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Music (Composition) - MMus

Course Description

Our MMus programme is distinctive in its range of musicological, compositional and performance-based elements.

You will benefit from the diversity of our research strengths, numerous ensemble performance opportunities and expertise in a range of musical fields, including contemporary music for the concert hall, popular music, film music, opera, acoustic, electronic and computer-generated music.


The Composition pathway of the MMus Music programme is designed to develop your individual compositional style and technique through tutorial guidance and opportunities for performances, workshops and recordings.

Various stylistic and generic strands can be pursued individually or in combination, including jazz, music for screen and multimedia, contemporary music for the concert hall and computer sound design.

You will take two compulsory research training modules followed by a combination of composition-related options. Having completed the Postgraduate Diploma stage of the programme, you will progress to Masters stage and submit a composition folio.

The programme provides ideal preparation for future research work at PhD level.


This programme is studied full-time over one academic year and part-time students must study at least two taught technical modules per academic year. The following modules are indicative, reflecting the information available at the time of publication. Please note that not all modules described are compulsory and may be subject to teaching availability and/or student demand.
-Research Training for Practitioners A
-Research Training for Practitioners B
-Composition A
-Composition B
-Composition Folio
-Studio Techniques
-Performance A
-Conducting A
-Orchestral Management 1
-Creative Practice A
-Rock Track Poetics
-African American Music
-Historical Performance Practice
-Compositional Techniques
-Contemporary Issues in the Cultural Industries
-English Music from Elgar to Britten
-Synthesis and Music Programming
-Screen Music Studies
-Performance A
-Performance B
-Conducting B
-Orchestral Management 2
-Digital Music Improvisation 2
-Anglo Celtic Song Traditions
-Jazz Studies 2
-Opera Studies
-Baroque Fugue in Practice
-Applied Music 2
-Musical Theatre


Our work achieves wide international circulation, both through established scholarly channels and, distinctively, through broadcast media (such as BBC TV, Channel 4, BBC Radio 3 and Radio 4, and National Public Radio in the USA).

School staff are much in demand for pre-concert talks at venues such as London’s South Bank and Barbican centres. The research environment at Surrey is sustained by open discussion and debate, and through the regular airing of work-in-progress.

Our work is strengthened by the ready input of our peers and research students at various stages allowing collective engagement to foster innovation.


The MMus (Composition) programme aims to provide students with a high quality education in the creative, re-creative, technical, critical, vocational and academic areas of the subject. It aims to provide students with the necessary skills, techniques and methodologies to work at an advanced level with a critical awareness of the discipline.

The programme aims to reflect current developments within the theory and practice of music composition and, in so doing, to educate students so that they may work confidently and constructively within the musical culture of the present.

The programme aims to offer the necessary preparation for students wishing to undertake doctoral level study in practice-based areas.


The programme provides opportunities for students to develop and demonstrate knowledge and understanding, skills, qualities and other attributes in the following areas:

Knowledge and understanding
-Research methods and resources and how these may be used to interpret knowledge
-Interdisciplinarity within music and arts research
-The broad range of approaches to the present day theory and practice of music to the level necessary for their original application

Intellectual / cognitive skills
-Frame research questions
-Critically assess, respond to and operate in current areas of musical research and practice
-Reflect critically on and contextualise personal practice

Professional practical skills
-Produce stylistically original and technically professional compositions

Key / transferable skills
-Communicate subject knowledge clearly
-Self-direction and autonomy
-Originality in problem solving
-Work in and manage groups
-Efficient time management


We often give our students the opportunity to acquire international experience during their degrees by taking advantage of our exchange agreements with overseas universities.

In addition to the hugely enjoyable and satisfying experience, time spent abroad adds a distinctive element to your CV.

Visit the Music (Composition) - MMus page on the University of Surrey website for more details!

(Student Profile)

Mark Evans

"I studied my BA at Oxford University and chose to come to Surrey for my MMus postgraduate studies in music for several reasons. Firstly, I was highly impressed by the facilities available - the photos of mixing desks in the prospectus piqued my interest in the first place, and after visiting the University I was wowed by the recording studios. Access to the sound recording expertise of the Tonmeister students and lecturers was important to me in my decision making process. Secondly, I was attracted to the structure and content of the course and being able to major in performance.

