Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2017-2018 (archived)

Module MUSI3701: Psychology of Music

Department: Music

MUSI3701: Psychology of Music

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


  • A Level Music.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • By learning the central research findings and concepts of music psychology, students will gain an understanding of how music influences listeners and performers in everyday contexts, and what are the essential mechanisms and processes involved in different kinds of music-related activities. Students will formulate their own well-reasoned opinions regarding the advantages and limitations of current approaches within music psychology. The students will also learn to recognize the interdisciplinary nature of the field since the areas have different emphases on biological, psychological, neural, cognitive, emotional, social, and cultural factors that require different sets of approaches, methods, and disciplinary backgrounds.


  • The module is organised thematically, with each lecture, seminar, and assignment focussing on specific research areas that are well established in music psychology. The following are examples of the kind of themes that will be covered: musical abilities, origins of music, emotions induced by music and expressed by music, music as a mood regulation, assumed transfer effects of music, music and consumer psychology, social psychology of music, music and well-being, and psychology of performance. Throughout the course, methodological issues involved in these themes are highlighted and students are encouraged to interpret the evidence offered within the themes critically.
  • In addition to identifying central processes and mechanisms involved in each area of focus, students are actively encouraged to evaluate, compare, and summarize various theoretical propositions and empirical findings that contribute to wide range of psychological and social aspects of musical behaviours.
  • To improve the critical and communicative skills of the students, they will complete formative essays on which they receive formative feedback. One of these formative essays is chosen to be extended (5,000 words) and submitted for the summative assessment. This revision process helps to integrate feedback and gain confidence in communicating essential findings and methods in psychology of music.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Students should acquire broad knowledge about central issues of music psychology, deeper knowledge about abilities required and functions of music, and working knowledge of theories and methods utilised within music psychology.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Students should learn how to appraise existing scholarship in the field of music psychology, critically empirical studies, and be able to argue how the theoretical and empirical issues are connected.
Key Skills:
  • The module will establish a critical approach to the study of music psychology and provide opportunities to develop skills in appraising the operational definitiions, methods and empirical findings on the chosen topic.

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

  • This module will involve a combination of lectures, seminars and tutorials. Complex ideas, central themes, and pertinent key studies will be introduced in the lectures. In the seminars, which will be interspersed throughout, students will have a chance to discuss set readings and empirical studies that have explored the theoretical issues – thereby continuously consolidating and refining ideas as the course progresses. The formative essay assignments enable them to focus on relevant music psychology topic of their own choice, promoting a deeper working knowledge of mechanisms and concepts invoked in music psychology.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 12 Fortnightly (alternating with seminars) 1 hour 12
Seminars 10 Fortnightly (alternating with lectures) 1 hour 10
Tutorials 2 during Term 2 15 minutes 0.5
Reading and Preparation 177.5

Summative Assessment

Component: Essay Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay (which will be an expanded version of one of the formative essays) 5,000 words 100% No

Formative Assessment:

The formative essays selected from the areas covered in the module and one seminar presentation based on papers discussed.

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