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Music and Sound Design for Film, Television, and Interactive Media

Music and Sound Design for Film, Television, and Interactive Media

BA
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If we make you an offer for this course for 2022 entry, we guarantee to confirm your place even if one of your final A-level results is one grade below those you have received in that offer. Equivalencies and exclusions apply. Full details here.

Key information

Duration: 3 years full time

UCAS code: W350

Institution code: R72

Campus: Egham

UK fees: £9,250

International/EU fees: £21,900

The course

Music and Sound Design for Film, Television, and Interactive Media (BA)

BA Music and Sound Design for Film, Television, and Interactive Media at Royal Holloway is a flexible, all-round music degree with a special focus on music and sound for film, TV, games and other media.

Studying across both our music and media arts departments, you’ll deepen your core skills in both areas, whilst gaining expertise in music and sound design. You’ll collaborate and work with the next generation of filmmakers and media creatives, designing soundtracks for new projects just as you would in professional practice. Whilst being taught by our expert scholars, composers and sound designers, you’ll have access to our excellent facilities including our professional-grade composition studios.

You will join a music department that is among the very best in the country, ranked third in the UK for research quality (REF 2014) and the only music department in the country to hold a prestigious Regius Professorship. Our well connected department means you have the opportunity to make valuable music industry contacts. Our staff are connected with musical networks such Wigmore Hall, the BBC Proms, Royal Opera House.

  1. Learn to compose and create soundtracks for a variety of media and contexts
  2. Graduate with a portfolio of work to get you started on your career
  3. Gain musical and academic skills to become a creative, versatile and employable practitioner
  4. Study music and sound to understand how it works in film, television, games, and beyond
  5. Learn how to collaborate and work as a composer on media projects
From time to time, we make changes to our courses to improve the student and learning experience, and this is particularly the case as we continue to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic. If we make a significant change to your chosen course, we’ll let you know as soon as we can.

Core Modules

Year 1

Please note: MU1111: Fundamentals of Music Theory will only be a core module in your first year if you join the course via Intensive Theory entry (see Entry requirements below for further details)

  • This course aims: 1. to develop basic music-analytical literacy, 2. to introduce basic concepts concerning counterpoint, harmony, melody and form that underpin the analysis of music, 3. to put these concepts into practice in the analysis of pieces from a variety of repertories. The course addresses the contrapuntal, melodic, harmonic and formal elements of tonal music. Weekly lectures, in which students are introduced to analytical concepts and then practise deploying them, through listening, score study and the completion of practical exercises, are supplemented by private study based on Moodle and recommended readings, to consolidate concepts learnt in the lectures and provide further opportunities to practise new skills.

  • This course gives students the opportunity to practise the art of musical composition and develop skills in independents creative work. The precise topics taught may change depending on the research interests of the staff responsible for teaching the course, but typically include:

    • Writing for solo instrument or voice with accompaniment

    • Writing for small chamber ensemble

    • Introduction to media and film music

    • Studio techniques

  • The aim of this course is to develop students' awareness of music theory through practical exercises and musical analysis. Through practical exercises that focus on musical literacy as well as aural awareness, students develop the ability to identify and analyse the musical parameters of metre, rhythm, pitch, harmony, counterpoint and form. In-class exercises may focus on listening, whereas exercises for self-study or small-group work may include written exercises. Tasks set for private study between classes provide a basis for students to continue their own practical training throughout their musical careers.

Year 2
  • This module will: develop your knowledge of a range of fundamental techniques of musical composition with particular focus on structure, harmonic control and the manipulation of rhythmic and melodic material provide an opportunity to practise the art of musical composition and to develop skills in creative work. Developing on areas covered in first-year Composition modules, this module will provide a framework in which you will be introduced to a number of techniques from diverse schools of composition in order to encourage you to explore and develop your own creativity. Key works from the past few decades will be studied and used as models or springboards for your own musical invention. You will create a portfolio of technical exercises and a short composition written in response to a given brief.

