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

Year of entry: 2023

Course unit details:
Contemporary Music Studies

Course unit fact file
Unit code MUSC40061
Credit rating 30
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Music
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This course unit will engage with late twentieth and twenty-first century compositional developments through the study of a number of scores written by significant composers working over the past fifty years or so. The scores will be studied both in terms of technique and aesthetic as appropriate, referencing the latest available literature.  





Yes, although non-Music students must have an adequate practical and theoretical knowledge of instrumental/vocal composition and need to obtain the prior approval of the Course Unit Director.


  • To study selected 20th/21st–century scores in terms of structure, technique, imagination and aesthetic.
  • To place the selected scores in a wider musical, artistic, social and philosophical context.
  • To encourage a critical awareness of issues affecting contemporary composition.
  • To enable students to develop the ability to present complex (often non-verbal) material both in written and oral form.

Knowledge and understanding

  • Recognise and be able to engage with music from a variety of contemporary aesthetics.
  • Analyse scores and performances of contemporary music.


Intellectual skills

  • Critically evaluate various schools of contemporary compositional thought.
  • Question their own assumptions and formulate a sense of their own identity in relation to current schools of thought.
  • Plan, implement, evaluate and reflect critically on written work in progress.
  • Research and explore repertoire in order to develop an awareness of issues relating to composition in the 21st century.

Practical skills

  • Employ and/or analyse various contemporary composition techniques.
  • Evaluate the implications and ramifications of various contemporary compositional techniques and aesthetics.
  • Present clear and well-argued written material.
  • Present clear and well-argued material in a public presentation.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  •  Challenge their own personal values
  •  Employ high level critical thinking
  •  Present a complex project using words, graphs, charts and other non-verbal means.  
  • Demonstrate independent learning ability suitable for continuing study and professional development.

Employability skills

Analytical skills
Analytical Skills (surveying repertoire, analysing and critically engaging with materials)
Initiative (inventing a creative concept and putting it into motion) Creative problem-solving (fulfilling set task with set resources)
Leadership skills (being responsible for overseeing a creative product from inception through to final performance)
Project management
Working to tight deadlines (preparing work for submission or public presentation
Oral communication
Communication skills (communicating complex material and ideas both through the use of a variety of written means and as a public presentation)
Editing (in preparing a written project for submission)

Assessment methods

Presentation 0%
Analytical project  100%


Feedback methods

Feedback method

Formative or Summative

 Peer led and lecturer mediated feedback in class. Consultation hour and/or tutorial time will be available for the feedback on the presentation.


Consultation Hour and/or tutorial time will be available for the feedback on the Project.


Written feedback on the project




Recommended reading

Background Recommended Reading:

  • Griffiths, Paul: Modern Music and After – Oxford 2010
  • Whittall, Arnold: Serialism – Cambridge 2008


Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 22
Tutorials 3
Independent study hours
Independent study 275

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Joshua Brown Unit coordinator

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