Course Location
Sydney On-Campus
2018 Master of Arts Screen: Music
Postgraduate (AQF Level 9)
Delivery Mode
2 year course - 4 semesters (64 weeks). Per year 2 semesters (32 weeks). Semester starts week commencing February 26, 2018
Course Fee
$24,720 per annum ($49,440 course fee)
Compulsory on campus Orientation week commencing Monday February 19, 2018. Further details will be provided post-enrolment.
Attendance Pattern
Full-time - 3 days face-to-face teaching with 2 days free to pursue individual projects or work.


In this course, you will be given the opportunity to examine how to apply varied styles of music to screen narratives. You will discover how music works with images, plot, editing, dialogue and other onscreen and soundtrack elements to create meaning and affect the audience. Throughout the course, you will have the opportunity to write and produce music in collaboration with students from other disciplines, evaluate the most effective technologies to help screen composers realise their ideas, and undertake in-depth research to explore the possibilities of the form while developing your own unique voice and striving for excellence in your execution.


The degree will be delivered in a combination of coursework, practical exercises and research. The coursework will look at the repertoire of films, television programs, and interactive narrative, and discover what filmmakers and composers have done in the past (and how and why they have done it) and what they are doing now (and how and why they do it), taking note of shifting styles in music scoring. The practical work will require you to write and produce music for a range of exercises and projects in collaboration with students from other disciplines, which will increase in scope and complexity as you progress through the course. The research is practice-led, with a focus on exploring the possibilities of the form, finding an innovative approach to the craft, developing an individual voice, and achieving excellence in the execution.

Industry practitioners will contribute to the coursework program, providing insights into their practice. In small, cross-disciplinary groups, you will collaborate with your peers to develop an adaptable, creative skill-set and a shared vocabulary of cinematic storytelling. Seminars and collaborative productions will support you to develop an understanding of the part played by music in screen narratives.

In your second year, you will embark upon a funded creative project using AFTRS’ extensive production facilities to realise your vision. You will learn to document and analyse your process through research workshops leading to a four-week professional placement at the end of your degree.

By the end of the course you will be equipped to work at a professional level on screen narratives of all kinds.


This course is designed for those who seek the skills and knowledge to undertake the role of composer or a supplementary role in a music department, such as arranger, programmer, orchestrator, copyist, or music editor in screen projects including film, television, documentary, advertising, web-based and interactive projects. Following the lead of many successful AFTRS MA Screen: Music graduates, the course will enable you to position yourself to qualify to assist working screen composers - a widely recognised and invaluable career pathway to the music-scoring world.


The Master of Arts Screen is a hands-on transformative learning experience. The two year, full-time degree is designed to enable the future creative leaders of the industry and fast-track screen professionals into head of department positions.

Our rapidly changing, globalised screen industry demands that graduates can combine excellence in craft skills with a deep understanding of their voice. This course, available in 10 disciplines, offers shared subjects, deep discipline learning and cross-disciplinary projects to allow you develop this dynamic and multi-faceted skill-set. An ongoing cycle of practical collaborations enables you to hone your skills, apply creative thinking to real-world scenarios and develop life-long partnerships. The course culminates in a funded, major creative work.

The MA Screen is a unique program of professional development, training and mentorship.

Key features include:

  • taught by the Heads of Discipline, award winning Australian practitioners
  • industry-led collaborative exercises
  • facilities and funds to develop a portfolio of high level work
  • one-to-one mentorships with screen leaders
  • masterclasses with award-winning international guest speakers
  • unrivalled world-class production facilities
  • four week professional placement tailored to your goals
  • dedicated Masters collaborative working space
  • small class size - maximum of 6 places per discipline
  • three days face-to-face teaching with two days free to pursue individual projects or work
  • scholarships available
  • FEE-HELP approved


For details of help to pay for your fees, please refer to the Study Assist​ website.

Contact our Student Centre​ or call 1300 131 461 or (02) 9805 6444 with any questions or to learn more about your study options. You can also contact the Indigenous Unit​.

Changes in circumstances may impact upon the accuracy or currency of information. While AFTRS takes all due care to ensure that the information is accurate, it reserves the right to vary any information described here without notice.

Last updated June 27, 2017.

Course Outcomes

By the end of this program, students should be able to:

  1. Demonstrate and apply advanced knowledge of theory and practice as a professional and creative leader in their discipline.

  2. Critically evaluate and apply a deep understanding of cinematic storytelling to create audience-engaged work for the screen.

  3. Justify and implement a reflective creative practice that synthesises specialist knowledge, research and an understanding of personal process.

  4. Apply an adaptable skill set.

  5. Demonstrate an ability to lead, inspire and collaborate across diverse projects with a confidence in their creative voice and core values.

Admission Requirements

Places in this course are competitive and are based on merit selection.

Candidates are required to submit the following:

1. Prerequisites

Applicants to postgraduate programs are required to hold a relevant undergraduate degree at bachelor level, or to have completed equivalent work experience and/or training.

The typical duration of a bachelor degree is 3-4 years, and candidates applying by degree equivalence are required to demonstrate they have achieved corresponding learning outcomes by completing a similar volume of relevant work experience and/or training. If you wish to apply for admission to a postgraduate program by degree equivalence, please contact the Student Centre.