  • This module explores ways that electronic media and technology have brought about change in and opened up new possibilities for musical production, consumption, sounds, practices, experience, contexts and meanings. It considers the role of electronic media and technology in preserving and documenting musical culture as well as in changing it, and it examines how developments in electronic media and technology have affected and continue to affect dynamics of power in musical production and consumption across the world. The module explores the effects of electronic media and technology on popular, traditional and classical musics and introduces concepts and techniques for the study of the interaction of music, media and technology. It also encourages a deeper and more critical understanding of music, music making and musical culture through study in both familiar and unfamiliar cultures and contexts. The module will introduce students to a range of ways in which electronic media and technology have affected and transformed musical cultures across the world through their fundamental ability to: record and store musical sound; create new sounds, new ways of combining sounds and new ways of synching sound with other media; turn musical sound into a commodity; separate musical sound from live performance context; amplify music; mass produce music; mass disseminate music; and greatly alter dynamics of power in the production and consumption of music. The module will cover a range of key phenomena and issues in contemporary musical culture that are inextricably linked to electronic media and technology. Exact topics will vary, but may include: popular and mass-mediated music; recorded music; electronic music; the impact of technology on compositional practices; music industries; piracy; film music, video and multimedia; music and the Internet; globalisation; debates on the value of mass mediated music; and questions of power and representation.

  • This module will explore the practices of the 20th Century Modernist Avant Garde within a digital environment. Whilst there may be some pre-digital analogue elements delivered within the module, the curriculum will focus predominantly on the digital creative outcomes produced whilst working within Logic Pro X. The module will examine the role of sound within abstract film, radio broadcast and gallery installation. Having completed this part of the module, you will have gained both a practical and an entry level theoretical understanding of the creative use of sound within predominantly non-visual media. The module will also practically explore the use of designed sound within an industry focussed, post-production context, including the relationship between the picture editor and the sound designer. The module will examine the technical demands of the bespoke DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) in recording, track laying and mixing in stereo and binaural stereo.

     

  • Composing with Technology 1
Year 3
  • Composing with Technology 2
  • This module will examine, through the employment of practical methodologies, the work of significant avant-garde sound/noise practitioners throughout the 20th century analogue and digital eras. It will examine the relationship between significant artworks and the technology of the era. For example, in the acoustic era of music capture, before the electrification of the signal in 1925 that allowed electro-magnetic microphones and soundboard input mixing, the capture of sound was facilitated through a static condensing horn. In order to create a mix balance, the musicians would physically move closer or further away from the horn. We call this kinetic mixing. One of the first exercises will be to recreate this process and then develop the concept digitally, within an installation paradigm, employing a multichannel sound source and a range of Bluetooth speakers, allowing the different sounds to be physically moved within a defined space – 21st Century kinetic mixing.

     

  • Special Study Composing with Music Technology

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.

Year 1

You must choose 90 credits, including up to 30 credits from Media Arts. Modules offered typically include:

Music

  • The aim of this course is to develop students' awareness of music theory through practical exercises and musical analysis. Through practical exercises that focus on musical literacy as well as aural awareness, students develop the ability to identify and analyse the musical parameters of metre, rhythm, pitch, harmony, counterpoint and form. In-class exercises may focus on listening, whereas exercises for self-study or small-group work may include written exercises. Tasks set for private study between classes provide a basis for students to continue their own practical training throughout their musical careers.

  • This course introduces students to some fundamental techniques of music composition. The precise topics taught may change depending on the research interests of the staff responsible for teaching the course, but typically include:

    • Soundworlds and scale formations

    • The vertical dimension: chords and simultaneities

    • The horizontal dimension: melody and voice leading

    • Developments in rhythm

    • Developments in harmonic vocabulary and tonalities

    • Form in contemporary composition

    • Acoustic timbre and texture

  • This course introduces a wide range of repertories within the history of music. It stimulates students to relate features of musical compositions and performances to their wider historical contexts and gives students a fundamental knowledge of specific musical cultures. It provides students with opportunities to develop skills in research and information retrieval and in critical reading of primary and secondary literature, to receive formative feedback on those skills, and to build a foundation for higher-level study. The course will offer students a conceptual map of musical styles, composers and practices by introducing them to a wide chronological range of repertories, from early music to music of the twentieth century. It will emphasise questions of change, interaction and transmission through the study of specific forms and repertories in their historical context. Lectures will be designed around major repertorial moments (e.g. Stravinsky in 1910) or problems (e.g. the post-Beethovenian symphony), to bring together questions of form, style, performing practice and historical context.

