BA Music and Drama / Course details

Year of entry: 2020

Course unit details:

Unit code MUSC30012
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by School of Arts, Languages and Cultures
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This unit aims to develop students’ understanding of key issues in music analysis by introducing them to a selection of influential recent analyses and analytical debates. It further aims to develop students’ ability to produce an independent analytical project of a chosen work or works.


Unit title Unit code Requirement type Description
Analysis MUSC20011 Pre-Requisite Optional
Music post 1900 MUSC20221 Pre-Requisite Optional

Must have taken either MUSC20011 or MUSC20222


This unit aims:

  • to improve students music-analytical skills;
  • to give students the tools to undertake their own independent analytical project;
  • to familiarise students with a range techniques for analysing tonal and post-tonal music, with an equal emphasis on theoretical understanding and practical application;
  • to lay foundations for postgraduate analytical and technical work.


Indicative topics to be covered:

  1. Schenkerian analysis
  2. The theories of Arnold Schoenberg and his disciples
  3. Jean-Jacques Nattiez and musical semiology
  4. Topic analysis
  5. Neo-Riemannian Theory
  6. Set Theory
  7. The critique of musical analysis
  8. The new Formenlehre
  9. Music’s ontology
  10. Postmodernism and musical analysis

Teaching and learning methods

Core course content will be delivered in two-hour lecture-seminars: these will introduce relevant theories, discuss a number of examples, and help students to develop critical thinking and technical ability.

In weekly seminars students will offer formalised responses to a critical question and/or text. Comments will be given from the course tutor verbally (in advance of the presentation during consultation hours if arranged, and during the seminars).

Directed reading is fundamental to the course, and will inform the weekly responses.

Individual learning support will be offered through consultation hours.

Blackboard provision.

Knowledge and understanding

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • demonstrate advanced knowledge and in-depth understanding of a range of music-analytical techniques appropriate for tonal and post-tonal repertoires;
  • demonstrate an ability to employ these techniques appropriately;
  • construct detailed analyses of a range of Western score-based music using accepted models;
  • show an understanding of theoretical writings upon which analytical methods are based.

Intellectual skills

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • understand, apply, and evaluate various music-analytic methods;
  • read and critique advanced analytical texts.

Practical skills

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • present specialist musical notation clearly and appropriately;
  • work on an independent project to a given deadline;
  • demonstrate skills in oral presentation;
  • Show developing abilities in argumentation and interpretation, and the ability to work with a broad range of texts and scores.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • undertake group work and collaboration;
  • demonstrate the ability to synthesize and evaluate material systematically to produce arguments that are communicated clearly in both written and verbal form;
  • show an ability to produce independent work displaying critical self-awareness;
  • demonstrate the ability to communicate ideas and information clearly in written and verbal form.

Employability skills

Analytical skills
Analysing texts, musical scores, and other materials
Group/team working
Interacting and collaborating with peers
Project management
Time management skills (submitting material to fixed deadlines);
Oral communication
Formal presentation as part of assessment
Problem solving
Creative problem-solving (fulfilling a set task with the resources available);
Digital skills (information searches in databases, and use of MS Powerpoint).

Assessment methods

Group Presentation [10%] : 10 minute presentation

Independent Project [90%] : Equivalent to 6,000 words

Feedback methods

  • Oral feedback on students’ responses in weekly seminars
  • Written feedback on coursework assignments 1 and 2
  • Additional one-to-one feedback (during consultation hour or by making an appointment)

Recommended reading

Agawu, V. Kofi, ‘How we got out of Analysis, and How to get back in again’ Music Analysis, 23/ii-iii

(2004), 267–86.

Bent, Ian, Analysis (London, 1987).

Cohn, Richard, ‘As Wonderful as Star Clusters: Instruments for Gazing at Tonality in Schubert’, 19th-Century Music, 22 (1999), 213-32.

Cook, Nicholas, A Guide to Musical Analysis (Oxford, 1987).

Kerman, Joseph, ‘How we got into Analysis, and How to get out’, Critical Inquiry, 7 (1980), 311–31;

published as `The State of Academic Music Criticism', in Kingsley Price (ed.), On Criticizing Music:

Five Philosophical Perspectives (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1981), 38–54; reprinted

in Kerman, Write All These Down: Essays on Music (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press,

1994), 12–32.

Morgan, Robert, P., ‘The Concept of Unity and Musical Analysis’, Music Analysis, 22 (2003), 7–50.

Nattiez, Jean-Jacques, Music and Discourse: Toward a Semiology of Music, trans. Carolyn Abbate

(Princeton, 1990).

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 22
Seminars 11
Independent study hours
Independent study 167

Return to course details