Music (Composition) MMus

A programme designed to prepare you for a variety of careers including performance, composition, teaching, arts administration and music journalism.

Why Surrey?

The MMus can help prepare you for a variety of careers including performance, composition, teaching, arts administration and music journalism. The programme also provides ideal preparation for future research work at PhD level.

Programme overview

The purpose of the MMus degree is to train students to advanced levels in the academic, practical and technical areas of music.

The programme is distinctive in its range of musicological, vocational and practice-based elements. You will benefit from the diversity of our research strengths and our reputation for excellent teaching. You will take two compulsory research training modules which develop academic, writing and presentational skills, as well as providing an introduction to contemporary developments in musical practice and research.

You will then take a combination of compulsory pathway-related modules and options. Having completed the Postgraduate Diploma stage of the programme, you will progress to Masters stage and submit a folio of work in your chosen specialism

The Composition pathway is designed to develop your individual compositional style and technique through tutorial guidance and opportunities for performances, workshops and recordings in the School. Various stylistic and generic strands can be taken up either individually or in combination, including concert music, popular music, jazz, music for screen and multimedia, and computer sound design.

Module overview

Compulsory modules

Research Training for Practitioners A and B

The first of these modules introduces methodology relevant to understanding and undertaking practice as research, ensuring, as part of this process, that students’ bibliographic and writing skills are developed and strengthened. Bringing together all students on practice-based pathways, a context is provided that allows for the exchange and cross-fertilisation of ideas and experiences. By incorporating the diverse skills of the module cohort, the second module is based around a collaborative practical project, developed and performed as a means of developing critical insight into the nature of practice-based research methods.

Composition A and B and Composition Folio

The Composition modules build from exercise-based and small ensemble work through to autonomously produced portfolios. There are no stylistic or generic restrictions on the programme and staff expertise caters for a variety of approaches to the discipline, ranging from score-based instrumental music, through improvisation, popular and jazz compositions, to works involving electronics. The music you produce may be for the concert hall or a multimedia environment such as film and TV.

Optional modules

Conducting A and B *

(Optional for students on Performance or Composition pathways.)

Orchestral Management 1 and 2

While UK orchestras lead the world, there is a lack of coherent orchestral management training and professional development in the UK. Music at Surrey has long-established relationships with several symphony orchestras, especially those based in London; in association with the Association of British Orchestras, we have developed two new, innovative modules in orchestral management. You will gain insight and understanding of the major factors and key issues governing orchestral management and development through a taught module with input from managers and practitioners associated with the UK’s leading orchestras, and by a module of situated study with an orchestra allowing you to observe, shadow, interview and engage in professional dialogue with orchestral managers, administrators and players. You will also be introduced to Action Learning facilitation and be part of an Action Learning set.

Performance A and B *

(Optional for students on Composition or Conducting pathways.)

Screen Music Studies

This module explores the latest issues in the history, aesthetics and techniques of scoring the moving image. Challenging established frameworks, it looks at diegetics, narrative, temporality, ‘visual music’, surrealism, the avant garde, pre-existent music, Hollywood and non-Hollywood practice, and genre studies, as well as giving an opportunity to score a film / TV excerpt.

Studio Techniques

The purpose of this module is to enable you to develop and refine skills in recording and manipulating acoustic sound using a ‘home studio’ set-up. The module facilitates a wide range of approaches including producing a seamlessly edited recording, assembling separately recorded tracks and the creative use of sampling, synthesis and other computer audio techniques. The possible applications of this module range from producing a demo CD/showreel of performances to studio-based instrumental compositions and entirely electro-acoustic works.

Level 6 Undergraduate Modules

Up to two modules may be chosen from the final-year undergraduate programmes in Music and Creative Music Technology, including African American Music, Historical Performance Practice, Compositional Techniques, Contemporary Issues in the Cultural Industries, Compositional Programming, Applied Music, Digital Improvisation 2, 19th Century Aesthetics, Pluralism in Western Music, Anglo Celtic Song Traditions, Opera Studies, Baroque Fugue in Practice, Musical Theatre, Rock Track Poetics and Jazz Studies 2. The MMus Programme Director should be consulted for confirmation of the modules on offer in any given year.

* Enrolment on these modules is subject to a satisfactory audition or portfolio of work.