  • This course introduces concepts underlying the historical and critical study of music. It enables students to begin thinking critically about the priorities that underlie historical texts from different intellectual traditions and stimulates them to relate features of musical compositions and performances to wider historical contexts. It provides students with opportunities to develop skills in research and information retrieval and in critical reading of primary and secondary literature, to receive formative feedback on those skills, and to build a foundation for higher-level study. This course introduces students to the different kinds of historical question that we can ask about music, and interrogates some of the terminology and categories frequently used in the secondary literature (e.g. canonisation, reception, tradition, nationalism, exoticism, the work concept). Case-studies are used to illuminate specific topics and problems in the historiography of a wide variety of musics.

  • This course introduces students to the socio-cultural contexts, functions, philosophies, techniques, and organising principles of a variety of musics of the world; musics from at least three continents will be studied. These musical traditions will be approached from both theoretical and practical perspectives, also giving a variety of opportunities for hands-on experience. Course content will vary from year to year according to staff interests, availability of musicians to provide workshops, and to ensure freshness of approach. A typical curriculum might cover the following regions and theoretical themes:

    • World Music - Introduction (culture, contact & concepts)
    • South America: Andes to Amazon (exchange)
    • Africa: Jaliya and Mbira (the musician)
    • Indonesia: Sundanese Gamelan (temporal organisation)
    • North India: The Classical Tradition (improvisation)
    • Papua New Guinea: The Kaluli (music and ecology)
    • Iran: The Persian Classical Tradition (music & religion).
  • This course introduces students to a range of key debates and issues in contemporary musicology and to a range of key issues concerning music in the contemporary world. It encourages students to think about music’s relation to social and cultural contexts and introduces them to unfamiliar musical styles and repertoires as well as broaden understanding of those closer to home. It hones students’ skills in reading a wide variety of critical and theoretical writing about music. This course will survey some of the key contemporary issues in music that have arisen from the changes of the modern world, as well as contemporary debates in musicology. The twentieth century in particular has seen a transformation of musical cultures across the world, and this course looks at a range of the issues and controversies that have emerged as a result. The study of music has broadened to include many more social, cultural and political. This course will introduce students to truly contemporary ways of studying music, combining approaches and issues traditionally associated with musicology, ethnomusicology and popular music studies, divisions which are becoming increasingly blurred. Lecture topics may include:

    • Ideas of ‘authenticity’ in music

    • Value judgements about music

    • Protection and preservation of music

    • Heritage and revivals

    • Music and tourism

    • New forms of fusion and hybridity

    • The idea of ‘world music’.

    • Music and identity

    • Music and gender

    • Music and race

    • Music and nationalism

Media Arts

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of film, television and digital media history. You will look at how and where digital media intersect and converge with these moving image forms, examining media from the late 19th century through to the present. You will consider how even 'old' technologies were 'new' at some point, and analyse the relationship between technological, social and aesthetic developments in new media forms.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of the key debates in critical theory. You will look at a range of different methods in studying film, television and digital media, including artistic achievement and critical interpretation, close textual analysis, ideological analysis, national cinema, and psychoanalysis. You will examine the relationship between the intentions of individual film and programme-makers and wider processes. You will consider films and television programmes in close detail, analysing the relationship between how something is achieved and what it means.

  • This module provides a history of the innovations in digital storytelling that have developed over the last several decades, and teaches you the technical skills to produce your own innovative digital stories. From hypertext novels to contemporary video games, we look at how storytelling has changed since the invention of the internet. Then, we learn the skills needed to produce several forms of digital narratives including text-based games, interactive video, location-based experiences and social media storytelling. Students develop a portfolio of both creative and written work.

  • Introduction to Narrative
  • In this module you will develop an understanding of a variety of narrative strategies and structures in audio-visual media, in particular, film and television. You will look at narrative form, structure and cultural context, and examine the principles of narrative screenwriting. You will analyse a range of primary and secondary audio-visual and written sources, and create your own short original screenplay, applying relevant formal and presentation conventions.

