- Award: MMus, PG Dip, PG Cert
- School: School of Music and Performing Arts
- Fees and Finance Information
- Course length: PG Cert full-time – one trimester; PG Cert part-time – two trimesters (one academic year); PG Dip full-time – two trimesters; PG Dip part-time – four trimesters; MMus full-time – three trimesters (one calendar year); MMus part-time – six trimesters
- Campus: Newton Park
- Course Handbook (PDF)
Develop your music in a creative arts community, hear it played, and understand it critically.
- Develop your unique compositional voice through working with experienced composers and creative practitioners
- Hear your music played by professional musicians and fellow students
- Professionalise your work and understand current contexts for new music
“Bath Spa University have given me the knowledge, support, and inspiration that I needed to take my creative work to levels I never thought possible. The experience has been fun, rewarding, challenging, moving, and memorable.”
– Eldred Stevenson, Composition graduate
Why study Composition?
Studying Composition at Bath Spa University you’ll develop your skills as a composer and deepen your understanding of current new music contexts, both artistically and professionally.
Through weekly seminars and tutorials, supported by workshops with musicians, you’ll work on your creative and technical skills, commenting critically on your own and others’ work. We set this against a wider consideration of current music and developments in contemporary musical thought by looking at new work.
You’ll graduate as a skilled composer with a deep understanding of contemporary music context. You’ll develop creative and technical skills, throughout the course, alongside the ability to think critically about composition.
You’ll have opportunities to collaborate with other creative artists, such as choreographers, filmmakers, and theatre practitioners through joint projects and seminar discussion. These developments in your creative practice are supported by practical consideration of your professional and academic skills.
We aim to provide a foundation for your work as a composer. We’ll help you improve the way you promote your work and plan projects, as well as understand the academic disciplines to which it relates.
We’ll meet with you on a one-to-one basis through weekly tutorials to help develop your work. This support focuses on technical and aesthetic development, and we’ll work with you on specific questions arising from your current project and its wider context.
We’ll discuss broader issues with you and the other MMus composers through weekly seminar sessions. These can include case studies of particular composers or approaches, technical work in relation to specific compositional problems, or exploration of professional contexts.
For specific composition projects we organise rehearsals and workshops with visiting professional musicians and fellow students. This enables you to hear your work played live and to make changes based on discussion and feedback.
The majority of the assessment is based on your creative work, including compositions for specified visiting musicians and projects where you decide what to write. You’ll also produce work that assesses your professional and academic skills, including making a website, preparing a funding application, and research into an area of practice that links to your work.
Work placements, industry links and internships
We have good links with the UK contemporary music scene, and have regular visits from performers, composers and other industry speakers during the year. Recent visiting performers who have played student work include Plus Minus Ensemble, Kreutzer Quartet, Ensemble Bash, Christopher Redgate, Alexandra Wood, New London Chamber Ensemble and Darragh Morgan.
Composers and sound artists who have visited us to talk about their work include Joanna Bailie, Gavin Bryars, Kim Cascone, Jem Finer, Graham Fitkin, Kathy Hinde, Tom Johnson, Liza Lim, Steve Martland, Miller Puckette, Phill Niblock, Michael Pisaro, Scanner, Matthew Shlomowitz, Dennis Smalley, Jo Thomas, Chris Watson, Judith Weir, and Trevor Wishart.
We also run a regular series of presentations by visiting composers that brings together MMus and PhD students with staff and colleagues from other disciplines. Industry and academic speakers also present their work at the commercially-orientated Music Think Tank (recent speakers include Paul Brindley, CEO Music Ally; Paul Gray, Musicians Union; Vick Bain, BASCA; Chris Carey, EMI; Will Page, chief economist PRS for Music; John Minch CEO Boosey and Hawkes/Imagem).
Each module has a weekly seminar which is either specific to the MMus Composition or, for core skills, shared with the other MMus courses. You’ll also have a weekly tutorial during teaching weeks. Throughout the year we bring in visitors to talk about their work, and a professional ensemble join us to play one of your compositions.
Application forms are available online and should be completed and returned to us either electronically or through the post. If you have any queries please contact the admissions department:
Telephone: (01225) 875624.
International students should visit our international pages for more information about our entry requirements, fees and scholarships, and student support.
Please contact course leader Professor James Saunders:
Telephone: (01225) 875422
We offer places on the basis of our assessment of your quality, potential and commitment, and your ability to benefit from the course. Normally, but not invariably, you will have a first degree.
Applications are invited from candidates with a range of academic disciplines and from a variety of national backgrounds.
You should submit a portfolio with your application, comprising no more than three pieces of representative work. The form of this portfolio will depend on the music you make: we are happy to receive CDs, DVDs, scores, documentation of performances or installations, or online material as appropriate. If you need guidance on this, please contact the Course Leader.
You’ll develop a broad range of intellectual, practical and transferable skills. We’ll help you develop a portfolio career built around your creative practice, drawing in other related areas of work such as:
- performing; and
- work in other areas of the creative industries.
On graduation from the programme, we aim for you to develop core problem-solving, analytical and critical skills to support you in the changeable and unpredictable work environment.
For more information on former students, please have a look at their websites:
What students say...
Bath Spa University not only offered the course that I wanted to do, but it is also conveniently located and has excellent facilities for composition. I particularly liked the fact that the emphasis of the course is on composition, and not on writing. You are given the flexibility within the course to study outside of the core choices and dip into new areas. I was able to choose more traditional and acoustic options whilst also exploring new areas of music. The course is practical too and I was able to learn skills like Sibelius and Logic Pro. My experience from the course has improved my skills, improved my composition in terms of both quality and diversity, given me ideas and inspiration, and provided the ‘credibility badge’ of a Master’s qualification.
My MA in composition from Bath Spa helped me to broaden my knowledge, skill set and appreciation for the art of composition. Working with live musicians and other students in various disciplines helped me to gain confidence in working with others. The tutors are informative and very passionate and that rubs off on you as a student. My four years at Bath Spa were fantastic!
Bath Spa University is an ideal location to study composition. In my experience, I was given the opportunity to customize and broaden my approach to composition whilst working with the expert guidance of the teaching team. I was able to broaden my skills and the diversity in my work through acoustic composition and interdisciplinary projects. I also engaged with the flexibility of the course to acquire new knowledge in areas I had previously not experienced, such as programming in MAX/MSP software. Alongside the predominantly practical approach to the course, I gained clear tuition on research methodologies and approaches to writing. The course has very strong connections with Bath Spa University’s Centre for Musical Research, this allowed me to experience new research on composition, its technical development as well as new theoretical understandings. The Masters has enhanced my professional practice and my CV through its qualification value, the development of my skills and my approach to composition. For me, the Masters also lead to a new composition project as a PhD student at Bath Spa University.