In your first year you will explore creative and technical approaches to music composition and sound design, particularly their relationship with film, theatre, animation, advertising, and games design. You’ll discover how a creative environment can be enhanced or changed through the introduction of music and/or sound and learn the basic toolkits of your craft. You’ll begin to explore, develop and apply your creative skills through a series of practical projects which will contribute to the development of your portfolio of work. Integral to your studies will be learning about how the music business works and how to make it work for you, and your practical studies will be supported by a unit that looks at the history of sound and electronic music.
Adventures in Sound and Music (BA/BSc)
This unit introduces you to the basic concepts of creating and designing sound and music for the screen. You’ll explore the physical properties of sound, and the technical tools required for recording and working with audio. You’ll consider questions such as: What is sound? How is it captured/recorded? How is it reproduced/played back? How is it manipulated?
Exploring Narrative (BA/BSc)
As a music composer or sound designer, you will need to produce soundtracks for different media including films, animations, and computer games. This unit provides an opportunity to consider appropriate forms of sound and music for different media and also explore thematic development and genre.
Sonic Art (BA/BSc)
You will explore the powerful effect of sound and music in a space or environment and consider how our interpretation and reading of sound and music changes with the environment and vice-versa. You will consider the work of artists and musicians working in this area, for example Susan Phillipsz, Janet Cardiff, Laurie Anderson and Bill Fontana. You will also start to think about the environment as a theatre for staging dramatic performances and performance work.
Studio Toolkit 1 (BA/BSc)
This unit introduces you to the fundamental techniques and processes of audio production and engineering. You will use a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) to explore the fundamental techniques that audio engineers use to manipulate sound, including attenuation, compression, equalisation and filters. By listening to existing recordings, you’ll learn how to identify these techniques and additive effects such as reverberation, delay, flange, and phase. This will give you a grounding in the aesthetic choices and decision-making processes of sonic artists, engineers and producers.
Beats and Bleeps 1 (BA/BSc)
You will develop an understanding of the roots of electronic music beyond conventional instrumentation, and an appreciation of the impact it has had on art, popular music culture and society. You will explore the birth of electronic music and its evolution from modern art music, through university-led electro-acoustic composition to pop music. You’ll investigate how and why electronic music accompanies many other forms of popular culture such as film and advertising, and will be introduced to the relevant theoretical concepts in order to examine these audio 'revolutions' and the part they played in society.
In your second year you will begin to form a technical and theoretical understanding of sound, wave forms and the physics of sound while familiarising yourself with a range of software packages that you will need for your career as a composer or sound designer. In the second term, you will decide whether you wish to take more technical units, which will determine whether you will graduate with a BSc or BA degree. You’ll be introduced to the music and sound business and will have the opportunity to either go on work experience or work with Acting & Performance students on a project to create the sound design or compose the music for performances.
Studio Toolkit 2 (BA/BSc)
Building on your knowledge of the technical implementation of audio, you will investigate how different tools can be used to solve more sophisticated audio problems. You’ll explore software that enables you to work creatively in both linear and non-linear environments. This will help you make an informed decision as to whether you wish to pursue the BA (Hons) or BSc (Hons) route for your final award.
Linear Brief (BA)
You will learn how to communicate with a client and to plot a workflow, for both short and long timeframe projects, discovering how to prioritise different areas of a project depending on timeframe. You will explore the decisions around the allocation of budget to different resources in a project, plotting the ‘spend’ on players or additional technology resources in relation to the composer’s fee. You will critically reflect on the management of the project and the process of doing this within a given set of constraints.
Designing Interactivity (BSc)
In Designing Interactivity, you will explore the ways and means of creating sound and music to work in flexible, non-linear ways. You’ll study the use of sound/music in interactive contexts and develop interactive media sound tracks. Building on prior work exploring narrative, you’ll learn to plot and plan digital audio in creative ways. You’ll produce audio/music to an interactive brief, possibly through collaboration with Acting & Performance or Computer Games Arts students or you might create generative sound for video mapping projection or VJing.
Sound Advice (BA/BSc)
This unit introduces you to the current working structures and operations of the UK and global music and media industries, giving insights into how music producers, film/media producers and businesses interact with each other on a creative and commercial basis. You’ll explore the roles of various intermediaries that operate, and intervene, between music producers, film/media producers, the rights owners and the users/consumers.
Beats and Bleeps 2 (BA/BSc)
We live in a consumer culture where sound and images play a fundamental role in determining social meaning and value. You’ll look at the role of audiences, politics and ideologies in historical, geographical and contemporary culture. You’ll consider hierarchies of lifestyle, taste and identity within a range of contexts, from club culture, music video, film, games and fashion shows.
Self-Generated Project or Work Experience (BA/BSc)
For this unit you will be required to research, negotiate and undertake a legitimate self-initiated work experience/placement opportunity – the business you choose must be appropriate to the music, sound or media industries and designed to meet your own aspirational and identified developmental needs. Alternatively you can choose to undertake placement on a music tour. The work experience/placement or tour should last for a minimum of two weeks or ten working days.
This is a group project in collaboration with Acting & Performance students, working under the supervision of practitioners based at the Farnham Maltings. You’ll instigate, provide content for and manage a two-day festival on campus.
In your third year you will follow your elected BA or BSc path and will undertake a substantial body of work to create a showreel. This may be self-originated or in collaboration with students from Animation, Film Production, Acting & Performance, Computer Games Arts or in the Fine Art area. This body of work will be supported by either a dissertation, or a combined written and practical research project. You will build your knowledge of the industry and begin to launch yourself into your career through the construction of a personal website and business plan.
Dissertation or Practice as Research (BA/BSc)
This unit consists of a substantial period of sustained, individually negotiated research on a subject that is likely to be related to the contextual and/or theoretical concerns of your discipline or chosen area of practice, towards the provision of structured written argument.
Practice as Research:
This unit consists of two elements – a 2,500-word contextual paper and an individually negotiated Music Composition or Sound Design Project which practically explores and investigates the issue, concern, practice or theory raised in your contextual paper. The research is designed for you to locate and explore your practice in a theoretical context.
The Sound Business (BA/BSc)
In this unit you’ll have the opportunity to bring together all your creative projects, skills and knowledge to form a professional practice ‘package’ designed for music and media industry clients, customers, users and intermediaries. Once you have this you can present yourself and your music and/or media projects to the industry.
This unit consolidates your technical knowledge and practical skills in music composition and/or sound design with your collaborative and conceptual abilities. You will build a showreel of up to 30 minutes of original work, appropriate to your chosen genre(s).
So much music is about collaborations and partnerships. The course has a wide and varied network of industry partners that provide us with performance opportunities, guest lectures, and work placements.
Some of our industry links include:
- Audient - Mixing consoles and interfaces
- ECME – Edinburgh Contemporary Music Ensemble
- The Gildas Quartet - String Quartet based in Manchester and London
- Lamb Films – Video and film production company based in Belfast
- We Are OCA - New Music Collective
- The Sonic Lodge - Recording studio in Edinburgh
- Steinberg – Digital audio workstations and music notation software
- Surrey Music Hub
- Adventure Camera - mountain film producer Keith Partridge
- SoundVaultHQ – Podcast network.
We are also an official Avid Learning Partner.