Composing for Film and Television MMus

Why choose this course?

This Composing for Film and Television course is designed for composers aspiring to work in the media industry and wanting to learn more about techniques for composing and producing music for film and TV. You will learn from experienced composers working across a variety of different media and styles. You will also have the opportunity to collaborate with student filmmakers and animators from other courses.

You'll produce and record music in our fantastic, unique facilities. In partnership with world-famous record producer Tony Visconti, the British Library and Science Museum, the Visconti Studio comprises of a 300m² octagonal live room stocked with rare and vintage recording equipment.

Mode Duration Start date
Full time 1 year September 2020
Part time 2 years September 2020
Location Kingston Hill

Reasons to choose Kingston

  • You will learn techniques for composing and producing music for different types of media.
  • There is the opportunity to have your music performed by an ensemble in a professional recording environment.
  • You will be working with staff members with expertise and experience in a wide range of music making, and will have the chance to record with legendary music producer, Tony Visconti.

What you will study

You will analyse film and TV scores, exploring how music is used to create atmosphere, convey mood and depict setting, character and action. You'll also explore the relationships between composer and producer, directors and music editors.

As well as studying and practising the use of main themes, underscoring and the harmonic languages of soundtracks, you will also learn about the technology used to produce high-quality soundtracks for the music industry, as well as business and copyright issues.

Modules

The curriculum is enriched by a broad view of musical styles and genres, exploiting the diversity of a repertoire that encompasses Western classical music, popular and world music.

The major project enables you to compose an individualised portfolio of music to picture and work with student filmmakers, enhancing your research and project development skills.

You'll need to take all four compulsory modules, totalling 150 credits. You can then choose one further optional module, to total 180 credits altogether.

Core modules

Major Project

60 credits

This module supports the development of a major piece of research, or creative work, or performance which is focused on the subject of the student's programme of study. Therefore the nature of the project is chosen from the following: a dissertation; a folio of produced popular music compositions/covers; a folio of sonic arts work; a folio of compositions to moving image; a folio of compositions; or a performance. In the case of the creative work, students will also undertake related research which culminates in a paper or critical commentary to complement and support their creative work. The module is taught through a mixture of seminars and individual tutorials.

Professional and Live Aspects of Composing for Film and Television

30 credits

The module allows the student to develop further understanding of a range of professional roles undertaken by media composers /composers for F&TV within a more industrialised context. The teaching and learning experience of the module introduces the opportunity to work with live musicians, composing and arranging for a small instrumental ensemble and conducting their performance to the moving images, in a state-of-the-art modern recording studio environment. The student will also be required to engage in post-production mastering and mixing, to achieve a fully professional result. A degree of recording theory and practice is included, which will present information from professional sound engineers, composers and producers. Module content also includes in-depth study of real-world aspects of composition, production and exploitation of music in the media. The assignments set reflect these areas of study - for example, dealing with project management, copyright and budget issues.

Researching Music

30 credits

Researching Music is designed to prepare students for their research and writing on the Music Masters' programmes. The teaching covers academic referencing, creating a bibliography, library skills, use of research on-line indices such as RILM, writing skills, and approaches to research. Later in the module research seminars will be given by Kingston and visiting researchers/composers/performers which provide opportunities for student discussion on a variety of issues in current music research. The module is assessed through a folio of written work including an extended annotated bibliography, an extended research paper and an on-line forum.

Techniques and Technology for Composing for Film and Television

30 credits

This module deals in depth with the subject of composition for film and television. Students explore, through lectures and seminars, the essential technology and techniques that composers for Film and Television need to master. Subjects covered include the use of Main Themes, underscoring and the harmonic languages of soundtracks, in both big and small screen contexts.  Coursework consists of several compositions to image, chosen to encourage musical diversity and exploration of compositional styles, together with a written commentary.

