Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2020-2021 (archived)

Module MUSI41030: Contemporary Musicology

Department: Music

MUSI41030: Contemporary Musicology

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 deepen understanding of key aspects of current work in the field of musicology
  • To develop a historically-informed critical awareness of key intellectual issues in musicological research, and pertinent methodological approaches to the scholarly study of music


  • This module will focus on set readings comprising a range of musicological texts that are regarded of being of foundational significance and explore important contemporary debates in the field. Indicative topics may include (but will not be limited to) intellectual influences shaping the discipline of musicology; musicological method; the idea of a ‘scientific’ musicology; musicology and postmodern thought. Students will be directed at the start of the course to a range of sources on the subjects of the designated seminars. Specific items will be chosen for group discussions and for student presentations. In choosing topics for their summatively-assessed projects, students will not be confined to subjects covered in seminars, but any proposals falling outside the themes of the seminars will have to be approved by the module coordinator.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Familiarity with musicological texts of seminal importance
  • Important theoretical perspectives and methodological approaches pertinent to the scholarly study of music
  • The formative intellectual influences on the discipline of musicology
  • 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:
  • An advanced ability to engage critically with theories and methodologies pertinent to the academic study of music
  • 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 emerge(d) and of their specific formal and stylistic features
  • An advanced ability to draw upon appropriate theoretical perspectives and methodologies to investigate musicological issues 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:
  • Students studying this module will develop the ability to:
  • appraise and to engage critically with the views of others
  • formulate independent intellectual insights
  • devise cogent and intellectually sophisticated arguments
  • apply pertinent theoretical perspectives and methodological approaches in an appropriate manner
  • communicate ideas and research findings in an intellectually disciplined and cogent fashion
  • Engage in close readings of a wide range of challenging texts (musical, verbal, audio-visual, as appropriate)
  • Deploy independent research skills using appropriate specialist tools and resources;
  • Synthesise complex materials from a wide range of sources and to present them cogently in the form of written documents, oral reports, presentations, and musical performances, as appropriate
  • Demonstrate 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)
  • Deploy advanced knowledge of professional conduct in meeting academic standards, including appropriate use of relevant ethical codes of practice and correct referencing of sources
  • Deploy problem-solving skills
  • Deploy organisational skills, including time management.

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

  • Typically, directed learning may include assigning student(s) 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 9 fortnightly 2 hours 18
Directed learning 10 variable 1 hour 10
Preparation and learning 272

Summative Assessment

Component: Essay Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 5,000 words 100% Yes

Formative Assessment:

Regular small-scale written and oral presentation tasks relating to the topics covered on the module.

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