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2023/24 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

MUSS2124 British Music and National Identity

20 creditsClass Size: 25

Module manager: Prof Michael Allis

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2023/24

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

The nineteenth century saw a heightened awareness of national identity, and this manifested itself in the arts in a variety of ways. In music, composers sought to explore the diverse means by which national identity could be invoked, whether for purely representational reasons or to more symbolic ends. This course focuses on how national identity might be understood in relation to British music c.1870-1950, highlighting notable developments in British musical culture in this period, relating composers’ musical works to their prose writings, identifying the significance of literary figures such as A.E. Housman and Thomas Hardy, exploring political, cultural and musical agendas, and suggesting how as musicologists we might approach, understand and reinterpret a wide range of British compositions. Repertoire to be studied will include works such as Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on a theme of Thomas Tallis and selected symphonies, Delius’s Brigg Fair, Bax’s Tintagel, Bantock’s Fifine at the Fair, and Holst’s Egdon Heath, along with compositions by Gurney, Warlock, Parry, Holbrooke, Boughton and many more besides.


The module is designed to introduce students to the body of research and repertoire associated with the idea of British music and national identity. 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 British music and national identity.
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 British music and national identity, offering a holistic exploration of the subject and more focused investigation of key aspects of these musics. In particular, the module focuses on how national identity might be understood in relation to British music c.1870-1950 through topics such as developments in British musical culture in this period, relating composers’ musical works to their prose writings, the significance of literary key figures, and political, cultural and musical agendas active in Britain at this time.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours180.75
Total Contact hours22.25
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)203.00

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: 09/06/2023 10:30:58


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