Module WXM-3198:

Module Facts

Run by School of Music and Media

10 Credits or 5 ECTS Credits

Semester 1

Organiser: Dr John Cunningham

Overall aims and purpose

The module forms part of the Genre/Composer modules according to the School of Music's Programme specifications. The aims of this module are, to:

  1. generate or extend knowledge of Handel’s life, career and works in the cultural context of the eighteenth century;

  2. generate or extend knowledge of formal and structural procedures in Handel’s compositions;

  3. generate insights into the main musical developments of the first half of the eighteenth century;

  4. develop an understanding of Handel’s musical style, and the ways in which he developed and transformed genres such as opera and oratorio;

  5. develop an understanding of Handel’s position in the creation and development of the ‘standard repertory’.

Course content

George Frideric Handel was one of the most important composers of the late Baroque era. However, since the nineteenth century his reputation has largely rested on a relatively small number of works, particularly among concert-going audiences and non-specialists; he is perhaps best known for large-scale dramatic works such as Messiah and orchestral works such as the Water Music. In fact, Handel composed in almost every instrumental and vocal genre of his day. He was essentially a conservative composer, but one whose genius was acknowledged and revered by contemporaries; he was one of the first composers to have his biography written (1760) and his birth marked by centennial celebrations (1784); he was also one of the first composers of whom a collected works was attempted (1787-97). Unlike Bach, Handel’s music never fell out of the repertoire and thus played a significant part in the historical development of the musical ‘canon’; moreover, his works have also played an important role in the historical performance movement of the late twentieth century.

Assessment Criteria


Work which displays basic, restricted knowledge of the subject, with simple ability at conceptual thought, and a limited awareness of issues, but has some evidence of a generally intellectual approach, with fair expression


The work should display a sound grasp of the subject, a good level of conceptual thought, awareness of the main issues, with evidence of intellectual acumen and good expression.


Work which displays a thorough grasp of the subject, with evidence of further study, deeper thought, originality of approach and excellent written skills.

Learning outcomes

  1. honed skills in oral and written presentation.

  2. gained extensive ability to situate Handel’s music within the stylistic and cultural contexts of the early eighteenth century;

  3. acquired a deeper knowledge of Handel’s biography;

  4. acquired in-depth knowledge about the main musical developments of the early eighteenth century, and Handel’s role in these developments;

  5. gained detailed insights into the development of formal and structural procedures in Handel’s compositions;

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight

Students are given topics in week 5 (module handbook). Due Monday week 17, not later than noon. Online submission only, via Blackboard.

ORAL Presentation

Students are given topics in week 5 (module handbook). Depending on class size, the presentations may be scheduled for the examination period (i.e. weeks 17 or 18)


Teaching and Learning Strategy


Consultation slots for essay and presentation


A two-hour class each week for eleven weeks. There will be a reading week during the semester

Private study

Including preparation for classes (reading, listening, watching performances), and assessments


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.
  • 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
  • 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


Talis Reading list

Reading list


Pre- and Co-requisite Modules

Courses including this module

Optional in courses: