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Music: Composition pathway

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Music: Composition pathway

MMus

The initial application deadline for this course is 1 June 2024. Further detail here.

Key information

Duration: 1 year full time or 2 years part time

Institution code: R72

Campus: Egham

UK fees*: £10,600

International/EU fees**: £20,500

The course

Music: Composition pathway (MMus)

Offering a balance of broad-based study and specialist training, this MMus Music master’s course is designed to meet your needs as you develop your skills in composition, whether you wish to develop as a professional composer, or as a thorough grounding in advanced creative and collaborative skills that can be transferred across a wide range of careers.

You will come away well-versed and well-practiced in your chosen discipline of composition, verbally and technically fluent, fully conversant with a broad range of issues of concern in your field, and able to present your ideas across a wide range of media.

This degree is also available via the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) mode of study where students with ongoing professional careers take modules over a four or five-year period.

Please note that the ‘Composition’ pathway title is for study purposes only and won’t be reflected in your degree title upon graduating. You will graduate with MMus Music.

From time to time, we make changes to our courses to improve the student and learning experience. If we make a significant change to your chosen course, we’ll let you know as soon as possible.

From time to time, we make changes to our courses to improve the student and learning experience. If we make a significant change to your chosen course, we’ll let you know as soon as possible.

Core Modules

  • This module will introduce you to diverse approaches to researching music, including how to use music-specific digital research tools, both ethnographic and practice-based methods for researching compositional practice, as well as the bibliographical underpinning for musicological, performance or applied musical projects.

  • You will produce a portfolio of 13 to 15 minutes of original music that achieves and articulates a desired emotional, dramatic, aesthetic, or functional intent. You can pursue the compositional approach of your own choice, whether for the concert stage using traditional musical forces of various sizes, in the studio for media and commercial purposes, or by combining acoustic and digital resources.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of the composition of film scores for several genres of film. You will learn to compose traditional notated music for orchestral scores, and how to use modern music software and programming techniques. You will examine contemporary issues surrounding production, orchestration, compositional techniques, and the business of music, including production libraries, television, advertisements, computer games and other visual media. You will also look at the working practices of commercial and film composers and current industry standards.

  • In this module you will examine a broad range of contemporary vocal and instrumental concert repertoire from a variety of perspectives. You will look at compositional theory and thought across a wide body of modern musical styles, examining different ways of thinking about composition for ensemble and the working practice of a stylistically diverse range of composers. You will examine how to incorporate some of these elements in to your own creative work.

  • This module will describe the key principles of academic integrity, focusing on university assignments. Plagiarism, collusion and commissioning will be described as activities that undermine academic integrity, and the possible consequences of engaging in such activities will be described. Activities, with feedback, will provide you with opportunities to reflect and develop your understanding of academic integrity principles.

     

Optional Modules

There are a number of optional course modules available during your degree studies. The following is a selection of optional course modules that are likely to be available. Please note that although the College will keep changes to a minimum, new modules may be offered or existing modules may be withdrawn, for example, in response to a change in staff. Applicants will be informed if any significant changes need to be made.

  • In this module you will look at the musicological and theoretical literature on music and screen media.  You will examine current debates within film and television, opera, musical installations, and music videos, drawing out issues and methodologies applicable to the study of screen music in its various historical and media contexts. It may be assessed by essay, composition or performance (if on silent film music).

  • In this module you will examine conceptual and practical issues in game music. You will explore not only sound and music in digital interactive media, but also use this medium as a lens to explore media and musical practices more generally. For students pursuing a professional career in game audio, you will have an opportunity to develop your critical understanding of the medium to inform your creative practice. For students investigating the cultures and materials of games, you will be equipped with tools to better understand music and musicking related to games.

  • In this module you will learn how individuals and organizations become ‘market ready’ in the Digital Music Industries (DMI). Most creators and workers in the DMI start off as freelancers or in small and medium size organizations. They must therefore possess competencies and digital skills that can be adapted to an evolving market. Through weekly lectures and workshops, students will develop the knowledge and skills needed to be flexible, entrepreneurial, and successful in the competitive and fast changing digital music industries.

  • In this module you will develop specific performance skills on an instrument or in a chosen musical style learnt, possibly from scratch. You will work closely with a consultant performer, who will act as your teacher, documenting and critically reflecting upon the music learning processes. You will consider the ethnographic dimensions of learning to perform, including analysis of teaching methods, techniques, cultural expectations and learning strategies.

  • In this module you will explore contemporary and practical approaches to Music Management. You will be equipped with the knowledge and skills to succeed in future arts administration and music production careers. Key topics will include the music industries as creative, copyright, and data industries, and the four key areas of the music industries: recording, live, publishing, and artist management.

  • In this module you will look at the methods and approaches used in performance studies research, including the philosophies of performance and historical performance practices. You will examine the practice of Western music between the seventeenth and early nineteenth centuries, considering the multi-faceted components of the art of performance and the philosophical, historical and stylistic issues that underpin it.

  • In this module you will develop your interpretative, analytical and technical abilities as a performer at an advanced level. You will design an intellectually coherent and aesthetically satisfying concert programme based on specialist repertory, and manage the occasion of performance at a professional level, including the writing of scholarly programme notes.

  • On this module you will develop the employability skills necessary in order to confidently teach an instrument or voice in a one-to-one or group setting.  As well as developing and enhancing your critical reflection on your own performance practice, you will be equipped with a knowledge of appropriate teaching styles and methods and a contextualised understanding of these as appropriate to different teaching situations (ages, aspirations, individual or group lessons).

  • In this module you will learn the role of the collaborative pianist and vocal coach. Through lectures and rehearsals you will become familiar with pronunciation for singers in a number of languages, as well as techniques and how these two combine in both classical and musical theatre repertoire. You will also experience first hand the role of rehearsal pianist, following a conductor and the understanding of scores (piano reductions and initial understanding of reading orchestral scores) in this regard.

  • In this module you will be introduced to methodologies in source studies, editing, archival study, historiography, iconography, social history, and critical epistemologies. You will examine contemporary debates within these specified sub-areas of the discipline, considering issues and methodologies applicable to the study of music in its various historical contexts.

  • In this module you will explore a range of issues, perspectives and techniques relevant to the practice of ethnomusicology. You will examine how fieldwork is undertaken within different geographic contexts, considering a variety of theoretical outlooks and debates, such as ethnographic representation.

Elective modules in composition are assessed by composition portfolio, electives in screen and game music may be assessed by composition or essay, while other electives are assessed variously by essay (6,000 words, or two shorter essays), performance, video podcast, or cultural sector and industry facing tasks. Up to 30 credits may be substituted for course units taken in other departments at Royal Holloway (such as languages or history).

In addition to the Special Study, Pathway and other electives, all students take the core ‘Skills in Advanced Musical Studies’ in term one, which consists of diverse skills-based sessions by staff and visiting professionals designed to equip you with a variety of higher-level research skills in music. This module is assessed by annotated underlying research for a research project, and either an essay or a podcast.

For the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) mode of study, the core module is taken in the first year and the Special Study in the last.

2:2

UK Honours degree or equivalent.

All applicants must provide an academic essay of 2,500 words on any musical topic.

In addition to the academic essay ALL applicants must provide a portfolio of compositions for the  Composition pathway.

International & EU requirements

English language requirements

  • IELTS 6.5 overall. Writing 6.5. No other subscore lower than 5.5.
  • Pearson Test of English: 61 overall. Writing 61. No other subscore lower than 54.
  • Trinity College London Integrated Skills in English (ISE): ISE III.
  • Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) grade C.
  • TOEFL ib: 88 overall, with Reading 18 Listening 17 Speaking 20 Writing 25.
  • Duolingo: 120 overall, 125 in Literacy, 125 in Production and no sub-score below 100.

Our recent graduates have gone into careers as music teachers, composers and musicians. Others have gone into PhD studies at Royal Holloway or other leading universities, and then into academic careers, with some working in the highest-rated research departments in the country.

Composers at Royal Holloway have their music played and recorded regularly by resident and visiting professional musicians, the Royal Holloway Sinfonietta and, of course, by fellow students. Our award-winning Ensemble-in-Residence CHROMA gives you unrivalled workshop and performance opportunities.

Many Royal Holloway graduates are now making careers as professional composers, including:

  • Tansy Davies
  • Richard Baker
  • KT Tunstall
  • Joby Talbot
  • Michael Zev Gordon
  • Deirdre Gribbin
  • Jonathan Cole
  • Paul Newland

Home (UK) students tuition fee per year*: £10,600

EU and international students tuition fee per year**: £20,500

Other essential costs***: There are no single associated costs greater than £50 per item on this course

How do I pay for it? Find out more about funding options, including loans, grants, scholarships and bursaries.

* and ** These tuition fees apply to students enrolled on a full-time basis. Students studying on the standard part-time course structure over two years are charged 50% of the full-time applicable fee for each study year.

All postgraduate fees are subject to inflationary increases. Please be aware that tuition fees can rise during your degree (if longer than one year’s duration). This means that the overall cost of studying the course part-time will be slightly higher than studying it full-time in one year.

** This figure is the fee for EU and international students starting a degree in the academic year 2024/25. Find out more 

*** These estimated costs relate to studying this particular degree at Royal Holloway during the 2024/25 academic year, and are included as a guide. Costs, such as accommodation, food, books and other learning materials and printing, have not been included.

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