Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2017-2018 (archived)

Module MUSI2731: Music and Science

Department: Music

MUSI2731: Music and Science

Type Tied Level 2 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2017/18 Module Cap None. Location Durham


  • A-level Music


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • MUSI3672 Performance 3: Public Performance Project.


  • To provide a solid grounding in acoustics and psychoacoustics of use to musicians
  • To develop critical understanding of the intersection of scientific research and music
  • To appreciate new research investigations in music psychology, musical neuroscience, and music information retrieval


  • This module investigates the intersection of music and science, as manifested in such sub-disciplines as musical acoustics and psychoacoustics, music psychology, and empirical musicology. Topics will range from the physics of music and human auditory physiology, to higher level cognition of musical structure, and musical modelling inspired by scientific approaches to knowledge. Students will develop their independent research skills through a review paper written on a topic inspired by the module content, and an empirical study and associated report, which together test their understanding and ability to critically integrate scientific thinking on music.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Students will become familiar with scientific perspectives on music, from the underlying physics to psychological approaches and scientific modelling. They will appreciate the interaction of musicological and scientific world views, and the reconciliations of empirical musicology.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • After taking the module, students will be able to critically evaluate scientific theories of music. They will gain experience in empirical musicological approaches (also known as ‘systematic musicology’), and have developed their research skills in undertaking a project on an aspect of music and science.
Key Skills:
  • The module will establish theoretical understanding of the science of music, while developing research skills pertinent to this cross-disciplinary field. The module will reinforce critical self-awareness key to broader practice in musicology.

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

  • Core theoretical teaching will be delivered in weekly lectures/seminars to discuss research literature and critically reflect on lecture themes. Students will receive two tutorials in the first two terms and a final project report hand-in support tutorial after Easter.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 19 Weekly in terms 1 and 2 1 hour 19
Seminar 10 fortnightly in terms 1 and 2 1 hour 10
Individual Tutorials 5 Two in terms 1 and 2, one in term 3 15 minutes 1.25
Preparation and Reading 169.75

Summative Assessment

Component: Essay Component Weighting: 40%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Review paper 2,000 words 100% Yes
Component: Research Project Component Weighting: 60%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Research Project 3,000 words 100% Yes

Formative Assessment:

Review paper topic proposals will be presented by students to the peer group in a seminar in the autumn term. A review paper essay plan and sample introduction text (300 words) will be discussed in a tutorial. Students will prepare a short presentation on their research project topic to present during seminar time to their fellow students in the spring term. They will also prepare a long abstract (500 words) to discuss in a tutorial.

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