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2021/22 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

MUSS5535M Aesthetic Theory

30 creditsClass Size: 21

Module manager: Prof Martin Iddon

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2021/22

This module is not approved as an Elective

Module summary

The module looks at contemporary trends in aesthetic thought and the ways in which those modes of thought can be applied, particular with reference to music. Specific texts by leading thinkers in aesthetics form the basis of class discussion, which are at the heart of the module.


This module seeks to develop in students an understanding of contemporary trends in aesthetics as well as an understanding of the particular contexts in which they can be fruitfully deployed. The module aims to help students discuss complex thought, both in text and in speech, in ways that stress clarity and concision. Though the module largely focuses on aesthetic thought in a broad way, to succeed students will also have to think through the ways in which such theory can be worked to create musical insights.

Learning outcomes
On completion of this module, students should be able to:
1. show an understanding of a range of contemporary aesthetic positions;
2. demonstrate a developing understanding of the particular strengths and limitations of those position;
3. see at least some of the ways in which aesthetic thought more broadly is imbricated with, and can have a (positive) impact upon, thought about music;
4. use at least one of the positions studied in a critical way to illuminate a specifically musical situation;
5. discuss at a high level the implications of complex texts;
6. recognise the degree to which a particular mode of thought can be used fruitfully even when only partly comprehended and the degree to which using thought (‘working theory’) can aid comprehension.


The module focuses on a range of recent writings in aesthetic theory. Each session will focus on a particular thinker and will function as a reading group, taught through staff-guided, but student-led discussion of the issues at stake within each text and their potential relevance to musical discourse. Students will work in small groups with the support of staff to develop and consolidate their understanding of the course materials. Thinkers studied may include (but are not limited to): Sara Ahmed, Rosi Braidotti, R. W. Connell, Richard Dyer, Jack Halberstam, bell hooks, Sianne Ngai, Peggy Phelan, and Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours280.00
Total Contact hours20.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)300.00

Private study

90 hours: class preparation, particularly reading of prescribed texts
90 hours: post-class annotation, discussion, and summarising of prescribed texts in preparation for submission of 1000-word review
100 hours: research for and writing of summative essay

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Progress is monitored on a weekly basis in class, principally through student contribution to discussion, which forms the basis of teaching on the module.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay or Dissertation5,500–6,500 words100.00
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: 27/09/2021 12:07:54


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