TOPIC STUDY 3A - 2019/0

Module code: MUS3081

Module Overview

The purpose of this module is to critically engage with and employ your knowledge of research, discussion, and writing about music of the Western classical tradition or popular repertoires at HE level. This is pursued through the study of a single work or a small group of works a single album or group of tracks and its/their various contexts. The module provides further foundation for historically based study at FHEQ 5 and 6.

Indicative topics include:

Jazz Studies

The aim of this module is to develop critical awareness and understanding of issues in the history, aesthetics and techniques of jazz from the late 19th century to the present day. Module content focuses on the critical study of issues in the history, aesthetics and performance of jazz, including:

• Development of jazz style (blues, gospel, ragtime, New Orleans, Swing/Big-Band, Bebop, Cool/Modal, Soul Jazz, Free Jazz, Jazz-Rock Fusion, Neoclassicism, World/Ethnic Jazz, Jazz-Hip-Hop, Acid Jazz).

• Techniques of swing, blue tonality, construction of improvised solos, texture and harmony.

• Major artists/groups such as Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, Weather Report, Wynton Marsalis, John Mayer, Courtney Pine.

• Surrounding cultural contexts such as slavery, world wars, civil rights movement, drug culture, academia and institutionalizing of jazz.

World Music

The purpose of this module is to introduce you to the theory and fundamental musical mechanisms of specific musical traditions from around the world.

Module content includes sessions on the history, cultural issues, musical concepts and analysis of specific world music traditions including the Ewe, Ashanti, Shona, Jali and Baka traditions of Sub-Saharan Africa, Hindustani and Carnatic Classical Music, Javanese Gamelan, Bulgarian Horo, Flamenco, Maqam, Japanese traditional music, Tuvan throat-singing, Afro-Cuban and Brazilian music. How some of these music cultures have influenced various composers and genres of ‘Western’ music including Debussy, Béla Bartók, Toru Takemitsu, Steve Reich and the blues and jazz traditions is also addressed.

English Music from Elgar to Britten:

The purpose of this module is to enable you to develop analytical, music-historiographical, and critical skills in relation to a delimited repertory – English music from Elgar to Britten.

Module content includes:

  1. Introduction: English music at the end of the 19th century; module aims and themes.

  2. Elgar: the influence of Brahms and Wagner; his approach to form and tonality; the topics of public v. private and melancholy; Englishness; patriotism; the institution of the symphony.

  3. Vaughan Williams: stylistic elements (folk song, French influence, English Renaissance music); nationalism; his approach to symphonic writing.

  4. Holst: modality; his relationship with modernism; melancholy.

  5. Britten: eclecticism; brilliance and professionalism; recurring dramatic and poetic topics; homosexuality.

Tippett: music and metaphor; engaging modernism – mosaic form.

Module provider

Music and Media

Module Leader

MCGRATH John (Music & Med)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 6

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 128

Lecture Hours: 22

Module Availability

Semester 1

Prerequisites / Co-requisites

None for Music and Tonmeister students.

Module content

Indicative content includes:

  • What it might mean to understand music.

  • The roles and limits of contextual enquiry and close reading.

  • Recipricol relationships between contextual enquiry and close reading.

  • Ways in which understanding popular music might be different from understanding music from the Western Classical tradition.

  • The relationship between lyrics and music in popular genres.

  • Selection of appropriate approaches for the study of particular works or popular music tracks.

  • Examination of a selected work or small group of works using a variety of approaches.

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework ESSAY (3000 WORDS) 100

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide you with the opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge and understanding of the issues surrounding academic study of music through engagement with selected work(s) and their contexts.

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

  • A coursework essay with a maximum length of 3000 words (100%), to be submitted by the Monday of week 12. (Addresses learning outcomes 1–6.)

Formative assessment

An essay plan and bibliography, to be submitted by the Monday of week 7.


Detailed written feedback will be provided within three weeks of both the submission of the formative and summative assessment.

Verbal feedback will be given to contributions during class discussions as well as individual tutorials on coursework essay plans.

Module aims

  • To critically engage with and employ approaches to the historical and technical understanding of music from the Western classical tradition or popular repertoires.
  • To critically engage with and employ skills and confidence in discussing Western classical music in oral and written form to a level suitable for further study at HE level.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 1. Discuss the main historical and technical issues identified regarding the work or works or album of tracks examined in the module KCT
002 2. Undertake the research required to complete the coursework essay CT
003 3. Construct a cogent argument in written form. ( KCT
004 4. Demonstrate the ability to access physical and online research resources in the library and through the library webpage T
005 5. Cite and reference the work of others correctly. T
006 6. Compile a bibliography following departmental guidelines T
007 7. Demonstrate the ability to contribute cogently to class discussions. KCT

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:

Develop awareness of some of the intellectual means by which understanding of Western classical music is sought and achieved, and to develop the ability to employ some of these means to inform discussion of the selected work(s). This will involve directed reading and listening, class discussion, and the formation of critical responses to secondary literature in the coursework essay. The strategy will also reinforce techniques and styles of academic writing and analysis introduced in the Semester 1 modules Encountering Music History and Music Project 1A that are critical to student success in FHEQ levels 5 and 6.

The learning and teaching methods include:

  • Lectures, incorporating class discussions as appropriate (2 hours per week x 11 weeks)

Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list
Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: MUS3081

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Creative Music Technology BMus (Hons) 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Music BMus (Hons) 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Music and Sound Recording (Tonmeister) BSc (Hons) 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Music and Sound Recording (Tonmeister) BMus (Hons) 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2019/0 academic year.