Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2017-2018 (archived)

Module MUSI3691: Advanced Ethnomusicology

Department: Music

MUSI3691: Advanced Ethnomusicology

Type Open Level 3 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2017/18 Module Cap Location Durham


  • MUSI1251 Introduction to Ethnomusicology


Excluded Combination of Modules


  • To examine texts by influential ethnomusicologists of the present and past, to isolate and explore themes and issues which have been of particular concern within the discipline, and to encourage well-informed evaluation of theories and methods. The module critically examines existing research in ethnomusicology, allowing students to build on core research skills developed at Level 1 and Level 2.


  • This module builds upon the ethnomusicological content of levels 1 and 2, exploring a very broad range of ethnomusicological scholarship, ranging from the work of early pioneers up to the present day. It examines researchers’ theories, methods, and findings on a theme-by-theme basis, covering diverse areas such as: the origins and early history of the discipline (including ‘comparative musicology’); non-Western theories of music and notation systems; traditional and experimental techniques of transcription and analysis; music as an expression of personal and group identity and as a political tool; anthropological perspectives on performance; studies of change, preservation, and musical culture interaction (including Diasporic communities and globalisation); the symbolism, morphology and ergonomics of musical instruments; studies of ancient non-Western music (‘historical ethnomusicology’); the selection and training of musicians (also addressing the acquisition of improvisation skills); and music as a reflection of and influence upon gender relations. Throughout the module, students address these areas through reference to general survey-type literature and case-studies of diverse musical forms. Through critical evaluation and comparison of sources, students are encouraged to formulate their own personal opinions regarding the limitations and advantages of ethnomusicological theories and approaches.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Building on the Introduction to Ethnomusicology module, this module helps students develop a deeper knowledge of ethnomusicological theories and methods. The module will also build upon the previously-acquired basic research skills in ways appropriate to research in ethnomusicology.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Ability to apply a wide variety of interdisciplinary theoretical approaches to music making, skills in identifying how people from other cultures interpret musical performance, and skills at formulating and articulating well-reasoned personal viewpoints with confidence.
Key Skills:
  • To develop informed critical perspectives and key research skills including bibliographic search and critical evaluation of sources.

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

  • Teaching occurs through a combination of lectures and seminars. The lectures involve the imparting of basic information about focal themes – dates, names of key researchers, theories, and methods – but also incorporate time for group discussion. The seminars, which take place in smaller groups, focus on student presentations relating to particular themes addressed in the lectures. Assessment is through essays, which relate directly to topics addressed in the lectures and seminars, but which encourage the students to investigate more deeply, pursuing their own research pathways and establishing well-informed personal responses.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 19 Weekly in terms 1 and 2 1 hour 19
Group Seminars 4 Twice in terms 1 and 2 1.5 hours 6
Individual Tutorials 4 Twice in terms 1 and 2 15 minutes 1
Preparation and Reading 174

Summative Assessment

Component: Essay Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
3,000 word essay 3,000 words 100% no
Component: Essay Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
3,000 word essay 3,000 words 100% No

Formative Assessment:

Students are asked to prepare oral presentations, with accompanying notes and bibliography: these will serve as preparation for summative assignments. Feedback is 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