Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2017-2018 (archived)

Module MUSI3631: Time and Rhythm

Department: Music

MUSI3631: Time and Rhythm

Type Open Level 3 Credits 20 Availability Not available in 2017/18 Module Cap Location Durham


  • A-Level Music or equivalent


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To enhance technical understanding of music, and analytical skills.
  • To enhance the ability of students to reflect conceptually on musical material, forms, and performances.
  • To develop the ability of students to compare musical techniques and principles between different traditions and genres.
  • To develop the ability of students to pursue their own independent research projects within the framework of existing theories in the area.


  • This course will comprise an exploration of theoretical and analytical approaches to musical time and rhythm. Topics covered will include perception and cognition of rhythm, current work in this field in music theory, the relationships between rhythm and movement, written and oral notation systems, and the implications of musical rhythm for social interaction. Musical examples and case studies may include (but are not limited to) a variety of Western art and popular music, Indian tala, Indonesian gamelan and African polyrhythm. Students will work on an original investigation of a piece or performance of music applying some of the perspectives taught in the course.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Students will become familiar with a range of theories and analytical techniques, deriving from different academic traditions (music theory and analysis, ethnomusicology, music psychology), appropriate to a wide range of musical styles.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Students will achieve a basic competence in applying these skills practically through a series of formative exercises.
Key Skills:
  • The module will establish and embed theoretical understanding of musical time, while developing practical skills in analysing and commenting critically on a wide variety of music.

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

  • Core teaching will be delivered in fortnightly 2-hour sessions, which will be structured flexibly to include elements of lecturing as well as group seminar discussion. Small group tutorials will be arranged around discussion of formative work, for example reading of key works and analytical exercises, and also allow time for mini presentations. A ‘mini conference’ session will be dedicated to student presentations.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures/Seminars 10 Fortnightly 2 hour 20
Tutorials 3 1 hour 3
Mini conference 1 4 hours [depending on student numbers] 4
Preparation and Reading 173

Summative Assessment

Component: Essay Component Weighting: 75%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay of 4,000 words 4,000 words 100% No
Component: Oral Presentation Component Weighting: 25%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Oral presentation of 15 minutes 15 minutes 100% No

Formative Assessment:

Students will be asked to prepare short oral presentations on particular works, recordings or topics, written exercises such as literature reviews, and short analytical exercises. Feedback will be given at tutorials.

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