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

Year of entry: 2023

Course unit details:
Advanced Orchestration

Course unit fact file
Unit code MUSC60042
Credit rating 30
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Music
Available as a free choice unit? No


This course unit provides a comprehensive training in the practice of orchestration and its relationship to the other parameters of musical composition. It involves close collaboration with the professional orchestras based in Manchester. Weekly seminars are supplemented by attendance at BBC Philharmonic and/or Hallé Orchestra rehearsals. Course content is tailored to complement the current concert season. 


Student would normally hold a first degree in Music


  • To provide students with an advanced understanding of instruments and the principles underlying late 19th century to contemporary approaches to orchestration.
  • To acquaint students with techniques of orchestration through both theoretical study and analysis, and practical engagement through attendance at BBC Philharmonic and/or Hallé Orchestra rehearsals.
  • To provide an understanding as to how the practice of orchestration relates to the other parameters of musical composition.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course-unit students should have:

  • Studied a variety of 20th/21st-century musical scores.
  • Developed a comprehensive understanding of 20th century to contemporary practice in orchestration and its relationship to the other parameters of musical composition.
  • Developed skills in problem solving, analysis, aesthetics, and judgment.
  • Made a detailed study of the orchestration of a selected composer and put this knowledge into practice in their own orchestration of a piano piece (or work for voice or solo instrument with piano) by the same composer.
  • Developed acute aural awareness in the balancing and combination of instruments, in terms of timbre, dynamics and density.
  • Learned to make appropriate aesthetic judgments.
  • Developed creative decision-making.
  • Developed skills in orchestral layout of scores and preparation of parts, which involves professionalism, proof-reading, organizational skills and attention to detail.

Employability skills

Commercial awareness, professionalism, independence/self-management

Assessment methods

Orchestration Project 100%


Feedback methods



Feedback method

Formative or Summative

Supervision on work in progress in one-to-one tutorials with main supervisor




Recommended reading

Adler, Samuel - The Study of Orchestration (Norton, 1989)

Blatter, Alfred - Instrumentation and Orchestration (Schirmer, 1997)

Piston, Walter - Orchestration (Gollancz, 1955)

Rimsky-Korsakov, Nikolay - Principles of Orchestration (Dover, 1964)

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Project supervision 2
Seminars 22
Independent study hours
Independent study 276

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Camden Reeves Unit coordinator

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