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2023/24 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

MUSS1020 Understanding Music

20 creditsClass Size: 100

Module manager: Dr Clive McClelland

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2023/24

Pre-requisite qualifications

Basic music reading skills required.

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

This module seeks to introduce you to a variety of important ways of engaging with and understanding music. Although the focus will be on tonal music, the ways of thinking about music surveyed in the module can be applied, to greater or lesser extents, to other repertoires as well. You may find that some of the approaches overlap with your pre-university studies. In such cases, you will find these ideas will be deepened and enriched, and perhaps even turned on their head. Other topics and themes will be entirely new. This course helps you prepare for the analytical study in levels 2 and 3, and, just as importantly, to support and complement aural, historical and compositional studies you may encounter elsewhere in the curriculum.


The module seeks to introduce students to a variety of core strategies for engaging with and understanding music at the tertiary level. Some overlap may be expected with pre-university studies, so that familiar ideas are deepened and enriched, while some topics and themes will be entirely new. This course aims to help students develop analytical skills that may be of value later in their degrees, and to support aural, historical and compositional studies.

Learning outcomes
1. Demonstrate understanding of core, tertiary level strategies for engaging with, and awareness of fundamental principles of, a variety of musics (including, though not limited to, form, polyphony, counterpoint, and harmony, each in aural and, broadly conceived, written forms).

2. Evidence a developing ability to replicate stylistically and critique music using appropriate tools and terminology.

3. Demonstrate understanding of a variety of music notations and their application.

4. Demonstrate a basic understanding of how basic analytical approaches to music can enrich and inform broadly aesthetic approaches and procedural modes of engaging with complex information (through analytical strategies) juxtapose with more intuitive modes of thought;

5. Show a developing awareness of the relationship between ‘theory’ (broadly conceived) and ‘practice’ and understanding of links between in-class working practices and self-directed study.

Skills outcomes
Aural awareness, music theory, species counterpoint, harmony, score reading, formal analysis


The module explores harmony, counterpoint and form, examining the relationships between these fundamental aspects of tonal music. An indicative syllabus might be:
- consideration of different kinds of tonal music
- general principles of harmony
- counterpoint and voice leading
- realisation of notation using approaches such as figured bass
- chromatic harmony
- musical form and structure

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Drop-in Session101.0010.00
Private study hours160.00
Total Contact hours40.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Preparation for and follow up from each lecture: 4 hours x 20 lectures = 80 hours
Preparation for each seminar: 2 hours x 10 seminars = 20 hours
Background reading and listening: 40 hours
Preparation for and completion of assessments: 20 hours

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Students will contribute work for discussion in lectures generating formative tutor and peer feedback.
More detailed formative feedback through seminars.
Individual or smaller group discussion of work and understanding in drop-in sessions.
Formative feedback on parts of the portfolio that might support learning on later elements.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
PortfolioPractical work100.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

A resit might take the form of a single assignment that encapsulates all relevant aspects of the portfolio.

Reading list

There is no reading list for this module

Last updated: 28/04/2023 14:43:20


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