Module code: MUS1035

Module Overview

This module equips all students with the knowledge and skills necessary to arrange pre-existing music, including the vital ability to work collaboratively, that is so useful in many avenues of work, not just the arts. All students learn about the Department’s culture and ‘infrastructure’ around performance, such as the ways in which our concerts are managed and the various ensembles available for students to play in. The module builds resilience, as students reflect on their work as arrangers, performers and assistants at Departmental concerts, identifying what went well and what could be improved, thereby laying the ground to develop further in future modules. All students learn from seminars given by invited speakers, in which a range of sectors within the music industry are represented, and from writing reviews of visiting artists to the Department where they can witness professional performance at first hand.   

The module has two pathways: ‘arranging’ suits students with a focus on composition, connecting to and applying knowledge acquired during Harmony 1 and building a foundation for the specifically compositional activities in Pathways in Musicianship B in semester 2; ‘arranging and performing’ suits students with all-round skills looking to develop their instrumental or vocal technique through one-to-one lessons with a specialist tutor.

In both pathways, students experience performing as part of large or small ensembles and become involved in the performing culture of the Department. The module builds students’ confidence and resilience as musicians, preparing them for the more specialised performance and composition modules in years 2 and 3.      

Module provider

Music and Media

Module Leader

ARMSTRONG Thomas (Music & Med)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 4

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Overall student workload

Workshop Hours: 8

Independent Learning Hours: 114

Lecture Hours: 8

Seminar Hours: 6

Guided Learning: 6

Captured Content: 8

Module Availability

Semester 1

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Indicative content for this module includes:

  • Techniques for adapting creatively the melodic, harmonic and rhythmic elements of pre-existing music to suit different instruments/and or styles

  • Idiomatic music for selected instruments/voice and instrumental/vocal groups as available

  • Guidance on effective group working

  • Introduction to academic skills relevant to the module: documentation, reflective writing and presentation skills in written work at degree level

  • Learning new repertoire as a soloist and/or ensemble musician

  • Developing and refining instrumental/vocal technique

  • How concerts and events are managed within the Department

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting

Alternative Assessment

  • Musicianship 1 & 1a will be assessed by written work of 1000 words that either reflects on the group arrangement process or discusses a pre-existing arrangement studied on the module.
  • Musicianship 2 will have an alternative assessment for the recital consisting of either programme notes (1000 words) or an essay (1000 words) explaining your choice of repertoire and your interpretative decisions about each piece you would have played.
  • The online portfolio will have a flexible alternative assessment depending on the precise nature of the failed submission.

Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate the level of musicianship they have acquired by the conclusion of the module. Assessment is focused heavily around practical music-making activities involving adapting existing music through arrangements and/or transcriptions, as well as performing these and other pieces in solo and ensemble configurations.

Not all performing is directly assessed; for example, students’ contribution to ensemble music-making is assessed via reporting on their activity and gathering suitable evidence of their participation; concert management is assessed in the same way.

The written work on the module is, therefore, always focused on describing an activity that students have taken part in and documented; this approach assesses record-keeping and, to a limited extent at this level, reflective skills, as well as students’ ability to accurately and appropriately explain how something was done. In performance and composition modules in later years the reflective element comes more to the fore, building on the basic skills developed in this module.      

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

  • Musicianship 1, addressing learning outcomes (LOs) 1 and 4-6: an arrangement of one piece from a choice of repertoire in different styles provided by the lecturer. This arrangement is created and performed (in class) as a group.

  • Musicianship1a: Each student in the group also submits an individually written commentary on the Group Ensemble arrangement of no more than 1500 words.

  • Musicianship 2: EITHER (‘Performing and Arranging’ pathway) an 8-10 minute performance (in private in front of two examiners) of one or more pieces on your main instrument/voice with an optional 300 word commentary explaining your interpretation of the music (addressing LOs 2-3), OR (‘Arranging’ pathway) an arrangement for your own instrument (with accompaniment as appropriate) presented as a recording and a 500 word commentary explaining your choice of source material and notable aspects of the arrangement (addressing LOs 1 and 5-6).

