Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2020-2021 (archived)

Module MUSI42960: Ethnomusicology in Practice and Theory

Department: Music

MUSI42960: Ethnomusicology in Practice and Theory

Type Tied Level 4 Credits 60 Availability Not available in 2020/21 Module Cap None.
Tied to W3K707


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To encourage students to engage critically with theoretical and methodological issues central to contemporary ethnomusicology.
  • To provide greater awareness of diverse current approaches within the discipline.
  • To encourage intellectual dialogue between students about their research at an early stage of their postgraduate education, through seminars and the presentation of discussion documents.
  • To develop student skills, appropriate to Level 4, in critical thinking and writing about issues in ethnomusicology.


  • The seminars will engage students as a group on a range of topics. Appropriate themes for seminars will be chosen and programmed at the start of each Michaelmas term by the module coordinator, in consultation with colleagues.
  • Four themes form the intellectual core of the module: Ethnography; Analysis; Theory; and Audiovisual Ethnomusicology. Selections of sources addressing these themes or the intersections between them will be identified for individual seminar sessions.
  • Specific readings and other materials (e.g. audiovisual documents) will be chosen in consultation with the student cohort, to take account of their specific interests.
  • 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 the subject of their assessed work, students will not be confined to topics for which there have been 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 key issues in ethnomusicology, and a representative and diverse selection of current and historical scholarship concerning these issues.
  • a specialized understanding of a number of key theories and methods in current ethnomusicology.
  • 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 area of specialism
Subject-specific Skills:
  • An ability to write on current issues in ethnomusicology in a way that demonstrates critical engagement with relevant scholarly literature
  • 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 appropriate understanding of audiovisual recording technology and its use in ethnomusicological research.
  • An advanced understanding of important analytical approaches in ethnomusicology.
  • Oral presentation skills
  • 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

  • In seminars students will benefit from focused discussion with academic staff specialising in advanced ethnomusicological research. Students will be expected to give short presentations, and to contribute to discussions in seminars. Students will also be expected to attend the Music Department's Postgraduate Seminar and Research Forum events, where they will benefit from exposure to the presentation of research at an advanced level by visiting and Durham-based scholars.
  • 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 17 Weekly during terms 1 and 2 2 hours 34
Directed learning 30 variable 1 hour 30
Preparation and Reading 536

Summative Assessment

Component: Essay Component Weighting: 30%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Transcription and commentary (1,000 words commentary) 1,000 words commentary 100% Yes
Component: Essay Component Weighting: 30%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Critical analysis of audiovisual work 2,000 words 100% Yes
Component: Essay Component Weighting: 40%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
essay 3,000 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