Composition BMus

  • Overview
  • Course Content
  • Special Features
  • Teaching & Assessment
  • Employability
  • Fees
  • Entry Criteria

About the Course

NSSNSS results show Music at Brunel as the 2nd best university in the country for overall satisfaction in Music.

This programme is aimed at students who wish to study musical composition to an advanced level. It provides a grounding in the main compositional techniques of the 20th and 21st centuries, and helps you to use this understanding in your original work. There are regular opportunities to hear your work played, you will be free to pursue options in performance, sonic art, and musicology in addition to your compulsory composition modules.

Practical music-making

Brunel’s Department of Arts and Humanities has a strong tradition of practical music-making and there are a number of ensembles that you can participate in, including the New Music Ensemble, Jazzbridge, Brunel Vox and New Noise. The Brunel Arts holds regular lunchtime and evening concerts featuring visiting performers, music students and staff.

Music at Brunel also has a number of artists and ensembles in association: currently these are Apartment House, Piano Circus, and Leafcutter John.


The skills and experience gained during this course will be useful to anyone wishing to become a composer, whether of concert music or for broadcast, theatre or education.


Colin Riley
Department of Arts and Humanities
College of Business, Arts and Social Sciences
Brunel University London
Middlesex UB8 3PH

Tel +44 (0)1895 266582

Related Courses

Course Content

The degree course is modular. Modules are worth 20 or 40 credits and you must complete 120 credits for each year of your degree programme.

All music students take the same modules in Year 1 (Performance I can be taken in a variety of ways and does not necessarily require a solo performance).

In years 2 and 3 you will have a wide range of optional modules to choose from; some of these topics can be taken at either Level 2 or Level 3. The final year project requires you to carry out in-depth research on a topic of particular interest to you - many composition students choose a composition project for this.

The BMus consists of both compulsory and optional modules, a typical selection can be found below. Modules can vary from year to year, but these offer a good idea of what we teach.


Level 1


Composition I


Materials of Music 

Musicology I: Histories, Forms and Structures 

Sound Recording and Sonic Arts 

Performance I 


Level 2


Composition II 


Musicology II: Genres 

Performance II (Classical or Experimental) 

Performance II (Popular Music or Jazz) 

Sonic Arts II 

Conducting and Realisation 

Instrumentation and Orchestration 

Music and Perception 

Popular Music Studies 

Stylistic Improvisation 

Free Improvisation 

Jazz and Pop arranging 

Professional Development


Level 3


Composition III 

Special Project 



Musicology III: towards the new music 

Performance III (Classical or Experimental) 

Performance III (Popular Music or Jazz) 

Sonic Arts III 

Conducting and Realisation 

Instrumentation and Orchestration 

Music and Perception 

Popular Music Studies 

Stylistic Improvisation 

Free Improvisation 

Jazz and Pop Arranging 

Professional Development 

Read more about the structure of undergraduate degrees at Brunel and what you will learn on the course.

Special Features

  • Facilities include a computer suite fully equipped for sound design and notation, studios for individual work, individual practice rooms and larger spaces for group rehearsals.

  • There is a vibrant student performance culture on campus comprising several ensembles performing contemporary and classical music, improvisation, jazz, and live electronics.

  • You will be part of a highly dynamic music department with a strong profile in the Greater London area. The University hosts weekly recitals and concerts, and our new Arts@Artaud series showcases new performance work by students, staff and visiting artists in the newly refurbished surroundings of the Antonin Artaud building.

Facts and Figures

Brunel has an unequalled concentration of contemporary music practitioners of national and international reputation, including the composers John Croft, Carl Faia, Christopher Fox, Harald Muenz, Colin Riley, Jennifer Walshe and Peter Wiegold, the pianist Sarah Kingdom, the jazz musician Frank Griffith, and the musicologist Bob Gilmore.

The presence of associate artists and ensembles including Piano Circus and Distractfold provides an incomparable resource that few institutions can match.

Teaching and Learning

The music staff includes some of the country’s leading composers and performers, with teaching and research strengths in composition (both acoustic and studio-based), performance, musicology and socio-critical musicology. Modules on the course reflect the expertise of the staff and focus on technique and interpretation in contemporary music performance, as well as relevant cultural and historical issues.


Each subject employs a wide range of assessment methods including coursework, individual and group projects, oral presentations, practical work and some written examinations.