Commitment pays dividends… It really pays to be versatile, flexible and embrace all the experiences you come across during your course. You’ll find that opportunities arise when you’re least expecting them and some of the contacts you make, or concerts you play, during your course will lead onto relationships that last long beyond the end of your degree. Grow your personal network and make yourself indispensable at University and you’ll have doors opening for you long into the future.

I’ve been fortunate to be able to play a couple of amazing venues in my lifetime. I’ll never forget the chance to sing in St Peter’s Square before the Pope, or the time I participated in a concert at the Royal Albert Hall with a massive symphony orchestra.

In a professional context, one of my highlights was working for the worldwide music brand Naxos as Discographer. I was based in an office with the graphic design team and saw new CDs taking shape on a daily basis. I had access to new music before it was released and it was very satisfying to know that my work actively contributed towards the content and accuracy of the Naxos Music Library
which is used by music lovers, teachers and students across the world.

Another highlight was working for Gramophone Magazine (Haymarket Publishing) in a similar role. It was a treat every month to pick up the new issue and see my name in print and to know I played a part in such a well-respected publication."


TECHNE (AHRC) Studentships - No. of awards TBC

As a member of the TECHNE Doctoral Training Partnership, University of Surrey students are eligible to apply for Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) studentships (stipend and fee waiver). TECHNE is a consortium of seven universities in London and the South East offering a rich and diverse training programme for doctoral students with a focus on interdisciplinarity and developing career potential both in and beyond higher education. Studentships are awarded by TECHNE to the best students put forward by its member universities. The TECHNE training programme is enhanced by input and placement opportunities provided by TECHNE’s 13 partner organisations (including the Barbican, Natural History Museum, Museum of London, BFI and Science Museum) in the cultural sector. Please visit TECHNE to find out more about the aims and opportunities of TECHNE.TECHNE – the Consortium is named in reference to the Greek term for craft – will create a new model for collaborative research skills training for PGR students across seven higher education institutions (Royal Holloway, Brighton University, Kingston University, Roehampton University, Royal College of Art, University of Surrey, University of the Arts London). TECHNE’s vision is to produce scholars who are highly motivated and prepared for academic, public or professional life. Students will benefit from a diversity of training opportunities and be able to draw on supervisory expertise from across the Consortium.It is not possible to apply directly to TECHNE for a studentship; applications for students wishing to be based at Surrey must be made via the University of Surrey. Your TECHNE application will therefore go through a two-stage process, being considered firstly by either the School of Arts or the School of English and Languages, to go forward to TECHNE and, if successful, secondly by a panel of subject specialists from TECHNE members.

Value of Scholarship(s)

Fee and Maintenance


Open to Home and EU candidates; please see guidance on residency requirements outlined in the RCUK’s Conditions of Research Council Training Grants
Studentships will be awarded on the basis of the academic excellence of both the candidate and the research proposal. This is an extremely competitive process and only very high calibre candidates will be successful

Application Procedure

The first step for all Candidates is to approach their prospective academic school and supervisor.
More Information is available at: http://www.surrey.ac.uk/fass/research/studentships/ahrc/index.htm

Further Information



Faculty Studentship Competition - No. of awards TBC

Faculty Studentships are available in the following areasSchool of Arts:Cultural Production, Creative Practices, Dance, Digital Arts, Film, Interdisciplinary Arts, Music, Performance, Sound Recording, Theatre.School of English and Languages:English Literature, Creative Writing, Translation Studies, Modern Languages, Theoretic Linguistics (Morphology) and Applied Linguistics (Intercultural Communication).School of Social Sciences:Criminology and Criminal Justice; Developments in Methodology; Identities, Diversities, and the Life Course; Media, Culture and Communication; Science, Environment and Technologies; European politics; International politics; Social politics and methodology

Value of Scholarship(s)



Under the FASS Studentship Scheme Home / EU and International Students are eligible to apply for 2016 entry. Successful International students will be awarded a fees at the Home / EU Rate and a stipend. Please note that full international fees are not covered: candidates should ensure that they are in a position to cover the outstanding costs.Studentships will be awarded on the basis of the academic excellence of both the candidate and the research proposal. This is an extremely competitive process and only very high calibre candidates will be successful.

