Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2017-2018 (archived)

Module MUSI3711: Music Theology

Department: Music

MUSI3711: Music Theology

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


  • B in A-Level Music


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To build on Level 1 and Level 2 work in musicology and extend this into areas linking historical and contemporary liturgical, worship and concert music to aspects of Christian theology, asethetics, philosophy, musical meaning and the history of ideas. The module aims to embed and enhance musicological skills within examination of relevant intellectual ideas and associated repertoires, developing methodological techniques for application across pertinent repertoires and conceptual ideas of music. Theological concepts will be discussed in relation to music, such as transcendence, immanence, creation and eschatology, as will concepts of the sacred; and denominational liturgical frameworks and musical practices will be explained and explored as used in history and today.


  • An exploration of the history of music theology, ranging from the early church to the present day, engaging with and building on a range of musicological and theoretical issues introduced at Levels 1 and 2. Term 1 will begin by introducing key concepts relating music and theological aesthetics, and then covering a selection of theologians on music (from the early church to the present) and composition (from Bach to the present). Term 2 will introduce liturgical and non-liturgical worship music, and discuss key genres and types of music associated with theological content, including psalms, hymns, plainchant, birdsong, improvisation and jazz, spirituals and gospel, musicals and silence. Term 3 will examine the practice of musical worship from a denominational standpoint, including Pentecostalism, Anglicanism and Catholicism.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Students will gain a broad-based, yet focused, knowledge of theological concepts relating to the history of music from the early church to the present within the Christian tradition.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Students will acquire specific knowledge of theological aesthetics concerning music from the early church to the present, and be able to locate that knowledge critically in the context of musical compositions, genres and musicological ideas.
Key Skills:
  • Students will acquire methodological skills, using musicology and theology to interpret key historical concepts, compositions and type of musical worship.

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

  • Whole group lecture/seminars, including class discussion
  • Oral presentations in small groups (formative)
  • Tutorials
  • Directed reading

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 21 Weekly 1 hour 21
Tutorials 5 two in terms 1 and 2, and one in term 3 1 hour 5
Tutor-led seminars (term 1) ; Student-led seminars (term 2) 5 in term 1; 4 in term 2 One group presentation, terms 1 and 2 1 hour 9
Reading and Preparation 165

Summative Assessment

Component: Essay Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
3000 word essay 3,000 words 100% No
Component: Essay Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
3000 word essay 3,000 words 100% No

Formative Assessment:

In preparation of summative assignments, students will be asked to prepare a short written outline of their essay, and subsequently a 1000-word essay. Both formative assignments will serve as the basis of two sets of tutorials in terms 1 and 2. In term 3, students will also be given individual tutorials relevant to their 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