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Norges musikkhøgskole Norwegian Academy of Music Search

Mas­ter Work

  • Course type: Concentration.
  • Year of study: Years 1 and 2, over four semesters.
  • Final assessment: Written and oral exam.
  • Prerequisites: Admission to the Master of Composition Programme.
  • Language of instruction: Norwegian and English.

Course description

The Master’s Project is to be an independent project with a clear artistic focus. The student must show originality, high artistic and theoretical proficiency and the ability to reflect critically. The Master's Project is divided into two units: a practical composition unit, and a theoretical unit with relation to the composition unit.

Learning objectives

Upon completion of the course, the student is expected to

  • show artistic integrity and mastery of advanced technical composition skills and creative work methods when creating a cohesive aesthetic expression
  • show an ability to analyse and critically assess material from artistic development activity and research, and to use this in their own work
  • show ability to apply their knowledge to expand their musical perspective and conduct independent, artistic development activity
  • show ability to articulate and discuss musicological issues in their discipline in a critical, reflective, and purposeful manner, both within the music community and in the public sphere


The Master's Project is an independent project that combines artistic and theoretical issues in a composition project. The content of the Master's project should be elaborated in the project description.


Each student is assigned a main supervisor from the Academy's faculty. The supervisor provides individual advising and feedback regarding the student's goals, and core issues/questions set down in the student's Master's project description.

It is the responsibility of each individual student to ensure her/his study progress. The student must take administrative charge of scheduling regular appointments with her/his supervisor, in addition to submitting required courses (scores in the making, drafts for written work, etc.), in order to ensure the expected course progression. The Master's Project demands a great deal of student autonomy, and knowledge of relevant musical pieces and studies of literature is expected.

Course structure and recommended scope of instruction are further outlined (under Organisation) in the programme curriculum.

Students have registered automatically for instruction/supervision and assessment in the course, in accordance with the study progress requirements set out in the individual programme plan.

Course requirements

Project Description and Supervision Agreement

Based on the Master's Project Proposal submitted with the programme application, the student will develop a final Project Description.

The description should be 4–6 pages and contain details of the following: contents; a progress plan for all Master's work; academic and practical information; and a preliminary bibliography/reading list. Find more information in the Project Proposal Guidelines.

The project description must be approved by the supervisor, and signed by both student and supervisor before submission. The submission deadline is 15 November in the first semester of study. It is the student's responsibility to contact her/his supervisor.

Once the Project Description is approved and signed, a Supervision Agreement must be made. The Supervision Agreement is a contract between the student, supervisor and the Academy, which outlines the student's responsibilities and rights, as well as the duties and responsibilities of the supervisor. The project description should be subjoined to the Supervision Agreement.

Deadline: 1 December in the first semester of the programme is the deadline for submitting the final approved and signed Project Description and Supervision Agreement to the Exams Office (by the 3rd floor Administration reception).

Any changes to the Project Description made after submission must be approved by the supervisor. If any such changes affect the plan for progression, a new Supervision Agreement must be made and submitted.

For students of film music composition

Compulsory participation in a Master's production team:

  • The student must participate in a film production team as one of several experts. The other experts in the team will be students from The Norwegian Film School in Lillehammer. The team will complete a movie, and each student will experience challenges similar to any professional movie production. The movie scores written by the student will be a part of the composition unit of his/her Master's work. See "Assessment methods" below for more information.

Final assessment

All course requirements must be fulfilled and approved prior to obtaining the final assessment.

Assessment is based on learning objectives. The final assessment is given as a pass/fail mark, which is determined based on submitted compositions, a theoretical work, and a conversation with the Exams Committee. The final assessment will be carried out by two examiners. One examiner will be from an external institution. The Exams Committee will produce a written assessment of the Master's Project.

Composition unit

The composition unit is made up of at least 4 original works handed in as scores and recordings. The pieces should be for different combinations of instruments and have a combined duration of a minimum of 40 minutes and a maximum of 60 minutes. One of the pieces should, as a rule, be for a large ensemble or orchestra (with a duration of a minimum of 15 minutes). As a rule, the pieces should be performed in public. The student is responsible for organizing performances.

Requirements for students of Composition for Large Jazz Ensembles:

  • Original works of through-composed music handed in as scores and recordings, with a combined duration of a minimum of 30 minutes and a maximum of 60 minutes. The Master's project should be written for a large ensemble and should appear to be consistent and with a clear focus. As a rule, the pieces should be performed in public. The student is responsible for organizing performances.

Requirements for students of Film Music Composition:

  • Original works from the Master's production film as well as individual specialization pieces. The pieces should be handed in as scores and recordings, with a combined duration of a minimum of 60 minutes and a maximum of 120 minutes. The compositions, or parts of them, should normally be fit for public performance as independent works. The student is responsible for organizing performances.

Theoretical unit

An independent theoretical work, preferably an essay (25–50 pages / 10 000–20 000 words).

The following should be handed in with the paper:

  • Relevant illustrations and examples
  • Bibliography of sources: literature and/or music etc.
  • Syllabus: A summary of literature used (approximately 1000 pages)

Conversation / dialogue meeting

The student meets with the examinations committee for a dialogue session about their pieces and theoretical work. The meeting will last approx. 45 minutes.

Deadline: Theoretical work and pieces written for the composition unit (scores, recordings) must be submitted to the Exams Office by 15 May in the fourth semester of study. The final Master's Project is submitted electronically on the digital exam platform used by NMH. Read more about practical information and guidelines related to the Master's thesis.

New assessment

In the case of re-assessment, the same procedures apply.

Study component

Published: Apr 3, 2020 — Last updated: May 12, 2022