Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2017-2018 (archived)


Department: Music


Type Open Level 2 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2017/18 Module Cap Location Durham


  • A-Level in Music or equivalent.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To equip students with skills in arrangement and orchestration; to introduce students to historical and contemporary techniques of scoring for various instrumental media.


  • Students are provided with an introduction to orchestration techniques and the arrangement of piano pieces. Historical overviews are given through the study of techniques from the Classical period to the first half of the twentieth century. The study of the sections of the orchestra is provided, including strings, woodwind, brass and percussion. The layout of scores and notational conventions is examined, as is the preparation of parts when and if relevant. Practical workshops are given on an ad hoc basis to try out and comment upon orchestration exercises.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Knowledge of the capabilities of individual instruments and their historical and modern function within the orchestra and its various sections.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • The development of instrumental writing and scoring in small ensembles and in an orchestral context.
Key Skills:
  • The development of problem-solving issues of a practical nature in the craft of orchestration, taking into account the possibilities of individual instruments and their use in wider compositional contexts.

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

  • Lectures
  • Seminars, with scope for student formative class presentations.
  • Tutorials
  • Tutorial workshops
  • Independent study of set texts and scores.
  • Weekly teaching sessions last one hour each, including opportunities for practical examples of orchestration to be discussed and heard. Four hours of seminars provide further scope for group study of orchestration techniques.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 18 weekly 1 hour 18
Group Seminars 4 Two in term 1 and two in term 2 1 hour 4
Preparation and Reading 178
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Orchestration Exercise Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
takeaway paper 100%
Component: Orchestration Exercise Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
takeaway paper 100%

Formative Assessment:

Students are given several formative assignments each term directly related to the type of work they prepare for their summative assessment. In term 1assignments revolve around orchestrating piano music for individual sections of the orchestra and sections in combination. In term 2formative assignments generally involve orchestrating piano music for full orchestra based on historical models. Assignments may also include orchestrating piano music and other types of music for specific combinations of instruments, using orchestration students to perform the music themselves in class.

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