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2023/24 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

PECI2708 Exploring Musical Theatre

20 creditsClass Size: 40

Module manager: Prof George Rodosthenous

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2023/24

Module replaces

PECI 2608

This module is approved as a discovery module

Module summary

This module will explore the history of musical theatre on stage from the beginning of the twentieth century until today. Students will listen to and study examples of musical theatre from a range of twentieth century genres, which will include West End, Broadway and Hollywood musicals.There will be an exploration of the relationship between theatrical narratives and musical structures. Students will consider the impact of economic, political, social and technological factors upon the stage musicals on the West End. This module will also examine the latest works and innovations of recent musical theatre practitioners.Students will investigate, question and challenge some of the conventions and assumptions of the form and through contextual study they will explore and question the message and assumptions of the genre.


On completion of this module, students should be able to ...

recognise the history of musical theatre on stage from the turn of the twentieth century through to the present day;
analyse recent trends in musical theatre;
examine the relationship of specific works to their social and historical contexts.

Learning outcomes
Acquaintance with the structural conventions of a range of examples of the genre
The ability to Interpret the relationship between the music and the dramatic components of the genre
Discussion of the relationship between narrative structures and music forms
Integration of socio-political contextual research within their analysis(es).

Skills outcomes
On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

demonstrate an ability to apply key themes and ideas from the scholarly literature and research in the area of musical theatre;

analyse key historical trends influencing the development of musical theatre;

undertake close analysis of specific examples within the genre;
demonstrate an ability to analyse the musical elements of musical theatre;

analyse relevant social, cultural and political themes which have impacted upon the development of musical theatre, and specifically the exemplars under consideration.


Indicative themes and structure:
Introduction: New Contexts in 21st Century Musicals
Politics, Pastiche and Origins of the Mega Musical (Gilbert and Sullivan to Spiderman)
Stephen Sondheim (Merrily we roll along, Sweeney Todd)
The Politics of Performance (Brecht, Weill and the Threepenny Opera)
Men in Musicals (Dirty Dancing)
Women in Musicals (Patriarchy, Historicism, Objectification)
Stereotypes and Racial Representation (Porgy and Bess)
Experimental film musicals (Dancer in the Dark)
The Jukebox Musical (Mamma Mia)

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Class tests, exams and assessment14.004.00
Private study hours174.00
Total Contact hours26.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Preparation for Taught Sessions (c. 20hrs)
Preparatory reading, listening and viewing of exemplars is required for most lectures
Review of Taught Sessions (c. 20hrs)
Taking careful notes: to keep the information needed for later use and to check understanding
Reading of slides and follow up materials posted on the VLE for most taught sessions.
Organising notes. Looking for common patterns and obvious gaps that need to be filled.
Planning and Researching Assignments (c. 84hrs)
Gathering of resources: books, journal articles, electronic resources – to complete the assignments
Reflective reading: ensuring students draw on a good range of resources and compare different angles.
Critical examination of sources - looking out for different points of view from different scholars and asking ‘who is right, and why?’ Looking for hard evidence to support ideas
Extensive research into chosen topic (supported by small group seminars)
Collectively negotiating content and responsibilities for group presentation.
Presentation of Assignments (c. 50hrs)
Reflective writing: drafting, completing, proof-reading the essay and complying with appropriate presentational styles.
Creating and checking presentation materials, rehearsing presentations, etc.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Contribution to classes.
Discussion with tutors (as appropriate)
Specific assignment support in small group seminars

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
PresentationGroup (15 min)30.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Alternative assessment is set according to individual circumstances and approved by Exams Tutor and Pro-Dean for Student Education

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 28/04/2023 14:43:35


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