Coronavirus (Covid-19) Information

Module WMP-4041:
Current Musicology

Module Facts

Run by School of Music and Media

30 Credits or 15 ECTS Credits

Semester 1

Organiser: Mr Stephen Rees

Overall aims and purpose

A fairly late addition to the concert of academic disciplines, musicology is defined as ‘the study of music’ broadly understood. Simple though this specification sounds, music as an object of study has elicited a variety of different methodological approaches, both intrinsic to the musicology (analysis) and imported from other disciplines (philology, literary criticism, aesthetics, sociology, anthropology, and acoustics etc.). The course intends to make students familiar with a range of methodologies and methodological debates which have a vital impact on current research undertaken in the field (e.g. historiography, analysis, ‘new musicology’, gender, structuralism and post-structuralism, authenticity).

Selected readings of scholarly writing serve a dual purpose: Firstly, they are used to establish the key concepts and approaches characteristic of the individual approaches and thus pave the way for an understanding even of jargon-ridden texts. Secondly, they form the basis of a critical assessment, which recognises the historical conditioning of methodologies and seeks to evaluate their benefits and limitations. This look behind the scenes of musicological discourse will prepare students for a reflective use of methodologies in their own research. The practice of critical discourse will be developed by discussion sessions on seminal and controversial methodological approaches, in which students take the lead. Additionally, students will be exposed to the very latest trends in musicology through the regular School of Music research seminars, which provide a forum for cutting-edge research by scholars from Bangor and elsewhere.

Course content

  1. To generate or extend insights into current trends in musicological research and discourse

  2. To generate or extend knowledge of research methodologies in music (in the areas of historiography, criticism, edition, analysis and performance practice)

  3. To enhance the level of methodological reflection and critical scholarship

  4. To enhance study and research skills related to musicology (use of literature, of IT resources, source studies, etc.)

  5. To enhance oral presentation skills as appropriate at a postgraduate level

Assessment Criteria


Threshold (50-59) Work which displays a good grasp of factual knowledge, with simple ability at conceptual thought, and some awareness of methodological issues (albeit limited), and showing sufficient evidence of a generally intellectual approach, with fair expression.


Good (60-69) Work which displays a sound grasp of the subject, a good level of conceptual thought, awareness of methodological and other issues, with evidence of intellectual acumen and good expression.


Excellent (70+) Work which displays a thorough grasp of the subject, with evidence of extended study, profound conceptual thought, originality of approach and excellent presentational skills.

Learning outcomes

  1. On successful completion of the module, students will be able to review, synthesize and critique a range of concepts and terminology use in current musicological scholarship, research, and discourse.

  2. On successful completion of the module, students will be able to critically evaluate and synthesize a range of current research methodologies in music.

  3. On successful completion of the module, students will be able to collate, assimilate, and synopsize relevant musicological literature (bibliographical exercise).

  4. On successful completion of the module, students will be able to demonstrate advanced skills in communication.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
Bibliography Exercise 30
Presentation 20
Essay 50

Teaching and Learning Strategy

  1. Discussion Seminars (weekly, 11 in total), 2 hours each

  2. Research Seminars given by external speakers (fortnightly, 5 in total), 1 hour each

  3. Informal ‘Snapshot’ Seminars given by external speakers (fortnightly, 5 in total), 1 hour each

Private study

Directed reading, own research, preparation for presentation and assignments.


Up to four 30-minute tutorials, according to demand, in preparation for assignments and presentation.


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others

Subject specific skills

  • Intellectual skills specific to Music – contextual knowledge, cultural awareness, critical understanding, repertoire knowledge, curiosity, analytical demonstration
  • Intellectual skills shared with other disciplines – research and exploration, reasoning and logic, understanding, critical judgement, assimilation and application
  • Skills of communication and interaction – oral and written communication, public presentation, team-working and collaboration, awareness of professional protocols, sensitivity, ICT skills, etc.
  • Skills of personal management – self-motivation, self-critical awareness, independence, entrepreneurship and employment skills, time management and reliability, organisation, etc.
  • Enhanced powers of imagination and creativity (4.17)


Resource implications for students

SET TEXT (required purchase); Beard, David and Kenneth Gloag, *Musicology: The Key Concepts*, second edition (Abingdon and New York: Routledge, 2016)

Talis Reading list

Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses:

Optional in courses: