Music guidance

BA (Hons) Music units: 

  1. Music 1: Composing Music (MU4CPM) 
  2. Music 1: Stylistic Techniques (MU4SYT) 
  3. Music 1: From the Present to the Past (MU4PTP) 
  4. Visual Studies 1: Creative Arts Today (CA4CAT) 
  5. Music 2: Moving on with Composition (MU5MWC) 
  6. Music 2: Orchestration and Arrangement (MU5ORA) 
  7. Music 2: Instruments and Repertoire (MU5IRA) 
  8. Music 3: Major Project (MU6MPR) 
  9. Music 3: Contextual Studies (MU6CTX)

Assessment requirements

When considering the learning outcomes for your course unit, it is important to know what you are being asked to submit. These are known as your assessment requirements. In summary, for Stages 1 and 2 these will include: 

  1. Your complete listening log. This should represent a selection of your listening through the course, with comments included on approximately 40-50 pieces of music per course (corresponding to 8-10 pieces per assignment for courses with 5-6 assigments and 4-5 pieces per project for 10 project courses). See the Listening Log Guide for further details of what should be included and how to format your work.

    Your listening log will need to be presented on its own rather than as part of your learning log. This can either be as a document or in digital form. Please make sure your entries are correctly referenced, using information found in the Harvard Referencing Guide.

    If your listening log is in the form of a digital blog, you should include a single link with your submission to OCA Learn. Ensure that any listening log entries are contained within a separate menu area on your blog and clearly signposted. Assessors will not look through your full learning log in order to locate listening log entries, so please ensure the menu gives clear access to this part of your work.

    If your listening log is in a document format (e.g. PDF or Word), upload this to OCA Learn in full, either as a single document or divided into course parts. If your listening log is contained within your learning log, where possible, copy and paste your listening log entries into a separate document.

    If you have any concerns about presenting your listening log work separately from your learning log, contact the Programme Leader.

    Work should be typed and well organised. Any PDFs, photographs or scans should be compiled into files corresponding to each part of the course, with one file for each part of the course. Please do not submit a separate document or link for each individual page of your listening log. 

  2. A selection of learning log entries. You should make a selection of work from your learning log work which best demonstrates how you have met the learning outcomes of the course. See the Learning Log Selection Template document for guidance on how to present your work.

    Compile your selection into a single document, organised by learning outcome. Underneath each of the learning outcomes you should provide links to 2 or 3 blog posts (NOT your full blog) or insert the full text of 2 or 3 learning log entries, with a brief summary of how your chosen entry demonstrates that you have met the learning outcomes. If you are uploading files (rather than linking to blog posts), make sure the files are compiled into a single document and clearly labelled by learning outcome, course part and exercise number.

    Any score-based work forming part of your learning log selection should be presented either in Sibelius or Dorico format and labelled according to the corresponding Learning Outcome or embedded within your blog or document as a PDF with accompanying audio file.

  3. A selection of creative work. This is your choice of any three assignments from across the course (NB see specific course guidance below for the new 3x3 units). You may select work from any assignment, unless otherwise specified in the course-level information below. Ensure that your selection is clear and that your files are clearly labelled (eg: Creative Work 1: Assignment 3 Final), and you should include a rationale for your choice. You should submit your chosen assignments in full, including any commentaries or reflective elements.

    Do not submit all five or ten assignments; ensure you are making a selection and only submitting the correct number. You should also include a document summarising the changes you have made to your assignments based on the feedback you have received, and send the original and final versions of each chosen assignment.

    Written assignments should be submitted in Word or PDF format and score-based work in Sibelius or Dorico format; do not submit links to assignment work on an online blog. No other formats will be assessed.

    Specific course-level requirements for new 3x3 units:

    MU5DSS Developing Specialisms (2.1) - ensure that your selection of creative work contains at least one piece of work from each of your two pathways. The third can come from either pathway at your choice.

    MU5EPE Exploring Practice (2.3) - you should submit two examples of work from your principal study and one from your second study.

  4. Any written elements such as critical reviews. For HE5 teach-out music course units only: your work for Assignment 6 should be submitted in addition to your choice of three assignment outcomes from assignments 1 to 5. This will usually be a 2000 word Critical Review or Reflective Commentary, depending on the course unit you are submitting.

    For the new 3x3 units: 

    Each course has a critical review which should be submitted in addition to your selection of creative work. This should be submitted in Word or PDF format and not embedded in a blog.

  5. A reflective presentation or evaluation. This will be an opportunity to introduce your work to the assessors, to reflect on the work you have produced and on the process of preparing for assessment. Your presentation can be a short video, powerpoint, or written piece. It should be 6 minutes or 750 words long; please ensure that you adhere to the word count and use the space available to guide the assessors through your submission.

  6. Your tutor reports for all of the assignments and any annotations your tutor has made on your work. 
You cannot submit the same piece of work in more than one area of your assessment submission, so please ensure there is no overlap , for example between learning log selections and the listening log.

Any missing or incorrectly presented work will result in a mark of zero at assessment. It is your responsibility to ensure that your submission is complete, in the correct format, and submitted in the assessment area for your course on OCA Learn. If you have any questions, concerns or doubts during your preparation for assessment, please contact your tutor or the Programme Leader (by email or via the forum spaces on OCA Learn) who will be very happy to help. Look out too for the assessment drop-ins on Zoom which will provide an opportunity to ask any questions which arise.