Application Procedure

The first step for all Candidates is to approach their prospective academic school and supervisor.More information is available at: http://www.surrey.ac.uk/fass/research/studentships/faculty/index.htm

Further Information



Scholarship Awards for Masters Programmes in the School of Arts - 4 Awards

MA Creative Practices & Direction
(pathways in Actor Training, Choreography & Movement Direction, Directing, Musical Theatre Creation and Practices of Voice & Singing)
MMus Music
(pathways in Composition, Conducting, Creative Practice, Musicology, Performance)As part of the University of Surrey’s commitment to providing excellent learning opportunities for all, we are delighted to offer 4 x £3,000 scholarship awards for study on the MA Creative Practices & Direction and the MMus Music. The awards are open to all applicants seeking to begin full-time study in October 2016.The University of Surrey is a top 10 UK University (4th in the Guardian University Guide 2016; 3rd for Drama & Dance, 4th for Music) and University of the Year in the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2016. It is a global university with a world-class research profile and an enterprising spirit. The Arts at Surrey are dynamic and interconnected, in keeping with today’s cultural industries.Scholarships will be awarded on merit to applicants who demonstrate potential for excellence in their area of practical and/or scholarly research. Once offered a place on the respective programme, to apply for a scholarship award please complete the application form available at the link, below, and submit to [email protected] by 6 May.http://www.surrey.ac.uk/subjects/music-and-sound
http://www.surrey.ac.uk/postgraduate/creative-practices-and-directionMA Creative Practices & Direction offers a unique opportunity to develop your aptitude as a theatre maker and/or trainer of theatre artists, by working within a specialist pathway alongside specialists in cognate pathways. The programme is organized around two main streams of activity. One is aimed at creatives who lead in the generation of work and the conception and direction of productions or aspects of performance. The other is aimed at trainers who work with actors and performers to develop and direct their skills and capabilities, both in terms of their personal requirements and the needs of particular production projects.MMus Music is distinctive in its range of musicological, vocational and practice-based elements. You will take two modules which develop academic, writing and presentational skills, as well as providing an introduction to contemporary developments in musical practice and research. You will then take a combination of pathway-related modules and options and submit a folio of work in your chosen specialism.Further details
For more information, please contact the relevant Programme Leader:
- Grainne Byrne (MA Creative Practices & Direction): [email protected]
- Dr Milton Mermikides (MMus Music): [email protected]

Value of Scholarship(s)



The awards are open to all applicants seeking to begin full-time study in October 2016

Application Procedure

Download and complete the application form: https://www.surrey.ac.uk/sites/default/files/School%20of%20Arts%20Scholarship%20application%20form_final.docx

Further Information



Discounts for Surrey graduates - No. of awards TBC

If you are a self-funded UK, EU or international student who has studied for an undergraduate degree at the University of Surrey campus in Guildford, you could be eligible for a ten per cent discount on our taught postgraduate Masters programme fees. This scheme is for applicable to Postgraduate Taught entry students only and is reviewed annually.Students who graduated in 2013 are eligible, as well as alumni from previous years, on receipt of evidence of the award from Surrey and where we can identify that you actually studied in Guildford. Students from SII-DUFE are eligible for this scheme.Associated Institution students are not eligible. Not available to modular self-pacing students.

Value of Scholarship(s)

10% tuition fee discount


If you are a self-funded UK, EU or international student who has studied for an undergraduate degree at the University of Surrey campus in Guildford

Application Procedure

If you have any enquiries regarding this matter please contact the Student Fees and Funding Office on [email protected]

Further Information


Entry Requirements

Normally a first or 2.1 honours degree, with music being a prominent part. Approved equivalent qualifications or experience will be considered, particularly in the case of overseas students and candidates with less conventional educational backgrounds. Applicants will be required to support their application with a sample of their work.

Last Updated

24 November 2016

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