Before you arrive

Read the Handbook and sign the acknowledgement form: Music & Music Tech Handbook 2018-19.

  • Get in touch: join the facebook page: Keele Music and Music Technology Programmes. and Twitter @KeeleMusic Here you can get in touch with current students, meet other incoming students and ask questions.
  • MUSIC: You will receive lots of reading over your time reading Music at Keele, but if you want to hit the ground running, here are some books to get you started: see below
  • MUSIC TECH: The course will take you through things gradually, from 'zero' but we have some recommended reading to get you started: see below
  • Get your IT ready - check out Keele IT Induction

And just before you arrive

Be sure to add the welcome week meetings and activities to your diary they are all compulsory so be sure to attend.

The Welcome meeting is an opportunity to meet your new course mates, meet members of staff, and ask questions. The date, time and venue of this meeting will be written in the welcome letter we send to you.

Recommended readings and book purchases for incoming Music students:

The readings are not compulsory but if you can and have the inclination, it would be useful to pick and choose among these books and chapters. It goes without saying that practising your first instrument regularly, before you start your course, is a must!


Author: Stanley Sadie - Title: The Cambridge Music Guide 

Brief description: textbook covering Western Art Music

Read these chapters first: Ch1, 2 and 3 cover music theory and music forms, topics explored further in the Introduction to Music Theory and Active Listening modules. Ch 9, 10 and 11 cover Twentieth Century Classical Music.

This book is strongly recommended for purchase, although multiple copies are available for borrowing in our library.


Author: Philip V. Bohlman - Title: World Music: a very short introduction

Brief description: Music and its wide-ranging geographical scope, cultures and regional histories.

Read these chapters first: to get thinking about music in the kinds of new ways you’ll be encouraged to explore throughout your degree, reading this book doesn’t take long, but cover lots of ground on the big questions about music, its meanings and its purposes, in a short but stimulating space. If you can, read all of it.


Author: Claudia Gorbman - Title: The Oxford Guide to Film Studies

Brief description: useful book if you are interested in film-music and/or want to prepare yourself for the Film-Music module(s). The book is an up-to-date critical volume on the theories, debates, and approaches to the study of film.

Read these chapters: read Claudia Gorbman's chapter on film music.

Recommended activities for incoming Music Technology students

The course will take you through things gradually, from 'zero'. However a bit of preparation will certainly be worthwhile You can do all the things listed below, if you have time, or perhaps pick and choose.


Author: Bruce Bartlett, Jenny Bartlett  -  Title: Practical Recording Techniques
The step-by-step approach to professional audio recording.
Brief description: textbook on basic techniques and background concepts. No advanced maths or physics.
Read these chapters first: Ch1, Music, why do you record. Ch3, Sound, signals and studio acoustics. Ch14, Judging sound quality.
This book is strongly recommended for purchase, although multiple copies are available for borrowing in our library.

Software practice

Training on the software you need for Music Tech coursework will be provided starting from beginner level. However, students looking to start Music Technology at Keele University may want to familiarise themselves with computer applications for audio editing, multi-track audio mixing, and audio-video montage. For example a free audio editor AUDACITY is available here [] for download. The wave editor we use on most Music Tech labs is Adobe Audition (both the version for PC and for Mac).

The most common environment for sequencing and multi-track recording/mixing used at Keele on Mac computers is Apple LOGIC PRO X. If you own a Mac you may want to familiarise yourself with Logic. Video tutorials are available both on YouTube and on the Apple website.

As a suite for video editing we use Apple FINAL CUT PRO X. You may want to become familiar at least with the basic editing tasks.

Do it yourself: try to experiment with sound! Use a wave editor and plug-in effects to transform it beyond recognition; pretend you are preparing a soundtrack for a sci-fi blockbuster. A good (and very cheap) piece of software you can play with to create weird granular sounds or crazy soundscapes is Ambient by Audiobulb. Find it here Remember, be creative, and pay great attention to sound quality.

University life

It is an exciting adventure starting university, but things are different from what you are used to at school or college. One way to explore these differences is to talk to current University students, and keep in mind the following:

  • You have less contact time with your teachers. That is because you do more independent work, on your own.
  • You do more independent study, research, project work, and this can be challenging, but also very exciting, and extremely useful to learn how to face real life challenges.
  • When you listen to music, read a book, or watch a video for study purposes, you need to be critical, analytical, and make notes. It’s good to get into this habit early. Saying I like it or I don't like it is not enough; you should explain why, find out what other people think, compare ideas, and understand why it has an impact on you.
  • There are different standards and a higher quality of work expected. Slowly, you will need to acquire the knowledge, working practices, and self-discipline of a professional.
  • Keele University Music / Music Technology operates on a rather informal and respectful interpersonal level. Most students address staff, lecturers, technicians and administrators by their first name (no Sir, Doctor or Professor). They will tend to address you informally as well. Needless to say, this does not mean that anything goes. Lecturers and staff are friendly, but they are not your mates. Students and staff all expect to be treated respectfully in a relaxed working environment conducive to study and research.

How much work?

This depends partly on the individual, naturally. But as a rough guide, 1 credit equal 10 hours of work. If you are taking a 15-credit module, you should expect to put in 150 hours of work over a 12-week semester. Each module is delivered differently but, this could be attending lectures and tutorials every week, studying and listening to recommended music works, and writing a final essay. Or, it could be in the form of attending lab workshops, preparing a presentation on your project work-in-progress, and carrying out a final project in our studios. That’s roughly 10-12 hours per week just for one module. You will take the equivalent of 4 of these modules at one time. Therefore, we are talking about 40-48 hours of academic work a week - University study is a full time job!

Therefore, it’s worth making a few of important points:

  • We’ll do everything we can to make you feel comfortable in the department. We are well aware that the first few weeks can feel bewildering as you try to acclimatise and get used to the various procedures. However, you should also remember that University work is supposed to be challenging and we will treat you as adults.
  • It's important that you achieve an appropriate balance between study and leisure activities right from the start. You will be surrounded by friends and opportunities to have fun; that's fine, but remember you came to University primarily to study and learn.
  • Focus, focus and focus: you must know what you are required to do at any time for all the modules you are attending during a certain semester. If you are unclear, read the Module Descriptions and if you need clarifications, go and speak to your tutors. Do not let things slip away from your grasp.

A Latin motto says Mens sana in corpore sano (a healthy mind in a healthy body): if you want your mind to be prompt, focussed and sharp, you must look after yourself; eat properly, drink in moderation, exercise regularly, sleep, relax every day for a little while.

And finally, remember that you are not alone. If you run into any problems, the golden rule is get in touch. Rather than bottling up or disappearing, get in touch with your tutors or the Music and Music Tech Office who will always do their best to help and won’t judge.

Glossary of useful (and mysterious) terms

Module: a self-contained set of sessions on a subject, for example, MUS-10031 Active Listening. Typically a module runs for 12 weeks (one semester) and involves attendance at 2 hours per week of either lectures, tutorials, studio workshops, or computer mediated study. More often it involves a combination of these things. You must attend module sessions, do the relevant coursework, and whatever is required for the assessment so you can get the marks you need to pass that module.

Tutor or Academic: a person who teaches you at university, giving lectures, running seminars and workshops and they make sure that you have a positive learning experience. Academics also publish their own original research and are experts in their field. Different tutors have different styles of teaching, but this variety is a good thing.

Personal tutor: on arrival, all Keele students are allocated one tutor who looks out for you and offers basic pastoral care and academic advice. They will be a tutor from one of your degree programmes.

The Office: at Music and Music Tech we call our programmes office on the ground floor ‘The Office’ where our friendly Administrators work and answer queries. The Office is open to students every weekday, but is sometimes closed for meetings. Office hours are always posted on the office door.

Music Studio or Lab: a room equipped with technology for the creation, recording, and editing of sound, visuals and music. We have 7 independent studio areas used for practical work on certain modules. Some are 'pool rooms' as they feature many separate audio workstations. Some are 'single user' because they feature one workstation and must be booked in advance.

Office Hours/Surgery Hours: each tutor has designated hours during the week during which they talk to students about academic or personal issues. Sign-up sheets for appointments are either posted on the tutor’s office door or booked online. You might want to go over something you didn’t quite understand in a lecture or during a studio task, for example.

Essay: generally, a longer piece of assessed written work (something between 2,500 and 3,500 words), in which you’ll have to construct an argument on a particular topic, using a variety of sources to support your argument.

Lecture: A formal session. All students taking a certain module go to a classroom to attend a 50-minute presentation on a specific topic, often with hand outs and/or PowerPoint slides. Students take notes. Depending on the tutor, students might be asked a few informal questions.

Workshop - 1 or 2 hours: A session where you are shown how to do something by a tutor, usually in small groups. This could be setting up a sound recording session, or composing a motive for clarinet. At Music and Music Tech workshops often involve students doing something under the tutor's guidance and feedback.

Module Description: Contains all the important information about a certain module you are taking, content, timetable, books you need, labs you need to use, information about assessment and the tutor’s contact details. The description is available on the Keele Learning Environment (KLE) and on our webpages so all students can see it wherever they are.

Keele Learning Environment (KLE): a computerised system to support teaching and learning. It works over the internet and provides a collection of resources for students taking a certain module (notes, interactive quizzes, timetables, recommended web links). Sometimes it supports discussions among students and/or tutors on study topics. It can also be used for exam tests, submitting essays, student blogs and portfolios. The KLE used at Keele is a product by Blackboard(TM). It's very intuitive to use and students can learn very quickly how to navigate the pages.

eVISION: is an online portal for all Keele students. Each student has secure access via a username and password to the portal which holds your personal details, timetable, records your academic progress and allows you to manage your student finances online.

Student Staff Voice Committee (SSVC) and Student Voice Representative: The SSVC is an important forum for students to give feedback on the work of the department. The committee includes students from Levels I, II and III, so if you’re interested in becoming a Students Voice Representative, which meets roughly twice per semester, please let one of the office administrators know. For more information about Student Voice Representatives click here.