Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2014-2015 (archived)

Module MUSI40530: Research Methods and Resources

Department: Music

MUSI40530: Research Methods and Resources

Type Open Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Available in 2014/15 Module Cap


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To provide students enrolled in the Taught MA with training in methods of musicological, ethnomusicological and compositional research appropriate to study at Level 4. This module will discuss general methods for music research, and in addition will offer elements specific to the pathways in musicology, ethnomusicology, and composition. In particular it will provide students with the skills necessary for the completion of a Master’s degree in Music, and for progression to independent research at higher levels. The structure of the module is flexible, allowing students to focus on elements most relevant to their research interests and their chosen degree pathway. Students will agree their own programme of study with the programme director.


  • The module provides learning in the following core areas:
  • - basic research methodologies, theories and concepts;
  • - building bibliographies and research-related databases;
  • - preparation of written papers for publication;
  • - oral presentation and research-related discussion techniques;
  • - copyright and intellectual property issues.
  • Additional elements from which individual students can choose include (indicative list):
  • - bibliographical conventions for textual or practice-based research within musicology and ethnomusicology
  • - presentational conventions for original compositions;
  • - preparation of programme notes and recording reviews;
  • - transcription and analysis of music, using a broad range of methods and tools;
  • - use of music notation software for musicology;
  • - advanced use of music notation software for composition;
  • - production and self-publishing of scores and performance material;
  • - fieldwork research methodology (interviewing, participant observation, ethics);
  • - techniques of audio and video documentation and editing;
  • - aspects of electroacoustic techniques: studio orientation

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • The module provides transferable skills valuable for further study and for future careers, and enhances subject-specific research skills. Upon completion of this module, students will be able to:
  • - locate and apply library resources to musicological, ethnomusicological and compositional research, including knowledge of key works of general reference and bibliographical significance;
  • - apply knowledge of the various style and presentational conventions appropriate to research in the field of music;
  • - interpret and evaluate published research on music within an appropriate framework.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • - an advanced ability to formulate and articulate knowledge and understanding of research concepts, theories and practices relating to musicology, ethnomusicology, and composition, and, where relevant, their intradisciplinary relationships;
  • - critical engagement with research rationales through both written discourse and, where relevant, the production of research-oriented creative output or audiovisual documentation and analysis;
  • - an advanced awareness of research techniques involving scholarly presentation (written and spoken), and bibliographic skills; (and the use of IT/web-based search techniques in the context of advanced research methodologies in music)
  • Depending on the optional elements completed, this module also offers the following:
  • - an ability to carry out ethnomusicological fieldwork;
  • - an ability to produce and edit audio and video recordings using professional equipment and software;
  • - an ability to analyse audio-visual recordings using a range of techniques.
Key Skills:
  • These comprise:
  • - the transferability and embedding of skills acquired in this module across all MA modules taken by the student;
  • - the ability to apply research skills in an independent and coherent way;
  • - the ability to generate ideas, examine the elements of research findings and distil them into original, well-presented formatively and summatively assessed output;
  • - 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

  • Individual topics will be introduced in weekly Tutorials, some of which will be regarded as core and others optional. These will be complemented by a number of longer Seminar sessions: core seminars will provide opportunities for students to give and receive feedback on oral presentations; optional sessions will be held on topics requiring extensive hands-on experience, such as audio and video recording. Students will develop a portfolio of work comprising elements such as a bibliography, a critical review of key readings, examples of music-processed notation (e.g. transcription), audiovisual documentation and fieldwork reports, which will serve as preparation for the final dissertation. Oral presentations will be delivered in a postgraduate conference towards the end of the year.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures (students will be expected to attend a minimum of 15 hours from the available classes, but may attend more than the minimum requirement if they wish) 21 one per week 1 hour 21
Seminars 4 two each in the first and second terms 2 hours 8
Preparation/Reading/Independent study 271

Summative Assessment

Component: Portfolio of written work Component Weighting: 70%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Portfolio of written work, comprising a minimum of 6 items, from (indicative list): Bibliography; Literature review; Transcription and commentary on an archival or fieldwork document; Sibelius notation (composition/editing/transcription as appropriate); Computer-based analysis project (e.g. using Sonic Visualiser); Fieldwork report; Edited sound recording; Edited video recording; Production of performance material (scores and parts); Studio project (e.g. CD recording plus commentary 100% Yes
Component: Oral Presentation Component Weighting: 30%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
All students to present 25 minute conference-style paper in term 3 (20 minute presentation with 5 minutes for questions and answers) 25 mins 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