Optional modules (not all optional modules will run every year)

Advanced Production of Popular Music

30 credits

The module is designed to give students a deep and thorough understanding of the processes and techniques involved in the recording and production of popular music. It will look at a range of recording techniques and will provide students with the opportunity to gain fluency in the operation of a recording studio. The role of the Producer in creating, developing, managing and presenting a recording project will be studied and students will be equipped with the faculties to produce work which demonstrates creativity and is of a professional standard. Topics covered will include microphone techniques, digital recording and editing techniques, advanced sequencing, mixing and mastering techniques, creating arrangements and communicating with artists and session musicians, investigation of genre-specific production techniques and analysis of contemporary and historical recordings. The relationship between the Producer and the recording and media business will be examined.  Students will be trained to critically evaluate their own work and position it in the context of the wider music and media business environment.  Students will employ these techniques and skills to create a portfolio of short recordings accompanied by a commentary detailing the techniques employed, and to develop and present a recording project, with supporting documentation.

Commercial Music

30 credits

This is a level 6 optional module and will see students collaborating on the creation of music as part of a production team. The writing, performing, recording, mixing and mastering of music to a professional standard will be studied, as well as its distribution, marketing and retail. Part of the module will feature how to pitch music to replicate the real-world scenario of securing funding / seeking collaborative partners in the creative industries.

Composing and Marketing Popular Music

30 credits

The module is designed to give you a deep and thorough understanding of the processes and techniques involved in popular music composition, and to equip you with the faculties to produce work of a professional standard. You will learn compositional techniques applicable to a range of popular music genres and will employ these to enhance your own personal style and create a portfolio of compositions. The nature of the creative process, how collaborators (co-writers, band members) communicate with each other and with other artists, and how popular music terminology and notation is utilised will be discussed.  The position of the songwriter and popular music composer within contemporary society and the wider music and media business will also be examined.

This module will also explore strategies behind the manufacture, marketing, distribution and sale of popular music from a global perspective. You will examine music industry models in an historical context, exploring how practices are evolving through the advent of digital technology. You will explore the factors driving this change with critical appraisal of methods used. Topics covered will include the structure of major and independent record labels, management strategies, identifying a target audience, publicity and marketing within different territories, financing, choice of formats, music video, new media, the live industry, going it alone and the value of popular music as a commodity. You will be assessed on a portfolio of work including a project that demonstrates the marketing and promotion of one of their popular music compositions.

Constructing Music Education in the UK

30 credits

This module examines the diversity of practice associated with school-based music provision in the UK maintained sector and associated research. Current positions concerning universal entitlement to the subject will be explored and traced back to influential antecedents.  You will formulate a critical response to course themes by designing a short investigation exploring the complex transactional character of pedagogy which typifies music lessons across the UK. It will be located in a school if possible, supported by DBS checking (and if necessary, ethics clearance),  or alternatively, will be based on student peer teaching.

Critical Reflection on Musical Performance

30 credits

This module is core for MMus Performance and is offered as an option for other MA and MMus programmes. The module will address the development of critical and aesthetic insights into both the substance of music and the varied practices of performance required to deliver high quality musical experiences across a range of genres. It considers performance roles, values and practices including issues of meaning in music and emotional responses to music. It will trace the development of aesthetic attitude theories and post-structuralist approaches to understanding and performing a wide range of musical repertoires. Themes explored will include: issues of authenticity, value judgements, virtuosity and the role of the performer. Themed lectures will introduce topics, followed by seminars which will provide opportunities for students to reflect and discuss issues raised in lectures, which are then consolidated in debates that relate ideas to specific texts, repertoires and personal performances. Assessment will be through prepared debates, on topics suggested by the tutor, a critical reflection of a filmed performance and an essay on a related topic selected from a choice provided by the tutor.

Performance Studies

30 credits

This module is core for MMus Performance and is offered as an option for other level 7 Music programmes. The module will address the practical issues of preparing and delivering a musical performance. Individual lessons will provide expert tuition on the students' instrument. Practical workshops will provide feedback on a range of technical, interpretational and presentational issues and lectures will prepare students for the written elements. Assessment will be through a recital of 20 minutes duration, a portfolio of promotional and presentational materials for the recital and a critical self evaluation of the performance itself.

Special Study: Arranging and Scoring

30 credits

This module will explore the analysis of instrumental music, from a range of genres. Students will develop their creative work, by applying their analytical understanding of a chosen style to creating new arrangements and orchestrations. They will develop skills in arranging a melody, formulating a harmonic support, structural layout, in a manner which is appropriate for the chosen style. They will also develop skills in orchestration with reference to a chosen genre.

