Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2010-2011 (archived)

Module MUSI40530: Research Methods and Resources

Department: Music

MUSI40530: Research Methods and Resources

Type Open Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Available in 2010/11 Module Cap None.


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To provide students enrolled in the Taught MA with training in methods of musicological-, compositional- and performance-related research appropriate to study at Level 4. In particular it will provide them with the skills necessary for the preparation of research carried out within modules requiring research in formatively and summatively assessed work, and for progression to independent research at higher levels as requisite for a particular level of study. The relevant external standard for the level, breadth and depth of skills acquired is the guidance offered by the AHRC.


  • The Music Department provides learning in the following areas:
  • (1) an introduction to basic research methodologies, theories and concepts;
  • (2) building bibliographies and research-related databases;
  • (3) bibliographical conventions for textual or practice-based research within musicology, composition and performance;
  • (4) music notation systems and their relationship to music-related research;
  • (5) preparation of written papers;
  • (6) oral presentation and research-related discussion techniques;
  • (7) preparation of programmes, programme notes and recording reviews.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • The module is a generic component of the Masters degree programme, and all students are required to take it. It provides both transferable skills valuable further study and for future careers, and enhances subject-specific skills, efficiency of research and knowledge of the music profession in its different aspects. Upon completion of this module, students will have/be able to:
  • (1) locate and apply library resources to musicological-, compositional- and performance-related research, including knowledge of key works of general reference and bibliographical significance;
  • (2) knowledge of the various style and bibliographical conventions appropriate to research in the field of music.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • 1) an advanced ability to formulate and articulate knowledge and understanding of research concepts, theories and practices relating to musicology, composition and performance, and, where relevant, their intradisciplinary relationships;
  • (2) critically engage with research rationales in the form of written discourse, creative output or performance skills;
  • (3) an advanced awareness of research techniques involving scholarly presentation (written and spoken), bibliographic skills, and the full use of IT/web-based search techniques in the context of advanced research methodologies in music.
Key Skills:
  • These comprise
  • (1) the transferability and embedding of skills acquired in this module across all MA modules taken by the student;
  • (2) the ability to apply research skills in an independent and coherent way;
  • (3) the ability to generate ideas, examine the elements of research findings and distil them into original, well-presented musicological or practice-based formatively and summatively assessed output;
  • (4) oral skills developed in the presentation and critical exploration of research findings in the form of a prepared paper, and the ability to field questions from an audience comprising students and staff.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Learning is focused in a pattern of alternating tutorials and postgraduate seminars. Regular tutorials over two terms will address numerous essential research techniques, preparing students for a variety of possible future applications of the knowledge gained. A growing familiarity with research methodologies is derived from instruction in tutorials from the module leader, as well as reflective self-critique gained through peer appraisal of regular presentations on the student’s chosen research topic. In preparing presentations, students will develop a thorough bibliography or discography relating to their topic; they will present this in the appropriate style in formative and summative written exercises undertaken regularly during the course of the module. Students will learn to apply their research and communication skills through the preparation of programme notes or CD reviews (where applicable), maintaining an awareness of a critically engaged audience (already important in the context of presentations, and performances). Students will receive tuition in Sibelius music notation software in order to present their compositions and musical examples in a professional and up-to-date manner.
  • Summative Assessment will be in two parts, comprising:
  • (1) a folio of work (50%) developed in the context of tutorials, to include some of the following, as applicable to their specific discipline: a brief introductory research plan (750 words); a formally constructed bibliography or discography; a written précis of research or programme note (1000 words); examples of music notation demonstrating a full range of advanced musical-typographical capability; and
  • (2) a conference-type paper or equivalent lecture recital (50%), delivered orally in abridged form in a formatively assessed seminar environment at the beginning of the Epiphany term, and subsequently expanded and delivered orally and submitted in written form at the end of the teaching period. The relative weighting of the two summative assessments, and the weighting of components within the folio reflect the expectation that some of the same skills will be required for and directly assessed as part of the 3,000 words presentation itself. The written components will be submitted by the end of the first week in the Easter term. Formative feedback will ensure that students put into practice at a relatively early stage the skills acquired in the module as a whole, and learn techniques for improvement and self-appraisal. Deployment of the specific skills taught in the tutorials will take place in student-led postgraduate seminars, focused on the advanced exploration and practice of these topics within the vibrant research environment in the Music School.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Tutorials 10 Alternate weeks 1 hour 10
Seminars 10 Alternate weeks 1 hour 10
Preparation/Reading/Independent study 280

Summative Assessment

Component: Portfolio Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Portfolio of written work 100% Yes
Component: Oral Presentation or Equivalent Lecture Recital Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Oral Presentation or Equivalent Lecture Recital 100% Yes

Formative Assessment:

Continuous feedback on assignments set and submitted throughout the teaching period.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University