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2023/24 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

MUSS2127 Music and Culture in Late Seventeenth-Century London

20 creditsClass Size: 25

Module manager: Dr Bryan White

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2023/24

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

In the later seventeenth century London was developing into one of the most vibrant centres of music making in Europe. The restoration of the monarchy through the return of Charles II in 1660 initiated a period of great exuberance in the arts, in which music played a full and significant role. At court, in the church, in the theatre and in homes English music absorbed influences from abroad, particularly from Italy and France, while at the same time retaining a degree of independence based on inherited tradition and the particular social and cultural contexts of the ‘Fairest Isle’. Charles II’s love of the theatre and his Francophile tastes pushed music for the stage and church in new directions. In the Chapel Royal the anthem was used to serve both religious and political purposes; the turbulent circumstances of the 1680s and 90s in particular embroiled composers and performers in the political controversies of the day. A novel form of court propaganda, the musical ode, was developed in this period, though it soon slipped the traces of the court to play a crucial role in the burgeoning public concert life of London. The role of women as performers and consumers of music changed, especially in the theatre where singing actresses became stage stars and royal mistresses. Amongst a proliferation of talented composers, one rose to pre-eminence: Henry Purcell, the ‘English Orpheus’. He composed in all of the important genres of the day; his music, and its interactions with the political and social ferment of the period will serve as the core thread tying together this exploration the cultural world of London in the late seventeenth century.


The module is designed to introduce students to the body of research and repertoire associated with music in late seventeenth-century London. Students will engage with relevant scholarship to develop critical and analytical skills appropriate to the study of these musics and their social, political and cultural 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 late seventeenth-century London.
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 late seventeenth-century London, offering a holistic exploration of the subject and more focused investigation of key aspects of these musics. Lecture topics may include considerations of politics, culture and society in London during the period, music and gender, music in the theatre and at court, and music for St Cecilia’s Day.

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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