COMP0038 Computer Music

This database contains the 2018-19 versions of syllabuses.

Note: Whilst every effort is made to keep the syllabus and assessment records correct, the precise details must be checked with the lecturer(s).

Academic session



Computer Music



Module delivery

1819/A6U/T2/COMP0038 Undergraduate

Related deliveries

1819/A7P/T2/COMP0038 Postgraduate

Prior deliveries




FHEQ Level


FHEQ credits



Term 2

Module leader

Gold, Nicolas


Gold, Nicolas

Module administrator

Ball, Louisa


The module will provide students with a grounding in computer music theory, technology and applications.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module, a student will be able to:

  1. demonstrate knowledge of key issues in contemporary computer music.
  2. demonstrate a knowledge of ethical issues related to music intellectual property.
  3. analyse problems in computer music analysis, representation, and creation.
  4. synthesise solutions to such problems on the basis of contemporary tools and theories.
  5. evaluate such solutions using appropriate methods
  6. manage their own learning in terms of acquiring disciplinary knowledge from academic literature
  7. evaluate their own solutions
  8. work autonomously
  9. solve complex problems

Availability and prerequisites

This module delivery is available for selection on the below-listed programmes. The relevant programme structure will specify whether the module is core, optional, or elective.

In order to be eligible to select this module as optional or elective, where available, students must meet all prerequisite conditions to the satisfaction of the module leader. Places for students taking the module as optional or elective are limited and will be allocated according to the department’s module selection policy.

Programmes on which available:

  • BSc Computer Science (Year 3)
  • BASc Arts and Sciences (Sciences and Engineering)


The module has no formal prerequisites but involves programming in graphical and textual languages, and engagement with musical concepts. No prior knowledge of programming is assumed and the languages used are taught from first principles, however, those with no or very little computing experience of any kind may find the learning curve quite steep. Thus some basic knowledge of programming in any language will be helpful. On the musical side, it will help if you have some basic knowledge of music but again, this can be learned from books and will be briefly taught on the course if needed. Reviewing this page <> may give some idea of the knowledge required. Prospective students are encouraged to contact the Module Leader <> to discuss their suitability.


The module will cover three key aspects of computer music: representation, creativity and analysis addressed through theory and practice. It will cover sound, music as organised sound, and specific applications (e.g. music information retrieval and musicology). Students will be strongly encouraged to explore both scientific and artistic aspects of the course through programming exercises to generate sound and music in contemporary programming languages (e.g. Python and Pure Data).

Indicative topics:

  • Audio and Sampling
  • Synthesis
  • Introduction to Tonal Music Theory
  • Symbolic representations of music (e.g. MIDI, MusicXML)
  • Algorithmic Composition
  • Music Information Retrieval
  • Computational Musicology
  • Ethical Issues and Evaluation of Music Systems

Note that not all topics are covered to the same depth.

An indicative reading list is available via


The module is delivered through a combination of lectures and laboratories Students will be given exercises to explore and practice techniques. Reading and listening recommendations will also be provided.


This module delivery is assessed as below:



Weight (%)



Written examination (2hrs)



In order to pass this Module Delivery, students must:

  • achieve an overall weighted Module mark of at least 40.00%;

AND, when taken as part of BSc Computer Science; MEng Computer Science, and MEng Mathematical Computation:

  • achieve a mark of at least 30.00% in any Components of assessment weighed ≥ 30% of the module.

Where a Component comprises multiple Assessment Tasks, the minimum mark applies to the overall component.