Module Catalogue 2022/23

MUS3012 : Major Specialist Study: Composition

  • Offered for Year: 2022/23
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Rob Mackay
  • Lecturer: Mr Phil Begg, Dr Bennett Hogg, Dr William Edmondes, Ms Nancy Kerr Elliott, Dr Mariam Rezaei
  • Owning School: Arts & Cultures
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 20.0
Pre Requisites
Code Title
MUS2041Composing for Voices and Instruments
MUS2059Contemporary Music Practice 2
MUS2050Composition and Arrangement in Folk and Modal Musics
MUS2086Composing with Technologies
Pre Requisite Comment

60% or higher in at least one of the following modules: MUS2041, MUS2050, MUS2059, MUS2086.

Co Requisites
Co Requisite Comment



1. To engage in a substantial programme of original composition that sums up the student's undergraduate learning in composition, exploring a range of creative problems.
2. To cultivate a professional attitude to creative practice and its presentation.
3. To embark on relevant activities associated with the chosen type of composition, in order to maximise preparedness for further work in the discipline.

Outline Of Syllabus

You will be expected to apply the expertise you have acquired through your previous compositional studies, to develop critical and technical skills relating to your chosen area of composition and awareness of its wider relationship to contemporary music and culture. Under the guidance of your supervisor and in response to your artistic development you may be required to work in particular ways (e.g. to compose for designated forces to suit workshop opportunities, to work collaboratively, to use creative writing or other divergent strategies). Alongside developing your creative imagination you will be expected to cultivate a professional attitude to your practice and its presentation.

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

At the end of the module students should be able to:

1. Understand issues associated with structuring composition, including organisation of time, idiomatic practice, harmonic process, timbral and textural process, stylistic control etc

2. Be familiar with contemporary repertoire

3. Understand appropriate modes of expression (eg notation, idiomatic characteristics, performance instructions, studio technique)

4. Understand issues of practicality, interaction and collaboration associated with the performance and production of new work

5. Take a broad and intelligent approach to acoustic and electroacoustic musics

6. Understand their own practice in a contemporary context informed by the past

Intended Skill Outcomes

At the end of the module students should be able to:

1. structure new music from an informed perspective, engaging in a creative dialogue with music of the past - incuding the very recent past - the present and plausible scenarios for the future

2. incorporate previous learning into original material, demonstrating significant development from previous stages of study and over the final year

3. compose for a range of forces, be it acoustic, electroacoustic or a combination of both

4. demonstrate fluency in the use of appropriate modes of expression (eg notation, idiomatic approaches, studio technique)

5. produce a performance and/or recording as appropriate

6. work independently on an extended creative project

7. Discuss their own practice, both verbally and in writing, in the context of contemporary culture informed by the past

8. Discuss existing music, both verbally and in writing, demonstrating engagement with and understanding of relevant musical materials

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical24:008:00Optional project but open to all students
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching82:0016:00PiP. But can be synchronous online if needed
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops52:0010:00PiP. But can be synchronous online if needed
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery60:303:00PiP tutorials. But can be synchronous online if needed.
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1363:00363:00N/A
Jointly Taught With
Code Title
MUS3016Minor Specialist Study: Composition
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures outline creative briefs, introduce and discuss repertoire, encourage critical discussion and promotes sharing of repertoire.

Small-group teaching brings together students supervised by the same supervisor for peer discussion and more detailed scrutiny of relevant repertoire, as well as sharing works-in-progress with their immediate peers, and receiving feedback from peers and supervisor in a group context.

Tutorials provide student-specific, in-depth scrutiny of work-in-progress and technical and aesthetic advice and instruction as required by the individual student.

Private study constitutes the bulk of the work where students experiment, collaborate where appropriate, and execute works to be included in their final portfolio.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Portfolio2A70Portfolio of compositions. Can be completed remotely if needed
Essay2A10Critical and contextual commentary on compositions submitted. Can be completed remotely if needed.
Prof skill assessmnt1A20Oral presentation of work in progress. Length of 10 mins. Digital submission. Presentations discussed at panels at UG conference
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Design/Creative proj1MThe composition(s) discussed in the Oral Presentation submitted for supervisor formative feedback
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Portfolio demonstrates skills outcomes 1-6
Supporting documentation demonstrates knowledge outcomes 1-6 and skills outcomes 7 & 8


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2022/23 academic year. In accordance with University Terms and Conditions, the University makes all reasonable efforts to deliver the modules as described. Modules may be amended on an annual basis to take account of changing staff expertise, developments in the discipline, the requirements of external bodies and partners, and student feedback. Module information for the 2023/24 entry will be published here in early-April 2023. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.