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Unit outline_

CMPN3336: Composition for Creative Industries 6

Semester 2, 2022 [Normal day] - Sydney

Taught by a videogame professional, Composition for Creative Industries 6 focuses on writing music for videogames. Videogame music has catalysed a vast and lucrative industry with a myriad of new and ongoing projects being developed in Australia and abroad. Composing music for videogames requires several skills that draw upon the composer's creativity, craft and technological acuity. This unit of study places an emphasis on these skills through a practical and theorical exploration of the artistry and culture of videogames; reactive musical systems; structural and textural flexibility; game mechanics, story and player experience. Students will engage with industry standard middleware/authoring applications and game engines used in the production of videogames, to present their projects, including Twine, Wwise, FMOD and Unity. This unit of study places due importance on cultural competency, inclusiveness, safe industry practices and respect for others in the collaborative process.

Unit details and rules

Academic unit Composition and Music Technology
Credit points 6
Assumed knowledge


Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Meghann O'Neill,
Lecturer(s) Meghann O'Neill,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Assignment Assessment 6: Portfolio Submission
For assessment instructions and details please refer to Canvas.
40% STUVAC Please refer to Canvas
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Assignment Assessment 1: Create a Twine
For assessment instructions and details please refer to Canvas.
5% Week 03
Due date: 21 Aug 2022 at 23:59
Please refer to Canvas
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO4
Assignment Assessment 2: Compose 3 variations for your Twine
For assessment instructions and details please refer to Canvas.
10% Week 05
Due date: 04 Sep 2022 at 23:59
Please refer to Canvas.
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO4 LO5 LO6
Assignment Assessment 3: Extend and build into another engine
For assessment instructions and details please refer to Canvas.
10% Week 08
Due date: 25 Sep 2022 at 23:59
Please refer to Canvas.
Outcomes assessed: LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Assignment Assessment 4: Iterate on, and complete, your project from Assessment 3
For assessment instructions and details please refer to Canvas.
15% Week 09
Due date: 09 Oct 2022 at 23:59
Please refer to Canvas.
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO4
Assignment Assessment 5: Reflective Report
For assessment instructions and details please refer to Canvas.
20% Week 12
Due date: 30 Oct 2022 at 23:59
Please refer to Canvas.
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6

Assessment summary

  • Every assignment is distinctive and varied. For instructions and details for the various assessments, please refer to the Canvas Site for this UoS.

Assessment criteria

Please note that each assignmet has its own discrete criteria. Please refer to the UoS Canvas site for these details.

The following assessment criteria are used for written work in this unit of study:

Result name

Mark range


High distinction

85 - 100

Demonstrates high level of initiative in research and reading; sophisticated critical analysis of evidence; high level engagement with theoretical issues, innovative use of reading/research material and impressive command of underlying debates and assumptions; properly documented and written with style, originality and precision.


75 - 84

Demonstrates initiative in research and wide, appropriate reading; complex understanding of question and ability to critically review material in relation to underlying assumptions and values; analyses material in relation to empirical and theoretical contexts; properly documented; clear, well-developed structure and argument with some signs of literary style.


65 - 74

Evidence of broader understanding than pass level; offers synthesis with some critical evaluation of material; coherent argument using a range of relevant evidence; some evidence of independent thought, good referencing. A high credit (70-74) shows some evidence of ability to problematise and think conceptually.


50 - 64

Written work meets basic requirements in terms of reading/research; relevant material; tendency to descriptive summary rather than critical argument; makes a reasonable attempt to avoid paraphrasing; reasonably coherent structure; often has weaknesses in particular areas, especially in terms of narrow or underdeveloped treatment of question; acceptable documentation.


0 - 49

Work may fail for any or all of the following reasons: Unacceptable paraphrasing; irrelevance of content; poor spelling; poor presentation; grammar or structure so sloppy it cannot be understood; failure to demonstrate understanding of content; insufficient or overlong word length.

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:

The Assessment Procedures 2011 provide that any written work submitted after 11:59pm on the due date will be penalised by 5% of the maximum awardable mark for each calendar day after the due date. If the assessment is submitted more than ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

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
Week 01 Composing for interactive media relies on devising reactive musical systems Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO3 LO5
Week 02 Organising structure and texture flexibly, for videogame implementation Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO3 LO5 LO6
Week 03 How to draw influence from minimalism and aleatoric music Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO3 LO4 LO6
Week 04 Arranging interchangeable variations of the same track for shifting gameplay Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Week 05 Composing loops that shine, technically and musically, for a range of contexts Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO2 LO3 LO4 LO6
Week 06 Imagination, creativity and innovative thinking are as valuable as technique and production. Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO5 LO6
Week 07 The inspiring intersections of toolsets and composition process Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO2 LO3 LO4 LO6
Week 08 How to successfully iterate on your work for dynamically evolving projects Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO6
Week 09 Worldbuilding, immersion, engagement and storytelling Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO2 LO3 LO5
Week 11 Presenting interactive compositions in context Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO4 LO6
Week 12 Exemplary Australian games music and local industry practice Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO2 LO3 LO5
Week 13 Independent games, AAA, virtual reality, installations and beyond Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO3 LO5

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.

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. implement strategic workflow specific to a given project brief
  • LO2. discuss competently and confidently the key points of a brief with a game creator
  • LO3. understand fundamental game, and game music concepts and protocols
  • LO4. experience game engines, including Twine and Unity, and understand how authoring software, like FMOD and Wwise, allow composition to be implemented via dynamic structures
  • LO5. draw upon a range of compositional techniques to create game music that underscores narrative concerns
  • LO6. flexibly apply various concepts of structural and textural organisation.

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.

Sincere thanks to everyone who provided feedback on the Composing for Games unit. I’m really excited to know that there’s a cohort of people entering my industry who have such wonderful ideas for musical system design, as well as skill; you. The positive comments were very motivating. 2020 was a tough year for everyone. It wasn’t until I stopped over Christmas that I realised how exhausted I was from having to teach AIM remotely (and reactively), then my first ever Con unit remotely, too, with only a few months' notice. I’m teaching at AIM again from next week and your encouragement is a very welcome boost to my morale. I’m also very appreciative of the students who provided critical feedback. I really liked one point that was raised about a missed opportunity to look with more detail inside my workflow. Interestingly, over the holidays, I had already started planning something in my broader sphere of teaching with this in mind; running a weekly, optional-attendance dev stream for a Unity project I’m working on that’s tangential to what my Game Ensemble will be making. If it works out well, I’d love to try to integrate this into my Con unit too, for the next group. Another point that was raised related to much of the unit content being videogame focused, rather than composition focused. It’s certainly my opinion that being a videogame composer requires a vast amount of game/industry knowledge, in many contexts. I wonder if I could perhaps better make sure this idea is conveyed, alongside additional, relevant composition techniques. A student mentioned that they liked the unit’s slant on collaboration and community. In future, I hope you’ll stay in contact with me. I’m here to help, when you’re working in games. I believe Beer and Pixels is resuming soon, too, so I’ll email the group when that happens and hope to see you there. Best of luck in the future. Thanks for your feedback and your conscientious work in my class.


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