Critical and Experimental Composition MMus

Year of entry

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Start date
September 2023
Delivery type
On campus
12 months full time
24 months part time
Entry requirements
A bachelor degree with a 2:1 (hons) in Music
Full entry requirements
English language requirements
IELTS 6.5 overall, with no less than 6.0 in any component
UK fees
£10,750 (total)
International fees
£24,000 (total)

Course overview

Critical and Experimental Composition MMus

This course gives you opportunities to develop your compositional creativity and technical fluency to an advanced level under the guidance of our expert staff. Our diverse composition staff are all experienced and active composers, enabling us to support a broad range of critical and experimental approaches to acoustic and electroacoustic composition, and to the intersections of these aesthetics.

Throughout the year you’ll take a combination of core modules helping you to develop your skills as a musician and composer. You’ll grow your academic skills, including research and presentation skills, as well as studying the principles of composition and different professional contexts. You’ll also develop an awareness of broader topics in the study of music through exploration of aesthetic theory to help you understand and develop your compositional voice.

Your major project will be a portfolio of original compositions, and you can pursue optional modules in other areas of music such as musicology, music psychology, performance or electronic and computer music. There are opportunities to try out new work, both formally and informally, and the School of Music’s contemporary music ensemble, LSTwo, often includes student compositions in its repertoire. The School enjoys a significant reputation for performance studies and a lively and full concert diary – much of which will provide useful material for study by students on this course.

We have a variety of excellent facilities to support your learning, including rehearsal, performance and practice spaces, a lab for studying the psychology of music and studios for sound recording, software development and computer music composition.

Take a tour of our School

Join School rep, Georgie, on a tour of our building and its specialist facilities to get a feel for life as a student in the School.

We also have good working relationships with a range of prestigious arts organisations: we host BBC Radio 3 concerts, Leeds Lieder and the Leeds International Piano Competition, as well as enjoying a close partnership with Opera North and many others in a city with a thriving music and cultural scene.

Course details

You’ll work on your own compositions during your course, developing a portfolio of original work supported and informed by a range of learning opportunities, from tutorials and lectures through to workshops with guest artists.

Throughout the year you’ll take a combination of core modules that allow you to develop your skills as a musician and composer.

You’ll also advance your academic skills, including research and presentation skills, as well as studying the principles of composition and different professional contexts.

You’ll broaden your awareness of wider topics in the study of music to help inform your practice through a core module in aesthetic theory. In addition, you’ll choose from the range of optional modules on offer across the School of Music depending on your individual interests and experience: options include performance, editing and archival studies, musicology, computer music, psychology of music and more.

If you choose to study part-time, you’ll study over a longer period and take fewer modules in each year.

Course structure

The list shown below represents typical modules/components studied and may change from time to time. Read more in our terms and conditions.

For more information and a full list of typical modules available on this course, please read Critical and Experimental Composition MMus Full Time in the course catalogue

For more information and a full list of typical modules available on this course, please read Critical and Experimental Composition MMus Part Time in the course catalogue

Year 1 compulsory modules

Module Name Credits
Composition Studies 30
Portfolio of Original Composition 60
Aesthetic Theory 30

Year 1 optional modules (selection of typical options shown below)

Module Name Credits
Creative Inquiry, Communication and Learning 30
Issues in Musicology 30
Short Dissertation 30
Individual Project 30
Instrumental or Vocal Recital 30
Electronic & Computer Music Practice 30
Electronic and Computer Music Case Studies 30
The Recording Industry Now 30
Case Studies in the Applied Psychology of Music 30
Audience, Engagement and Impact 30

Learning and teaching

Most of our taught modules will use seminars and tutorials, as well as lectures and instrumental or vocal lessons, depending on the modules you choose.

However, independent study is the backbone of this course, allowing you to build your skills and express your own creativity.

On this course you’ll be taught by our expert academics, from lecturers through to professors. You may also be taught by industry professionals with years of experience, as well as trained postgraduate researchers, connecting you to some of the brightest minds on campus.


You’ll submit original compositions as an important part of your assessment.

You will also write commentaries on your own work — drawing on musical/theoretical contexts — and more theoretical modules make use of written tasks such as essays and reports.

Optional modules may also involve assessment through recitals, transcriptions or critical editions, presentations or other forms of assessment.


Entry requirements

A bachelor degree with a 2:1 (hons) in music, or equivalent qualification

English language requirements

IELTS 6.5 overall, with no less than 6.0 in any component . For other English qualifications, read English language equivalent qualifications.

