facebook MA/MRes Composition – Bath Spa University

Key facts

Options: MA/MRes Composition, PG Dip Composition, PG Cert Composition (Please note, this course was previously MMus Composition)
College of Liberal Arts
Campus or location
Newton Park
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; MA full-time – three trimesters (one calendar year); MA part-time – six trimesters.

Entry requirements

Entry requirements for our postgraduate courses vary. We are generally looking for a good honours degree or equivalent.

Some courses also require an interview or the submission of a portfolio of work.

Please contact our admissions team for more information: admissions@bathspa.ac.uk.

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.

During the music composition master's degree 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.

“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.

What you'll learn


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.

The MA and MRes Composition pathways offer a different emphasis. MRes Composition provides an opportunity to conduct an extended, focused composition project, combining both creative work and academic research. MA Composition provides a space to explore a wider range of approaches and to experiment with new ideas. Composers on both pathways are taught together, and work with the wider Music and Performance community.

Course structure

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 MA/MRes 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.

MA and MRes Composition students participate in the same seminars and workshops.

Course modules

This course includes or offers the following modules. Please check the programme document (below the main image on this page) for more details on which modules are core, required or optional.

  • Research Methodologies and Context
  • Portfolio One
  • Professional Practice
  • Intercultural Musicology
  • Portfolio Two
  • Performance Two
  • Sound Production Creative Project
  • Intertextuality in Sound Production
  • Sonic Architecture
  • Visual Music
  • Sound Design Practice
  • Post Production
  • Major Project
  • Research Project.

How will I be assessed?

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.

MA composers will typically offer a range of more varied work that is directed in part by the opportunities afforded by the course. MRes composers will typically offer a portfolio of work articulated as a single project that is supported by a clear research context.

How will I be taught?

Each module has a weekly seminar which is either specific to the MA/MRes Composition or, for core skills, shared with the other 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.


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 MA 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 at Music Ally; Paul Gray; Musicians' Union; Vick Bain; BASCA; Chris Carey from EMI; Will Page, chief economist PRS for Music; John Minch, CEO of Boosey and Hawkes/Imagem).


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:

  • Teaching
  • Editing
  • Performing
  • Work in other areas of the creative industries.

Our aim is that on graduation from the programme, you'll have developed core problem-solving, analytical, and critical skills to support you in the changeable and unpredictable work environment.

Facilities and resources

Where the subject is taught


As an MA Composition student, you'll have access to networked music technology labs with highly specified workstations, running core software including Pro Tools, Logic, MAX/MSP, Macromedia suites, and Final Cut.

We also have five purpose-built digital recording studios, featuring:

  • A variety of portable sound-recording equipment and digital cameras
  • A purpose-built concert hall with excellent acoustics and PA
  • 17 practice rooms, three with electronically variable acoustic
  • Large, well-stocked library of books, periodicals and CDs
  • A wide range of medieval, Renaissance and Baroque instruments, and a large collection of percussion and orchestral instruments
  • A Javanese Gamelan.


UK and EU students full time

Course fees
2018/19 entry £7,195
2019/20 entry Published Jan 2019
2020/21 entry Published Jan 2020

UK and EU students part time

Fees shown below are for part time study over two years, although some courses may be available over longer periods.

2018/19 Entry

Course fees
Year 1 £3,600
Year 2 Published Jan 2019

2019/20 Entry

Course fees
Year 1 Published Jan 2019
Year 2 Published Jan 2020

2020/21 Entry

Course fees
Year 1 Published Jan 2020
Year 2 Published Jan 2021

International students full time

Course fees
2018/19 entry £13,900
2019/20 entry Published Jan 2019
2020/21 entry Published Jan 2020

Interested in applying?

What we look for in potential students

We value an enquiring approach to music, with an interest in developing your practice and exploring the many contexts in which it is situated. We support work in a wide range of styles and genres, while maintaining an experimental and exploratory approach.

How do I apply?

Ready to apply? Click the "apply now" button in the centre of this page.

Need more guidance? Head to our how to apply pages.

Interview and portfolio guidance

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, but is likely to contain scores and recordings.

We are happy to receive links to online material, CDs, DVDs, printed scores, documentation of performances or installations, as appropriate. If you need guidance on this, please contact the Course Leader.

Admissions service: +44 (0)1225 876 180
Email: admissions@bathspa.ac.uk
Course leader: James Saunders
Email: j.saunders@bathspa.ac.uk

Website feedback to web@bathspa.ac.uk