Brunel’s music courses help develop a wide range of vocational, collaborative and transferable skills that are highly attractive to employers in industry and commerce. Students have the opportunity, for example, to develop IT ability and highly sought-after presentation and communications skills during the course.


Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey

The number of students participating in the DLHE survey from Music was small. The statistics below include graduates from Music, Creative Music and Technology, Contemporary Music and Performance, Music Composition and Sonic Arts. With findings based on small numbers of graduates they should be treated with some caution as one or two graduates in any one category may disproportionately affect the total numbers.

In 2013/14, six months after graduating:

Read more about graduate destinations for this subject area

A high proportion of our Music graduates have either progressed to postgraduate study at a university or conservatoire or have entered the music profession as performers, composers, teachers and technicians. Others have entered arts administration, publishing, the media and management.

Graduates have gone on to work for prestigious companies, within a broad range of careers, such as:

  • Universal (Decca)
  • English National Opera
  • Chief Executive, Shoreditch Town Hall, London
  • Music Therapist, Music for Health Research Centre
  • Freelance Bassist
  • Sound editor for Hollywood movies
  • Teacher, Head of Music
  • Admin Producer, London Sinfonietta
  • Arts admin at the Arts Council
  • Performing/Recording artist
  • Librarian, Royal Opera House
  • Venue Management Assistant, 606 Jazz Club
  • Singer-Songwriter
  • Systems Engineer for Apple, New York

At Brunel we provide many opportunities and experiences within your degree programme and beyond – work-based learning, professional support services, volunteering, mentoring, sports, arts, clubs, societies, and much, much more – and we encourage you to make the most of them, so that you can make the most of yourself.

» More about Employability

Fees for 2016/7 entry

UK/EU students: £9,000 full-time; £6,750 part-time

International students: £14,100 full-time

See our fees and funding page for full details of scholarships available to Brunel applicants

Fees quoted are per annum and are subject to an annual increase.

Entry Requirements 2016/7

  • GCE A-level BBB, including A-level Music (all subjects considered)
  • BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma DDD in Music.
  • BTEC Level 3 Diploma DD in a related subject with an A-Level at grade B.
  • BTEC Level 3 Subsidiary Diploma D in a related subject with A-Levels grade BB.
  • International Baccalaureate Diploma 30 points in Higher Level 5 in Music.
  • Access to Higher Education Diploma Complete and pass Access to Music course with 45 credits at level 3 with Merits in all units. Applicants who are not taking A-Level music or grade 7/8 music but are musically inclined may be asked to take a short test.

All candidates without A-level Music at grade B or equivalent or Grade 8 ABRSM, LCMM or Trinity College will be required to pass a brief entrance test, details of which will be provided upon application.

GCSE Mathematics grade C and GCSE English grade C are also required.

Please check our Admissions pages for more information on other factors we use to assess applicants as well as our full GCSE requirements and accepted equivalencies in place of GCSEs.

Entry criteria are subject to review and change each academic year.

For non-EU qualification equivalencies, please check the relevant country entry criteria.

International and EU Entry Requirements

If your country or institution is not listed or if you are not sure whether your institution is eligible, please contact Admissions

This information is for guidance only by Brunel University London and by meeting the academic requirements does not guarantee entry for our courses as applications are assessed on case-by-case basis.

English Language Requirements

  • IELTS: 6.5 (min 5.5 in all areas)
  • Pearson: 58 (51 in all subscores)
  • BrunELT: 65% (min 55% in all areas)

Brunel University London strongly recommends that if you will require a Tier 4 visa, you sit your IELTS test at a test centre that has been approved by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) as being a provider of a Secure English Language Test (SELT). Not all test centres have this status. The University can accept IELTS (with the required scores) taken at any official test centre or other English Language qualifications we accept as meeting our main award entry requirements.

However, if you wish to undertake a Pre-sessional English course to further improve your English prior to the start of your degree course, you must sit the test at an approved SELT provider. This is because you will only be able to apply for a Tier 4 student visa to undertake a Pre-sessional English course if you hold a SELT from a UKVI approved test centre. Find out more information about it.

Brunel also offers our own BrunELT English Test and accepts a range of other language courses. We also have Pre-sessional English language courses for students who do not meet these requirements, or who wish to improve their English.

Our International Pathways and Language Centre offers a number of foundation and pre-masters courses to provide you with the academic skills required for your chosen course.

Page last updated: Wednesday 18 May 2016