For more information about Composition at City, University of London, please visit the webpage using the button above.

The award

How long you will study
2 years

Domestic course fees
GBP 3750 per year

How you will study

Course starts

International course fees
GBP 6750 per year

All study options

About Composition at City, University of London

Join one of the UK's leading university environments for the study of Music, combining world-leading research, exceptional teaching and a vibrant musical community in the heart of global London.

Who is it for?

The programme provides ideal training for those wishing to enter the professional world of composition and/or proceed to a research degree.

We welcome students from all over the world and from a range of backgrounds.


The MA Composition develops skills in the broad field of contemporary composition, encompassing notated and digital music, sound art, improvisation and interdisciplinary practices.

The course provides a critical context for exploring key topics and issues in contemporary composition as well as a platform for presenting your own work to an audience of peers.

Engagement with professional creative practice is at the core of the MA Composition. Students have the opportunity to receive tuition from world-renowned composers external to the department. There are also opportunities to work with City's professional ensembles-in-residence, Plus Minus and EXAUDI.

We have an outstanding reputation for dynamic, inspring and rigorous postgraduate eduation and offer exceptional support to our students

Our students come from all over the world and benefit from our location in the heart of London, one of the world's greatest cultural hubs.

Requirements and how to apply

Entry requirements

Applicants should normally hold (or expect to gain) an upper second class honours degree. While most students come with a first degree in Music, we do consider applicants with a good honours degree in related subjects in the arts, humanities and social sciences, if they can demonstrate compositional expertise and experience.

English requirements

If your first language is not English, you will need to achieve one of the following English language test scores:

  • IELTS: an overall score of 6.5 (with a minimum of 6.0 in each sub-test)
  • Cambridge Proficiency grade C or above
  • Evidence that the medium of instruction for your first degree was in English.

Your English test should have been taken in the last two years.

Due to changes in the UKVI's list of SELTs, we are no longer able to accept TOEFL as evidence of English language for students who require a CAS as of April 2014.

INTO English language programmes

If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this course, our partner, INTO City, University of London, offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability for entry to this degree. Please follow the links below for more information:

Visa requirements

If you are not from the European Economic Area / Switzerland and you are coming to study in the UK, you may need to apply for a visa or entry clearance to come to the UK to study.

The way that you apply may vary depending on the length of your course. There are different rules for:

  • Students on courses of more than six months
  • Students on courses of less than six months
  • Students on a pre-sessional English language course.

If you require a Tier 4 student visa to study in the UK, you cannot undertake any City courses on a part-time basis.

For more information see our main Visa page.

How to apply

Applications for 2018 entry are now open.

The MA Composition attracts a very high number and standard of applications. To make sure you have the best opportunity of gaining a place, please apply as early as possible. When making your application you should note the following:

  • Each application is carefully assessed against the entry requirements so it is important that you include all the required information with your application (for example, degree certificates, certificates of language proficiency levels etc). The processing of your application may be delayed if you do not include these documents.
  • As part of your application you are asked to provide a personal statement. It is important that you use this opportunity to demonstrate clearly why you want to undertake the MA and how this relates to your future career plans.

When applications open, you should submit the following:

  • A transcript of your undergraduate degree.
  • An essay (2,000-3,000 words) on a musical topic. The essay should demonstrate critical skills and writing ability, and conform to standard academic guidelines for formatting and referencing. Most applicants submit an essay completed as part of their undergraduate studies.
  • A CD/DVD of compositions/creative work (no more than three examples of your best and most representative work, with brief commentaries on each piece, and scores where applicable).
  • Contact details of two academic referees.

Teaching and learning

Teaching delivery is through a combination of lectures, group seminars, interactive sessions, practical workshops, one-to-one tutorials and a high level of individual learning. Students also have the opportunity to receive tuition from world-renowned composers external to the department.

The Department of Music provides a stimulating environment with abundant opportunities for composers and sound artists and there are also plenty of opportunities for involvement in our many ensembles. The department's concert series features contemporary classical music, world music, electronic music and multimedia work and an annual music festival in May and June provides opportunities for students to receive public performances of their work.

In addition to our many ensembles at City, MA students are also eligible to audition for the University of London Symphony Orchestra.


We use a range of assessment methods, including projects, portfolio submissions and extended creative tasks and accompanying commentary.


On City's MA Composition, you will take three core modules (30 credits each) in which you will enhance your understanding of creative practice and engage critically with compositional techniques, theoretical concepts and current issues in contemporary composition. You will also submit a major 90-credit Composition Portfolio, which allows you to develop and display your creative compositional practice in a variety of ways.

Core modules

Term one

  • Compositional Materials and Technique (30 credits)
  • Contexts of Composition (30 credits)

Term two

  • Interdisciplinary and Collaborative Process (30 credits)

You will also take a 90-credit Composition Portfolio, which runs through terms two and three.

Download the relevant programme specification

Career prospects

Our MA programmes have excellent employment statistics. Students have gone on to teach, compose and perform in a wide variety of settings, and are also employed in areas such as music publishing, broadcasting, music management, arts administration and further musical study at MPhil or PhD level.

100% of our graduates are in employment 6 months after graduation, and graduates are mostly working as Freelance composers.

Our alumni include award-winning composers such as film sound designer Chris Reading and Nico Casal, composer for the winner of the Best Short Film at the 2016 Oscars.

Study options for this course

  • The award How you will study How long you will study Course starts Domestic course fees International course fees
  • The awardMAHow you will studyPart-timeHow long you will study2 years
    Course startsSeptemberDomestic course feesGBP 3750 per yearInternational course feesGBP 6750 per year
  • The awardMAHow you will studyFull-timeHow long you will study1 year
    Course startsSeptemberDomestic course feesGBP 7500 per yearInternational course feesGBP 13500 per year

Notes about fees for this course


Full-time: £7,500

Part-time: £3,750 per year


Full-time: £13,500

Part-time: £6,750 per year

More about fees


Explore up-to-date information about funding options, available financial support and typical living costs.

Fees in each subsequent year of study (where applicable) will be subject to an annual increase limited by the All Items Retail Prices Index. We will confirm any change to the annual tuition fee to you in writing prior to you commencing each subsequent year of study (where applicable).

Graduate Loyalty Discount

The School of Arts & Social Sciences offer a 10% discount on tuition fees for all City graduates.


Find out more about the Postgraduate Solutions Study Bursary.

Future Finance Loans

Future Finance offers students loans of between £2,500 and £40,000 to help cover tuition fees and living expenses. All students and courses are considered. All loans are subject to credit checks and approval for further details please visit the City Finance website.

Academic facilities

Department facilities include advanced recording and composition studios, a professional performance space, computer laboratories, rehearsal rooms, practice rooms and world music instruments.

Our composition studios include three surround (8.1/ 5.1) studios, one of which is dedicated to film and live electronics work, and three stereo composition studios. All of the studios are equipped for sound editing, processing and mixing. As well as general software such as Logic, Sibelius and Pro Tools, these studios are equipped with Native Instruments Komplete.

The recording studio is equipped to deliver multitrack recording and mixing to a professional standard.

Learn a language for free

We offer a free language course for City, University of London students.

Find out how to apply

Entry requirements

Contact City, University of London to find course entry requirements.

Location of City, University of London

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