Durations and wordcounts

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Submissions on practice-led courses will usually require a short written document explaining your approach, summarising your main achievements, crediting influences and explaining your aesthetic choices. Each course will set limits for word counts which will include footnotes, but will not count the bibliography. Durations for time-based work will also be set and usually have a window of acceptable length. In this example: between 4-6 minutes, you are expected to meet the minimum and not exceed the maximum.

Durations for submissions specified in course project briefs are purposefully set to help you refine your practice in a specific context, to ensure parity across the cohort and to help guarantee that each submission gets the same amount of time devoted to assessment and feedback. These limitations are designed to challenge you to work within specific parameters much like the challenges you will meet in your career.

Work that goes over the set durations may not be listened to in its entirety. Work that is significantly shorter than specified durations may not get a high mark, especially where it is clear that its brevity is evidence of having done less work than was expected.

In some cases – through collaborative pressures or because of a bold aesthetic choice – you might push durations in one direction or another beyond the suggested limits. Often there will be allowance for such in the brief but if you choose to take significant risks with specified durations, you should check with your course organiser the extent to which this can be stretched.

We understand that some practices are denser than others. Course organisers try to design briefs that negotiate this in sensible ways. For example, it is understood that a 5-minute solo oboe piece is a radically different proposition than a work of the same duration for chamber orchestra. Similarly some work demands that you develop rafts of material, code or technique and the finished creative work will represent just the tip of your achievements. In such cases the brief will ask you to submit the other materials to evidence this effort.

It is important to bear in mind that the amount of time dedicated to marking work is finite. Work that takes much more time to engage with will almost certainly not get as thorough engagement on all of its elements as work that fits the size of the submission.

Often, especially in projects involving software you develop yourself, we ask you to take a screen grab of the work as you see it behaving and sounding on your machine. This is a very important part of the submission since software frequently does not work as expected on a different operating system. We may also ask for a technical explanation video which can work in lieu of a manual. These kinds of screen captures work best when planned, prepared and limited in duration. If these are asked for, there will almost certainly be a specific time limit on how long they should last.

Most courses have two submissions, often the second is more substantial than the first. The following is a guideline for the durations of submission elements you might expect to encounter, but please refer to specific project briefs for exact details:

30% first submission

  • Text document 500 words including footnotes, not counting bibliography
  • Creative work between 2-5 minutes
  • Technical explanation videos 2-4 minutes
  • Software code, readme.md file, score, diagrams and other resources as specified

70 % second submission

  • Text document 500-1000 words including footnotes, not counting bibliography
  • Creative work up to 8 minutes
  • Technical explanation videos up to 5 minutes
  • Software code, readme.md file, score, diagrams and other resources as specified