  • Online Foli, addressing LOs 5-6: compilation of an online folio (typically using Padlet) of up to 1500 words containing records of: instrumental/vocal lessons (performers only), composition seminars (composers only), concerts attended inside and outside the Department, ensemble rehearsals and concert management duties (organised on a rota basis throughout the module).    

Formative assessment

  • Formative assessments in arrangement (assessments that don’t contribute to the module mark and enable students to monitor their learning) are offered on three occasions during the module with students working in pairs, individually and in small groups. The last of these is a work in progress session allowing students to assess how they are progressing with their assigned arrangement task for Musicianship 1.

  • Formative assessment in performance will occur in students' individual lessons and may occur in small ensemble coaching sessions and/or lunchtime concert feedback sessions although neither of these are compulsory for first year students. . 

  • Formative assessment for the online folio is available on at least one occasion prior to submission. 


  • Feedback on formative assessments is provided by the module lecturer and students’ peers in that week’s session

  • Staff and peer feedback is given immediately after lunchtime concerts for students who have just performed

  • The module lecturer and/or module leader will be happy to offer feedback on drafts of written work and online folios via email or in tutorials

  • Feedback will be given in class by the module leader on any lecture or workshop tasks

Module aims

  • Develop students' instrumental and vocal knowledge through hands on experience of working with other performers in the Department
  • Support students to continue developing their writing skills by requiring the production of accurately completed, comprehensive records of their musical activities and engagement with the module across the semester.
  • Increase students' confidence and ability in working with pre-existing musical materials by introducing a range of strategies for arrangement and transcription drawn from successful practices across different musical cultures
  • Extend students' aural and critical listening skills through ensemble music making and by appraising arrangements by peers
  • Strengthen students' skills and sharpen their perceptions as solo and ensemble performers, leading to greater awareness in performance, enhanced communication with an audience and the ability to deal with performance anxiety
  • Provide students with a range of techniques for practising their instrument/voice through working with a specialist tutor on solo repertoire and/or participating in a conducted/directed ensemble building self-confidence by means of thorough preparation
  • Increase students' knowledge of repertoire by exposing them to a range of musical cultures and styles both in the classroom and the teaching/rehearsal studio
  • Inculcate professional values by requiring students to work as part of a concert management team supporting performances in the Department including those by visiting artists

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Adapt pre-existing music for their own and others' instruments/voices in a creative and resourceful manner by manipulating, devising and (where appropriate) notating melodies, rhythms and harmonies with the intention of altering the original musical texture as required. KCP
002 Employ an increased range of technical/musical skills appropriate to the repertoire performed and suitable as a foundation for study at the next level. P
003 Identify and apply appropriate practice and rehearsal strategies leading to a more self-sufficient approach to performance preparation. CT
004 Work effectively in small groups across musical and management activities by listening, exercising patience, being reliable, showing proactivity and taking personal responsibility. PT
005 Document and report on the range of activities covered in module assessments including arranging, solo and ensemble performing, concert attendance, concert management and instrumental/vocal tuition as appropriate to the module pathway chosen. KT
006 Acquire appropriate technical musical vocabulary and employ it in succinct written form wherever necessary. K

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:

  • Develop students’ knowledge and skills in arranging so that they become used to working with instruments/voices other than their own and acquire the ability to transfer pre-existing music from one medium to another. This fosters practical understanding useful in a range of musical practices in and beyond higher education.

  • Broaden students’ knowledge of repertoire and musical style to encourage creative approaches to both arrangement and performance.

  • Develop students’ ability to work productively in small groups on both musical and logistical tasks in order to become effective collaborators at university and in the world of work.

  • Strengthen students’ technical foundation on their instrument/voice leading to finer control and more vivid expression.

  • Enhance students’ musicianship through both large and small group performance in particular listening acuity, rhythmic security, inter-group communication, responding to an MD/conductor and professional platform presentation.

  • Increase students’ self-awareness as musicians by requiring accurate documentation and reporting of their activity in all areas of the module.

