Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2012-2013 (archived)

Module MUSI40690: Composition Portfolio

Department: Music

MUSI40690: Composition Portfolio

Type Tied Level 4 Credits 90 Availability Available in 2012/13 Module Cap None.


  • None.


  • Compositional Techniques.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To provide an opportunity for independent compositional research, both as a major component of the chosen field at MA level and both as possible preparation for further research at doctoral level.
  • To facilitate the acquisition of advanced skills and technique in composition.
  • To enable students to develop a critical understanding of, and reflective approach to, the field of contemporary music, above all as the basis for the critical evaluation of their own compositional research.


  • Under the guidance of the course tutor the student will submit a portfolio consisting of a group of several musical compositions lasting a total duration of at circa 30 minutes, including at least one substantial work. The portfolio may include acoustic, as well as electroacoustic works. Alternatively, students may submit a purely electroacoustic portfolio of 15 minutes. The submitted portfolio should include a commentary of 750-1000 words for each composition.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • 1. Students will apply independently a range of advanced compositional techniques, as well as the perspective and critical understanding required to demonstrate them, where appropriate, in their own compositional research.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • 2. Students will learn how to apply the skills necessary to compose complete works with fluency, authority, innovation and originality.
  • 3. Through further performance opportunities, students will engage directly with the practicalities of creative communication and expression via the medium of music composition.
Key Skills:
  • 4. The module will facilitate the further development of those compositional techniques most appropriate for the articulation of each student's musical ideas.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • The seminars and tutorials will enable the students to express their own creativity and develop their own compositional voice in response to a range of ideas associated with the development of contemporary music (LO 2).
  • Through tutorials, students will acquire skills additional to those already obtained at lower levels of study (i.e., how to articulate musical ideas clearly and authoritatively, preparing scores, parts and electroacoustic materials (where applicable) to a professional standard) (LO 1, 4).
  • Opportunities will arise for works or excerpts thereof to be performed in the context of workshops and/or performances (LO 3).
  • The course will facilitate suitably critical, student-led evaluative and reflective appraisals with respect to the development, articulation and dissemination of research ideas (LO 1, 4).

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Workshops 2 2 per year 6 hours 12
Tutorials 16 1 per fortnight 30 minutes 8
Seminars 5 1 per month 2 hour 10
Preparation and Reading 870

Summative Assessment

Component: EITHER Composition Portfolio Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Portfolio of compositions which may in part include (but not consist entirely of) electroacoustic compositions 30 mins 100% Yes
Component: OR Composition Portfolio Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
A portfolio of compositions that may include or consist entirely of, electro acoustic compositions 30 mins 100% Yes

Formative Assessment:

One-to-one feedback on work submitted by students for tutorial sessions. Feedback given by performers and tutors in response to workshop sessions and public performances.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University