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Composition and Sonic Art (MA/ PGDip)

Course Description

This course is due to be revalidated, please continue to check the website for changes to the programme.

The MA in Composition and Sonic Art offers a comprehensive introduction to practice-based research methodologies providing an excellent basis for doctoral research and ongoing independent practice.

The course has been designed to allow sound artists and musicians/composers to develop their interests in a vibrant, interdisciplinary context. It encourages students to develop experimental approaches to their work and examines the conceptual and creative role of the sound artist and musician/composer in 21st century art practice.

Key elements include a focus of the role of site, context and location, together with an examination of the relationship between work and audience.

It is one of four taught postgraduate courses for artists, composers and interdisciplinary practitioners currently offered by the School of Arts at Oxford Brookes University. The other three courses are:
- MA in Contemporary Arts
- MA in Contemporary Arts and Music
- MA in Social Sculpture.

See the website http://www.brookes.ac.uk/courses/postgraduate/composition-and-sonic-art/

Why choose this course?

- The School of Arts offers a unified hub for the arts in the Richard Hamilton Building, with state-of-the-art technical facilities and 24-hour studio access.

- A special feature of all four interdisciplinary arts MA courses is the MA Forum, in which students and staff meet to discuss creative practice in a supportive and stimulating environment.

- Innovative cross-disciplinary and socially-engaged creative practices, including internationally renowned programmes in sonic art and social sculpture.

- A stimulating environment where creative practitioners and writers about the arts and culture work closely together to form specialist research units and interdisciplinary research clusters in areas including the Sonic Art. Popular Music, Opera and Social Sculpture.

- Research and teaching programmes linked to some of Oxford’s leading cultural organisations such as Modern Art Oxford, Oxford Contemporary Music, and events such as the annual OXDOX International Documentary Film Festival.

- You have the opportunity to spend a semester at one of the following institutions: the Bauhaus University in Weimar; Piet Zwart Institute, Rotterdam; or the Vilnius Art Academy.

- The School of Arts has a thriving culture of practice-based PhD research students, linked to our specialist research units. Seventy per cent of these research students began on our MA courses.

- Opportunities for international study, with students recently visiting the United States, Europe and Australia.

Specialist facilities

The MA Composition and Sonic Art is situated in the Richard Hamilton Building, which includes a large lecture theatre, a smaller lecture room, studios and installation rooms, seven practice rooms including a band room (with PA and drum kit), an ensemble practice room and a drum room, two music studios, a music technology room and a research room for postgraduate students. Students also have access to pianos and practice areas elsewhere in the University.

Access to the Richard Hamilton Building is available 24 hours a day for all music students.

The department also has access to the drama studio where performances and installations can take place. This provides a live performance venue with versatile sound, lighting and staging possibilities, including surround sound, projections and raised staging and seating.

Music Technology and IT
The Music Technology room houses 12 PC workstations running Adobe Audition 3.0; Sibelius 6; Cubase Essential 4; Pure Data; Hyperprism; GRM Tools and Composers Desktop Project, alongside general internet, email and office software. Other computer networked facilities are also available.

The music studios are based in the basement of the Richard Hamilton Building. The facilities consist of two large single user electroacoustic studios, two sound proof booths; access to Adobe Audition; Pro-Tools; Cubase Studio and Logic; workstations running Pure Data; Max/MSP; Hyperprism; GRM Tools; CDP; a range of sound-recording equipment; along with the possibility of using the two studios together as separated recording and control rooms. One studio has a pair of Genelec 1037C Shielded Active Monitoring Speakers and the other studio has a pair of Genelec S30C Active Monitoring Speakers.

Sonic Art Research Unit Room
This is a space for postgraduate students and research staff engaged in Composition; Sonic Art; or Sound Art practices to use. There are two Apple Macs running Logic alongside a range of powered speakers, mixing desks; electronic components for the creation of bespoke devices; microphones for field and instrumental recording; and a range of digital recording devices.

Field trips

You are given the opportunity to spend a semester at the Bauhaus University in Weimar.

Attendance pattern

Full-time students meet twice weekly in the first semester - mondays and Tuesdays, and in the second semester, on Tuesdays only.

In the summer Full-time students work to develop their Major Project, which concludes in early October the following year.

Part-time students meet once a week every Tuesday in their first year, and in their seocnd year, once a week on Mondays in Semester 1 and Tuesdays in Semster 2. In Year 2 they work through the summe ron their Major Project which concludes in October of their second year.

Students doing full-time need to be on-site or nearby, at least half the week, and put in about 40 hours per week.

Part-time students are expected to be in at least one day a week, and work in their own time for at least 20 hours per week, on or off site, as appropriate.


Combining the academic rigour of a traditional programme with practical and vocational components, sonic arts and composition students at Oxford Brookes are well placed for a variety of careers in the creative sector. Many master's students who have developed their practice at postgraduate level will continue as practising sound artists and new music composers, whilst others take up careers related to their knowledge, expertise or interests. This includes within teaching further or higher education; the media and new technologies, and cultural administration.

Free language courses for students - the Open Module

Free language courses are available to full-time undergraduate and postgraduate students on many of our courses, and can be taken as a credit on some courses.

Please note that the free language courses are not available if you are:
- studying at a Brookes partner college
- studying on any of our teacher education courses or postgraduate education courses.

Visit the Composition and Sonic Art (MA/ PGDip) page on the Oxford Brookes University website for more details!

Student Profiles

Entry Requirements

A good honours degree, ie an upper second or first, in any subject. An internationally recognised qualification equivalent to a good British honours degree.

Course Fees

Home / EU: Full-time £5,310, Part-time £2,710; International: Full-time £12,870

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