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Immerse yourself in contemporary music. This course is taught by internationally-renowned composers who are all active in their respective fields.

Course description

  • Delivered by a team of internationally-renowned composers who are all active practitioners in their respective fields
  • Opportunities to work with a range of artistic collaborators such as performers, ensembles and film-makers
  • Explore and understand a wide range of contemporary compositional styles and traditions
  • Engage intellectually and critically with existing knowledge in the field of contemporary compositional practice
  • Develop an understanding of research in composition which will prepare you for doctoral work or employment in the creative arts

This exciting course offers an ideal opportunity for students to immerse themselves in the creation and presentation of contemporary music. The course offers two distinct pathways. In one pathway, students may specialise in instrumental composition, in which they will explore a broad range of compositional approaches and techniques, with a strong emphasis on inquiry-led practice. This will include collaboration with professional performers and peers, and/or the scope for interacting across disciplines, as well as making mixed-media work. Alternatively, students may specialise in electronic/electroacoustic composition, in which they explore creative applications of analogue/digital technologies, studio-based composition techniques, real-time audio processing techniques, aesthetics of sonic art, historical developments in electronic music, temporal/spatial-audio, post-digital aesthetics, amongst others.

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Core Modules

(150 credits total)

Research Techniques is a general introduction to research methods in music, with particular reference to: (1) bibliographical methods, library resources, on-line and hard-copy abstracts and indices; (2) manuscript sources, discographies, specialist sound/music libraries and other resources; (3) developing a research area; exploring references, following leads and evaluating sources; (4) music processing; (5) presentation skills; (6) current methods in survey/questionnaire/interview techniques; (7) careers skills; (8) professional development; (9) giving and receiving feedback; (10) reflective skills.

Taking advantage of the department’s distinctive interdisciplinary research environment, this module introduces key concepts and debates within composition, ethnomusicology, musicology and performance through discursive critical engagement with key texts in a reading group context. Discussing core topics in the cultural, social and aesthetic study of music in a friendly but rigorous setting, you will learn about the history and morphology of music studies, and gain skills in the critical analysis of academic literature.

This module aims to facilitate student-led collaborative projects. Collaborations may be with a performer or ensemble from within or outside the Department of Music, or a practitioner from another artistic discipline, including visual arts, writing, choreography, film-making, etc., who may be from within or outside the University. You will be guided in the planning and execution of your project and will report and reflect on the process throughout the module. Work generated through the collaboration will be presented at the end of the module in a performance, installation, or other format as appropriate.

Creative Portfolio invites the candidate to collate a diverse body of work, including a number of projects of varying sizes. The nature of the projects themselves will determine their length. Projects may include musical compositions, works of sonic art, audio-visual pieces, sound installations, web based media/events, live-electronic performances, interactive media.

This module requires you to produce a short dissertation. Students propose a topic for their dissertation; this should normally relate to one or more of the various topics covered during previous modules and must be approved by the module teaching team. Following this, an appropriate supervisor will be allocated and you will be offered a series of regular tutorials that are supported by research seminars. During the course of the module, you will assess, evaluate, analyse, criticise and/or synthesise existing knowledge and produce a coherent and sustained argument that offers advanced insights into your chosen topic.

Optional Modules

(Students will take 30 credits from this group)


  • Seminars
  • Individual tutorials
  • Workshops
  • Graduate study days


Assessment takes a variety of forms such as compositions and essays.

How to Apply:

You can apply for postgraduate study using our Postgraduate Online Application Form. It is a quick and easy process.

When you apply you will need to provide a portfolio of your composition work/sound art.

The portfolio can take many forms: recordings, scores, sound files, videos, live performance practice, among others. It should include one or two examples of your sonic arts and/or composition work, being somewhere between 5 and 20 minutes in duration.

Visit the MA Composition page on the University of Sheffield website for more details!





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Recipient: University of Sheffield

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