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2021/22 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

MUSS1120 Music in History and Culture

20 creditsClass Size: 200

Module manager: Dr Matthew Pritchard

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2021/22

Module replaces


This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

This module acquaints students with a varied palette of approaches to the study of music in culture, as well as a wide range of musics as objects of study. Beginning in semester 1 with a roughly chronological survey of topics in Western music history from the medieval/early modern period to the end of the nineteenth century, lecturers introduce key issues of historiography and cultural interpretation as they affect music. In the second semester more recent traditions of ‘art’, popular and ‘world’ music are studied in relation to their political, economic, social, technological and aesthetic dimensions. Students learn to listen to music in a critical and contextually informed manner, and to compare and critique scholarly interpretations of music.


The module aims to introduce students to a range of genres of music, from both Western music history and contemporary ‘world’, jazz and popular styles, together with issues involved in their study. Covering musicological and ethnomusicological approaches, students will learn how to think about music history and culture through the lens of critical issues such as: periodisation in music history; the interrelationship of performance and notation; the relationship of music to politics, religion, and the theatre; the impact of technology on the production and reception of music; the continuities and contrasts between art, popular and other styles; and identity and cultural ownership.

Learning outcomes
On completion of this module, students should be able to:

- demonstrate and apply appropriate critical skills and knowledge to the discussion of music in history and culture;
- comprehend, apply and critique key concepts in a range of different musicological perspectives;
- listen to and identify a range of diverse musics;
- draw connections between each element of the module and with concurrent and previous studies;
- formulate and structure convincing arguments cogently.
- independently research appropriate primary and secondary sources.


Students will explore a range of historical and cultural perspectives pertinent to the study of music. The first semester will provide a broad overview of genres of Western music in their social and cultural contexts from the medieval/early modern period to the end of the nineteenth century. In the second semester, the module will use largely twentieth- and twenty-first century repertoires to address specific approaches to the study of music in its performative, cultural, social, political, economic, technological, or other contexts. Strategies for listening to music from a range of historical periods and styles will be explored and supported by the School’s weekly lunchtime concert series.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours160.00
Total Contact hours40.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

3 hours reading/listening/preparation per taught contact hour (90 hours)
15 hours formative essay preparation
20 hours examination preparation
35 hours module essay preparation

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Student progress in key module skills is monitored through 10 group seminars throughout the course, led by postgraduate tutors. Following receipt of the short essay at the end of semester 1, PG tutors will provide students with formative feedback on their comprehension, writing and research skills, to be tested (with greater assessment weighting) later in the module essay.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Assignment900-1100 words15.00
Essay2250-2750 words85.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

There is no reading list for this module

Last updated: 30/06/2021 13:25:03


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