TOPIC STUDY B - 2020/1

Module code: MUSM073

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 PG 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 develops historically based study at FHEQ 7. Indicative topics include Jazz Studies, World Music and English Music from Elgar to Britten.

Module provider

Music and Media

Module Leader

MCGRATH John (Music & Med)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 7

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

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 128

Lecture Hours: 22

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Indicative content includes:

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, blues 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 infuenced 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:

Introduction: English music at the end of the 19th century; module aims and themes. Elgar: the influence of Brahms and Wagner; his approach to form and tonality; the topics of public vs. private and melancholy; Englishness; patriotism; the institution of the symphony.
 Vaughan Williams: stylistic elements (folk song, French influence, English Renaissance music); nationalism; his approach to symphonic writing.
Holst: modality; his relationship with modernism; melancholy.
Britten: eclecticism; brilliance and professionalism; recurring dramatic and poetic topics; homosexuality. Tippett: music and metaphor; engaging modernism - mosaic form.

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 conedence in discussing Western classical music in oral and written form to a postgraduate level.

Learning outcomes

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

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.

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: MUSM073

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Music (Composition) MMus 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Music MMus 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Music (Conducting) MMus 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% 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 2020/1 academic year.