Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2020-2021 (archived)

Module MUSI42460: Dissertation

Department: Music

MUSI42460: Dissertation

Type Tied Level 4 Credits 60 Availability Available in 2020/21 Module Cap None.
Tied to MA in Music


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To allow a student to conduct a substantial independent research project comprising an in-depth study of a specialist topic
  • To foster in-depth understanding of research processes and codes of research practices as defined by the AHRC and other research councils
  • To encourage the development of sophisticated argument by drawing on appropriate evidence, assimilating pertinent scholarship, and applying pertinent theoretical perspectives and methodological approaches
  • To develop professional bibliographical and presentational skills
  • To provide a foundation for undertaking more advanced research at doctoral level


  • The module content will relate to a specialist research topic chosen by the student in consultation with her or his supervisor.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • in-depth knowledge of a field of musical research, usually related to one of the constituent pathways of the MA in Music programme
  • advanced knowledge of a chosen area of specialism
  • advanced understanding of theoretical and methodological approaches relevant to the field of study
  • knowledge appropriate to work at Masters level of the research context and of scholarly work previously undertaken in the chosen field of specialism
  • advanced knowledge of relevant musical repertories
  • advanced knowledge of relevant creative and performative praxes
Subject-specific Skills:
  • advanced critical skills in the close reading and analysis of texts
  • critically- and historically-informed awareness of technical and aesthetic dimensions of musical works
  • an in-depth understanding of the ways in which music relates to its socio-cultural context
  • skill in articulating and substantiating at a high level a refined and imaginative response to music
  • advanced knowledge and understanding of concepts and theories relating to the study of music
  • sophisticated skills of effective communication and argument
  • expertise in conventions of scholarly presentation, and bibliographic skills including accurate citation of sources and consistent use of scholarly conventions of presentation
  • the ability to communicate ideas in sophisticated prose of an appropriately high linguistic register befitting a formal academic presentation
  • an appropriate command of specialised vocabulary and critical terminology
  • 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 emerged and of their specific formal and stylistic features
  • an advanced ability to draw upon appropriate theoretical perspectives and methodologies to study music while simultaneously deriving independent intellectual and creative insights from this activity
  • advanced competence in musical literacy
Key Skills:
  • an advanced ability to analyse critically
  • an advanced ability to marshal, synthesise, and interpret complex information in a systematic and intellectually disciplined manner
  • a high degree of competence in the planning and execution of written work
  • a capacity to devise and execute a large-scale research project
  • a capacity for independent thought and judgement, and to assess the ideas of others
  • sophisticated skills in critical reasoning
  • professional organisation and time-management skills
  • advanced knowledge of professional conduct in meeting academic standards, including appropriate use of relevant ethical codes of practice and correct referencing of sources
  • problem-solving skills

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

  • enter text as appropriate for the module

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Individual consultations 6 three in term 2, three in term 3 1 hour 6
Preparation & reading 594

Summative Assessment

Component: Dissertation Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Dissertation 12,000 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

Students’ choice of research topics will be subject to the approval of the Board of Studies, and the availability of appropriate supervision in the area of specialism. Supervisions will provide students with guidance on all aspects of the project and feedback on work-in-progress, but without jeopardising the independence of their research.

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