Improve your English

International students who do not meet the English language requirements for this programme may be able to study our postgraduate pre-sessional English course, to help improve your English language level.

This pre-sessional course is designed with a progression route to your degree programme and you’ll learn academic English in the context of your subject area. To find out more, read Language for Arts and Humanities (6 weeks) and Language for Social Science and Arts: Arts and Humanities (10 weeks).

We also offer online pre-sessionals alongside our on-campus pre-sessionals. Find out more about our six week online pre-sessional.

You can also study pre-sessionals for longer periods – read about our postgraduate pre-sessional English courses.

How to apply

We will consider applications from 1 October – 1 September.

However, we recommend you apply as early as possible, especially if you are planning to apply for external funding.

You will usually be expected to have an offer of a place on a course before you apply for funding.

You may also need to leave time to make arrangements such as visa applications or relocating to Leeds.

The ‘Apply’ link at the top of this page takes you to information on applying for taught programmes and to the University's online application system.

If you're unsure about the application process, contact the admissions team for help.

Documents and information you need

  • Your degree certificate and transcript, or a partial transcript if you’re still studying. Please provide official translations if applicable.

  • If English is not your first language, you’ll need to provide evidence of your English language qualification.

  • A personal statement in response to the questions asked in the supporting statement section of the application form..

  • A recent composition and recordings if you have them. These can include links to websites, Dropbox, Soundcloud, or similar.

  • If you are an international applicant and have previously studied in the UK on a Student Visa, please provide a copy of your Visa (and Residence Permit if applicable) to cover all the dates of your time in the UK, a copy of your CAS summary, and a copy of your completion/award certificate if applicable.

  • Please note that there are some optional modules available as part of our courses for which new students may be required to provide an example of their work, audition, or liaise with the relevant Module Leader first in order to assess suitability for entry on to the optional module. Assessment for optional modules with pre-requisites is not part of the admissions process. Offer holders are normally contacted by the School regarding optional modules in advance of their studies.

  • References may be requested.

  • Applicants are often invited for interview as part of the admissions process

The Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures receives very large numbers of high-quality applications and regrets that it cannot make offers to all of its applicants. Some particularly popular schools may have to reject many that hold the necessary academic qualifications.

Read about visas, immigration and other information in International students. We recommend that international students apply as early as possible to ensure that they have time to apply for their visa.

Admissions policy

University of Leeds Admissions Policy 2025

This course is taught by

School of Music

Contact us

Postgraduate Admissions



UK: £10,750 (total)

International: £24,000 (total)

Read more about paying fees and charges.

Part-time fees
Fees for part-time courses are normally calculated based on the number of credits you study in a year compared to the equivalent full-time course. For example, if you study half the course credits in a year, you will pay half the full-time course fees for that year.

Additional cost information

There may be additional costs related to your course or programme of study, or related to being a student at the University of Leeds. Read more on our living costs and budgeting page.

Scholarships and financial support

If you have the talent and drive, we want you to be able to study with us, whatever your financial circumstances. There may be help for students in the form of loans and non-repayable grants from the University and from the government.  Find out more at Masters funding overview.

Find out more about scholarships and funding opportunities available in the School of Music.

Career opportunities

Composition tutors have connections with performers, ensembles, and festivals in all corners of the globe. These relationships can be useful for your professional development, giving you an insight into issues such as funding, publicity and other aspects of working life for professional freelance composers.

Many of our graduates choose to continue and refine their research by applying for PhD level study. Several of our existing PhD students also completed their Masters courses here at Leeds.

We have other resources to support you as you develop your career plans too – the School of Music has an Alumni Mentoring Network, where you can be supported by past students as you plan your next steps.

Reach your potential

HHear more about the School and Faculty support you can access from our employability lead, Professor Karen Burland.

Careers support

We encourage you to prepare for your career from day one. That’s one of the reasons Leeds graduates are so sought after by employers.

The Careers Centre and staff in your faculty provide a range of help and advice to help you plan your career and make well-informed decisions along the way, even after you graduate. Find out more about Careers support.

Alumni profile: Jordan Gammon

The course helped me come into my own and find my own identity as a composer in music. It allowed me to express my creativity and experiment with new tools which helped set me up for PhD study.
Find out more about Jordan Gammon's time at Leeds

Student profile: Ed Cooper

I wanted to be able to hit the ground running and get myself into the best position to apply for PhDs in the following year. Knowing and trusting the staff—both academic, pastoral, and administrative—was crucial to my decision.
Find out more about Ed Cooper's time at Leeds