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Module WXK-3289:
Composition (project)

Module Facts

Run by School of Music and Media

40 Credits or 20 ECTS Credits

Semester 1 & 2

Organiser: Dr Guto Puw

Overall aims and purpose

  1. To consider aesthetic, philosophical and musicological issues of relevance to composition, and to explore the implications of these through the act of composing.
  2. To develop facility in a variety of compositional techniques through the act of composing.
  3. To encourage bold experimentation and creative innovation in composition work.
  4. To offer the opportunity to engage in a sustained period of compositional activity leading to a work (or works) of significant duration.
  5. To contribute to the personal development of student composers through the development of their creativity as individuals.

Course content

The composition project is an opportunity for students to spend a sustained period engaged in compositional activity, working towards the production of a work, or works, of significant scale and duration. Students complete a composition or portfolio of compositions for any combination of instruments, voices, electroacoustic and studio resources, with the guidance of a supervisor. Project composers meet regularly as a group to consider broad issues and to share ideas and approaches. Compositions should demonstrate a thorough understanding of their genre, facility in the relevant technical skills, clarity of creative intent, and contemporary cultural relevance in their aesthetic approach. Compositions should be submitted in the form of a notated score, recording or a combination. If the work involves music for moving image, a DVD of music synchronised to picture must also be submitted.

The piece or portfolio should normally be about 22 minutes in duration, by agreement with the supervisor, and depending on the tempo, the complexity of the music and the nature of the instrumental/vocal/electroacoustic resources used. Portfolios may contain a mix of different genres. 
This module is not appropriate for students wishing to compose in historical or pastiche styles.

Assessment Criteria


The composition displays some limited creative imagination, with restricted control of musical materials, and minimal understanding of the capabilities of resources (instrumental and vocal). There is scant evidence of a generally intellectual approach.


The composition displays a good level of creative imagination, with good control and elaboration of musical materials, based on technical competence in use of resources (instrumental and vocal). There is also evidence of intellectual acumen.


The composition displays a high level of creative imagination, with emergent individuality of compositional voice, skilful control and elaboration of musical materials, and technical mastery of resources (instrumental and vocal). There is also evidence of high level of ability at conceptual thought, penetration of issues, originality of approach and/or insight.

Learning outcomes

  1. proficiency in a range of relevant compositional techniques.

  2. a good level of confidence in working with the tools and materials of composition

  3. the ability to use balanced self-criticism as part of the creative process

  4. the ability to compose music which offers an engaging and rewarding listening experience

  5. the ability to compose music which takes full account of contemporary creative practice

  6. a good understanding of the practical considerations of performance, including the preperation of performing materials

  7. substantial originality of thought and a good degree of creative independence

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
LOGBOOK OR PORTFOLIO Composition project

Submission of a composition or portfolio of compositions. The submission may be a single work, a multi-movement work, or a collection of pieces. Works in the portfolio need not be related. They may be in a variety of genres: notated music for instruments and/or voices, acousmatic music in fixed medium, notated music for instruments/voices with live processing, music for film (with accompanying images), recorded popular music. In the case of NOTATED WORKS, a MIDI or Sibelius file must be submitted along with the score. A recording of live instruments/voices or a simulation using samples may also be submitted, but is not required. In the case of MULTI-CHANNEL SOUND WORKS, a stereo reduction must be submitted along with the multi-channel version. In the case of WORKS INVOLVING LIVE PROCESSING, a live recording or simulation must be submitted along with the score and any software required. In the case of MUSIC FOR FILM a movie with synchronised music track (live or simulated) must be submitted. IN ALL CASES the submission must be accompanied by a written document of no more than 2000 words aiding appreciation of the work(s), and outlining any aesthetic, philosophical or musicological issues that it/they address. This document must also contain any technical information necessary for performance of the work.

REPORT Written Report

A written report describing the creative aims and technical approach of the project and setting it in its wider creative context (for example, by citing other works that have provided inspiration or served as models). The report should also set out a plan of work for the year showing completion to date, and may also give examples of work completed or in progress.


A presentation designed to give an outline account of the project's creative aims and technical approach, setting it in an appropriate cultural and historical context. The presentation should be illustrated with appropriate examples of work completed to date, and give some idea of the nature of the final project as completed.


Teaching and Learning Strategy


Individual tutorials to a total duration of 8 hours throughout the year. Each student will be assigned a supervisor and must arrange consultations as appropriate. Guidance on length may be found in the Undergraduate Course Handbook which can be found on My BAngor, and the supervisor will also offer advice.


6 seminars of 1 hour each, across the year.

Private study 386

Transferable skills

  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others

Subject specific skills

  • Musicianship skills – recognition, classification, contextualisation, reconstruction, exploration
  • Creative skills – conception, elaboration, adaptation, presentation, collaboration, preservation
  • Intellectual skills specific to Music – contextual knowledge, cultural awareness, critical understanding, repertoire knowledge, curiosity, analytical demonstration
  • Technological skills – digital capture, digital expression, digital innovation
  • Intellectual skills shared with other disciplines – research and exploration, reasoning and logic, understanding, critical judgement, assimilation and application
  • Skills of communication and interaction – oral and written communication, public presentation, team-working and collaboration, awareness of professional protocols, sensitivity, ICT skills, etc.
  • Skills of personal management – self-motivation, self-critical awareness, independence, entrepreneurship and employment skills, time management and reliability, organisation, etc.
  • Enhanced powers of imagination and creativity (4.17)


Talis Reading list

Reading list

Scores and recordings are available as necessary from BU Library.

Pre- and Co-requisite Modules

Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses: