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Unit of study_

CMPN1601: Composition 1

Semester 1, 2022 [Normal day] - Sydney

The development of compositional techniques is integral to the ability to best express musical ideas and material. The focus of this unit is the creative work of students which is developed through the study of a range of compositional topics. Aspects of pitch, rhythm, counterpoint, notation, instrumentation and structure are considered both in the abstract and in relation to a variety of music.

Unit details and rules

Unit code CMPN1601
Academic unit Composition and Music Technology
Credit points 6
Assumed knowledge


Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Daniel Rojas,
Lecturer(s) Daniel Rojas,
Tutor(s) Ian Whitney,
Bree Van Reyk,
Peggy Polias,
Harry Sdraulig,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Participation Application/participation
Participation/application - ongoing.
10% Multiple weeks Continuing
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO4 LO3 LO2
Creative assessment / demonstration Composition - small assignments
Notated Musical Composition. See canvas site for details.
37.5% Multiple weeks Portfolio of small composition tasks.
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Assignment group assignment Concert organisation
Group work
2.5% Ongoing N/A
Outcomes assessed: LO4
Creative assessment / demonstration Composition - major work
Notated music composition
50% STUVAC 3-4 minutes
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO4 LO3 LO2
group assignment = group assignment ?

Assessment summary

  • Composition - major work: A notated music score and live recording of one piece that represents an aspect of material studied during this unit of study. The composition should be for one to four instruments (may include a singer). This composition should, ideally, should be performed by live players. A video of a performance is an acceptable alernative mode of presentation, as is a hybrid of live and midi playback (if this is necessary). A concert space and time will be provided by the unit co-ordinator during semester for students to present their work. The composition is not to be written for instruments requiring amplification unless special permission is given by the unit co-ordinator. Writing for percussion instruments is discouraged at this level unless composer is working with a percussion major. Seek advice about this from UoS co-ordinator. Submit a score (PDF) and audio (mp3 file).
  • NB Element of performance presentation may be altered if public health orders change in relation to Covid 19.
  • Composition - small assignments: A portfolio of small composition assignments, as set out on the Canvas site. Submit scores and audio in PDF and mp3 files. No links or zip files.
  • Application/participation: In-class Assessment with a focus on preparedness for tutorials, one on one lessons and participation in lectures and Wednesday Composition seminar.

Due date and other information for each assessment can be found on Canvas.

Assessment criteria

Composition assignments are assessed to the following criteria and weightings:

• Creativity: 40%• Craft: 40%• Presentation: 20%

The following guide provides a reference with regards marking expectations. However, it should be noted that staff might interpret the criteria as deemed appropriate to the assignments.

Creativity (40%)

Exceptional (34-40): An original contribution to musical thinking. Convincing, confident, imaginative, personal, bold, risk-taking, engaging.

Superior (30-33): Convincing musical logic and direction. Engagement with repertory goes beyond imitation.

Competent (26-29): Influences of other composers are evident, and display steps towards taking such influences into a new, personal direction.

Acceptable (20-25): Engaged with contemporary music culture and ideas but may parrot rather than seek to extend the ideas of other composers.

Unacceptable (19 or less): Generic, hackneyed, pastiche.

Craft (40%) Exceptional (34-40): Obvious and unequivocal command of resources. Technique is matched to creative intentions.

Superior (30-33): Musical structure is fluent and lucid throughout. Displays sophisticated ability to develop and manipulate material. Advanced use of materials.

Competent (26-29): Displays coherent structure and convincing clarity.

Acceptable (20-25): Capacity to express musical ideas with appropriate instrumental and/or digital media.

Unacceptable (20 or less): Fundamental technical errors evident in notation, understanding of instruments, musical form, etc.

Presentation (20%)

Exceptional (18-20): The standard of a professional commercial publication or situation.

Competent (15-17): Attractive scores presented with clarity but could be more professional in a number of areas.

Acceptable (10-14): Notation legible but may still include unnecessary ambiguity and poor editing / formatting.

Unacceptable (9 or less): Scores full of editorial mistakes, formatting errors and do not meet necessary standards of legibility.

For more information see

For more information see guide to grades.

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

This unit has an exception to the standard University policy or supplementary information has been provided by the unit coordinator. This information is displayed below:

As per the University’s Assessment Procedures 2011 policy, Clause 7A, (1) It is expected that unless an application for Special Consideration has been approved (needs to be made in advance of the deadline) students will submit all assessment for a unit of study on the due date specified, by 11.59pm. If the assessment is completed or submitted within the period of extension, no academic penalty will be applied to that piece of assessment. (2) If an extension is either not sought, not granted before the deadline or is granted but work is submitted after the extended due date, the late submission of assessment will result in an academic penalty as follows: A penalty of 5% of the maximum mark will be applied per calendar day the assessment is late. After 10 calendar days, mark of zero is given for that assessment.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website  provides information on academic integrity and the resources available to all students. The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic integrity breaches seriously.  

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breach. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breaches, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

Simple extensions

If you encounter a problem submitting your work on time, you may be able to apply for an extension of five calendar days through a simple extension.  The application process will be different depending on the type of assessment and extensions cannot be granted for some assessment types like exams.

Special consideration

If exceptional circumstances mean you can’t complete an assessment, you need consideration for a longer period of time, or if you have essential commitments which impact your performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Special consideration applications will not be affected by a simple extension application.

Using AI responsibly

Co-created with students, AI in Education includes lots of helpful examples of how students use generative AI tools to support their learning. It explains how generative AI works, the different tools available and how to use them responsibly and productively.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Multiple weeks Weeks 4 - 9 as specified on Canvas Lecture and tutorial (12 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Weeks 11-13 as specified on Canvas Lecture and tutorial (6 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Six 30 minute one-to-one tutorials (or other divisions of the time by negotiation) with assigned tutor. One-to-one tuition (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 01 Introduction, Unit of Study Outlines. Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2
Week 02 See Canvas site for details Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 10 Special Projects Week - Workshop of assignment 1b with performer. Seminar (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 13 WK 13 – Presentations of Student Work, Music Workshop, 6.30pm Presentation (4 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4

Attendance and class requirements

  • Attendance: Students are expected to attend 100% of timetabled activities for a unit of study, unless granted exemption by the Dean, Head of School or professor most concerned. Any absence due to ill health should be documented with a medical certificate.
  • The Dean, Head of School or professor most concerned may determine that a student fails a unit of study because of inadequate attendance. Alternatively, at their discretion, they may set additional assessment items where attendance is lower than 90%.

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Required readings

– A professional music notation package (Sibelius, Finale, Dorico – don’t purchase limited versions): NB Musescore is not considered as being up to the required standard.

– Elaine Gould “Behind Bars” Faber Music.

A listening list is on the canvas site.

Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University's graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. utilise a broad range of compositional techniques and approaches in the construction of your creative work
  • LO2. begin to analyse and assess compositional techniques and approaches in existing compositions, and make use of such techniques and approaches in your own work
  • LO3. present score-based music to a high standard using computer music notation software and/or handwriting
  • LO4. understand the importance of having compositions performed and publicly presented, and being able to reflect upon such performances with a guide to potential revision of existing pieces.

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities

This section outlines changes made to this unit following staff and student reviews.

No changes have been made since this unit was last offered.

Penalties for late work exist as per the Universityy policy.

Additional costs

Purchasing of music notation software is at students' own cost. Alternatively, students may use the computer lab software.


The University reserves the right to amend units of study or no longer offer certain units, including where there are low enrolment numbers.

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