2. Application Tasks

2.1 Short Film Task

Watch the short film provided here, The Space between the Door and the Floor (1989), and read the following guiding statement:

“In the space between the door and the floor there lies a sliver of light in a dark world of desire.”

First, compose and record a score for this short film (submit as media file). We are interested in how you manage and develop theme and tone in synchronisation with the cycles of tension and release on screen and what your music might suggest about the psychology of the protagonist.

Then, use the guiding statement above as a starting point write a short description (200-300 words - submit as PDF file) explaining your approach and intention with the score and the musical choices you made to achieve it.

2.2 Contemporary Screen Music Statement

Write a statement on your impressions of screen music in the contemporary environment and your hopes and ambitions in this field. Discuss at least one area of particular interest to you in film music that you would like to spend time researching or developing further over the course of your studies (500 words - submit as PDF file).

3. Creative Statement

Make a 2 minute audio-visual work that presents who you are, as a creator; why you want to complete the MA Screen - Music; and what you hope to get out of your time at AFTRS (submit as media file).

4. Creative Work

Your creative submission should demonstrate your best work. Be selective with your choices. We would like to see:

  • 3 pieces of original music (not with picture). Maximum total length 15 minutes. Can be an excerpt from longer work. Credits must be fully attributed with writing (or co-writing), performance, musicians and recording details (submit as WAV or mp3 stereo files and PDF of written score or chart if available).

  • 3 pieces of music written and performed for moving picture. Maximum total length 15 minutes. Can be excerpts. Credits must be fully attributed with writing (or co-writing), performance, musicians and recording details (submit as QuickTime or mpeg4 or similar files and PDF of written score or chart if available).

5. Uploading your Documents and Media File

You will be able to upload your written documents and media file/s as part of the application process. Ensure you conform to the required file type and size specified as follows:

  • Written documents can be uploaded to the application portal and have a maximum of 10MB in size;
  • Media files under 50MB can be uploaded to the application portal;

When you are uploading your application in the AFTRS portal you will be able to upload PDF documents and some media files directly into the portal. Any media files larger than 50MB must be uploaded as follows:

  • Creative work must be uploaded to a dedicated, secure AFTRS Dropbox folder online. A hyperlink will be provided to you in an email when you complete the online application process.
  • Once you have uploaded your creative work to the Dropbox folder it will automatically be transferred into our database leaving the Dropbox empty. Do not upload the files again. Student Centre staff check all applications and will contact you if there are any files missing.

Go to this link if you need information on how to compress a media file.

6. Resume and Educational Qualifications

Provide a one-page list of your achievements, educational qualifications and work experience.

You must also provide a certified copy​ of your highest education level as detailed on the How and When to Apply​ page on the AFTRS website. Use the link provided for information on how to certify documents.

7. Proof of Citizenship/Residency

Ensure you submit a certified copy​ of your birth certificate or passport as detailed on the How and When to Apply​ page on the AFTRS website. Use the link provided for information on how to certify documents.

Selection Criteria

Places in this course are competitive and are based on merit selection. The selection criteria are:
  • Demonstrated experience or skills relevant to discipline.

  • A distinct creative perspective.

  • A proven capacity for leadership and collaboration.

  • A willingness and capacity to engage in critical thinking, reflection and research.


This program is delivered over four semesters. Semesters 1 and 2 have four subjects. Each semester is designed to lead you through a complete cycle of the creative process:

Semester 1 - Testing
Semester 2 - Developing
Semester 3 - Realising
Semester 4 - Reflecting

In Semester 1 and 2, you divide your time equally between specialist subjects and two shared subjects: Research and Development and Cinematic Storytelling. Research and Development challenges you to interrogate who you are as a practitioner, the creative choices you make and how these choices sit in a wider cultural context. You will develop and articulate a practice-based area of creative enquiry that will drive and focus your produced work over the MAS. In Cinematic Storytelling, you will hone your mastery of cinematic language, critically evaluating cinematic story ideas and techniques through seminars, screenings and practical exercises.

In Semester 3, you will bring together your course learning in Final Project. In making a single or collaborative work, you will address and explore your area of creative enquiry and synthesise your knowledge of cinematic storytelling and specialist craft skills. You will also refine your skill-set in collaboration, creative leadership, problem-solving and entrepreneurial ism.

In Semester 4, you will participate in Reflection and Professional Practice. Reflection supports you to evaluate and present your course experience and new knowledge. In Professional Practice, you look outwards to industry, evaluating the adaptability of your skill-set in contemporary and emerging media landscapes.

The course concludes with you participating in a four-week industry attachment in your discipline.

The following subjects will be offered in the course:

Semester 1
1. Cinematic Storytelling A
2. Research and Development A
3. Discipline Specific - Practice A
4. Discipline Specific - Theory A

Semester 2
5. Cinematic Storytelling B
6. Research & Development B
7. Discipline Specific - Practice B
9. Discipline Specific - Theory B

Semester 3
10 Final Project

Semester 4
11. Professional Practice
12. Reflection


The Australian Film Television and Radio School would like to acknowledge the Traditional Owners, the Bidjigal people and Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, on whose land we meet, work, study and teach. We pay our respects to Elders past and present, and extend our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from all nations of this land.