Music Composition


To provide a program in the area of practice-based research in music leading to research outcomes in the form of music compositions and critical exegesis related to the compositions. The purpose of the compositions is to realise the primary research activity; the compositions are the outcome of the research. The purpose of the exegesis is to provide the scholarly context and framework by which to fully understand the compositions as a research outcome.


On completion of the degree, graduates will have specialised knowledge and skills in practice-based music composition research; demonstrated their increased autonomy, expert judgement, adaptability and responsibility through the development, implementation and publication of their research outcomes; and be prepared to undertake doctoral studies in music composition.

Structure and Thesis Format

The program is externally assessed by two examiners who are recognised experts in the field. The work submitted for assessment takes the form of a folio of compositions (maximum duration 60 minutes for the MPhil, 120 minutes for the PhD) which is accompanied by a critical exegesis (maximum 15,000 words for the MPhil, 30,000 words for the PhD).

The folio of compositions demonstrates a robust and distinctive artistic practice, which may include score-based, audio-based, performance-based or other music media. The major work (album, symphony, music theatre work, or other major composition) that forms the core of the folio will typically be 20 to 40 minutes in duration.

The exegesis provides the candidates with the opportunity to contextualise, explain and defend the folio as a contribution to knowledge in the field of music composition.

Students who commenced their research higher degree in 2014 or earlier have until 31 December 2017 to graduate under the rules for the pre-2015 music composition thesis format.