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BMus/BSc (Hons) Music Computing

  • UCAS
    WG34
  • Entry requirements
    A-level: ABB/BBB
    BTEC: DDM/DMM
    IB: 33 points including three HL subjects
  • Length
    3 years full-time; 4 years full-time with the third year spent on a placement in a relevant industry or institution; 4-6 years part-time
  • Department
    Music, Computing

Course overview

This programme is delivered jointly by the Departments of Music and Computing, and builds on their recognised expertise in the creative arts and the innovative application of computer science to stimulate and promote creative work.

What is Music Computing?

Music Computing is a creative discipline that combines performance, composition, musicology, design, psychoacoustics, digital signal processing, and computer science. You will learn to create your own music software rather than using pre-made products, to further your artistic goals and to help pioneer the future of electronic music and digital audio production.

At Goldsmiths, Music Computing is an interdisciplinary programme offered between the departments. After your first year, you can choose to pursue a more technical or artistic path of study, leading to either a Bachelor of Science (BSc) or a Bachelor of Music (BMus) degree.

Sound engineering, music production and studio techniques are not the primary focus of Music Computing, and applicants wishing to study these subjects are advised to apply elsewhere.

Why study BMus Music Computing at Goldsmiths?

  • Music computing is a rapidly evolving, innovative subject, and the degree is designed to meet the opportunities, challenges and intellectual demands presented by careers in the culture industries, in music technology and in audio, music and media-related computing
  • You'll develop understanding across the broad fields of computer science, creative practice and musical research
  • You'll study with a wide range of academics, including internationally established composers, performers, writers, and computing experts
  • There are professional and student-led recitals, concerts, workshops and other music events taking place every week, with opportunities to perform at Goldsmiths and in public venues
  • You'll be within easy reach of central London's many venues, concert halls, opera houses and research libraries, providing a great international focus
  • Employers look for initiative-driven graduates who think critically about their actions, work well with others and adapt quickly to new ideas. This degree will help you develop these skills – sometimes without you noticing!

If you are an international student and you don't meet the entry requirements for this programme, you may be able to apply for our BMus/BSc Music Computing with International Foundation.

Contact the department

If you have specific questions about the degree, contact Robert Zimmer

Modules & structure

Overview

Throughout the programme you'll encounter the most up-to-date technologies and programming methods, and explore current issues in programme design, sonic art, contemporary composition, music theory and musicology. You'll study how computers listen and analyse sounds and music, how they can derive, generate or ‘invent’ processes and structures for music, and how such processes are rendered into music in the form of audio or printed musical text.

You'll cultivate the critical, technical and intellectual skills needed to analyse problems, design and implement solutions on computers, and communicate your ideas in a variety of forms. You will also develop an awareness of diversity in music and the diversity of values, critical stances and analytical methods in their historical and cultural contexts.

The programme encompasses a wide range of repertoires of music, offering modules that reference various aspects of film music, western art and contemporary music, popular music, ‘world’ music, sound art and electronic music. By exploring the interrelationships between theories of music and computing, and between theoretical understanding and creative practice, you develop the knowledge and skills to create your own independent research project in your final year.

Core modules establish all the key areas of this innovative subject; these culminate in a final year Music Computing Major Project. The programme also allows you to identify and develop your strengths and interests by choosing various specialist options in the Departments of Music and Computing. Your project topic will determine the award of either BMus (Hons) or BSc (Hons).

Level 4 

In your first year you study the fundamentals of computer programming, contemporary music and music technology. In addition to these 105 credits you also choose one 15-credit option in the history and theory of either popular or classical music.

Core modules

  • Approaches to Contemporary Music (15 credits)
  • Live Performance Systems (15 credits)
  • Introduction to programming (30 credits)
  • Year 1 Creative Projects (15 credits)
  • Music Computing 1 (30 credits)
  • Numerical Maths (15 credits)

Options (one of the following) 

  • Analytical and Contextual Studies
  • Popular Music: History, Style, Technique
  • Western Art Music: Conexts, Structures and Repertory

Level 5

In your second year, you take the following compulsory core modules:

Core modules

  • Perception and Multimedia Computing (Terms 1 and 2) (30 credits)
  • Music Computing (Terms 1 and 2) (30 credits)

You then select Music modules to the value of 30 credits from:

Term 1 (all modules are worth 15 credits)

  • Aesthetics, Meaning and Culture
  • Music and Identity
  • Musicians, Commerce and Commodification
  • Music in Film (co-requisite for Media Composition)
  • Techniques of Contemporary Composition (co-requisite for Composition: Creative Strategies)
  • Techniques in Jazz and Popular Music
  • Sonic Arts Techniques (co-requisite for Sonic Art Practice)

Term 2 (all modules are worth 15 credits)

  • Popular Music Production
  • Composition: Creative Strategies
  • Media Composition
  • Music of Africa and Asia
  • Sonic Art Practice
  • Arranging in Jazz and Popular Music

And Computing modules to the value of 15 CATS from:

  • Principles and Applications of Programming (Terms 1 and 2) (30 credits)
  • Principles and Applications of Programming 1 (Term 1) (15 credits)
  • Programming for Dynamic Websites (Term 2) (15 credits)
  • Creative Projects (Term 1 and 2) (30 credits)

And an extra 15 credits from either list above.

