Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2020-2021 (archived)

Module MUSI40830: Research Methods and Resources

Department: Music

MUSI40830: Research Methods and Resources

Type Tied Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Available in 2020/21 Module Cap None.
Tied to MA in Music


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • to impart foundational understanding of the nature of research in pertinent fields of music studies (both musicological and practice-based)
  • to provide training in research methods and resources appropriate to the scholarly study of music
  • to facilitate the transition from undergraduate studies to postgraduate research
  • to stimulate critical thinking about issues pertaining to research on music
  • to foster awareness of the wider scholarly community and of the professional standards and conventions concomitant with membership of that community
  • to acquaint students with academic standards of intellectual rigour and ethical integrity


  • This module will define the intellectual framework for the MA in Music programme. It will equip students with the range of knowledge, understanding, and skills necessary to engage in research-informed learning and to conduct independent research at Masters level and beyond, and to function effectively in a professional context. It will also deal with the practicalities attendant on the conduct of research, including presentational skills, close reading and critical thinking, carrying out a literature search and review, research ethics, and formulating research proposals. It will provide a solid foundation on which students can proceed with confidence to design, plan, and execute independent research projects

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • appropriate awareness of research resources
  • understanding of research methods
  • scholarly conventions of presentation
  • critical understanding of theories and methodologies pertinent to the scholarly study, composition, and performance of music, drawn from varied disciplinary perspectives
  • advanced knowledge of relevant musical repertories from a range of historical periods and geographical locations
  • advanced knowledge of creative and performative praxes relevant to the chosen pathway of study
Subject-specific Skills:
  • the ability to engage in close critical readings of a range of challenging texts (musical, verbal, and in other pertinent modalities of discourse)
  • the ability to formulate intellectually viable research projects (both musicological and practice-based)
  • an advanced ability to engage critically with theories and methodologies pertinent to the academic study of music, composition, and performance
  • an advanced ability to describe and analyse works from a range of musical repertories, informed by an understanding of the socio-cultural matrices from which they emerged and of their specific formal and stylistic features
  • an advanced ability to draw upon appropriate theoretical perspectives and methodologies to study, compose, and perform music while simultaneously deriving independent intellectual and creative insights from these activities
  • advanced competence in musical literacy
  • advanced competence in engaging with musical materials of different kinds, whether as physical objects (e.g. scores) and or in electronic formats (e.g. recordings, audio-visual materials)
Key Skills:
  • an advanced ability to acquire information of diverse kinds in an intellectually disciplined and systematic manner
  • an advanced ability to assimilate information and sophisticated arguments
  • an advanced ability to interpret complex information
  • expertise in conventions of scholarly presentation and bibliographical skills
  • independence of thought and judgement, and the ability to undertake informed criticism of the ideas of others
  • sophisticated skills in critical reasoning
  • professional organisation and time-management skills
  • an ability to communicate ideas cogently
  • the ability to deploy independent research skills using appropriate specialist tools and resources
  • problem solving skills
  • competence in information technology skills to support MA learning and research (e.g. by means of: word-processing and music-processing software; databases; presentation software; audiovisual editing and analysis software; graph- and image-processing; web-based resources; relevant technologies)

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

  • The module will be delivered as weekly seminars. In the first term, the focus will be on a range of theoretical and practical issues pertaining to the conduct of research. The second term will support the development of an independent research project: students will give oral presentations on aspects of their research-in-progress, and receive feedback in the form of student-led group discussions and comment from members of the teaching team. Individual tutorials will provide students with opportunities to seek more detailed guidance on specific points and to receive supplementary feedback.
  • Typically, directed learning may include assigning students an issue, theme or topic that can be independently or collectively explored within a framework and/or with additional materials provided by the tutor. This may function as preparatory work for presenting their ideas or findings (sometimes electronically) to their peers and tutor in the context of a seminar.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Seminars 20 weekly 1 hour 20
Directed learning 10 variable 1 hour 10
Individual tutorials 2 termly 15 minutes 0.5
Preparation and reading 269.5

Summative Assessment

Component: Research Proposal Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Research proposal 2,000 words (excluding bibliography) 100% Yes
Component: Conference-style oral presenation Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Conference-style oral presentation 15 minutes (10 minute presentation and 5 minute discussion) 100% Yes

Formative Assessment:

Written and oral presentation tasks relating to the topics covered on the module (e.g. writing of an abstract, compilation of a bibliography, oral reports).

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