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2019/20 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

MUSS3040 Analysing Music

40 creditsClass Size: 60

Module manager: Dr Clive McClelland

Taught: Semesters 1 & 2 (Sep to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2019/20

Pre-requisite qualifications

Normally a pass mark in MUSS2020


MUSS2020Interpreting Music

Module replaces

MUSI3021 Analysis of Symphonic Repertoire

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

This module seeks to complete the process begun in MUSS1020, and developed in MUSS2020 providing students with a broad suite of contemporary and traditional analytical techniques, suitable for application across a broad range of musics. The personal interests, which have guided students’ internal selections within the modules mentioned above are extended here, such that in second term, students undertake a guided but independent analytical project, in which they have the opportunity to use any of the techniques and strategies dealt with across the three years of the programme to examine music of their choice. Students will develop an ability to draw strong and cogent links between the techniques and strategies developed in this module and musics covered in the programme as a whole.


This module aims to:
• Provide students with range of contemporary and traditional analytical techniques suitable for application across a broad range of musics
• Provide students with an opportunity to undertake an independent analytical project which uses the techniques and strategies considered during all three levels of analysis teaching as a whole
• Provide students with skills which may link closely to aspects of the undergraduate programme more broadly.

Learning outcomes
On successful completion of this module, students will have demonstrated:

• advanced and critical engagement with a variety of complex musico-analytical strategies, appropriate both for specific repertoires and for broader application ;
• an ability to apply the same strategies to musics (both familiar and unfamiliar) autonomously, as well as appropriately and imaginatively;
• An ability to evidence a full and advanced understanding of musico-analytic terminology;
• keen analytical understanding, with the ability to re-present a variety of extremely complex information in appropriate forms, whether graphic or written, some of which should be comprehensible to a non-specialist;
• a well-developed ability to utilise graphical information (such as analytical tables and graphs) to communicate their thinking in more efficient modes


An indicative syllabus might appear thus:

Semester 1
In the first semester, you will be introduced over the course of 10 lectures to a range of analytical and critical approaches that build upon, and extend, those that you encountered in level 2. You will be encouraged to reflect on the intellectual, methodological and critical assumptions underpinning these approaches. Indicative content includes more advanced formal, harmonic and rhythmic analytical methods, as well as approaches that examine the interaction between music analysis and external systems (including hermeneutics, topics theory, programme music and narrative. You will be given preparatory work for each lecture, and will be expected to contribute to class activities, whether practical (which is to say, analytical) or discursive.

Semester 2
Students undertake a self-directed, guided project on an analytical topic of their choice. This may include, but is not restricted to, analyses of specific pieces, analyses of genres, comparative analyses, or ‘meta-analysis’, looking at analytical practice as a discipline in its own right.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours375.50
Total Contact hours24.50
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)400.00

Private study

5 x hours preparation per timetabled session = 100 hours
10 x hours preparation per tutorial = 30 hours
Preparation of assessed work = 245.5 hours

In Semester 1, students will be expected to prepare for lectures. This preparation may take the form of set reading, listening to a podcast, score study, etc., and will be guided by tutors.

In the second semester, students develop a self-directed project, with staff guidance. Analytical projects may focus on any number of topics within the broad subdiscipline including (but not limited to), as noted above, analyses of specific pieces, analyses of genres, comparative analyses, or ‘meta-analysis’, looking at analytical practice as a discipline in its own right. Although guided, for the most part these projects aim to establish students as autonomous, critical, analytical thinkers.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Students submit a 4,000-word essay at the end of the first semester. Since many, if not all, students undertaking MUSS3040 will also have taken MUSS2020, this affords a particularly helpful point of comparison to assess progress between the two modules. This is doubly beneficial since it falls at the half-way mark of MUSS3040, just before students take on a greater degree of responsibility for guiding their own studies.

In the case of the independent project, students will be expected to submit draft work (in the form not only of text expected to form a part of the final submission, but also including sketch analytical diagrams, graphs, and tables, as well as structural plans, abstracts, and bibliographies, as appropriate, in advance of tutorial sessions with the staff member supervising their particular project.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Portfolio3500-4000 words40.00
PortfolioAnalytical project equivalent to 5,500-6000 words60.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Portfolio 1: Students are required to submit a portfolio in which they are expected to provide an appropriate methodology from those studied (students may, but are not expected to, utilise more than one approach; approaches must include at least one from those studied in MUSS3040, but may, and arguably should, also show awareness of analytical approaches engaged with earlier in the programme). Portfolio 2: An independent analytical project. The indicated word counts for both items of assessment may be reduced in individual submission to take into account analytical diagrams etc.

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 09/05/2019


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