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2022/23 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

MUSS5262M Portfolio of Original Composition

60 creditsClass Size: 10

Module manager: Dr Mic Spencer

Taught: 1 Oct to 30 Sep (12mth) View Timetable

Year running 2022/23


MUSS5231MComposition Studies

This module is not approved as an Elective

Module summary

In semester 1 there are weekly round-table seminars (2 hrs) that focus on student work in progress. Content of specific sessions varies between: discussion of set texts which address the creative process across many disciplines (philosophical, visual art, dance, as well as musical subjects); student presentations on aspects of music they are interested in as well; workshops with visiting composers and performers. In the second semester, there is more direct focus on the students’ work through peer-discussion in small groups, facilitated by the supervisor. The focus of the module is critical and experimental music, primarily avant-garde music post-1960 though there is some flexibility of content where appropriate.The assessment is a portfolio of four pieces of original composition with commentaries of 900-1100 words per piece. These pieces should demonstrate a clear original voice and high level of technical sophistication and presentation. It is expected that students would have a relatively strong understanding of twentieth-century music history (not restricted to contemporary art music, but including it) and some idea of standard and recent developments in abstract compositional reasoning, notational strategies, instrumental techniques, presentational and formal strategies, and other developments in the Arts.


On successful completion of this module, students should be able to:

• Compose to an advanced standard for a variety of musical media.
• Be able to interact creatively with original musical material in terms of its detail and development.
• Be able to manage long-term musical thought in original patterns and form-building.
• Be able to position their creative output in a wider aesthetical and contemporary historical context
• Demonstrate an advanced knowledge of the repertoire as it relates to their compositional output


The precise syllabus is ultimately defined by negotiation between student and supervisor. The process of developing a folio of original compositions will be informed by research around the subject using appropriate examples. It may be appropriate for a student to be able to hold well-informed discussions on a variety of surrounding texts (scores and literature) before the process of composition begins.

Equally, a student wishing to explore more abstract concepts, such as temporality, spatialisation and semiotic approaches will be expected to research these areas as an aid to developing original scores. A critically reflective commentary should expose recent enquiry relating to the compositions submitted.

Folios may usefully consist of a variety of titles using different musical media and showing some variety of approach. A typical submission will consist of four individual items (although this may be negotiable with the module leader) together with a full commentary.

Students on this module are expected to attend appropriate practical and lecture opportunities given by visitors to the campus as circumstances permit.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours571.00
Total Contact hours29.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)600.00

Private study

571 hours which involves analysing other composer’s scores and/or recordings, undertaking formative work for the module, attending concerts of contemporary music and relevant guest seminars, reading texts about contemporary music or aesthetics and writing the music for the portfolio/doing the commentary.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Student progress is monitored on a regular basis via tutorials and Minerva communication systems. Formative assessment is provided in student-led tutorials where staff give feedback on student progress and advice for future development and presentation of work, and through a bibliography task designed to demonstrate the contextualisation of the student’s portfolio within the repertoire, aesthetic and other relevant perspectives relating to the chosen compositional focus.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Portfolionormally 4 items and accompanying full commentary (analytical and/or critical, as appropriate)100.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

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


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