Please note: you must take a minimum of 45 credits in each term, in order to balance your workload. 
Students who wish to complete a BSc must successfully complete either Principles and Applications of Programming 1 or Creative Projects to progress to third year Computing electives.

Level 6 

You take one of these two core modules (this choice determines the name of the final award, either BMus or BSc): 

  • Major Project: Music (Terms 1, 2 and 3) (60 credits)
  • Major Project: Computing (Terms 1, 2 and 3) (60 credits)

You also select a total of 60 credits from Groups C and D. 

Group C

All modules are worth 15 credits.

Computing options:

  • Advanced Graphics and Animation
  • Advanced Audio-visual Processing
  • Computer Security
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Neural Networks
  • Physical Computing (Term 2 only for Music Computing)
  • Interaction Design
  • Language Design and Implementation
  • Data Compression
  • Data Mining
  • Interactive Narrative Media
  • Data Visualisation and the Web

For module descriptions and schedules, please consult the Department of Computing.

Group D

All modules are worth 15 credits.

Music options:

Term 1

  • Minimalism and Postminimalism
  • Phonography (Pre-requisite: Sonic Art Techniques)
  • Creative Orchestration and Arrangement
  • Music/Modernities

Term 2

  • Narrative, Representation and Popular Song
  • Musical Structure and Understanding
  • Outsider Sound: Fringe Aesthetics in Popular Music
  • Psychological Approaches to Music

Criteria for awarding a BMus or BSc

To earn a BSc, a minimum of 30 credits from Group C courses and Major Project: Computing (60 credits) is required. For a BMus, a minimum of 30 credits from Group D courses and Major Project: Music (60 credits) is required.

If the criteria are not met, the award of either BSc or BMus will be proposed by the student, with the advice of his or her personal tutor, and agreed by the Programme Convenor no later than the end of Term 2 of the final year of study.

Credits and levels of learning

An undergraduate honours degree is made up of 360 credits – 120 at Level 4, 120 at Level 5 and 120 at Level 6. If you are a full-time student, you will usually take Level 4 modules in the first year, Level 5 in the second, and Level 6 modules in your final year. A standard module is worth 30 credits. Some programmes also contain 15-credit half modules or can be made up of higher-value parts, such as a dissertation or a Major Project.

Download the programme specification for this degree to find out more about what you'll learn and how you'll be taught and assessed.

Please note that due to staff research commitments not all of these modules may be available every year.

Entry requirements

A-level: ABB/BBB
BTEC: DDM/DMM
International Baccalaureate: 33 points including three HL subjects

An A-level, or equivalent, qualification in Music or Music Technology is preferred, although we also accept applicants without a formal qualification in music who can demonstrate relevant knowledge and experience.

You should also normally have at least Grade B at GCSE Mathematics.

If you are an international student and you don't meet the entry requirements for this programme, you may be able to apply for our BMus/BSc Music Computing with International Foundation.

Equivalent qualifications
We accept a wide range of qualifications equivalent to the ones listed above. This includes:

Access: Pass with 45 Level 3 credits including distinctions/merits in subject specific modules
Scottish qualifications: ABBBC/BBBBC (Higher), ABC/BBC (Advanced Higher)
European Baccalaureate: 75%
Irish Leaving Certificate: A1 A1 A2 B1/A1 A1 A2 B2

If your qualifications are from another country, find out more about the qualifications we accept from around the world

English language requirements
If English isn’t your first language, you’ll need to meet our English language requirements to study with us. 

For this programme we require:

IELTS 6.5 (with a minimum of 6.5 in the written test and no individual test lower than 6.0)

If you need assistance with your English language, we offer a range of courses that can help prepare you for degree-level study.

Selection process

At interview stage you'll be asked to present a portfolio of relevant recent work.

Read more about our general entrance requirements

Department

Music at Goldsmiths is ranked 12th in the UK for the quality of our research**

Music

From opera to electronica, and from Errollyn Wallen to James Blake, music studies at Goldsmiths are unique and different. Firmly rooted in the 21st century, our programmes entwine academic with practice-based study, and historical with contemporary repertories.

