BA Music and Drama

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Composition for Film or Game Audio

Course unit fact file
Unit code MUSC30540
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Music
Available as a free choice unit? No


This course provides opportunities for students to apply their composition skills to film music or game audio situations. Students may choose one out of these two options.

Please note that in the event of Covid-related restrictions, content and assessment may need to be adapted.

FILM MUSIC OPTION (semester 1):

This course unit is designed to provide students with choices in compositional outcomes by responding to films and their soundtracks with original scores in a wide variety of styles.

GAME AUDIO OPTION (semester 2):

This option builds upon MUSC20061 Fixed Media and Interactive Composition (20cr) by exploring further the creative potential of sound in the context of game, graphics and physics engines. It introduces students to free or licensed software (e.g. Unreal Engine 4, Blender) and current methods to publish outcomes for alternative media such as mobile devices, tablets, web browsers, and stand alone applications. The module provides practice-led methodologies to understand the tools and the thinking behind them and with a focus on sound in the creative industries (especially games) but also in other artistic environments.  One of its aims is to increase students' employability either working as freelance composers, indiegame developers and aggregators or as part of an interactive media company.


Unit title Unit code Requirement type Description
Interactive Media Composition Environments MUSC20072 Pre-Requisite Compulsory
Fixed and Electroacoustic Composition MUSC20061 Pre-Requisite Compulsory
Instrumental Composition MUSC20321 Pre-Requisite Compulsory
Vocal Composition MUSC20362 Pre-Requisite Compulsory

Pre-requisites Film Music Option: MUSC20321+ MUSC20362

Pre-requisites Game Audio Option: MUSC20061 + MUSC20072


  • Provide opportunities for students to creatively and individually respond with original contemporary music to other media in a variety of ways
  • Undertake research into aesthetics and practical issues arising from contemporary composition within and to the boundaries of current realms of research
  • Increase student employability either as freelance composers or working within media companies

Learning outcomes





Knowledge and understanding

  • Articulate aesthetic and practical issues arising within film composition or game audio.
  • Understand the technologies and tools necessary for working in the creative industry.

Intellectual skills

  • Demonstrate the development of a more advanced, creative and specialised response to a topic in the context of a field of study.
  • Apply composition skills developed through earlier composition courses in the curriculum to practical situations.

Practical skills

  • Demonstrate enhanced skill in using technology, should they choose to use it, when realising specific compositional outcomes
  • Prepare and deliver a presentation on a negotiated aspect of the module as a formative experience toward completing a piece of work

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Demonstrate the development of dialogue through supervisions whilst undertaking a negotiated field of study in order to strengthen their general communicative abilities and to communicate a specific point of view or outcome.
  • Thinking through challenges in a logical way and applying skills to realise creative solutions.

Employability skills

Analytical skills
Game Audio - - Adapt successfully to changing situations & environments in terms of the audio design by thinking of audio in a procedural way, rather than in the context of determined situations only.
Group/team working
Game Audio - Work confidently within a group by having clear understanding of their role within the audio domain and responsibilities in the context of a larger specialised team in 3D graphics, physics and level design in game-like environments.
Project management
Game Audio - In terms of planning and organisation, be able to plan step-by-step audio design activities and carry them through in a logical manner and effectively.
Problem solving
Game Audio - Develop problem solving skills in the design and construction of the language and grammar of the audio side of an immersive media project. Film Music - Find solutions to detailed compositional challenges for creating an original musical score for a film, including micro-timing, visual and musical narrative structure, harmonic and melodic techniques, instrumental and electro-acoustic considerations, and stylistic options.
Game Audio - • Develop commercial awareness to understand the industry realities affecting the organisation and business model associate to the digital game-audio and related interactive entertainment (with emphasis on reaching Social Venture Capital for your proposition). • Manage time effectively by addressing deadlines effectively and prioritising tasks. Film Music: • Demonstrate skills in sound design and editing musical sound for extended scenes.

Assessment methods

Assessment task Weighting within unit
FILM MUSIC: original music integrated into a non-musical, extant soundtrack 100%

GAME AUDIO: Conception, creation and publication
of a sound-centric game project



Feedback methods

Supervisions, in-class discussion, scheduled presentation of work, ongoing verbal feedback to student interaction and seminars.

Written feedback on coursework assessment Summative


Recommended reading


  • Brown, Royal S. Overtones and Undertones (California, 1994)
  • Bryan Key, W  Media Sexploitation (Signet, 1976, pp 98-145)
  • Burt, G  The Art of Film Music (Northeastern Uni Press, 1994)
  • Chion, Michel  Audio-vision: Sound on Screen (trans. Gorbman)
  • Gorbman, Claudia, Unheard Melodies: Narrative Film Music (Bloomington, 1987)
  • Murch, W  In the Blink of an Eye: A Perspective on Film Editing (Silman-James Press, 2001)
  • Pasquariello, N Sound of Movies: Interviews with Creators of Feature Sound Tracks (San Francisco, 1996)

Numerous films from lecture playlists, as well as these particular Hitchcock films:

The Lady Vanishes, The Thirty-Nine Steps, Young and Innocent, Strangers on a Train, Vertigo, Rear Window, The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956), Psycho.



UNREAL ENGINE 4 (UE4) Resources:

  • UE4 installer can be freely downloaded from Epic games website, including the source code for recompiling it.
  • Tutorials, Assets, Forums, Mods are available directly from the Epic Launcher.


  • Collins, Karen, Game sound: an introduction to the history, theory, and practice of video game music and sound design. Published Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press 2008
  • Truby, John. The Anatomy of Story: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller. Publisher Faber & Faber, 2010
  • Artful Design - Technology in Search of the Sublime, A MusiComic Manifesto by GE WANG; 488 PAGES. Paperback ISBN: 9781503600522 (Lenagan Library)
  • Thompson, Jim; The computer game design course: principles, practices and techniques for the aspiring game designer. Published London : Thames & Hudson 2007
  • Marks, Aaron; The complete guide to game audio: for composers, musicians, sound designers, and game developers. Published Burlington, MA ; Oxford : Focal Press/Elsevier 2

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 22
Practical classes & workshops 3
Independent study hours
Independent study 175

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Kevin Malone Unit coordinator
Ricardo Climent Unit coordinator

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