Composing for Film and Television



The NFTS trains composers in both live and synth/sample-based music for the moving image in a production context closely modelled on industry working practices.

Graduate Dario Marianelli won the Oscar for Best Music (Original Score) for Atonement and was BAFTA-nominated this year for Darkest Hour.

Students will compose for a wide variety of audio visual material and collaborate closely with those in other specialisms to produce several films – with all production costs met by the School. In particular, composers work closely with other students in Editing and Sound Post Production, increasing their understanding of the relationship between audio and moving images.

We offer a flexible curriculum adaptable to our students’ individual needs, with individual music suites, recording sessions with live musicians and education in business, legal and professional skills. Composing graduates are qualified to take on all forms of work in film and television as well as productions in multimedia and interactive programming.

All NFTS students can attend Masterclasses. Recent guests include David Fincher (Fight Club), Greta Gerwig (Little Women), Steve McQueen (12 Years A Slave), Edgar Wright (Hot Fuzz), Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Fleabag), Ben Wheatley (Free Fire), Rapman (Blue Story), Louis Theroux, Debra Granik (Winter’s Bone), Denis Villeneuve (Bladerunner 2049), Lynne Ramsay (You Were Never Really Here), Sam Mendes (1917), Asif Kapadia (Senna), Joanna Hogg (The Souvenir), Russell T Davies (Doctor Who) and Martin Phipps (The Crown).

​This course is industry recognised by ScreenSkills, the industry-led skills body for the UK's screen-based industries, and carries the ScreenSkills Select quality-mark which indicates courses best suited to prepare students for a career in the screen industries.

Recent credits and successes

Doctor Who profile pic

Recent graduate Segun Akinola's credits include the latest series of Doctor Who

Darkest Hour promo pic

Graduate Dario Marianelli won an Oscar for his soundtrack to Atonement. More recently his work on Darkest Hour earned him a raft of nominations, including at the BAFTAs and Ivor Novellos.

Padding 2 promo pic

2016 Graduate Jessica Jones' credits include Paddington 2 and Darkest Hour

Peaky Blinders promo pic

Graduate Martin Phipps' credits include Peaky Blinders, Black Mirror and Victoria

What you will study

In year one, students are taught the techniques and contexts which inform writing music for the screen. It starts with an intensive process during which students compose to a variety of exercises, each one chosen to focus on a particular aspect of film composition. Further exercises concentrate on scoring for live instruments, the combination of live and electro-acoustic elements and the integration a limited range of sound design into film scores. Students will also work on projects generated by other students at the NFTS and participate in visits from industry professionals.

In year two, students’ activities will be dominated primarily by films and other projects working with students from across the School. However, lectures, seminars and occasional workshops will be provided to clarify and expand issues arising from those projects.


Download programme specification (PDF)

Download course outline (PDF)

Head of Department

Head of Composing is the BAFTA-nominated composer, and NFTS graduate, John Keane (A Very British Coup, Hornblower, Anna Karenina TV series, Hideous Kinky). 

Current or Recent Tutors

Regular visiting tutors include Simon Coleman (In Britain, The Dales, The Lakes, Electric Angels), Miguel D'Oliveira (Genova, First Dates), Stuart Earl (Little Women, The Accident, Doctor Foster, Rillington Place, Gold Digger), Dario Marianelli (Darkest Hour, Paddington 2, Anna Karenina, Atonement), Quentin Poole, Mark Russell (Cold Feet, Leonardo, Inspector George Gently, The Worst Witch, The Evermoor Chronicles) and Filip Sijanec (Talking Tom and Friends, The Break).

Fees and funding options

Fees for this course are as follows:

Home Fees: £14,800 per year

International Fees (including EU nationals): £24,900 per year

These are the fees for January 2022 intake. Fees for January 2023 will be confirmed in June.

Please note:

EU nationals who have been granted settled or pre-settled status under the EU settlement scheme may be eligible for “Home Fees”, subject to meeting the residency requirements. (You need to be  ordinarily resident in the UK or EEA for 3 years prior to the start of your course).

The NFTS has £900,000 of scholarships and bursaries available.

There is a compulsory, non-refundable £25 application fee for each MA application. A non-refundable deposit of £500 is required against the cost of your fees on confirmation of your place. As a part of our admissions selection process, following a successful interview applicants are required to attend a selection workshop for two days, which has a fee of £70. 

All production costs are included in the course fees, including the use of School facilities and equipment. Students are expected to provide their own laptops.

The NFTS is committed to ensuring it is open to students of genuine ability, no matter what their background or financial circumstances. We don’t want anybody to be put off applying for a place at the NFTS because of the cost, which is why we award more scholarships and bursaries to British students, relative to the size of our student body, than almost any other educational institution in the UK.

At the NFTS you will get far more time learning directly from tutors, in real production facilities and on real projects, than in the vast majority of film schools or universities – and we won’t charge you extra for the cost of productions or materials. The specialist nature of our courses mean that our students gain the relevant skills and experience they need to go straight into the industry.


Composing graduates Jessica Jones and Dario Marianelli talked about the course and the School in a BBC News report about the NFTS earlier this year. 

Entry requirements

The Composing MA course is part of the Post Production department, where we are looking to assemble a group of students with diverse and varied backgrounds. There is no 'typical' student or perfect candidate who conforms to a mandatory list of qualifications. You might have had some Industry experience in your chosen field, or a background in the arts or other media. You may now be looking for a further professional qualification, or wish to broaden your knowledge of composing for screen, taking you to a higher level of work.

Students normally have a degree in music but applicants with equivalent practical experience are also accepted; some composing experience is preferred. We look for composers with a strong personal style, a flexible approach and an intelligent feel for drama and narrative. Candidates should normally be able to notate the music they wish to be performed acoustically, have an understanding of the main historical styles and be able to communicate with others using non-musical terms. It is essential that applicants have a strong and demonstrable interest in film.

For international students, more information about our entry requirements, including Visa and English language requirements, can be found on our What You Need To Know section of our Students From Abroad page. 

As a part of our admissions selection process, following a successful interview applicants are required to attend a selection workshop for two days, which has a fee of £70. 

If you have any questions, please email

How to apply

Application deadline: Contact Registry

During the online application process, you will be provided with a link and password to download two film clips. You will be asked to write music for each of these clips, with sound and music track, and once completed, return to your application to provide Vimeo links (download enabled) to enable us to view the work.

Due to the time it may take you to complete this, we advise you to start your application as soon as possible to access the clips so that you can return to the form with the required links, by the deadline date.

If you are invited to attend an interview, you will be invited to bring further material that may be of interest for the selection panel at the discretion of the interviewers.

The application deadline has now passed. Please join our mailing list if you would like to be kept up to date with NFTS news and updates.