Module WMP-4108:
Investigating Music

Module Facts

Run by School of Music and Media

30 Credits or 15 ECTS Credits

Semester 1

Organiser: Prof Chris Collins

Overall aims and purpose

The aims and objectives are:

  • To enable students to develop the high-level thinking skills required to study music at Masters level.
  • To explore a range of musical repertoire in significant depth.
  • To explore a wide range of issues and debates of contemporary significance in music.
  • To enable students to consider the links between different fields of musical enquiry and practice, and to benefit from these in their own works.

Course content

This module develops high-level skills of thinking about music that are crucial to Masters-level study in musicology, composition and performance. Through the prism of a range of musical repertoire, the module explores a selection of issues and debates of key relevance to advanced musical activity today, both within academia and beyond. It encourages each student – whether musicologist, composer or performer – to consider how their field of activity is directly informed by other fields, and to produce work in their specialised areas which reflects this interdependence. Indicative topics for discussion might include (in alphabetical order):

  • adaptation;
  • analysis;
  • audiences and institutions;
  • authorship, individuality, and intellectual property;
  • editions;
  • high brow vs. low brow;
  • music and the digital world;
  • music for children;
  • music in theatre and film;
  • musicologically-informed performance;
  • nationalism and politics;
  • questions of style;
  • word-text relations.

Assessment Criteria


(A– to A*) Work which demonstrates new insight into the module content and the ability to think in an original and conceptual manner, and which is expressed persuasively.


(C– to C+): Work which demonstrates an understanding of the module content and the ability to think in an informed and logical manner, and which is expressed coherently.


(B– to B+) Work which demonstrates mastery of the module content and the ability to think in a considered manner, and which is expressed with clarity and acuity.

Learning outcomes

  1. On completion of this module, students will be able to express advanced ideas about music, and argue from their position.

  2. On completion of this module, students will be able to develop informed ideas about music, built constructively on the ideas of others.

  3. On completion of this module, students will be able to identify and profit from links between musicological enquiry and the practices of composition and performance.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
COURSEWORK Final submission

A final submission, demonstrating an understanding of multiple modes of musical enquiry and practice. This may take one of the following formats:

  • an essay of around 4500 words;
  • a lecture-recital or illustrated talk of around 45 minutes' duration;
  • an original composition of around 6 minutes' duration, accompanied by a contextual commentary of 1000 words;
  • a performance of around 15 minutes' duration, accompanied by a contextual commentary of 1000 words.

The work submitted for the final submission must be different from that submitted for other modules.


A presentation on an agreed topic, lasting around 20 minutes (potentially, but not necessarily, including a creative or re-creative element).


Teaching and Learning Strategy


1 x 2-hour seminar per week for 11 weeks. Seminars may combine breakout and plenary elements.

Private study

Private study. Listening and reading tasks will be set in advance of each class.


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Numeracy - Proficiency in using numbers at appropriate levels of accuracy
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • 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.
  • Teamwork - Able to constructively cooperate with others on a common task, and/or be part of a day-to-day working team
  • 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

  • Musicianship skills – recognition, classification, contextualisation, reconstruction, exploration
  • Re-creative skills – interpretation, innovation, versatility, and other skills relating to performance
  • Creative skills – conception, elaboration, adaptation, presentation, collaboration, preservation
  • Intellectual skills specific to Music – contextual knowledge, cultural awareness, critical understanding, repertoire knowledge, curiosity, analytical demonstration
  • Technological skills – digital capture, digital expression, digital innovation
  • 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


Talis Reading list

Reading list

Cook, Nicholas, Music: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000).

Additional literature of relevance to each seminar topic will be identified on a weekly basis.

Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses:

Optional in courses: