Skip to main content

Unit information: Composition in 2021/22

Unit name Composition
Unit code MUSI10059
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Professor. Farwell
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Music
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

This unit will cover the fundamentals of independent composition. It will cover a range of techniques, including some or all of acoustic, studio and orchestration. The unit will work in parallel with other first year classes, helping students to develop their listening skills and an appreciation and awareness of many instrumental and vocal combinations, as well as a range of musical styles and approaches. Students will create short compositions and arrangements, developing their musical ideas and objectives, their notational skills, as appropriate to the musical context, and their own individual compositional voice. The studio component (when present) introduces students to composing using computer software, teaches them to engineer their own sounds and learn how to create independent musical compositions from them. The orchestration component (when present) introduces students to the capabilities and notation of the different families of orchestral instruments and to the basics of blending and balancing them in full orchestral contexts.


This unit aims to provide a thorough grounding in compositional and orchestration techniques through detailed study of structural models in Western music, with a particular emphasis on examples from the nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Practical guidance is given in the production and notation of scores.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Successful students will demonstrate their ability to:

  1. Compose short pieces on a variety of structural bases
  2. Produce musically intelligible, neat and practicable scores
  3. Demonstrate an ability to handle and manipulate a variety of sound sources
  4. In some years this will include electronic manipulation of sound. In some years it will include writing for symphony orchestra
  5. Communicate effectively to performers about their compositions in a workshop situation

Teaching Information

Weekly seminars. Workshops.

Assessment Information

A portfolio of compositions/instrumentation exercises, totalling 12 minutes (approx.) and repertoire tests (ILOs 1-3; 100%) Workshop contributions (ILO 4; formative)


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. MUSI10059).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.