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Unit information: Media Composition in 2019/20

Please note: Due to alternative arrangements for teaching and assessment in place from 18 March 2020 to mitigate against the restrictions in place due to COVID-19, information shown for 2019/20 may not always be accurate.

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Media Composition
Unit code MUSIM0025
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Mr. Goodchild
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Music
Faculty Faculty of Arts


This is a practice-led unit which offers direct experience of the approaches used in media composition today, taught by a guest tutor professionally active in the industry. The unit develops skills in musical characterisation across varied genres, focusing on forms such as Television documentary, promotional videos, advertising and library music. The sessions consider the appropriate use of the latest studio techniques with or without live resources, working to a brief, and considerations of style in relation to the target audience. The unit brings together techniques taught in the Professional Techniques unit and in the student's choice of optional unit such as Writing for Orchestra.


The course provides a complete and up-to-date introduction to the skills, techniques and practicalities involved in media composition and primary knowledge of business survival skills. Regular assignments and exercises are set and evaluated, leading to more extended assessed projects in audio, TV and documentary media.

Intended learning outcomes

The successful student will:

  1. be imaginative and skilled in choosing sound palettes that work for different topics and genres;
  2. be proficient at composing both studio and live recorded scores for a variety of given briefs;
  3. have understood and begun to master the techniques of synchronising and editing music to soundtrack and film with sensitivity to balance in audio and visual data;
  4. have successfully worked with external film producers, worked to a given brief, incorporated producer feedback and produced the music to a professional standard.

Teaching details

The unit is taught by visiting media composition experts. The format is a weekly lecture, supplemented by seminars, demonstration and individual supervision. Students normally undertake work-experience fieldtrips to private active studios and the BBC. This unit works in harness with the Professional Techniques unit, from which events such as the workshop/recording feed directly into media projects.

Assessment Details

Assignment 1: Library/ Production Music (30% of the unit mark)

Students compose and produce music that responds to one of four production music briefs. Each music brief has a title, keywords, suggested instrumentation and a description of concept. Sample tracks are given as a guide. Students' compositions are presented as a full length version, an underscore and two cut-down versions. Music is designed here to form part of a larger audio world involving dialogue and effects, invariably in the context of picture: economy and understatement are prized attributes, as is the ability for the finished piece to be easily editable. [ILOs 1 and 2]

Assignment 2: Pre Titles and Underscore (30% of the unit mark)

Students compose and produce music for a Pre Titles and Underscore film sequence, choosing one option from a choice of four contrasting documentaries. This is an exercise in scoring to picture and story. Scores must be distinctive and strong, whilst working collegially with dialogue and effects. [ILOs 1-3]

Assignment 3: External Independent Producers project (40% of the unit mark)

External independent producers prepare a 3-minute film clip from a project they have been, or are, working on and make a presentation to the class. The producers brief students and give guidance on music. Students prepare sketches and receive feedback from the producers on their work in progress. Students finish their scores, prep them for recording and direct a professional quintet in a recording session. Students mix and master their scores and final mix the score to film/ effects and dialogue. This is a 'real world' project involving collaboration with working professional film-makers and professional musicians. [ILOs 1-4]

Reading and References

  • Philip D. Tagg Kojak. Fifty Seconds of Television Music: Toward the Analysis of Affect in Popular Music. G�teborg 1979 (Ph.D. diss. G�teborg 1979).
  • Michael Chion Experiencing the Soundtrack (Cinesonic 2000). Sidney 2001.
  • Nicholas Cook Analysing Musical Multimedia. Oxford 1998.