Performance opportunities

We’re committed to high quality, ambitious and innovative performance, and we have a wide range of ensembles that you can join, including:

  • Goldsmiths Sinfonia
  • Chamber Choir
  • Contemporary Music Ensemble
  • Lunchtime and evening recitals
  • Music Collective
  • Studio Laptop Ensemble
  • Goldsmiths Vocal Ensemble
  • Plus student-led ensembles: Chamber Orchestra, New Music Ensemble, Big Band and Film Orchestra

These culminate in our end-of-year degree show and public music festival PureGold, which in recent years has launched at London’s Southbank Centre.

Facilities

We have excellent rehearsal and performance facilities including:

  • Goldsmiths Music Studios
  • Electronic Music Studio
  • Sonics Interactive Multimedia Laboratory
  • Council Chamber (with its Steinway Model D)
  • Two suites of practice rooms

Find out more about the Department of Music

**Research Excellence Framework 2014, Times Higher Education research intensity subject rankings


Computing at Goldsmiths is ranked 17th in the UK for the quality of our research**

Computing

The Department of Computing offers a creative, contemporary and pioneering approach to the discipline.

From developing computers that can compose music and paint pictures, to defining and implementing new social media tools and applications, we aim to invigorate computing and the world around it.

Learn by doing

We place a great emphasis on creativity, independence and ‘learning by doing’. You’ll focus on practical work in real-world situations, carrying out projects in ways that mirror industry practice.

Interdisciplinary approach

We also promote an interdisciplinary approach to the subject: from business to digital arts, and from games programming to learning Mandarin.

Industry experts

You’ll be taught by industry experts – our academics are deeply engaged in current research, with many applying their knowledge and skills to developing cutting-edge technology. And we have close links with industry, too, regularly inviting leading professionals to deliver lectures and talks.

Find out more about the Department of Computing.

**Research Excellence Framework 2014, Times Higher Education research intensity subject rankings

Skills & careers

Our degrees aim to equip you with a wide range of skills to meet the current demands of industry and increase your career prospects.

Industrial placement year

The degree includes an optional Industrial Placement Year between the second and third year of study. This offers you the invaluable opportunity to develop the practical skills and real world experience that is sought after by employers. You're supported throughout your placement year by a placement tutor, who provides you with guidance and liaises between you and your employer.

Skills and careers

The programme is designed with careers in music technology and music computing in mind. It fosters the development of interdisciplinary understanding across the broad fields of computer science, creative practice and musical research, and is designed to meet the opportunities, challenges and intellectual demands presented by careers in the culture industries, in music technology and in audio, music and media-related computing.

Many of our graduates choose careers in fields related to their musical knowledge: teaching, performing, arts administration, music librarianship, publishing and retailing, record companies and production, or technical work in radio or television. You can read more about careers options after graduating on our Music skills and careers page.

Find out more about employability at Goldsmiths

Learning & teaching

On this degree you'll attend lectures and seminars where you'll hear about ideas and concepts related to specific topics, and where you'll be encouraged to discuss and debate the issues raised. This will enhance your academic knowledge of the subject, and will improve your communication skills. You'll also attend workshops and tutorials that develop key technical skills.

But this is just a small proportion of what we expect you to do on the degree. For each hour of taught learning, we expect you to complete another 5-6 hours of independent study. This typically involves carrying out required and additional reading, preparing topics for discussion, or producing project work.

This emphasis on independent learning is very important at Goldsmiths. We don't just want you to accept what we tell you without question. We want you to be inspired to read more, to develop your own ideas, and to find the evidence that will back them up. Independent study requires excellent motivation and time management skills. These skills will stay with you for life, and are the kind of that are highly sought after by employers. 

Learning and teaching on this degree will take place through:

  • Lectures
  • Seminars
  • Tutorials
  • Workshops
  • Independent learning
  • Presentations
  • Assessments

Find out more about these learning and teaching approaches

Student profiles

Zebedee

"Goldsmiths has offered me the unique opportunity to spend my time as a student learning and being creative at the intersection of art and science."

"Above all others, there are two subjects which have captivated me for my entire life: music and technology. Goldsmiths initially appealed to me as an institution which doesn’t place a barrier between art and science, and during my time here the College has delivered on this premise without fail.

Being a part of both the Music and Computing departments has allowed me access to an especially broad range of subject matter. This has served not only to greatly enhance my understanding of both areas, but also introduce the many points at which they meet. I learned to program computers as a compositional technique; I learned how effects and synthesisers work by building them in code; I even learned how to utilise advanced artificial intelligence to create my own virtual musicians.

Goldsmiths has offered me the unique opportunity to spend my time as a student learning and being creative at the intersection of art and science, and has introduced countless, fascinating areas of study previously unknown to me."

Fees & funding

Find out about our undergraduate tuition fees and funding opportunities.

Joe Brown Memorial Award

Second-year students are eligible to apply for an award of £1,000 towards final-year Creative Projects with an electronic component.

How to apply

Related content links

University statistics for this course