Module code: MUS1036

Module Overview

This module has a flexible, three-pathway, format that allows students to improve their musicianship in ways that reflect their musical interests and skills. The module also ensures there are opportunities for all students to acquire knowledge, skills and experience in key areas: collaboration (between composers and performers), group work (when performing in an ensemble or taking part in concert management activity), documentation and presentation skills (in compiling a record of performance activities during the semester). Students will continue to be exposed to the Department's culture and 'infrastructure' around performance, such as the role of concert management and the different types of ensembles available to participate in, but will be starting from a more familiar base than in semester 1 with the potential to contribute more visibly and impactfully to music making in  the Department. The module continues to build resilience as students reflect on their work as ensemble performers and assistants at Departmental concerts, identifying what went well and what could be improved, thereby laying the ground to develop further in year 2 and 3 performance modules. All students continue to learn from seminars given by invited speakers, in which a range of sectors within the music industry are represented, and from attending concerts by visiting artists to the Department where they can witness professional performance at first hand. 

The module has three pathways: 'composing' suits students with some experience in composition, providing an opportunity not only to consolidate key techniques in developing musical ideas but to work in slightly larger musical forms according to broadly defined models; 'composing and performing' suits students looking to acquire experience or build confidence in composition whilst continuing to develop their performance skills - here, the initial compositional exercises that underpin the first half of the module provide accessible building blocks of compositional technique; 'performing' suits students who prefer to focus on performing through combining their one-to-one lessons with intensive practice time. In all pathways, students experience performing as part of large or small ensembles and become involved in the performing culture of the Department. The module further 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

Independent Learning Hours: 109

Lecture Hours: 12

Seminar Hours: 10

Tutorial Hours: 1

Guided Learning: 6

Captured Content: 12

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Indicative content includes:

  • Techniques for composing with melodic and harmonic elements of tonal and modal music

  • Analysis and discussion of existing compositions in a wide variety of styles 

  • Live performances/recordings of practical work in class

  • Idiomatic instrumental and vocal writing as appropriate to instruments played by the module cohort

  • Experience of composer/performer collaboration 

  • Learning and preparing new instrumental/vocal repertoire oriented towards the development of instrumental technique and musicianship

  • Performing that repertoire in concerts and seminars and, if appropriate, in studio recordings

  • Acquiring new/improved technical skills on your instrument/voice, and consolidating previously-learned skills

  • Undertaking event management to acquire and enhance relevant skills

  • Learning and performing repertoire for choir/chamber choir/orchestra and/or other medium/large ensembles

  • Effective techniques for observing, reporting and documenting your management, performance and concert-going activities.

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting

Alternative Assessment

Musicianship 1 will have an alternative assessment for Solo Performance 1 consisting of either programme notes (750 words) or a commentary (750 words) explaining your choice of repertoire and your interpretative decisions about piece(s) you would have played. Musicianship 2 will have an alternative assessment for Solo Performance 2 consisting of either programme notes (750 words) or a commentary (750 words) explaining your choice of repertoire and your interpretative decisions about the piece(s) 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 end of the module. Assessment is focused heavily around practical music-making activities involving the production of small-scale composition exercises and pieces and/or short performances of music prepared with guidance from students' assigned teachers. The pairing of composers with performers ensures that assessments in composition are underpinned by collaboration. 

Students on a pathway including performance are directly assessed through a short solo performance. All students are also indirectly assessed on performing in an ensemble by 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 (the online folio - see below) is 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. 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) 1-4EITHER ('Performing and Composing' and 'Composing' pathways) a portfolio of five compositional exercises open to a variety of musical styles and genres (addressing LOs 1-2 and 4), OR ('Performing' pathway) live performance of a piece/pieces (in private in front of two examiners) lasting about 4-5 minutes with an optional 300 word commentary explaining your interpretation of the music (addressing LO 3). 

  • Musicianship 2, addressing learning outcomes (LOs) 1-4EITHER ('Composing' pathway) a piece for 3-5 players lasting 3-5 minutes (addressing LOs 1-2 and 4), OR ('Performing and Composing' and 'Performing' pathways) live performance of a piece/pieces (in private in front of two examiners) lasting about 4-5 minutes with an optional 300 word commentary explaining your interpretation of the music (addressing LO 3). 

  • Online Folio, 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 composition (assessments that don’t contribute to the module mark and enable students to monitor their learning) are offered in the five seminars that alternate with the lectures. On these occasions students' exercises are performed (live or recorded) and feedback is given by the lecturer and students' peers. 

  • 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' confidence and ability in working creatively with tonal/modal materials through a progressive series of fortnightly small-scale composition exercises
  • Introduce students to a range of techniques for tonal/modal composition by studying examples composed in genres including classical, folk, pop/rock and jazz
  • Deepen students' experience of composing for their own instrument or voice in a live context by writing solo and ensemble exercises and pieces
  • Develop students' experience of composing for other instruments and performers in a live context by partnering with other performers on the module
  • Introduce and develop a range of skills and techniques appropriate to working on an instrument/voice in order to create effective practise and performance strategies that will help students to identify and remedy technical challenges, play/sing securely in performance and understand the relationship between thorough preparation and self-confidence as a performer
  • Reinforce students' skills and sharpen their perceptions as solo and ensemble performers thereby increasing awareness in performance, enhancing communication with an audience and improving their ability to cope with performance anxiety
  • Consolidate students' aural and critical listening skills through ensemble music making and by appraising compositions and performances by peers and visiting artists
  • 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
  • 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.
  • Foster collaboration between composers and performers so that the former can develop their knowledge of instrumental/vocal idiom and the latter can gain experience of working with composers to develop their ideas

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 If a composition pathway is chosen you will acquire a range of techniques to create and manipulate tonal and modal musical ideas. These will develop resourcefulness as you compose short exercises and pieces that offer different constraints to work against. KP
005 All pathways require you to work effectively in groups of differing sizes across musical and management activities by listening, exercising patience, being reliable, showing proactivity and taking personal responsibility. PT
006 All pathways strengthen your ability to document and report on the range of activities covered in module assessments including composing, solo and ensemble performing, concert attendance, concert management and instrumental/vocal tuition as appropriate. CT
002 If a composition pathway is chosen you will gain experience in composing effectively for a range of instruments played by students on the module. Your knowledge of instrumental and vocal idioms as well as appropriate forms of notation will deepen as a result of this work. P
003 If a performance pathway is chosen you will acquire an increasing range of technical/musical skills (including strategies for effective practice and rehearsal) appropriate to your repertoire and suitable as a foundation for further study. KCP
004 All pathways promote the importance of collaboration and you will develop communication and interpersonal skills as you collaborate with your peers as either a performer or composer. These skills will establish a firm basis for live or recorded music making later in your programme. PT

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:

  • Enhance students' ability to compose confidently and creatively with melodic and harmonic elements of tonal/modal music in order that they have a secure technical basis to build on in future modules involving composition

  • Develop students' knowledge of a range of instruments played by their peers on the module so that they can compose idiomatically for them

  • Foster the skills needed for effective collaboration with peers so that students can work productively and beneficially together

  • Provide opportunities for students to think about and explain their working methods in composition and/or performance so that they can become articulate practitioners 

  • Build on existing instrumental/vocal skills leading to enhanced musicianship, expressivity and confidence

  • Develop students' ensemble skills such as musical awareness, adaptability and responding to musical direction 

  • Strengthen students' aural and listening skills to increase musical perception and awareness

  • Sharpen students' awareness of professionalism in activities such as concerts, concert management and recording 

  • Acquire experience and practical skills in event management so that students understand everything that contributes to supporting successful performance

  • Practice observation, reporting and documentation skills so that students can build a holistic account of their musicianship during the semester 

The learning and teaching methods include:

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

  • Seminars in which students bring music composed in response to a task and receive teacher and peer feedback  

  • One-to-one instrumental/vocal tuition for students on either of the pathways containing performance

  • Small ensemble coaching sessions for performers given by staff and with feedback from peers

  • 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, playing/singing alongside them in ensembles, and collaborating with them as either a performer or composer

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

  • Undertaking your own independent study by: practicing your instrument/voice regularly, composing additional versions of exercises, 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: MUS1036

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 in composers by challenging them to compose short exercises that confine them to a single compositional technique. For experienced composers this will be a chance to put themselves 'under the microscope' to improve their technique. For students newer to composition these structured exercises help to build confidence. Composers of all abilities are further challenged to employ a range of styles throughout the exercises and demonstrate how they are expanding their musical tastes. Finally all composers are given opportunities to rework their exercises and to offer additional solutions; this challenges them to discover ways of making an initial idea (that might not always be promising) ever more effective and convincing. 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 collaborators with performers/composers, 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 composition assessments students will employ 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 or recording practice sessions/rehearsals. When producing a recording of their small ensemble pieces students on the 'composing' pathway may have recourse to audio editing software in applications like GarageBand, Logic, Cubase, Audacity, etc. Although the module does not specifically support skills in digital audio, formative feedback may well touch on matters of music production. The online folio component gives an opportunity for students to get to grips with ways to use the web to present and organise materials in different media through the use of platforms such as Padlet or various commercial website builders. 

Additional information:     

Students who also took Pathways in Musicianship A will continue studying the same instrument/voice as in semester one. Students choosing the 'composing and performing' and ‘performing’ pathways are required to take tuition in a single instrument/voice only and may not change that 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 and Sound Recording (Tonmeister) BSc (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Music and Sound Recording (Tonmeister) BMus (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Music BMus (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Creative Music Technology BMus (Hons) 2 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.