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2024/25 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

MUS5002M Portfolio of Original Composition

60 creditsClass Size: 10

Module manager: Dr Mic Spencer

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

Year running 2024/25

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

Composers develop their own compositional voice and competencies through creating a portfolio of pieces, with accompanying critical and contextual commentary. The context of the syllabus is critical and experimental music, primarily avant-garde music post-1960. Semester 1 is bi-weekly round-table student-led seminars that vary between: discussion of set texts on creative process, and student presentations on topics they choose. Semester 2 focuses on the students’ work through peer-discussion in small groups, facilitated by the supervisor.


On successful completion of this module, students should be able to should be able to consider and assess advanced compositional skills and techniques with an original and innovative approach while understanding their own aesthetic position. The final aim is to produce a substantial portfolio of work with accompanying critical commentary that addresses, for example, creative decision-making, issues of formal structure, instrumentation/media usage, aesthetic position etc.

In semester 1 students attend bi-weekly group seminars that include a mix of discussion of their ongoing composition work, case study compositions and texts around creative practice (not necessarily music), and relevant theoretical context (e.g. around collaboration, or interdisciplinary composition). In semester 2, the bi-weekly sessions focus entirely on the student’s compositions and progress through tutor and peer-peer discussion.

Learning outcomes
On successful completion of the module students will have demonstrated the following learning outcomes relevant to the subject:

1. Compose to an advanced standard in their chosen area(s).

2. Manage long-range musical thought in original patterns and form-building.

3. Demonstrate creativity and innovation through interacting with original musical material

4. Apply advanced knowledge of relevant repertoire in relation to their compositional output

Skills Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of the module students will have demonstrated the following skills learning outcomes:

5. Communicate clearly and concisely in text and presentation about their musical ideas

6. Reflect on their creative output to position it within the wider aesthetic and historical contexts

7. Present scores and audio to a professional standard


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 hours576.00
Total Contact hours24.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)600.00

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, , one-to-one sessions between students on the module (set up by the lecturer, but without lecturer present) which include discussion of aesthetic and other relevant perspectives relating to the chosen compositional focus as appropriate.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
PortfolioPortfolio of original compositions with accompanying critical commentary100.00
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: 19/02/2024


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