The learning and teaching methods include:

  • Lectures delivering key module content including opportunities for tasks and discussion

  • Seminars in which students bring prepared work individually or in groups for teacher and peer feedback

  • Workshops in which a topic is explored in a more practical manner through music-making

  • One-to-one instrumental/vocal lessons for students on the performing and arranging ‘joint’ pathway

  • One-to-one/small group tutorials with the module lecturer for assistance with any aspect of lectures, feedback on work in progress or discussion of feedback on summative work. Tutorials are optional but highly recommended for making the most of the lecturer’s expertise

  • Learning through direct experience of participating in small and large (conducted/directed) ensembles

  • Learning from your peers by: attending seminars and receiving/giving feedback, working with more senior and experienced students when managing concerts, creating an arrangement as part of a group, playing/singing alongside them in ensembles

  • Learning from professional musicians by: attending ‘Music Professional Practice’ careers-focussed sessions, attending concerts put on by visitors to the Department

  • Undertaking your own independent study by: practicing your instrument/voice regularly, listening further to repertoire covered/mentioned on the module, reading around a topic using the module reading list, researching repertoire to perform following guidance from your teacher

  • Use of the University’s VLE ‘SurreyLearn’ to host lecture content and additional resources to support students in becoming independent learners.

Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list
Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: MUS1035

Other information

The Department of Music and Media is committed to developing graduates with attributes encompassing employability, digital skills, global and culture awareness, sustainability as it relates to music and the wider arts and, finally, resourcefulness and resilience.

Resourcefulness and Resilience: This module builds resourcefulness by challenging students to transfer various pieces of music from one instrumental/vocal medium to another that may well be very different, e.g. an electric guitar replacing a violin. The module teaches students to make the most of any instrumental and vocal resources they may possess. Musicians have to be resilient - learning an instrument involves overcoming technical difficulties and managing the stress of performing to an audience whether of peers or the public; practicing involves solving problems through informed experiment and hard work; having a productive relationship with a teacher involves being able to accept and act on constructive criticism of your playing/singing. Within the Department there are musicians of many different levels all of whom need to be aware of their own and each others’ strengths and weaknesses as they work together in performance.

Employability: This module also builds vital employability attributes by presenting students with many opportunities to work together as co-arrangers, performers in a large or small ensemble and as assistants to concert managers. These experiences teach the importance of listening, of communicating effectively, of knowing when to take the initiative, of being cooperative and reliable, of being patient and tolerant of difference. Such ‘people skills’ are extremely valuable to employers in a range of jobs across many different sectors.

Global and cultural capabilities: Students on the module are required to engage with a wide range of repertoire from different musical cultures ranging from folk music, to jazz, pop and the Western classical tradition. The module encourages students to value the musical resources of different cultures and investigate ways in which they can interact to create convincing hybrids rather than viewing them as exclusive. Guest artists visiting the department to give professional practice/careers talks, masterclasses and performances will bring their individual cultural ‘selves’ and, when planning events, the Department endeavours to represent a broad range of musical cultures; through the teaching and learning activities on the module students have the opportunity to interact with all these visitors.

Digital capabilities: In the formative classical transcription assessment students will be employing notation software such as Sibelius or Musescore to produce their work. The module will help support these digital skills by providing feedback on notational conventions and their use in digitally type-set notation. Students will likely also be using more ubiquitous software such as mobile phones for sharing recordings during group work; when producing a recording of their solo arrangements ‘arranging only’ students may have recourse to audio editing software in applications like GarageBand, Logic, Audacity, etc.

Additional information:     

Students choosing the ‘performing and arranging’ pathway are required to take tuition in a single instrument/voice only and may not change that discipline without re-auditioning. Such re-auditions will only take place between academic years, and students wishing to re-audition must inform the module leader by the end of the preceding July. The assumption is that you will continue with the same instrument, style and tutor as you were having at the preceding level.

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Music BMus (Hons) 1 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Creative Music Technology BMus (Hons) 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2024/5 academic year.