Thank you for your interest in the Western Orthodox University Master of Sacred Music in Composition programme.
The degree is open to sacred music composers in a variety of styles, and those who incorporate elements of popular music or non-Western music into their compositions are not excluded. However, first and foremost, the degree is a test of compositional skills and techniques, and the candidate should take care to ensure that, as well as being a satisfying piece of music in its own right, the work submitted shows an assured command of the musical forces in question and demonstrates sufficiently a variety of advanced aspects of the composer’s craft. It is unlikely that music that is predominantly straightforward harmonically and in structure, or that is written in a minimalist or simple popular style, would be able to demonstrate this.
Regulations for the degree of Master of Sacred Music (M.S.M.) in composition.
1. Format of the Examination
There are two parts that must be passed in order to proceed to the degree of Master of Sacred Music in composition. Each part depends on the composition of an Exercise. Candidates are required to register for the degree at least eleven months before submitting their Exercises for examination (except in the case of a submission by previously published work).
2. Part 1: Exercise
Candidates must submit an Exercise in fulfilment of the requirements for the first part of the degree. The Exercise shall consist of an orchestral composition on a given sacred (but not necessarily Christian) subject, written for the occasion. It may be a symphony, symphonic poem, concerto, or sacred work for chorus and/or solo voices and orchestra. It shall occupy not less than twenty nor more than thirty minutes in performance, and shall fulfil the following conditions:
- It shall comprise some portion of sonata form, and shall show an assured command of structure, harmony and textural writing.
- It shall contain some specimens of Canon and of Fugue.
- The whole Exercise (apart from a single movement which may be for a smaller group of instruments or for unaccompanied chorus) shall have an accompaniment for a full orchestra. By full orchestra is understood 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, percussion and the usual string quintet. Additional instruments may be used if desired. Trumpets may be written throughout in the key of C, but other transposing instruments should be recorded in the score at written pitch.
3. Part 2: Exercise
Candidates must submit an Exercise in fulfilment of the requirements for the second part of the degree. The Exercise shall consist of a composition for either solo piano or a chamber ensemble such as a piano trio, wind trio or string quartet, written for the occasion. It shall occupy not less than twenty nor more than thirty minutes in performance, and shall reflect in its content the subject matter that has been set for that particular year by the Examiners.
The current title is:
Material submitted for M.S.M. must be the product of the candidate’s own work, and all quotations from the work of other composers should be disclosed. Candidates may not submit work for which a degree or diploma has already been conferred, either partially or in full.
Candidates found to be guilty of plagiarism will be disqualified from candidature or, if found to be so guilty after graduation, shall be deprived of their degree.
Candidates for the degree are not required to seek supervision or tuition in Composition, but for those wishing to do so it is offered by the University for an additional fee.
6. Registration at other institutions
Candidates are permitted to submit work prepared whilst registered as a student at another institution, subject to the provisions regarding originality stated above in regulation 4.
7. Previous experience of candidates
Candidates for the M.S.M. in composition must hold a bachelor’s degree, or a graduate diploma in music, or a diploma of appropriately high standard obtained in composition.
8. Expected standard of work
The standard of work expected from candidates is high. At M.S.M. level the candidate’s composition shall not merely be free from errors, but shall indicate a possession of an artistic sense that merits the attention of a musically-educated audience. Submissions for M.S.M. should be of publishable standard.
The presentation of the Exercises is regarded as in itself evidence of the candidate’s capabilities, and will be considered as such.
Candidates are recommended to adopt the following standard procedures:
All material should be presented on appropriately-sized manuscript paper, and on both sides of the paper. There should be adequate margins of at least 1½ inches on both the left and the right sides of the page.
Candidates should observe the following order of instruments:
In organ writing, the manual and pedal parts should be written on separate staves.
Candidates are required to submit a recording of a performance or of a sampled or sequenced demonstration of their Exercises. The recording should either be on compact disc or on cassette tape.
10. Submission requirements
Three copies of all material submitted are required. The Exercises should be either bound or contained securely in a clip file, and should include on a title page the name and address of the candidate, the title of the work, and the name of the degree for which they are submitted. Cassettes or CDs should be securely contained within the binding, in a pocket constructed for the purpose.
Candidates should note that all work submitted for examination will be retained by the University, and cannot be returned under any circumstances. Candidates are therefore recommended not to submit original documents (see also regulation 13).
It is recommended that a secure method of carriage be used in order to ensure the safe arrival of submissions. However, please do not use any method of carriage that requires a signature on delivery.
11. Examining Arrangements
Examination submissions shall be considered by the Examining Board of the University convened for the purpose, which shall normally consist of at least two examiners. These examiners may be from within or outside the University. The Examining Board will examine the candidate orally in the event of Exercises that lie on the pass/fail borderline. The decision of the Examining Board shall be conveyed by the Secretary to the candidate as soon as is practically possible. The Examining Board is empowered to recommend three courses of action to the University: 1. that the Exercises be accepted for the degree in question. 2. that one or both Exercises be referred with the opportunity for the candidate to re-submit on one further occasion. 3. that the Exercises not be accepted. Candidates are therefore advised to consider carefully the stage at which they wish to submit their Exercises for examination.
12. Re-submission after an unsuccessful submission
Candidates who have been unsuccessful in their submission for the award of M.S.M. may re-submit for the award on one further occasion only.
The Examining Panel are permitted to require the candidate to revise a part or parts of their submission before it can be accepted for a degree award. Such revision must be completed within the time specified by the Examining Board (normally within six months of the original submission) and must receive approval from them before the candidate can be accepted for a degree. Candidates should note that the original submission will be retained by the University during this process.
14. Submission on the basis of previously published work
Candidates may submit for the University’s M.S.M. degree a composition or compositions that have been previously published, bearing in mind Regulation 3 above, which should be substantial and of fully professional standard. They are required to state the details of the publication of their work (date of publication and publisher) upon submission, if these are not otherwise made clear in the submission itself. They may be required to attend an oral examination on the work submitted.
15. Award of degrees
Candidates who have been advised by the University that their Exercises for M.S.M. have been accepted may proceed to the award of the degree, subject to any revision that has been required by the Examining Board.