Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2017-2018 (archived)

Module MUSI2691: Historical Studies 2

Department: Music

MUSI2691: Historical Studies 2

Type Open Level 2 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2017/18 Module Cap Location Durham


  • MUSI1261 Historical Studies 1


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • The module seeks:
  • to encourage a research-based approach to key issues in Western music between the early romantic period and the mid twentieth century.
  • develop understanding of the dominant trends in musical life in the period, from performance, reception and aesthetics of the period.
  • to engage with the world of ideas that has shaped the most influential musical developments and movements of the period.
  • to provide students with the necessary tools to engage with musical, historical and aesthetic dimensions.


  • The module, while continuing to build up the chronological narrative begun in Historical Studies 1, tends towards thematic organisation, where such themes may include: programme and absolute music; exoticism; nationalism; music criticism; performers and celebrity culture; modernism; music and totalitarianism. this issue-based approach is complemented by the close study of seminar works, and their contexts of composition and reception, key political or aesthetic utterances on music; influential performers and performance practices: as such, these issues are to be understood in relation to their status at the time, rather than as abstractions. At the same time, the reflexivity in music history writing is further developed by exploring changing historiographical approaches to the subject matter, and by a focus on reading secondary literature critically.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Students will acquire a knowledge of
  • seminal repertoire from the period
  • the relationship of the repertoire to the contemporary cultural, social, and historical context.
  • the dominant intellectual issues in relation to this repertoire.
  • the principal stylistic trends in evidence.
  • The course will also build on the basic research skills introduced at Level 1 in ways appropriate to research in historical musicology.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Students will learn to apply appropriate methodologies from a broad range of critical standpoints: historical, political, cultural and philosophical.
  • Research-related skills that are applicable across a wide range of musical topics and sub-disciplines .
  • The ability to evaluate critically historical accounts of the period covered.
Key Skills:
  • The ability to identify and conceptualize the issues raised.
  • The ability to situate ideas in a context and to engage in critically informed argument.
  • The ability to use appropriate evaluative skills.

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

  • The weekly lectures introduce central themes and repertoire and the current debates within musicological scholarship on the topic. Lectures work in conjunction with directed reading, which may be discussed in the lecture.
  • The seminars may be text-based, developing critical reading skills; score-based, practising the close reading of musical materials in relatin to historical practices; or debate-based, requiring the students to construct and defend an argument.
  • This format is designed to ensure the active participation of students in the learning process, offering opportunities for discussion and the development of critical thinking.
  • Formative exercises will be set in preparation for the summative exercises, and may include a guided literature review to develop the students' capacity to synthesise and critique secondary literature; oral presentations which develop academic presentation skills and give them an opportunity to test their ideas.
  • The summatively assessed research project allows students to develop key research skills and gain experience of exploring a chosen topic in depth and constructing an argument in response to those explorations.
  • The end-of-year written examination assesses students' engagement with the module content in its entirety

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 19 Weekly 1 hour 19
Essay Skills Lectures 2 2 in the first term 1 hour 2
Seminars 6 3 in the first term and 3 in the second term 1 hour 6
Tutorials 2 Termly in terms 1 and 2 15 minutes 0.5
Reading and Preparation 172.5

Summative Assessment

Component: Essay-based research project Component Weighting: 60%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay-based research project 4,000 words 100% yes
Component: Exam Component Weighting: 40%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Written exam 2 hours 100% Yes

Formative Assessment:

Formative exercises will be set in preparation for the summative assessments.

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