Year 2

You can choose 45 credits worth of Music optional modules, typically including:

  • Issues in Sound, Music and the Moving Image
  • Music and Video Games
  • Silent Film Performance
  • The ‘Classical’ Canon and ‘Popular' Culture since 1945
  • Popular Music and Musicians in Post-War Britain and North America
  • Creative Project in Composition, Performance and Technology
  • Telling Stories with Music (Collaborative Module)
  • Studying Music with Digital Tools

As part of your 45 optional module credits, you can include up to 30 credits of suitable ‘open’ modules offered to students from other departments. For example:

  • The encounter between music and theatre goes back to the origins of both music and theatre. The origins of music are intertwined with ritual and play, just as the origins of theatre are accompanied by music and dance, as in the Choruses of classical tragedy. Over the last hundred years, musical theatre has become one of the most popular and successful performing art forms. This is a practical, creative module in which you will learn about musical theatre by creating a short musical theatre performance in groups, for which you will be responsible for the story, the dialogue, the direction, performance, music, lyrics and movement direction. You will engage with existing musical theatre and music theatre practices and be encouraged to craft and experiment, inhabit and challenge existing practices, to work collaboratively, finding music, words and movement together in generating a new piece of musical theatre work.

Year 3

You can choose 45 credits worth of Music optional modules, typically including:

  • Practical and Creative Orchestration
  • The Music Film
  • Issues in Sound, Music and the Moving Image
  • Music and Video Games
  • Silent Film Performance
  • The ‘Classical’ Canon and ‘Popular' Culture since 1945
  • Popular Music and Musicians in Post-War Britain and North America
  • This module lets students write a detailed essay of 10,000–11,000 words (including footnotes or endnotes and excluding appendices and bibliography) on a topic of a critical, aesthetic, technical, historical, cultural, analytical or theoretical nature relating to music; or on a topic of an ethnomusicological nature; or to make a transcription of one or more historical sources relating to music and to write a detailed accompanying commentary of 5000-5500 words (including footnotes or endnotes and excluding appendices and bibliography). The content of the module is the process, in all its detail, of the preparation and production of an extended piece of academic work.

    You will undertake an extended piece of academic work at the level appropriate to the final year of an undergraduate degree programme, carried out independently under the guidance of a supervisor, and laying the foundations for possible further work in the field at postgraduate level.

  • This module develops students' knowledge of advanced compositional techniques with particular focus on structure, harmonic control and the manipulation of rhythmic and melodic material. It provides opportunities to practise the art of musical composition and to develop skills in independent creative work and increases students' awareness, knowledge and understanding of issues related to contemporary composition practice in a variety of contexts. Developing on areas covered in MU2213 Composition Portfolio, the module will provide a framework for you to further explore the possibilities in your own compositional method. You will complete a structured portfolio that will properly demonstrate your increased awareness, knowledge and understanding of contemporary art music and related compositional issues. You will be assisted in acquiring a deeper confidence in experimenting with a range of compositional methods and techniques whilst being encouraged to explore the possibilities of your own compositional voice in the hope that this trend will continue into your professional life. During workshops you will be given the opportunity to have your work rehearsed and recorded by professional musicians. It is hoped that through these workshops you will discover more about the possibilities of instrumentation and the many practical compositional issues facing composers today. You should also seek to develop your own opportunities for the performance of your music in order to develop your confidence and professional activity.

  • Creative Project in Composition, Performance and Technology
  • Digital Tools for Music

As part of your 45 optional module credits you can include up to 30 credits of suitable ‘open’ modules offered to students from other departments.

You will take modules from both the Music and Media Arts departments on this degree, but you’ll spend most of your time in Music, where you’ll have a personal tutor and become part of the Music department family. Teaching in the Music department is through a combination of lectures, seminars, tutorials, or group instrumental/vocal lessons - performance modules that include individual instrumental or vocal lessons are not available on this course.

In the first year, you will learn the foundations of composing and understanding music. You’ll gain a broad overview of music to draw from in your creative work. This year doesn’t count towards your final degree result, so you can relax and explore all sorts of new topics.

In the second year, you will develop your skills for composing and designing sound for picture even more, while still having room in your timetable for other subjects from the Music and Media Arts departments.

In the final year, amongst other topics, you will undertake a large collaborative project. You will collaborate as a composer/sound designer on a project with students from the Media Arts department, working with the production team. This is a simulation of real-world professional practice, building your network and giving you experience and preparation for your future careers.

There are a wide variety of assessments and forms of delivery on this degree. Composition modules are assessed by coursework portfolios, but you’ll also perform, write essays, give presentations, and so on, depending on the options you take. Some courses are lecture-based, while others primarily use tutorials, one-to-one sessions, or seminars. On this degree, you’ll spend your time composing, playing music, writing, reading, watching/studying examples and experimenting with new approaches to music and sound on screen.

