DMus Electronic / Electro-acoustic Composition

Course summary

Creative research in humanities has become an important part of postgraduate study at Masters and Doctoral level. It has helped performers and practitioners remediate their work as research, and has allowed practitioners to reflect on the processes of practice, as much as its ramifications. Like all our courses, the DMus reflects the mission and values of University of West London. It enhances progression and quality in education, and encourages widening participation.

Its emphasis on creative research, and its 'submission pathway' attracts recently qualified postgraduates and professional musicians who want doctoral recognition of their skills and experience - and this is sympathetic with the School's academic plan to attract mature and part-time students, together with the University's vision to reach out to students of all ages through flexible education.

The possible routes for the course are:
• MPhil leading to DMus
• DMus by Direct Entry
• DMus by Submission

The DMus extends the rich and eclectic musical experience our students enjoy at undergraduate and Masters level, to doctoral level, and enhances London College of Music's growing postgraduate community. The DMus also maximises our research strengths in composition, performance and music technology.

Course detail

The DMus Electronic/Electro-acoustic Composition is an alternative to the traditional PhD for experienced practitioners who wish to show an outstanding and innovative contribution to the subject area.

MPhil

After a year of full-time study or two years of part-time study, you will have completed:

  • a portfolio of electronic or electro-acoustic music, 30 to 40 minutes in duration, with accompanying documentation, such as notation or MAX/MSP patches
  • a critical commentary of at least 5,000 words.

The MPhil portfolio may comprise several pieces, or just one extended, structurally ambitious work. It may be part of an even larger work, which you can use for the DMus portfolio. Your portfolio piece should be innovative, and show a new technique within, or an extension to, an existing practice.

Your critical commentary will provide:

  • a 'literature review' of contemporary practice in the same field
  • an analysis and explanation of existing techniques
  • an explanation of how the creative work represents an extension of, or reaction to, this practice. This may be as an extended technique or something more philosophical, ontological or aesthetically grounded - or preferably a combination of the two
  • an account of the creative research process
  • conclusions and suggestions for future developments.

You will normally be required to complete the Level 7 Research Methods module.

DMus

After approximately three years of full-time study or six years' part-time study, you will have completed:

  • a portfolio of electronic or electro-acoustic music, 75 to 90 minutes in performance duration - of which the MPhil portfolio forms the first 30 to 40 minutes. Accompanying documentation can include notation or MAX/MSP patches
  • a critical commentary of at least 20,000 words, of which the first 5,000 words will be your MPhil critical commentary.

The DMus portfolio may comprise several pieces or one extended, structurally ambitious work. Your portfolio piece should be innovative, and show a new technique within, or an extension to, an existing practice.

Your critical commentary will provide:

  • an explanation of how this practical work is an original and substantial contribution to the area of expertise
  • a 'literature review' of contemporary practice in the same field
  • an analysis and explanation of existing techniques
  • an explanation of how the creative work represents an extension of, or reaction to, this practice - this may be as an extended technique or something more philosophical, ontological or aesthetically grounded - or preferably a combination of the two
  • an account of the creative research process
  • conclusions and suggestions for future developments.

    DMus by Submission

Your submission must include:

  • a portfolio of electronic or electro-acoustic music, 75 to 90 minutes in performance duration. Accompanying documentation can include notation or MAX/MSP patches
  • a critical commentary of at least 20,000 words.

The DMus by Submission portfolio may comprise several pieces or one extended, structurally ambitious work. At least one of your portfolio pieces will have been composed within the two years before you registered. They do not have to be in the public domain, but should be innovative, and show a new technique within, or an extension to, an existing practice.

Your critical commentary will provide:

  • an explanation of how this practical work is an original and substantial contribution to the area of expertise
  • a 'literature review' of contemporary practice in the same field
  • an analysis and explanation of existing techniques
  • an explanation of how the creative work represents an extension of, or reaction to, this practice - this may be as an extended technique or something more philosophical, ontological or aesthetically grounded - or preferably a combination of the two
  • an account of the creative research process
  • conclusions and suggestions for future developments.

