MFA Professional
Composition & Orchestration

We train you for the industry of the future.

Professional Composition and Orchestration is our flagship course for composers looking for a comprehensive preparation for a career scoring film, tv and games. You will learn to work almost every sector of the media using a range of compositional techniques from live orchestral scoring to sound design and hybrid compositional techniques. Your course includes a live orchestral session with a professional film orchestra.

This MFA is in effect a double master’s, lasting two years and covering the same ground as both Professional Media Composition MA and Orchestration for Film Games and Television MA.

    • Have your music performed by a professional 50-piece film orchestra.
    • Personal 1-to-1 tuition from top professional composers.
    • Learn how the biggest names in the business and go from computer DAW to live score.
    • Electives in Pro Tools for Film composers, Advanced Sibelius and Kontakt Programming.
    • A real-world approach that combines sampled instruction with live orchestration and score preparation.
    • Regular online workshops and tutorial groups, forum discussions and exclusive webinars.

There is no other course in the world that offers tutors and support staff as well connected as ThinkSpace, and no offline campus can compete with our wealth of talent from around the globe.

What Will I Learn?

    • You will learn to write in a wide variety of styles, using different compositional techniques.
    • You will produce professional quality sampled mock-ups and well produced demos.
    • We will help you develop a voice of your own so you can stand out from the crowd.
    • You will learn what the market expects, what producers and directors are buying right now, and how to deliver market-focused music.
    • You will learn to write faster and more productively so you can hit deadlines and make a living.
    • You will explore many different areas of the media, each of which has specific requirements and expectations.
    • For composers we will help you develop your compositional technique and encourage you to explore a wide range of creative approaches.
    • You will learn the technical and creative aspects of writing to picture, spotting a film, and working with hit point and markers.
    • You will orchestrate awe inspiring live and sampled orchestral film and games music and learn contemporary commercial standard practice.
    • We will take you through each section of the orchestra led by some of the world’s top film session players.
    • You will learn produce professional quality scores using Sibelius or Finale and record-ready Pro Tools sessions.
    • The research and critical thinking module will help you put media music in context and teach you valuable research skills.
    • You will learn about music business, copyright, how to find work, how to pitch, create a demo reel and develop a career.

A Student’s Story: Luke Johnson

Luke is a composer studying the MA in Professional Media Composition. He’s based on the Isle of Wight, with a history in Rock & Pop.

During his studies Luke has advanced his skill set beyond his original comfort zone; moving from writing by ear to understanding music theory, through to writing music for commercial television advertisements!

Luke talks about life as a ThinkSpace student, the benefits of the online campus and collaborating with other students from around the world.

If you are considering a ThinkSpace master’s degree and want to speak directly with one of our current or past students in a similar position as you, then drop us a line and we’ll put you in touch.

What Work Will it Prepare Me For?

Students will be well qualified to work in any area of the media music industry but most go on to work as film, tv and games composers.

If you are already working composer, then this is an opportunity to expand your skill set, learn to exploit new markets and to refresh your sound mentored by top flight working professional composers and orchestrators.

Many students are teachers and professors and use this course to add professional experience and a deep knowledge of contemporary commercial practice to their skill set. The MFA is considered a terminal degree and may have significant financial and career advantages in higher education.

One Thousand Videos
Access All ThinkSpace Course Materials.

There are 1000 videos available to our students and every single one is available to master’s students. you have full access to all the course materials on all our other courses, including all the degree and non-degree premium courses. Course text, videos, project materials, online workshop library, everything you could need. Choose the degree course you feel most comfortable with, and then explore new challenging areas like interactive composition for games, sound design, tv scoring and orchestration.

Who’s Teaching Me?

Our tutors are all current working professionals, many involved at the highest level in the business.

The tutors who will be giving you individual feedback, either in writing or at the student workshops, have composing and orchestration credits including;

Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes Iron Man Armored Adventures, Lassie, Jungle Book, Angry Birds, The Scream, The Haunting in Connecticut, Spectre (Cinematic Trailer) Assassin’s Creed Syndicate (Game Trailer) Pokemon Movies, Robot Chicken, Caspar The Ghost, Aladdin Prince of Thieves, Project Cars, Red Bull Air Racing, World of Speed, Ripper Street, Batman: Arkham Origins, Tony Awards 2016, Die Hard 4, Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs and hundreds more. They’ve work for every major film and game studio and networks and production companies including Disney, Dreamworks, Marvel, Universal, Warner Bros, Sky, BBC, ITV, NBC, ABC and many others.