Special Study: Broadcasting

30 credits

You will apply your technical knowledge and skills to produce a portfolio of broadcast ready radio content: interviews, links, news clips, advertisements and jingles, performances in-session, editing and producing streaming podcasts. Students will take over operations of the Kingston University Radio Station and gain hands-on experience in studio operations, production preparation, and broadcast engineering.

The information above reflects the currently intended course structure and module details. Updates may be made on an annual basis and revised details will be published through Programme Specifications ahead of each academic year. The regulations governing this course are available on our website. If we have insufficient numbers of students interested in an optional module, this may not be offered.

Entry requirements

Typical offer

A good honours degree in music from either the UK or abroad (this may be in a specialist field such as popular music, performance or music technology).

Typical entry qualifications are an honours degree in music at 2.2 or above (2.1 preferred).

Additional requirements

  • A link to an online portfolio of three short contrasting compositions with both full scores and recordings (e.g. Soundcloud or Youtube). These can be ‘compositions to picture' in which case a link to video should be submitted.
  • Evidence of familiarity with a DAW applications such as Logic Pro or ProTools.
  • Where an applicant can produce evidence of relevant experiential learning (eg work as a professional performer, composer or producer), it may be possible to consider a good honours degree in a subject other than music or advanced study in a conservatoire (which has not led to a degree) in lieu of a music degree.

English language requirements

All non-UK applicants must meet our English language requirement, which is Academic IELTS of 6.5 overall, with no element below 5.5. Make sure you read our full guidance about English language requirements, which includes details of other qualifications we consider.

Applicants who do not meet the English language requirements could be eligible to join our pre-sessional English language course.

Applicants from a recognised majority English speaking countries (MESCs) do not need to meet these requirements.

Teaching and assessment

As a music student, you'll be taught a range of musical styles and encouraged to explore a wide range of musical genres, taking a hands-on, practical and creative approach to learning and develop your critical skills through engagement with new ideas and methods.

Assessment is primarily through practical work composing music and sound to media, complemented by written and other assignments that will help you hone your presentation and analytical skills.

Guided independent study

When not attending timetabled sessions, you will be expected to continue learning independently through self-study. This typically involves reading and analysing articles, regulations, policy document and key texts, documenting individual projects, preparing coursework assignments and completing your PEDRs, etc.

Your independent learning is supported by a range of excellent facilities including online resources, the library and CANVAS, the University's online virtual learning platform.

Support for postgraduate students

At Kingston University, we know that postgraduate students have particular needs and therefore we have a range of support available to help you during your time here.

Your workload

Year 1: 12% of your time is spent in timetabled teaching and learning activity.

Contact hours may vary depending on your modules.

Type of teaching and learning

Type of teaching and learning
  • Scheduled teaching and learning: 140 hours
  • Guided independent study: 1660 hours

How you will be assessed

Assessment typically comprises coursework (eg composition, essay), and some practical elements (eg presentations, performance).

The approximate percentage for how you will be assessed on this course is as follows, though depends to some extent on the optional modules you choose:

Type of assessment

Type of assessment
  • Coursework: 91%
  • Practical: 9%

Feedback summary

We aim to provide feedback on assessments within 20 working days.

Class sizes

To give you an indication of class sizes, this course normally enrols 8-12 students and lecture sizes are normally 8-20 (except for Researching Music which is a module shared with all MA students in the department which number about 60 each year). However this can vary by module and academic year.

Who teaches this course?

Postgraduate students may also contribute to the teaching of seminars under the supervision of the module leader.

Fees for this course

Home and European Union 2020/21

  • MMus full time £7,500
  • MMus part time £4,125

Overseas (not EU) 2020/21

  • MMus full time £16,600
  • MMus part time £9,130

Funding and bursaries

Kingston University offers a range of postgraduate scholarships, including:

If you are an international student, find out more about scholarships and bursaries.

We also offer the following discounts for Kingston University alumni:

BAFTA UK Scholarship Programme

Applicants to MMus in Composing for Film and Television can apply for the BAFTA UK Scholarship Programme, which is open to British citizens in need of financial assistance.

Each successful BAFTA Scholar receives up to £12,000 towards their annual course fees, as well as mentoring support from a BAFTA member, and free access to BAFTA events around the UK.

