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2024/25 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

MUS5231M Critical and Aesthetic Theory

30 creditsClass Size: 50

Module manager: Dr Matthew Pritchard

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2024/25

This module is not approved as an Elective

Module summary

The module looks at contemporary trends in critical theory and aesthetic thought and the ways in which those modes of thought can be applied, particular with reference to music. Specific texts by leading thinkers in aesthetics form the basis of class discussion, which are at the heart of the module.


This module seeks to develop in students an understanding of contemporary trends in critical theory and aesthetics as well as an understanding of the particular contexts in which they can be fruitfully deployed. The module aims to help students discuss complex thought, both in text and in speech, in ways that stress clarity and concision. Though the module largely focuses on aesthetic thought in a broad way, to succeed students will also have to think through the ways in which such theory can be worked to create musical insights.

Learning outcomes
On successful completion of the module students will have demonstrated the following learning outcomes relevant to the subject:

1. Demonstrate developing competence in critical and aesthetic approaches appropriate to the study of music;

2. Evaluate critically the concepts, values, and debates of contemporary critical and aesthetic thought;

3. Engage with the ways in which interdisciplinary thought can support and enhance the study of music

Skills Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of the module students will have demonstrated the following skills learning outcomes:

4. Exhibit intellectual confidence an independence of thought;

5. Take a proactive and self-reflective role in working through the evaluation of own and others’ ideas;

6. Make effective self-directed decisions in unusual and unexpected situations


The module focuses on a range of recent writings in critical and aesthetic theory. Each session will focus on a particular thinker and will function as a reading group, taught through staff-guided, but student-led discussion of the issues at stake within each text and their potential relevance to musical discourse. Students will work in small groups with the support of staff to develop and consolidate their understanding of the course materials. Thinkers studied may include (but are not limited to): Sara Ahmed, Rosi Braidotti, R. W. Connell, Richard Dyer, Jack Halberstam, bell hooks, Sianne Ngai, Peggy Phelan, and Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours280.00
Total Contact hours20.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)300.00

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Progress is monitored on a weekly basis in class, principally through student contribution to discussion, which forms the basis of teaching on the module.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay5,500-6,500 words100.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

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

Reading list

There is no reading list for this module

Last updated: 10/04/2024


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