We are extremely grateful to our guest lecturers who have contributed either in person at seminars and live events, or on video and include Harry Gregson-Williams (Shrek, Chronicles of Narni), Marco Beltrami (Terminator, The Scream, Die Hard 4) David Arnold (The Bond Movies, Independence Day) Nick Hooper (Harry Potter 5 and 6) orchestrator Peter Bateman (Avengers: Age of Ultron, Maleficent, Hunger Games) and Jeff MacDonald (trailers including BFG, Jason Bourne, Ghostbusters and over 200 more).

It is a tribute to the generosity of all these composers and orchestrators that they are willing to share their expertise and insights with the next generation of professionals.

  • Guy Michelmore

  • Orchestrator and Composer Bill Boston

    Bill Boston

  • Tim Johnson

  • Composer and Orchestrator Chuck Fernandez

    Chuck Fernandez

  • Milton Nelson

  • ThinkSpace Education Online Music School - Brad

    Bradley Jordan

Live Orchestral Session Included

Working with a live orchestra is an unforgettable experience. At the end of you course, some of your music will be performed by a live, professional, 50-piece film orchestra. You are welcome to attend in person or follow the session over the internet. This is included in the price of your course. Sessions take place in Europe (most likely Prague or Budapest) subject to availability.

We also offer live orchestral sessions at the world famous Warner Bros Scoring Stage in Los Angeles. These are organised subject to demand and we charge a supplement for this session (the difference between the cost of the European session and LA) which is passed on to the student at cost price.

Your Degree

On successful conclusion of your course, you will be awarded a Master of Arts degree from the University of Chichester. All UK degrees, including those of the University of Chichester, are recognised worldwide. The qualification is full accredited in the UK and subject to regular quality control, review and external invigilation to ensure the highest academic standards are maintained.

The graduation ceremony takes place in Chichester each year where you will receive your degree alongside you fellow students and the rest of the university’s graduates.

Content

  • Connector.

    Unit 1 – Writing in Styles

    Learning to work in a range of common media styles while developing new approaches to composition.

  • Connector.

    Unit 2 – Research and Critical Reflection

    Putting all this in context, learning to analyse how and why music is used. Learn research skills and understand where media music fits into wider cultural and academic landscape.

  • Connector.

    Unit 3 – Writing to a Brief

    What does your client want and how should you give it to them? The most challenging question facing any composer which we resolve with help from the decades of experience of our world-class faculty. We look at a wide range of areas of the industry from tv themes to production music, trailers to games.

  • Connector.

    Unit 4 – Writing to Picture

    The technical and creative tools to score film, tv, documentary, animation and much more. Crucial insights into the role of music and it’s relation to the moving image.

  • Connector.

    Unit 5 – Scoring Drama

    A uniquely challenging and rewarding environment that we explore with some inspiring projects and advice from some of the best in the business.

  • Connector.

    Unit 6 – Elective 1

    Choose from Advanced Sibelius, Pro Tools for Orchestral Recording, Kontakt Programming, Music Business: Work and Money and Sampling Technology.

  • Connector.

    Unit 7 – Writing for Strings and Woodwind

    We look at a selection of string and woodwind sample libraries and effective techniques for making your demos sound more realistic. You will have your music recorded by a professional instrumentalist who will give feedback on the suitability of the writing.

  • Connector.

    Unit 8 – Session Preparation

    Producing industry standard scores and parts and record-ready pro tools sessions.

  • Connector.

    Unit 9 – Writing for Brass, Harp and Percussion

    Scoring, sampled mock-ups and a special look at big band writing.

  • Connector.

    Unit 10 – Scoring for Orchestra

    Bringing it all together with techniques for both large and small ensembles.

  • Connector.

    Unit 11 – Orchestration in Practice

    Producing one cue from start to finish including mock-up, score, parts and pro tools session. This is the complete workflow in preparation for your Final Major Project.

  • Connector.

    Unit 12 – Elective 2

    Choose from Advanced Sibelius, Pro Tools for Orchestral Recording, Kontakt Programming, Music Business: Work and Money and Sampling Technology.

  • Connector.

