Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2020-2021 (archived)

Module MUSI43060: Advanced Topics in Music and Science

Department: Music

MUSI43060: Advanced Topics in Music and Science

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 develop advanced knowledge of key aspects of current topics and theories in music and science (incorporating research in the sub-fields of music psychology, music neuroscience, and music information retrieval)
  • To develop practical skills, appropriate to Level 4, in empirical research methods, analysis, and reporting of scientific results
  • To encourage students to engage critically with theoretical and methodological issues central to music and science research


  • The seminars will be split equally between two content areas: Theory and Methods, which will run in an alternating manner throughout the teaching terms.
  • The Theory content area will address core topics and theories in music and science research. Indicative topics include (but will not be limited to): emotional responses to music, musical memory, the psychology and physiology of music performance, cross-cultural music perception and cognition, and applications of music and science research. Topics are chosen to reflect the research expertise of the academic teaching staff, in order to facilitate research-led teaching and opportunities for students to collaborate on ongoing, world-leading research projects.
  • The Methods content area will focus on developing practical skills for conducting music and science research. Indicative topics include (but will not be limited to): experimental design, qualitative analysis, inferential quantitative statistics, and computational modelling techniques. These techniques will be taught with an emphasis on developing student's skills in coding/programming and conducting reproducible and transparent research.
  • Students will be directed at the start of the course to a range of sources on the subjects of the designated seminars.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Familiarity with key issues in music and science, and a representative and diverse selection of current scholarship concerning these issues
  • A specialized understanding of a number of key theories in music and science
  • Awareness and knowledge of relevant research methods (quantitative and qualitative) and their use in empirical music research
Subject-specific Skills:
  • An advanced ability to write about current issues and theories in music and science research, in a way that demonstrates critical engagement with relevant scholarly literature
  • Competence in integrating diverse research findings across a range of music and science literature, including critical interpretation of discrepant results
  • Proficiency in formulating research questions and hypotheses that are informed by current theories and approaches in music and science research
  • Refined skills in designing an empirical music research study, including choosing an appropriate methodology and analysis strategy
  • An advanced ability to analyse empirical data for the purpose of answering research questions on music and science
Key Skills:
  • An understanding of the scientific method, including its advantages and limitations
  • Engagement in close readings of a wide range of challenging and interdisciplinary texts
  • An ability to synthesize complex materials from a wide range of sources and to present them cogently in both written and oral formats
  • An ability to critically interpret qualitative and quantitative research findings
  • 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; statistical analysis software; graph- and image-processing; web-based resources)
  • Demonstration of advanced knowledge of professional conduct in meeting academic standards, including appropriate use of relevant ethical codes of practice and correct referencing of sources
  • Deployment of problem-solving skills
  • Deployment of 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 a mix of lecturing, group discussions, practical activities, and student presentations, led by academic staff specialising in advanced music and science research. This will encourage a variety of modes of learning, including critical and practical engagement to facilitate knowledge acquisition and subject-specific skills development. Students will be expected to give occasional short presentations in seminars, as well as to contribute to discussions in those seminars in which they are not presenting.
  • 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 20 weekly 2 hours 40
Directed learning 20 variable 1 hour 20
Preparation and Reading 540

Summative Assessment

Component: Essay Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Research Report 1 3,500 words 100% Yes
Component: Essay Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Research Report 2 3,500 words 100% Yes

Formative Assessment:

Two written assessments related to the topic/skills required for the summative assessments.

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