In addition, three successful applicants will be awarded a Prince William Scholarship in Film, Games and Television, supported by BAFTA and Warner Bros., including a funded work placement within the Warner Bros. group of companies and other benefits.

Facilities

Explore some of the Music department in our virtual tour.

Music courses at Kingston University are designed to provide a mixture of practical, theoretical and academic learning, with the main focus being on creativity through composition or performance.

We are not genre specific - you will study a broad range of music.

Our proximity to London means that, alongside Kingston's excellent facilities, you can also benefit from easy access to the capital's musical resources.

The Coombehurst complex

As a music student, your studies will be based in the Coombehurst complex, located in the leafy parkland of our Kingston Hill campus.

Coombehurst House, Court Lodge and the Visconti Studio offer a range of teaching and professional studio facilities and practice rooms.

There are five recording studios, a computer suite with iMac workstations, audio and video editing facilities, and band rehearsal rooms.

Our flagship facility, the Visconti Studio is an analogue/digital hybrid studio with a 300-square metre octagonal live room, stocked with vintage and rare recording equipment (Studer, Neve, Neumann, Universal Audio, Roland Space Echo).

The tape-based studio also features a unique collection of instruments including a Mellotron, a Hammond organ with Leslie cabinet, and a Steinway concert grand piano.

Instrument collection

The department owns an extensive collection of instruments, including around 30 pianos, a harpsichord, stage pianos, drum kits and orchestral and classroom instruments.

We also have a double-size Javanese gamelan and a set of djembe drums.

Loans system

We operate an online loans system that allows students to book out a wide range of recording and performing equipment and instruments. Room bookings can also be made through this system, and the studios can be used 24 hours a day.

Music library

The Nightingale Centre (library and learning resources centre) on the Kingston Hill campus is home to the music library, which holds an extensive collection of books, anthologies, scores, sheet music, periodicals, and audio and video recordings.

The University also subscribes to an excellent range of e-resources for music, including Grove Music Online, RILM and the Naxos online recordings catalogue, which are accessible from any university workstation.

Music making at Kingston

Kingston University's Performing Arts and Community Engagement (PACE) programme offers an inclusive platform on which students, staff, alumni and members of the local community come together through the performing arts. It encompasses all possible combinations of music, dance and drama.

After you graduate

Many of the graduates from this Composing for Film and Television course have progressed on to roles either in the music industry itself or related areas – or enrol for further study (eg MPhil/PhD). For those students who are already in employment and undertake the course part-time, the award may accelerate promotion and open up new opportunities.

The nature of the Composing for Film and TV MMus course at Kingston – combining compositional and practical skills, alongside theoretical knowledge – equips graduates for a broad range of careers, including:

  • composing for theatre;
  • studio-based technical and creative work; and
  • a portfolio career as a composer, producer and performer.

Recent graduate destinations for this and similar courses include:

  • broadcast media co-ordinator at the BBC, London;
  • composer for Jonathan Brooks Music, Cheshire;
  • interactive editorial assistant for the BBC, London; and
  • music production co-ordinator at Michael Paert Music, Surrey.

The high level of research and transferable skills you acquire during your studies also makes careers in the wider commercial and business environments available to you.

What our students say

At the age of 32, I applied for the Composing for Film and Television course. Despite being out of academic circles for so long, I was accepted on the basis of my industry experience.

Since starting the MA course, I have gained hugely in confidence and feel ready to approach production companies with my music.

During the course I have worked on advertisements, television dramas and film scores.

The most enjoyable assignment was writing a score for an animation created by another Kingston student. We composed it and heard it performed by the internationally-famous Delta Sax Quartet. We also had the experience of recording it in a professional studio.

William Morris

I thoroughly enjoyed the masters in Composing Music for Film and Television at Kingston University. Doing the course over two years gave me the time to develop both the technological and compositional elements of composing for moving image.

I benefited immensely from the course's 'hands-on' approach, which necessitated learning everything from software packages to rendering music to image to microphone placement for live recording.

I loved working alongside the other students in a collegiate and friendly atmosphere; many of the students were international and from varied backgrounds. I also found the teachers each had their own unique knowledge and skill to impart.

I would highly recommend this course.

Max West

Research areas

Research in music encompasses creative work with a broad range of styles and methods as well as theoretical-analytical research into musical practices.