    Final Major Project

    This three month project involves composing and orchestrating 15 minutes of music to picture under real-world conditions. You will be required to produce record-ready scores, parts and pro tools sessions as well as a professional grade sampled mock-up of your work. There are a very wide selection of projects to choose from and students can put together several in the form of a portfolio or tackle one longer assignment.

“Having researched all other postgraduate degree programs available to me, not a single option addressed the actual nuts and bolts of music composing as this program did.”

– Jeton Murtishi
IMDB

“ I would recommend [the ThinkSpace MA] to any composer who simply wants to be better at their job, whatever their experience level.”

– Amory Leader
IMDB

Time

Full time, 12 months – 30 hours a week

Part-time 24 months – 15 hours a week

Part-time 36 months – 8 hours a week

These are estimates and the exact amount of time will depend on each individual student. It includes, live workshops, one-to-one tutorials, reading and watching video tutorials and project work.

Prices

The course fee is the same for UK, EU and international students and includes the cost of a live orchestral session. Full-time and part-time students pay the same.

£6,875 / $10,050 / €8,995 per year for two years.

You can choose to pay in pounds sterling, US dollars or euros.

We offer an interest-free instalment plan where you can spread the cost of your course and graduate debt-free.

Students will be required to pay a deposit on enrolling. For more information on this, please contact the course manager.

For a more detailed summary of fees, loans and finance procedure, please visit the dedicated Student Finance page.

  • Interest-free monthy repayments
    start from £66, $96 or €87 a week.
  • Apply Now

Requirements

For FAQs, and more information please visit the Applications & FAQs, Student Finance and Study With ThinkSpace pages.


  • Academic

    Applicants should have a first degree.

    If you don’t have a music degree, then other experience can be taken into account, including work-based experience of making music, professional development courses like Music for the Media and Cinematic Orchestration and first degrees in other subjects. This RPL, as it’s known, is always assessed on a case-by-case basis. It also depends in part on how many other students in the cohort are using this route, as there is a maximum percentage of students we can take through this process.


  • Musical

    We expect you to have a good, solid knowledge of one computer based DAW like Logic, Cubase, or Digital Performer. You should have a well-established knowledge of music theory, written notation and harmony. You may be asked to complete a short music theory test upon application.

    You need to write music fluently and productively. You should be able to produce roughly two minutes of music in a day. Your demos should be of good quality and we are happy to listen to your music and give you an opinion on this before you apply.


  • Hardware

    You must also have a reasonable to top performance computer (Mac or PC) as well as at least a basic orchestral virtual instrument library (we can advise you if you’re not sure about your setup).

    PC:
    Minimum Spec:
    Intel/AMD Quad Core Processor 2.6GHz, 8/16GB RAM,

    However we would recommend:
    Intel i7 Quad Core 3.2GHz (equivalent or higher), 32GB RAM

    Mac:
    Minimum Spec:
    Intel Processor Quad Core 2.6GHz, 8/16GB RAM

    However we would recommend:
    Intel i7 Quad Core 3.2GHz (equivalent or higher), 32GB RAM


  • Software

    The latest computer based sequencer capable of importing QuickTime movies. These include:

    Cubase 7.5/8
    Logic Pro X
    Digital Performer 7/8
    Pro Tools 11

    You’ll also need a score-writing program, we recommend Sibelius, however Finale is an acceptable alternative.

    Sample libraries are a must-have for the course. There are literally thousands of libraries, many of them capable of creating outstanding quality demos and we could have chosen any number. Most of the libraries listed below are available at a significant educational discount.

    As our base core libraries, we suggest:

    East West Quantum Leap – Symphonic Orchestra Gold
    VSL Special Edition – Woodwinds
    8Dio – Adagietto
    Heavyocity – Damage
    Soudiron – Emotional Piano


  • Internet

    As all of our materials are available through download only, a stable and reasonably fast Internet connection is also required. We cannot send out hard copies of the course materials.

  • Books, Films, Scores and Recordings

    Throughout the course, you will be required to listen to read books and listen to recordings. These are not included in the course price. We have found over the years with a few exceptions, it is far more cost effective for students to purchase books and scores these locally then for us to send them out to you. So you should expect to have to source and purchase, rent or borrow a fair amount of recordings and printed material, a full list of which will be available in the course handbooks.

Contact Us

My name is Tim and I’m the MA course manager here at ThinkSpace. If you have any questions that you’d like answering, please don’t hesitate to fill in the contact form below, or email me at tim@thinkspaceeducation.com.

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