The DMus by Submission is ideally suited to professional composers.

Proposal

Your proposal must not exceed 4,500 words. Unless you are studying for your DMus by Direct Entry or Submission, you will complete this proposal as part of the assessment regime for the Level 7 Research Methods module. 

The proposal for the MPhil/DMus in Electronic/Electro-acoustic Composition is different from a proposal for a PhD. The core of the proposal will be a list of works you intend for portfolio submission. It should also include the anticipated duration of each piece. Proposals for DMus by Submission should also append the compositions. You should explain in your proposal how your portfolio constitutes an original and substantial contribution to the area of practice. For this, you should include:

  • a 'literature review' of contemporary practice in the same field
  • an analysis and explanation of existing techniques in the field
  • an explanation of how the creative work represents an extension of, or reaction to, contemporary practice. This may be as an extended technique or something more philosophical, ontological or aesthetically grounded - or preferably a combination of the two.

Your proposal should also include a timescale for each part of the project, and append an outline bibliography.

You may also identify areas of technical development, analysing how your portfolio pieces might enable this transition. You must indicate in your proposal, any pieces you intend to include through backdated registration.

You may also include a CV.

Assessment

This will involve an oral examination, conducted in much the same way as a traditional PhD. This will also be necessary when you 'exit' with the MPhil qualification.

Pathway Appendix 1: The 'literature review'

As the cutting edge of professional practice may not be well documented by academic texts, this may include interviews with practitioners (either published or conducted by the candidate), and analyses of productions by contemporary practitioners, and of specifications of relevant hardware and software technologies or products. Wherever possible, you will be expected to include relevant peer-reviewed academic writing on the subject.

Pathway Appendix 2: Examples of the kinds of extensions to practice that are applicable.

  • Developing a musical syntax like Tim Blackwell's swarming/flocking music or the Glitch music of artists like Achim Szepanski.
  • Applying existing techniques in a new context, like John Oswald's use of sampling in Plunderphonics or Paul Miller's use of 'turntablism' as DJ Spooky.
  • Developing a specific technique like Hank Shocklee's (Bomb Squad) layered sampling, or the extended sequencing techniques of Richard James (Aphex Twin).
  • Developing a structural formalism, like Stockhausen's unified theory of time.
  • Developing a new musical instrument or control surface for electronics.
  • Writing with generative or algorithmic computer programs or patches.

Entry requirements

Either
A Masters degree in Composition, Music Technology or Music Production, with Merit or Distinction, and the submission of a portfolio of existing works demonstrating a high level of expertise.

Or
At least five years' professional experience as a composer, and a degree in Composition, Music Technology or Music Production with First Class Honours. Also, the submission of a portfolio of existing works demonstrating a high level of expertise.

Candidates who, at interview, demonstrate an exceptionally high level of expertise and autonomy may be considered for Direct Entry. (In such circumstances, the work will already exhibit impeccable craftsmanship and a thoroughly convincing sense of originality. The application proposal will demonstrate an impressively clear artistic and scholarly purpose.) Similarly, candidates who transfer from another institution with 'advanced standing' may also be considered for Direct Entry.

Equivalent over-seas qualifications shall be considered. (IELTS 7).

International students need to meet our English language requirement at either IELTS at 7.0 or above, and a minimum of 7.0 for each of the 4 individual components (Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening).

In some countries where teaching is in English, we may accept local qualifications. Please visit http://www.uwl.ac.uk/international/your-country to check for local equivalencies.

We offer pre-sessional English language courses if you do not meet these requirements. Find out more about our English Language courses

Fees

Fees for home and EU students

Main fee
£3,995

Fees for overseas students

Main fee
£10,995
Find out if you are a home or overseas student.

Funding

A range of loans, bursaries and scholarships are available to help you fund your studies.