Stage 3 submissions 

For Stage 3 courses there is some variation to the list above to accommodate the specific needs of each course. For all courses you will submit your project plan, along with a selection of learning log entries to show how you have met the learning outcomes of each course, a reflective commentary and your tutor reports. Additionally, you will submit the following:

  1. Contextual Studies - extended piece of written work or dissertation (5000 words) 
  2. Major Project - portfolio of creative work lasting 20-25 minutes and your complete listening log
  3. Sustaining your Practice - complete listening log and a selection of Creative work including a review of any public presentation (500 words)

Additional advice for Music students 

Score-based work - Ensure that you follow the guidance in terms of file formats and presentation. All score-based assignment work must be submitted in Sibelius or Dorico format. If you do not submit your scores in this format, it is likely to result in an incomplete submission. If you have mitigating circumstances which mean you are unable to submit your work in the correct format, please contact the Programme Leader and the Assessment Team as soon as possible. 

Score-based work forming part of your learning log selection should be presented either in Sibelius or Dorico format and labelled according to the corresponding Learning Outcome or may be embedded within your blog or document as a PDF with accompanying audio file (NB the use of blogs for score-based work only applies to Learning Log selections and not to assignment work).

Please ensure that any third party software settings (eg Note Performer) are removed from your score before submitting. If you wish to include an mp3 recording of your score using live performers or sample libraries you may do so, but please ensure it is clearly labelled with your name, student number and assignment number. 10 Course Guide for assessment of Music units 

Software versions 

OCA staff have access to the most recent versions of Sibelius and Dorico, so you should submit your work in the version that you are using. However, if you have been exporting your files to an earlier version for submission to your tutor, you may opt to submit these exports along with PDF versions of your final scores to demonstrate your intended layout and to mitigate against any changes created by the software export. If you choose to do this, ensure your reasons are clearly explained within your submission, and that you are still sending your work in Sibelius/Dorico format. 

File Formats 

All written work should be submitted in Word or PDF format only. No other formats will be accepted. If your written assignment work is on your blog, please ensure that you submit Word or PDF versions for assessment. We cannot accept Zip files in the submission, so please check that any zipped folders uploaded to OCA Learn are fully unzipped before submitting. If you need help with this, contact Any files still zipped after submission will not be marked so please check this carefully. 

File Structure and Labelling your work 

Where possible, you should organise your assessment submission using a folder structure, with a separate folder for each of the assessment components - i.e. Listening & Learning Logs, Assignments, Selected Log Entries, Critical Review (where applicable), Reflection and Tutor Reports. If this is not possible for any reason, you should ensure that all of the work you submit is clearly labelled using a logical file system. 

Label your work according to the assessment requirements - as outlined below: 

  • Listening Log - either a blog link or Listening Log (complete) or divided into parts: Listening Log Part 1 Listening Log Part 2 Listening Log Part 3 etc.  
  • Selected Learning Log Entries - provide one document labelled Selected Log Entries and any additional Sibelius/Dorico files labelled by LO number.
  • Creative Work - Name your files by their original Assignment Number and mark them as original or final. Include a commentary on the changes you have made, labelled Commentary on Revisions 
  • Critical Review/Reflective Commentary - (HE5 only) - Label as Assignment 6 
  • Reflective presentation/evaluation - Label as Reflection 
  • Tutor Reports - Ensure these are clearly labelled by Assignment Number. 
Reflective Evaluation 

Your reflection can be presented as a 750-word document or a 6-minute video. This is to allow your voice to be heard in the assessment process, so use it to introduce yourself and your work to the assessors, and to give insights into your learning journey through the course. You can approach this in any way that feels appropriate to you, for example by focussing on the learning outcomes of the course and demonstrating what you have learned, or by introducing the core elements of your submission and discussing the challenges you overcame. Whatever approach you decide to take, try to use this part of your submission to show your development over the course, and where you see your work leading in the future. Share your passions, successes and inspirations, your aims and aspirations, and how your work over the course unit you have just completed has contributed to this. Feel free to ask your tutor or Programme Leader for advice if you’re not sure how to approach this. 

Word Counts and Durations 

Many of your assignment tasks come with a word count or duration. Word counts include all of the content within the main body of an essay (including quotes, references and captions) but do not include any footnotes, appendices or the reference list/bibliography at the end of the document. Ensure that the word count is noted at the end of the main text. Students are advised to contact their tutor before adding lengthy appendices or other peripherals to essay-based work.

Where the word count/duration is presented as a range (e.g. 2-3 minutes or 500-750 words) you must ensure that any work you are submitting fits within this range. For fixed numbers - e.g. 1500 words or 4 minutes - we will allow a leeway of 10% on either side of the limit. If your work falls short of this (-10%), it is likely that you have not provided a full enough response to the assignment brief and this may impact on your mark. If your work exceeds the word limit (+10%), the assessors will stop reading your work at the threshold point, and will only consider the work presented within the guidelines. This may mean that key points of your argument (such as the conclusion) are lost, which could have an impact on your mark.