Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2017-2018 (archived)

Module MUSI2761: Late 19th- and Early 20th-Century English Song

Department: Music

MUSI2761: Late 19th- and Early 20th-Century English Song

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


  • MUSI1261 Historical Studies 1


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To investigate the repertoire of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century English song between c. 1880 and c. 1940. This research-led course aims to investigate a specialised repertoire of a musical and literary idiom which underwent a major renaissance in England at the end of the nineteenth century. One aspect of the course is therefore knowledge-based, but further aims will include the ability to think critically about the interaction of poetry and music, about historical context, and about how poetical works inspired a diversity of song styles, and the development of analytical skills appropriate to a critical assessment of vocal forms. In this sense students will be expected to develop a confidence to articulate their ideas from score-based study and research-based enquiry.


  • The course seeks to investigate a repertoire of individual songs and song cycles based on the following range of works: (a) the English Lyrics of Hubert Parry; (b) Elgar’s Sea Pictures; (c) the lyric art of Roger Quilter; (d) the musical scena and the growth of the orchestral song; (e) Ivor Gurney; (f) the repertoire of songs inspired by A. E. Housman’s A Shropshire Lad; (g) Finzi and Hardy; (h) Armstrong Gibbs, Howells and Walter de la Mare; (i) the significance and aesthetics of Georgian poetry; (j) the songs of John Ireland and Frank Bridge; (k) the influence of historical and national narratives, notably the ‘golden age’ of Elizabethan and Jacobean music and poetry in England.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • By the end of the course students should know and understand the following: (a) the repertoire of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century English song and a range of English poetry (including Shakespeare, Shelley, Byron, Tennyson, Herrick, Masefield, Hardy, De La Mare and W. B. Yeats); (b) the key composers of the genre; (c) a context for this repertoire within British and European music of the period.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • In addition students will have developed the capacity to articulate ideas from research-based enquiry of the repertoire, from score-based analytical study and the ability to apply numerous analytical methods to the songs under scrutiny. A broader outcome should also be the ability to bring a critical acumen to vocal forms, whether of a miniature or large-scale design.
Key Skills:
  • The development of a range of appropriate analytical and research-orientated skills together with the ability to articulate ideas in written form, whether in precy or essay form

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

  • enter text as appropriate for the module

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 10 Weekly in Michaelmas Term 2 hours 20
Tutorials 3 Michaelmas Term 1 hour 3
Preparation and Reading 177

Summative Assessment

Component: Extended essay Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
An extended essay of 5,000 words, an assignment intended to expand the student’s research-based and analytical acumen. 5,000 words 100% Yes

Formative Assessment:

Students will be required to complete a formative assignment during the term and three assignments for tutorials. These will be both analytical and research-based. Feedback from these formative assignments will be essential to the development of student’s choice and completion of the summative assignment.

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