Students on some Masters courses may be eligible to apply for a Postgraduate Loan of up to £10,000 as a contribution towards their course and living costs. Find out how to apply for a Postgraduate Loan on GOV.UK

Other loans available to postgraduate students include Professional and Career Development Loans, which also allow you to borrow up to £10,000.  Find out more about Loans on GOV.UK

Additional funding is available to some types of students, such as disabled students. Find out more about funding opportunities

Within the university, we offer a range of scholarships and bursaries including:

  • The William Brake Bursary: a £1,000 award for candidates on undergraduate or postgraduate degree courses
  • The Mollie Clay Scholarship: a £2,500 scholarship awarded to an outstanding student
  • Exclusive alumni discounts: a £2,000 discount on taught postgraduate courses or a 10% discount on research courses, exclusive to students who graduated from the University of West London.

Other scholarships are also available, including awards for specific subjects. Find out more and check your eligibility for the scholarships and bursaries listed above.


Please note that fees given are per academic year unless otherwise stated, and may be subject to change. Costs can increase each year.

How to apply

Interview

Preparation for Interview

Applicants should submit an application form and a portfolio of their work to the Research Degree Admissions Officer. The application should include a proposal of approximately 1,000 words, identifying the work to be undertaken, and how this might comprise an original and substantial contribution to the area of expertise. If applicable, a CV of professional experience should also be submitted. Professional experience should demonstrate a suitably high level of musicianship. This might be shown by listing high-profile commissions, including details of performance, occasion, etc. The CV might also include details of other distinguished professional activities which are related to the proposal (eg artistic direction and lecturing). In addition, applicants are asked to provide copies of their qualifications.
Note: Registration may be back-dated six months (occasionally, more).

Apply for this course

UK and EU students

You can apply for most of our Postgraduate Certificates, Postgraduate Diplomas and Masters’ Degree courses using our online application system.  Simply click the red ‘apply now’ button above.

Your application will be dealt with by our Admissions team who will be in touch with you.

If you are applying for a research degree (MPhil or PhD), you will need to submit: a CV, research proposal, transcript of academic qualifications and online application form.  Full details of how to apply for research degrees

International students

To apply for a Masters’ Degree course, please complete our online application form for international students or you can download the print version (Word, 186kb).

You can also review the relevant information about the qualifications we accept from your country and our English language requirements, as well as details about your visa application.

If you are applying for a research degree (MPhil or PhD), you will need to submit: a CV, research proposal, transcript of academic qualifications and online application form.  Full details of how to apply for research degrees

More about the application process for international students.

More about how to apply for postgraduate courses.

 

During the course

Assessment

Exams

Assessment of the submission will involve an oral examination conducted in much the same way as a traditional PhD. A viva voce will also be necessary when a student 'exits' with the MPhil degree.

Pathway Appendix 1: The 'Literature Review'

As the cutting edge of professional practice may not be well documented by academic texts, this may include interviews with practitioners (either published or conducted by the candidate), analyses of productions by contemporary practitioners, and of specifications of relevant hardware and software technologies and/or products. Wherever possible, relevant peer reviewed academic writing on the subject should be included.

Pathway Appendix 2: Examples of the kinds of extensions to practice that would be applicable
- Developing a musical syntax like Tim Blackwell’s swarming / flocking music or the Glitch music of artists such as Achim Szepanski
- Applying existing techniques in a new context like John Oswald’s use of sampling in Plunderphonics or Paul Miller's (DJ Spooky) use of turntablism
- Developing a specific technique like Hank Shocklee’s (Bomb Squad) layered sampling or the extended sequencing techniques of Richard James (Aphex Twin)
- Developing a structural formalism like Stockhausen’s unified theory of time
- Developing a new musical instrument or control surface for electronics
- Writing with generative or algorithmic computer programs or patches

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Career and study progression

The DMus may lead to a career in teaching and research in higher education.