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Composition BMus

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Mode of study

3-year full-time; 4.5 -6 year part-time



Start date


Composition BMus


About the course

Music at Brunel is ranked 5th in London for student satisfaction (National Student Survey 2016)

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
Email music-admissions@brunel.ac.uk

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 Assessment


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.


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 2017/18 entry

UK/EU students: £9,250 full-time; £6,935 part-time

International students: £14,400 full-time

Additional course related costs

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

Entry Criteria 2017/18

  • GCE A-level BBB-BBC, including Grade B in A-level Music (all subjects  considered)

           Performance at a Selection Day will influence the level the offer is set at.

  • BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma DDD in Music.
  • BTEC Level 3 Diploma DD in a related subject, with A-Level Music at grade B.
  • BTEC Level 3 Subsidiary Diploma D in a related subject, with A-Levels grade BB including Music.
  • International Baccalaureate Diploma 30 points, including 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.

All applicants are required to attend an audition as part of the selection process before a formal offer is made.

5 GCSEs to include Maths at Grade C and English Language at 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.

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

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. Find out more information about English course and test options.