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Unit of study_

MUSC2614: Composition Workshop

Composition Workshop is designed as an opportunity for students from all musical backgrounds to play, write and perform music together. Each student will write a new piece for an ensemble of classmates that will be performed in an end of semester concert. Set topics studied in this course include: Creative and Resourceful Instrumentation (body percussion, mobile phones as instruments, the human voice and found percussion instruments), Soundscape, Indeterminacy and Loops. The first four weeks of the course are spent exploring these topics through lectures and creative group composition exercises. Students will also look notating their music using one-page scores, graphic notation, time-space notation and text scores. From Week 5 onwards, students will workshop and rehearse their own concert piece for an ensemble of musicians from their class.


Academic unit Arts Music
Unit code MUSC2614
Unit name Composition Workshop
Session, year
Semester 1, 2021
Attendance mode Normal day
Location Remote
Credit points 6

Enrolment rules

18 credit points of 1000-level units
Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff and contact details

Coordinator Amanda Cole,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Assignment Original compostiion
Composition and Program Note both in audio/video and score forms.
60% Formal exam period 3-5 minutes and 100-200 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO7 LO8 LO9
Assignment One-page score for available instrumentation
You will create a one-page score for available instrumentation
20% Week 03 One Page + Optional Notes
Outcomes assessed: LO9 LO1 LO2 LO3 LO5 LO6
Participation Participation in weekly class and ensemble activities
Participation in all classes and ensemble activities
20% Weekly n/a
Outcomes assessed: LO5 LO6
One Page Score  You will complete a one-page score for available instrumentation.  20%
Original Composition  3-5 minute composition reflecting the topic covered in the first four weeks of lectures and creative activities.  60%
Participation Participation in classes, activites, workshops, rehearsals and performances.   20%


Assessment criteria

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

Result name

Mark range


High distinction

85 - 100

Creativity =  Convincing, confident, imaginative, personal, bold, risk-taking, engaging.

Craft = Obvious and unequivocal command of resources. Technique is matched to creative intentions 

Presentation = The standard of a professional commercial publication or with coherent visual identity.


75 - 84

Creativity = Convincing musical logic and direction. Engagement with repertory goes beyond imitation.

Craft: Musical structure is fluent and lucid throughout. Displays sophisticated ability to develop and manipulate material. Advanced use of colour.

Presentation: The work demonstrates awareness of user-friendliness and attention to consistent and individual visual style.





65 - 74

Creativity: Influences of other composers are evident, and display steps towards taking such influences into a new, personal direction.

Craft: Displays coherent structure and convincing clarity in orchestration/standard of production.

Presentation: Attractive score presented with clarity.


50 - 64

Creativity: Engaged with contemporary music culture and ideas but may parrot rather than seek to extend the ideas of other composers.

Craft: Capacity to express musical ideas with appropriate instrumental and/or digital media.

Presentation: Notation legible but may still include unnecessary ambiguity. 




0 - 49

Creativity: Generic, hackneyed, pastiche.

Craft: Fundamental technical errors evident in notation, digital production, understanding of instruments, musical form, etc.

Presentation: Illegible scores. Audio format errors.

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

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 Sydney Conservatorium of Music resolutions, conservatorium/rules/faculty_resolutions.shtml (Item 11): (1) It is expected that unless an application for Special Consideration has been approved, students will submit all assessment for a unit of study on the due date specified. 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 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) For work submitted after the deadline, 5% of the total possible mark will be deducted per day (b) For work submitted after 10 days, a mark of 0 will be given.

Special consideration

If you experience short-term circumstances beyond your control, such as illness, injury or misadventure or if you have essential commitments which impact your preparation or performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

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.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 01 Making Music with Available Instrumentation Online class (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO6
Week 02 One Page Scores, Open Instrumentation and Open Form. Online class (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Week 03 Soundscape, Indeterminacy and Graphic Notation Online class (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Week 04 Loops and Variation Form Online class (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Week 08 Work in Progress Week Online class (2 hr) LO3 LO4 LO5 LO7
Week 09 ENSEMBLE REHEARSAL Online class (2 hr) LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8
Week 10 ENSEMBLE REHEARSAL Online class (2 hr) LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8
Week 12 ENSEMBLE REHEASAL Online class (2 hr) LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8 LO9
Week 13 Presentation of Finished Works. Online class (2 hr) LO3 LO4 LO5 LO7 LO8 LO9

Attendance and class requirements

  • Attendance: Students are expected to attend a minimum of 90% of timetabled activities for a unit of study, unless granted exemption by the Dean, Head of School or professor most concerned. 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

  • Music Composition Toolbox ; Hindson, Matthew, 1968-; Barbeler, Damian.; Blom, Diana, 1947-


  • Musical Environments: A Manual for Listening: A Manual for Listening, Composing and Improvising ;                                  Richard Vella, 2000. 


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. Research composition methods and repertoire.
  • LO2. Experiment with new musical interfaces and ideas.
  • LO3. Notate and score creative ideas for a diverse range of musicians.
  • LO4. Complete a 3-5 minute composition.
  • LO5. Lead workshops and rehearsals of your own compositions.
  • LO6. Collaborate with other composers to workshop, rehearse and perform their work.
  • LO7. Write project proposals and program notes for your pieces.
  • LO8. Organise a concert or online presentation of new music.
  • LO9. Document creative work and be able to digitally distribute it.

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


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