MusM Composition (Electroacoustic Music and Interactive Media) / Course details

Year of entry: 2021

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Course description

Our MusM Composition (Electroacoustic Music and Interactive Media) master's course provides an in-depth knowledge of cutting-edge compositional techniques, methodologies and associated aesthetics in creative work that intersects with technology and other artistic or scientific forms.

It serves as excellent preparation for a career as a composer working with technology and audio-media, and provides all the training necessary for embarking on and envisioning novel strands for a PhD in electroacoustic composition, including those informed by other scientific and arts form.

All teaching, research and compositional work is carried out in the NOVARS Research Centre for Electroacoustic Composition, Performance and Sound Art, with its state-of-the-art electroacoustic studios.

Opportunities for the performance of new works are offered using the 55-loudspeaker sound diffusion system of MANTIS (Manchester Theatre in Sound) and through events such as the Locativeaudio Festival and Sines and Squares Festival for Analogue Electronics and Modular Synthesis.

Acousmatic, mixed, live electronic and multimedia works are all possible, with composers able to incorporate the spatialisation of sound and interactive new game-audio media into the presentation of their work.

You can also choose to take a placement unit where you will spend a minimum of 20 days over a period of up to 12 weeks with an arts and cultural organisation, business or service provider to gain valuable workplace experience.

Aims

We aim to:

  • build on undergraduate studies, developing skills in electroacoustic composition to master's level;
  • increase knowledge and a systematic understanding of electroacoustic music;
  • foster the particular creative talents of each individual student;
  • provide all the training necessary for embarking on a PhD in electroacoustic composition;
  • prepare you for a career as a composer and in the wider music industry where critical judgement and developed powers of communication are needed.

Special features

Events management

Postgraduate students at the NOVARS Research Centre play an active role in the planning, organisation and execution of performance events such as the Sines & Squares Festival and MANTIS Festival, and other projects such as LocativeAudio.

Relevant training, including rigging and de-rigging the MANTIS system, health and safety, sound diffusion workshops, and organisation of Calls for Works when needed, is an important part of the course.

Composition opportunities

There are a number of internal composition opportunities offered to MusM students, allowing you to compose for our world-leading ensembles in residence and association.

Teaching and learning

Most course units are delivered via regular seminars and/or tutorials, supported where appropriate by practical workshops.

The portfolio is supported by one-to-one supervision and is submitted at the beginning of September. Part-time students may submit in either September or December following their second year of study.

Members of the academic staff are also available for individual consultation during designated office hours.

Alongside your taught units, you will have access to a range of non-assessed seminars, workshops and training sessions offered by the Graduate School.

All postgraduate students are expected to undertake their own programme of self-directed learning and skills acquisition. This may also involve wider reading, language work, computer training and attendance at research seminars in other parts of the University.

Coursework and assessment

There are no formal examinations. Taught course units - all of which must be satisfactorily completed - are assessed by compositions or other coursework tasks, normally submitted at the end of each semester (January and May).

Assessments may involve the premiere of new compositions, oral presentations of repertoire, musical analysis or essay topics in the field.

The portfolio is created over the entire duration of study and is submitted at the end of the academic year (after the summer vacation).

Topics and focus are to be discussed with project supervisors and can include compositions involving fixed or interactive media, locative and game-audio technologies.

All work is double-marked internally and moderated by the External Examiner.

Course unit details

You will undertake units totalling 180 credits. Core and optional units combine to make 120 credits, with the remaining 60 credits allocated to a portfolio. Full-time students take two course units per semester; part-time students take two course units but across the two semesters.

In addition to the final portfolio, all electroacoustic music and interactive media composition students take the compulsory course unit Composition Project and the further compulsory taught course unit, Fixed Media and Interactive Music.

Optional course units normally include Aesthetics and Analysis of Organised Sound, Interactive Tools and Engines, Contemporary Music Studies, Advanced Orchestration, and Historical or Contemporary Performance.

There are also choices outside the MusM Composition (subject to course director approval), such as Computer Vision, Mobile Systems, Mobile Communications, Ethno/Musicology in Action: Fieldwork and Ethnography, and Work Placement (Institute of Cultural Practices).

Course unit list

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
Composition Project MUSC40102 30 Mandatory
Portfolio of Compositions MUSC40120 60 Mandatory
Fixed Media and Interactive Music MUSC40211 30 Mandatory
Contemporary Music Studies MUSC40061 30 Optional
Aesthetics and Analysis of Organised Sound MUSC40221 30 Optional
Interactive Tools and Engines MUSC40242 30 Optional
Ethno/Musicology in Action: Fieldwork and Ethnography MUSC60032 30 Optional
Advanced Orchestration MUSC60042 30 Optional

What our students say

The University facilities in general are excellent, and the facilities for electroacoustic composers are outstanding. NOVARS is one of only a handful of facilities of its kind in the UK, and it has gained an international reputation for producing award-winning composers.

MusM graduate

My skills as an electroacoustic composer have improved greatly due to the guidance of my tutors, as well as the influence of other master's and PhD students and all of the workshops, concerts and seminars on offer.

I felt welcome straight away and was soon part of the family here, mainly due to the MANTIS festivals that we all take part in.

It is a chance for everyone to get together and perform their work, and it gives you a real sense of achievement as your hard work has paid off.

MusM graduate

A unique quality of the University is its proximity to the city of Manchester, rich in culture, arts and entertainment, as well as educational and employment advantages. It is a very concentrated but diverse and cosmopolitan city.

MusM graduate

Facilities

You will have access to a wide range of study facilities and cultural assets at Manchester.

The NOVARS studio complex supports a broad range of activities in the fields of electroacoustic composition and new media.

The studios incorporate the newest generation of Apple computers, Genelec, PMC and ATC monitoring (up to 37-channel studios) and state-of-the art licensed software (including Pro Tools HD, Max MSP, GRM Tools, Waves, Ircam's Audiosculpt and Reaper and, for Interactive Media work, Oculus Rift, Unreal Engine 4, Unity Pro and open-source Blender3D).

Location and performance work is also supported by a new 64-channel diffusion system.

The Martin Harris Centre offers students an exceptional home equipped with state-of-the-art facilities.

Alongside teaching rooms and practice rooms, the building houses the Cosmo Rodewald Concert Hall (capacity 350, with a stage large enough to accommodate a full symphony orchestra), the John Thaw Studio Theatre, the Lenagan Library and a postgraduate suite consisting of a common room and computer room.

The Lenagan Library is a small reference library housed in the Martin Harris Centre that includes major scores, reference tools and a large collection of recordings, together with listening rooms and a spacious work area.

The Henry Watson Library is located in Manchester's Central Library and is renowned for its Handel and Vivaldi manuscripts, and the library of the nearby Royal Northern College of Music.

Find out more about our facilities .

Disability support

Practical support and advice for current students and applicants is available from the Disability Advisory and Support Service. Email: dass@manchester.ac.uk