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This course explores how music creates atmosphere, conveys mood and depicts setting, character and action.
You will examine the relationships between composer and producer, directors and music editors. You will study the technology used to produce high-quality soundtracks as well as business and copyright issues. Through optional modules, you will be able to tailor the course to your interests.
For your major project, you will create a portfolio of music to picture and work with filmmakers. There are opportunities to collaborate with film-making and animation students.
As part of Kingston School of Art, students on this course benefit from joining a creative community where collaborative working and critical practice are encouraged.
Our workshops and studios are open to all disciplines – enabling students and staff to work together, share ideas and explore multi-disciplinary making.
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.
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.
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.
The module allows the student to develop further understanding of a range of professional roles undertaken by media composers. Students will develop their knowledge and understanding of instrumentation and orchestration alongside practical aspects of the business working as a media composer. They will learn traditional and contemporary techniques of writing for instruments and apply those when working with both real and virtual instruments. They will compose music to picture scored for a small ensemble which will be recorded in the Visconti studio. Students will also be required to engage in post-production mastering and mixing, to achieve a fully professional result. 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 – from developing musical ideas and producing a detailed score, to dealing with project management, copyright and budget issues.
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 online forum.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Optional modules only run if there is enough demand. If we have an insufficient number of students interested in an optional module, that module will not be offered for this course.
A 2:2 or above 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).
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.
You will find more information on country-specific entry requirements in the International section of our website.
Find your country:
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.
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 documents 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.
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.
Year 1: 12% of your time is spent in timetabled learning and teaching activity.
Contact hours may vary depending on your modules.
Type of learning and teaching
Assessment typically comprises coursework (e.g. composition, essay), and some practical elements (e.g. 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
We aim to provide feedback on assessments within 20 working days.
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.
If you start your second year straight after Year 1, you will pay the same fee for both years.
If you take a break before starting your second year, or if you repeat modules from Year 1 in Year 2, the fee for your second year may increase.
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:
Depending on the programme of study, there may be extra costs that are not covered by tuition fees which students will need to consider when planning their studies. Tuition fees cover the cost of your teaching, assessment and operating University facilities such as the library, access to shared IT equipment and other support services. Accommodation and living costs are not included in our fees.
Where a course has additional expenses, we make every effort to highlight them. These may include optional field trips, materials (e.g. art, design, engineering), security checks such as DBS, uniforms, specialist clothing or professional memberships.
Our libraries are a valuable resource with an extensive collection of books and journals as well as first-class facilities and IT equipment. You may prefer to buy your own copy of key textbooks, this can cost between £50 and £250 per year.
There are open-access networked computers available across the University, plus laptops available to loan. You may find it useful to have your own PC, laptop or tablet which you can use around campus and in halls of residences. Free Wi-Fi is available on each of the campuses. You may wish to purchase your own computer, which can cost £100 to £3,000 depending on your course requirements.
In the majority of cases written coursework can be submitted online. There may be instances when you will be required to submit work in a printed format. Printing, binding and photocopying costs are not included in your tuition fees, this may cost up to £100 per year.
Travel costs are not included in your tuition fees but we do have a free intersite bus service which links the campuses, Surbiton train station, Kingston upon Thames train station, Norbiton train station and halls of residence.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Many of the graduates from this Composing for Film and Television course have progressed on to roles either in the music industry itself or in related areas – or have enrolled for further study (e.g. 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:
Recent graduate destinations for this and similar courses include:
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.
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.
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.
Research in music encompasses creative work with a broad range of styles and methods as well as theoretical-analytical research into musical practices.
The information on this page reflects the currently intended course structure and module details. To improve your student experience and the quality of your degree, we may review and change the material information of this course. Course changes explained.
Programme Specifications for the course are published ahead of each academic year.
Regulations governing this course can be found on our website.