Surrey postgraduate music students have entered a wide variety of careers and further study:

  • Doctoral research (Surrey, Oxford, Royal Holloway and elsewhere)
  • Professional conducting and performance (Bath Philharmonic, Guildford Opera)
  • University lecturing (Durham, Keele, Liverpool, Surrey)
  • Teaching (Winchester College, Yeovil Sixth Form College)
  • Arts administration
  • Journalism (Classical Guitar magazine)
  • Record production (Signum Classics)

Programme aim

Postgraduate music programmes at Surrey are designed in recognition of the changing profiles and needs of advanced musical practice and research, both inside and outside the academy. Our programmes have the flexibility necessary for you to fully develop your individual interests in the practical or academic study of music. Our aim is to train you to the highest level in the creative, re-creative, technical, critical, academic and vocational areas of the subject.

Selection process

Potential applicants may make an appointment for an informal interview with the Programme Director if practicable. All applicants will be asked either to submit a sample of written work, a DVD of their performance, or samples of their compositional work, or to sit an audition depending on their chosen specialism.

Short-course opportunities

The School welcomes applications from students who wish to undertake one module of study from the master’s programme.

Music at Surrey

Music activities at Surrey are characterised by two qualities: integration and breadth. We have a bias towards the music of modernity; consequently, the majority of our taught modules and research addresses music since the mid-nineteenth century. However, your interests will be encouraged and developed, whether your interests lie in composing, performance, sound design or musicology. Each pathway permits flexibility in what you study and no musical activity you might want to engage in is regarded as of less intrinsic value than any other.

The School boasts expertise in a range of musical fields, including concert music, popular music, film music, opera, acoustic, electronic and computer-generated music. This expertise is extended to musical techniques, historical study, analysis, aesthetics and cultural study. We also oversee a range of ensembles, including symphony and pops orchestras, jazz choirs and big bands, chamber ensembles and ad hoc groups, all of which enable your focus to be as narrow, or as wide, as you wish.

This breadth is reinforced by our approaches to research, and the questions we address. In short, music within the Department is vibrant, forward-looking and distinctive. And, as our performance activities are very much the public face of the University, we play a valued role in making music accessible to a wide range of people.

Music research at Surrey

Our work achieves wide international circulation, both through established scholarly channels and, distinctively, through broadcast media (such as BBC TV, Channel 4, BBC Radio 3 and Radio 4, and National Public Radio in the USA). School staff are much in demand for pre-concert talks at venues such as London’s South Bank and Barbican centres. The research environment at Surrey is sustained by open discussion and debate, and through the regular airing of work-in-progress. Our work is strengthened by the ready input of our peers and research students at various stages allowing collective engagement to foster innovation. 

Related programmes

Postgraduate (Taught)

Professional development

Related departments/schools

Related research areas

Programme leader

Dr Milton Mermikides

Find out more

General enquiries:

+44 (0)1483 681 681

Admissions enquiries:


Programme facts

Type of programme:


Programme length:

  • Full-time: 12 months
  • Part-time: 24 months

Start date:

Sep 2016

Entry Requirements

View entry requirements by country

English language requirements

We offer intensive English language pre-sessional courses, designed to take you to the level of English ability and skill required for your studies here.


Study mode Start date UK/EU fees Overseas fees
Full-time Sep 2016 £6,000 £15,000
Part-time Sep 2016 £3,000 £7,500

Please note these fees are for the academic year 2016/2017 only. Annual fees will rise by four per cent (rounded up to the nearest £100) for each year of study.

A complete list of all fees for our Masters Programmes


Discounts for Surrey graduates

Thinking of continuing your education at Surrey? As an alumnus of Surrey you may be eligible for a ten per cent discount on our taught Masters programme fees. Learn more.

For more details

Scholarship awards for Masters programmes in the School of Arts

As part of the University of Surrey’s commitment to providing excellent learning opportunities for all, we are delighted to offer four £3,000 scholarship awards for study on the MA Creative Practices and Direction and MMus Music programmes. The awards are open to all applicants seeking to begin full-time study in October 2016. Find out more information or submit an application form by 6 May 2016.

For more details

Admissions Information

Our Admissions Policy provides the basis for admissions practice across the University and gives a framework for how we encourage, consider applications and admit students.

Further information for applicants

Postgraduate Study Advice

Steps to Postgraduate Study is an official, independent guide for anyone considering a taught postgraduate course. The guide is produced by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, the Scottish Funding Council and the Department for Employment and Learning, Northern Ireland.

Find out more


Modules listed are indicative, reflecting the information available at the time of publication. Please note that not all modules described are compulsory and may be subject to teaching availability and/or student demand.

Upcoming Events

Our alumni