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2022/23 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

MUSS2123 Music in the Judeo-Christian Tradition

20 creditsClass Size: 25

Module manager: Dr Steve Muir

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2022/23

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

From the Levites of the Jerusalem temple to the choral traditions of the great Western cathedrals, liturgical ceremonies down the centuries have retained music at their core. This course will survey some of the variety of musical expression found in the European Judeo-Christian tradition, as well as their unorthodox offshoots. Within all religions very diverse views about the nature and function of music can be held. Is the power and beauty of music itself a form of worship of the deity, or is the over-elaboration of musical practice mere human self-indulgence? Should music be a means by which the worshipper achieves a state of ecstasy or trance, or a means of enhancing the awesomeness of the deity? These issues will be explored using a wide variety of examples from Judaism and Christianity, enabling you to distinguish your niggun from your nusach, your piyyut from your plainchant, and your leyning from your organum.


The module is designed to introduce students to the body of research and repertoire associated with music in the Judeo-Christian tradition. Students will engage with relevant scholarship to develop critical and analytical skills appropriate to the study of these musics and their contexts. The module also supports the development of broader research and writing skills through dedicated sessions focused in these areas.

Learning outcomes
1. Demonstrate the broadening of their musical knowledge through musicological study of music in the Judeo-Christian tradition.
2. Evaluate sources to show critical understanding of a body of research.
3. Apply appropriate historical, analytical, critical and comparative methodologies to the articulation and development of arguments.
4. Demonstrate the development of research, and essay-writing skills.


Taught sessions will usually focus on specific topics from within the broad area of music in the Judeo-Christian tradition, offering a holistic exploration of the subject and more focused investigation of key aspects of these musics. The course will consider some of the variety of musical expression found in the European Judeo-Christian tradition, as well as their unorthodox offshoots, exploring issues drawing on a wide variety of examples from Judaism and Christianity.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours180.75
Total Contact hours19.25
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

4 hours evaluation of notes per topic lecture: 28 hours
7 hours reading and listening per topic lecture or seminar: 70 hours
Skills lectures preparation: 12 hours
Work towards assessment: 70.75 hours

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Formative feedback will be provided on the literature review assignment through a plenary feedback seminar session, enabling all students to benefit from knowledge about common errors and examples of best practice from across the cohort. Formative feedback will also be provided through contribution to class discussions in lectures and seminars, and in the module tutorial.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay3800-4200 words70.00
Literature Review1400-1600 words30.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

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

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 29/04/2022 15:26:00


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