You’ll join a vibrant School of Performing and Digital Arts. We have a huge number of concerts and events, giving you opportunities to perform, compose and listen to music of any style, both as part of the degree and beyond.

A Levels: AAB-ABB

Required subjects:

  • A-level Music at grade A, or Grade 7 Music Theory at pass
  • Applicants without A-level grade A in Music or pass in Grade 7 Music Theory may be eligible for the Intensive Theory entry. This requires Music GCSE grade A/7 or equivalent, plus performance at Grade 7 level. In term 1 you will be required to take Fundamentals of Music Theory, an intensive music literacy course.
  • If you are studying two A-level subjects, you may still be eligible for entry to the Music BMus (single honours), if you are able to provide evidence of your ongoing commitment to music. For this pathway, the standard offer is A, B (with an A in music). We require candidates to be performing to Grade 8 ABRSM standard, to have studied music theory to Grade 5 ABRSM level, and have a substantial record of musical performance or other musical achievements, which they should detail in their Personal Statement.
  • Five GCSEs graded A*-C or 9-4 including English and Maths.

Where an applicant is taking the EPQ alongside A-levels, the EPQ will be taken into consideration and result in lower A-level grades being required. For students who are from backgrounds or personal circumstances that mean they are generally less likely to go to university you may be eligible for an alternative lower offer. Follow the link to learn more about our contextual offers.

English language requirements

All teaching at Royal Holloway is in English. You will therefore need to have good enough written and spoken English to cope with your studies right from the start.

The scores we require
  • IELTS: 6.5 overall. Writing 7.0. No other subscore lower than 5.5.
  • Pearson Test of English: 61 overall. Writing 69. No other subscore lower than 51.
  • Trinity College London Integrated Skills in English (ISE): ISE III.
  • TOEFL iBT: 88 overall, with Reading 18 Listening 17 Speaking 20 Writing 26.

Country-specific requirements

For more information about country-specific entry requirements for your country please visit here.

Undergraduate Pathways

For international students who do not meet the direct entry requirements, the International Study Centre offers the following pathway programmes:

International Foundation Year - for progression to the first year of an undergraduate degree.

International Year One - for progression to the second year of an undergraduate degree.

Choosing to study Music at Royal Holloway will not only equip you with specific skills in performance, composition and production, but also a wide range of skills valued by employers such as communication, teamwork, time management, commercial awareness and critical thinking.  You will also have the opportunity to gain valuable industry contacts and knowledge of music networks.

Our recent graduates have very successfully entered a wide range of careers including roles as musicians, composers and performing arts teachers, but also technicians, publishers, managers, lawyers and policy makers. Many graduates also go on to advanced study in a variety of fields.

Home (UK) students tuition fee per year*: £9,250

EU and International students tuition fee per year**: £21,900

Other essential costs***: £50

How do I pay for it? Find out more about funding options, including loansscholarships and bursaries. UK students who have already taken out a tuition fee loan for undergraduate study should check their eligibility for additional funding directly with the relevant awards body.

*The tuition fee for UK undergraduates is controlled by Government regulations. For students starting a degree in the academic year 2021/22, the fee will be £9,250 for that year. The fee for UK undergraduates starting in 2022/23 has not yet been confirmed.

**The UK Government has confirmed that EU nationals are no longer eligible to pay the same fees as UK students, nor be eligible for funding from the Student Loans Company. This means you will be classified as an international student. At Royal Holloway, we wish to support those students affected by this change in status through this transition. For eligible EU students starting their course with us in September 2022, we will award a fee reduction scholarship equivalent to 60% of the difference between the UK and international fee for your course. This will apply for the duration of your course. Find out more

Fees for international students may increase year-on-year in line with the rate of inflation. The policy at Royal Holloway is that any increases in fees will not exceed 5% for continuing students. For further information see fees and funding and our terms and conditions.

***These estimated costs relate to studying this particular degree at Royal Holloway during the 2021/22 academic year, and are included as a guide. Costs, such as accommodation, food, books and other learning materials and printing etc., have not been included.

1st in the UK for research intensity

Source: Complete University Guide, 2020

6th in the UK for performing arts

Source: QS World University Rankings by Subject, 2019

98% say staff have made the subject interesting

Source: National Student Survey, 2019

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