within the first of the two weeks of the assignment, and the focus of the presentation will be determined by the module leader bearing in mind the subject of the ‘commission’ being undertaken by each student.

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 29/04/2022 15:26:01


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