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Module WXM-1300:
Music since 1850

Module Facts

Run by School of Music, Drama and Performance

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 1

Organiser: Prof Chris Collins

Overall aims and purpose

This module introduces students to musicological study through a survey of music history between 1850 and the present day, combined with a series of workshops on study skills.

The module surveys selected works in a range of art music and popular genres. Changes and developments in musical style will be set in their historical, cultural, social, geographical and aesthetic contexts. In addition, students undertake a deeper study of two works, exploring them analytically as musical texts, and probing the circumstances in which they were composed.

Course content

Indicative lecture topics include: - Wagner and the 'total artwork' - Miniature forms: Grieg and Satie - Viardot and the role of the salon - Brahms: tradition and progressiveness - Music in late 19th-century France: Bizet, Fauré and Debussy - Stravinsky and the Ballets Russes - Music and technology: The Futurists and Varèse - Breaking away from tonality: Schoenberg and Webern - Neoclassicism: Ravel, Falla and Stravinsky - The early years of jazz - Symphonic traditions: Sibelius and Shostakovich - The birth of rock music - Musique concrète and Elektronische Musik - Cage and experimental music - Popular music in the 1960s - Integral serialism: Boulez and Stockhausen - Music from Soviet Russia: Gubaidulina and Schnittke - Progressive rock and beyond - Minimalism and post-minimalism - Pluralism, postmodernism and the culture industry

Indicative set texts for deeper study in seminars include: - Debussy: Préludes, Book 1 - The Beatles: Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

Assessment Criteria


A– to A**: Work which demonstrates a thorough grasp of the subject, with evidence of originality in conceptual and critical thinking, expressed convincingly.


D– to D+: Work which demonstrates an adequate knowledge of the subject, with limited ability at conceptual and critical thinking, expressed intelligibly.

C- to C+

Work which demonstrates a competent grasp of the subject, with adequate conceptual and critical thinking, expressed understandably.


B– to B: Work which demonstrates a good grasp of the subject, with strong conceptual and critical thinking, expressed engagingly.

Learning outcomes

  1. On completion of the module, the student should be able to demonstrate a knowledge of specific works, styles, genres and musical features in repertoire composed between 1850 and the present day.

  2. On completion of the module, the student should be able to research topics in music history independently.

  3. On completion of the module, the student should be able to demonstrate a knowledge of the historical and cultural circumstances in which music was composed and performed between 1850 and the present day.

  4. On completion of the module, the student should be able to identify specified repertoire aurally.

  5. On completion of the module, the student should be able to communicate ideas effectively.

  6. On completion of the module, the student should be able to analyse music from performances and scores.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
CLASS PARTICIPATION Seminar participation

Individual contribution to discussion and tasks set in seminars.

CLASS TEST Repertoire test 1

Repertoire test, testing aural skills and ability to identify by ear music studied in the first half of the module.

CLASS TEST Repertoire test 2

Repertoire test, testing aural skills and ability to identify by ear music studied in the second half of the module.

ESSAY Essay 2 (long)

An essay on topic chosen from a list of options relating to music studied across the entire module.

ESSAY Essay 1 (short)

A short essay on a set topic, relating to music studied in the first half of the module.


Teaching and Learning Strategy


22 lectures, 2 per week, 1 hour each.


6 seminars, held fortnightly, 1 hour each.


5 study skills workshops, held fortnightly, 1 hour each, addressing both subject-specific and key skills.

Private study

Preparatory listening for lectures, preparatory reading and listening for seminars, research for essays.


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
  • 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.


Resource implications for students

There are no resource implications for students.

Talis Reading list

Reading list

The reading list is available via Talis.

Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses:

Optional in courses: