Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2020-2021 (archived)

Module MUSI42830: Special Topic in Music

Department: Music

MUSI42830: Special Topic in Music

Type Open Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Available in 2020/21 Module Cap None.


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To provide students with an opportunity to undertake in-depth research into a topic not otherwise available in another relevant module. ‘Special Topics’ should reflect the research areas of the academic staff in the department.
  • To provide students with advanced, in-depth knowledge of the key literature, theories, concepts, arguments and debates that comprise the relevant topic.
  • To provide students with the knowledge and skills required to pursue self-directed research on a specific topic, under the direction of a member of staff with relevant expertise.
  • To equip students with extended research training in the form of one-to-one supervisions suitable to enhance their research preparation for PhD study.


  • Content of the ‘Special Topic’ will reflect the teaching and research expertise of members of staff as demonstrated in our current module provision and Departmental research activities. An appropriate topic will be agreed upon between the student and supervisor.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Acquire an advanced, in-depth knowledge of recent research in a relevant topic.
  • Prepare and develop a detailed research plan on a specialized area and refine their research in light of guidance from an expert supervisor.
  • Present rigorous academic work reflecting advanced knowledge supported by tailored research-led teaching on a specific topic.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • An advanced ability to engage critically with theories and methodologies pertinent to the academic study of music.
  • Advanced critical skills in the close reading and analysis of musical texts.
  • Identify key issues, questions and debates concerning a specific musical topic.
  • Identify and make use of relevant literature.
Key Skills:
  • Use their own initiative to choose a research topic.
  • Manage their time effectively in the context of supervised research
  • Exercise self-discipline, responsibility and autonomy in pursuing a research project.
  • Communicate complex ideas effectively in writing and in conversation with an expert.

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

  • The ‘Special Topic’ module will involve 5 one-to-one supervision sessions. After initially agreeing a research topic, subsequent supervisions will further develop a student’s understanding and offer detailed feedback and guidance.
  • A formative draft essay of 2000 words will be submitted as preparation for the assessed essay submission.
  • A summative essay of 5000 words will be submitted.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
One-to-one supervisions 5 flexible as required 1 hours 5
Preparation and reading 295

Summative Assessment

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

Formative Assessment:

A draft essay of 2000 words.

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