BA Film Studies and Music / Course details

Year of entry: 2023

Course unit details:
Harmony and Counterpoint

Course unit fact file
Unit code MUSC20112
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Music
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


Students will learn the principles of harmony and counterpoint to an advanced level, through writing short fughettas in the late Baroque style, and harmonising songs in the style of Schubert and Schumann, with the aid of both practical observation and study of theoretical principles.


Unit title Unit code Requirement type Description
Techniques of Tonal Harmony MUSC10112 Pre-Requisite Compulsory

Pre-requisite units

MUSC 10112

FREE CHOICE - Yes, but see pre-requisite of MUSC 10112


  • To ensure a familiarity with, and understanding of, some fundamental idioms of Western musical language
  • To gain fluency in manipulating notes within a given style
  • To develop the ear
  • To develop good practice in musical notation and calligraphy
  • To gain in-depth knowledge of some major works and the principles on which they are constructed

Teaching and learning methods



Knowledge and understanding

  • Understand the basic principles of harmony and counterpoint in the common-practice Western tradition, to an advanced level
  • Recognise some songs by Schubert and Schumann and fugues from Bach’s Das wohltemperirte Clavier, and the principles on which they are constructed

Intellectual skills

  • Manipulate notes on paper, and recognise any faulty harmony and part-writing in the tonal idiom
  • Relate sounds to notation more effectively

Practical skills

  • Harmonise melodies from the core Western Classical tradition
  • Write fluent counterpoint, exhibiting skill in part-writing and imitation
  • Create soundly constructed music within the tonal idiom, combining their knowledge of harmonic and contrapuntal principles

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Think more clearly and logically, especially in relation to any concepts involving both numerical and linguistic competence
  • Possess greater skills at problem solving and creative thinking
  • Challenge received wisdom more effectively.

Employability skills

¿ Make more informed interpretative decisions when performing ¿ Apply general principles from this course (where applicable) to composition ¿ Write about music in a more informed way ¿ A good knowledge of these skills is valuable for teaching, whether in schools (especially A-level), or teaching instruments / voice and guiding pupils through theory exams

Assessment methods

Portfolio of fughettas 50%
Exam 50%


Feedback methods

  • Weekly oral and written feedback on their exercises
  • Additional one-to-one feedback if required (during the consultation hour or by making an appointment)

Recommended reading

  • Bach, Das wohltemperirte Clavier (48 Preludes and Fugues), Book 1
  • Schubert, any volume of his Lieder
  • Schumann, any volume of his Lieder

These items are readily accessible on the IMSLP website and can be downloaded and printed off from it

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 2
Tutorials 9
Independent study hours
Independent study 89

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Barry Cooper Unit coordinator

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