Module code: MUSM049

Module Overview

This module helps to advance students' understanding of research techniques and research undertaken by musical practitioners - composers, performers, sonic artists, electronic musicians and so on. The module does this by placing students in groups to undertake a collaborative project in music (very broadly defined) and requiring them to document, reflect on and analyse the ensuing process. Through studying a collaborative process that they also are part of students become familiar with situating themselves as both the object and producer of the research - this is a situation that is common to practitioners in universities and, to an extent, in other music making communities. At the conclusion of the module students will have collaboratively produced and realised a project in music as well as created a blog in which they record their activities, reflections and analyses of the process involved in bringing the project to fruition. For students considering doctoral study in, say, composition or performance, this module will supply vital skills and experience to support artistic research. For students intending to work as freelance composers, musicians or music educators this module will help you consolidate your identity as an artistic practitioner and help you promote yourself and your work to prospetive employers, funders and clients.     

Module provider

Music and Media

Module Leader

ARMSTRONG Thomas (Music & Med)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 7

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

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 108

Lecture Hours: 8

Seminar Hours: 6

Practical/Performance Hours: 8

Guided Learning: 12

Captured Content: 8

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites

Completion of the compulsory module MUSM078 Research Training in semester 1. 

Module content

 The following is an indication of the likely content of the module:

  • Investigation of key literature around topics such as creativity, distributed creativity, risk, zone of proximal development, collaboration, ethnography and autoethnography that students can use to frame their reflective work, support their analysis and inform their collaborative practice. 

  • Tools for reflecting on and understanding musical and personal strengths and weaknesses.

  • Regular opportunities later in the module to collaborate in students' established groups with observation and debriefing from the module lecturer.

  • Guidance and discussion on how to initiate, research, and develop ideas collaboratively (including the use of social media); this may include the setting of an initial brief for the collaborative project. 

  • Introduction to blogs and blogging.

  • Presentations of work-in-progress.

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Practical based assessment COLLABORATIVE GROUP PROJECT 50

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate that they can work collaboratively towards an end product that is of high quality and that in so doing they utilise existing areas of skill/experience as well as improve in areas where they feel less assured (although not wholly inexperienced). Students are also able to demonstrate their ability to document, reflect on and evaluate the collaborative process and product they have been part of and produced. Assessment takes into account the quality of the collaborative product, the degree of collaboration evident in it and the clarity, perceptiveness and thoroughness with which the project has been documented and reflected on.   

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

  • A practical output of any kind and in any medium that has been devised and, if appropriate, presented collaboratively (addresses Learning Outcomes 1-3).

  • An online output that documents and reflects on the collaborative process underpinning the practical work and that is maintained throughout the module (addresses LOs 4-5)

  • The practical output is marked as a group and all students receive the same mark; each student receives an individual mark for the online output. 

Formative assessment

  • Observation by the module lecturer of students working collaboratively on several occasions throughout the module. 

  • Regular engagement by the module lecturer with students' evolving online output.


  • Feedback on formative assessments is given in oral and written form; the lecturer debriefs the whole class after observation of students' collaborations and replies in writing to their online output. 

  • Feedback on summative assessments is given in written form using a standard University format online via SurreyLearn. 

Module aims

  • Further develop students' core research skills acquired during the previous semester's Research Training module by documenting, analysing and critically reflecting on a collaborative project carried out during this semester's module.
  • Undertake collaborative practice to acquire the necessary skills and develop insights into this process of working together.
  • Reinforce experience of and confidence in positioning the self as both researcher and research subject.
  • Develop skills in online documentation, presentation and communication by compiling a blog throughout the module.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Creatively determine and realise a collaborative musical project by identifying the skills, abilities, and areas of specialism within a group of musicians, strategising to work effectively with limited resources and working productively as a member of a group including taking the lead when necessary. KPT
002 Demonstrate technical expertise and perform smoothly with precision and effectiveness; be able to adapt skills and design or develop new skills or procedures for new situations. P
003 Initiate, research and responsively develop ideas either in response to a brief or as determined by each group on the module. C
004 Apply appropriate methods and theories to conduct critically reflective research on personal and interpersonal activity throughout the module, arriving at informative insights and convincing conclusions. KC
005 Present documentation, critical reflection and findings in a blog format, effectively utilising the multimedia resources of the web and balancing the less formal style of a blog with the academic demands of work at Master's level. KCPT

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:

  • Guide students through selected literature on, for example, collaboration and creativity with which they can underpin their practical and written work on the module.

  • Introduce students to examples of contemporary musical practice that reveal the breadth of possibility for their projects and provide a context in which to situate them.

  • Examine the working practices of professional artists, including the module leader, particularly in respect of documentation, reflection and articulation of  artistic intent/vision/philosophy. 

  • Provide student groups with facilitated time in which they can collaborate and develop their ideas.

  • Facilitate peer learning so that student groups within the module are not working in isolation.

The learning and teaching methods include:

  • Lectures on key concepts that will underpin students' collaborative work and their written account of it; these sessions will also include case studies and exercises for which students will be asked to prepare in advance.

  • Guided reading of key texts followed by facilitated discussion within lectures; this introduces students to relevant scholarly writing and research that can inform their own collaborations and provide knowledge to build on through their own research.

  • Student presentations covering, for example, key interests and abilities they can offer potential collaborators and, in groups, summarising work in progress. These activities help to encourage peer learning and ensure the collaborative groups remain aware of each other's approach and progress.   

  • Class discussion either in response to lecture content, guided reading or students' own prior experience as it relates to the module content. 

  • Collaborative work in students' groups during class time with observation from the lecturer followed by a plenary debrief so that the whole class can benefit from the lecturer's advice. 

  • Collaborative work in students' groups outside class time in order to progress each project. 

  • Undertaking independent study individually involving researching, reading, documenting, reflecting on and writing up a blog about the collaborative project. 

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: MUSM049

Other information

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

Resourcefulness and resilience: resilience is required (and acquired) in collaboration in order to remain committed to and active in a process that does not revolve around a single individual but across many, each with their own skills, strengths and weaknesses. A successful collaboration results in some degree of change within all the participants because it requires them to contribute their unique skills but also to develop in areas where they may be less skilled. Harnessing the groups' skills in this mutual fashion requires resourcefulness - collaborators should not attempt to 'reinvent the wheel' but a successful collaboration should exceed the total skills of the participants, i.e. result in something that no group member could achieve alone.   

Employability: collaboration is not a straightforward process; it involves patience, empathy, the ability to listen, responsibility and concentration among other qualities. Taking part in a facilitated, but time limited, collaboration in which documentation and reflection are built in to the process means that students are able to focus on the dynamics of the group and their own evolving collaborative abilities. At the conclusion of the process they will both be more experienced and better informed about their effectiveness as collaborators. Being well versed in collaboration and being able to articulate this is beneficial in many areas of employment, be they freelance or organisation-based, because it enhances the ability to work productively with others.  

Global and cultural awareness: cohorts on the MMus are typically made up of a number of students from different cultures in both a global and musical sense - the cohort is frequently international and comprised of popular and classical musicians. It is also not uncommon for students to be at different life stages. The collaboration facilitated on this module is, therefore, an effective means of developing cultural and social awareness and sensitivity. It may also be the case that a project brief may have a cultural slant; recent briefs have, for example, included anniversaries of the fall of the Berlin wall and the voyage of the Mayflower. 

Digital skills: the online submission that documents and reflects on the collaboration is most effectively undertaken in a blog format; this supports the development of skills in the effective use of websites and harnessing of their multimedia potential. Each cohort will contain varying digital skills related to music and other arts, e.g. video, animation, gaming, and collaboration is an ideal method from which to benefit from the digital expertise of others. Collaborative projects may be realised in an entirely digital form and an effective process will provide many opportunities for collaborators to learn.     

Sustainability: collaborators do not waste their resources of time and energy by attempting to solve every problem or undertake every task themselves, instead they work as a group to harness their collective resources. Such an approach is effective at avoiding burnout or self-exploitation. Sustainability of a more concrete sort can be practiced on the module in terms of project themes and project management - meeting online to avoid group members having to travel for example.    

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Music MMus 2 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 50% 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.