Study Abroad and Exchanges



MUS3073 : Music in the Renaissance (Level 6) (Inactive)

Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


•       to build familiarity with the wider European music repertories, from the early fifteenth to the early seventeenth centuries;
•       to enrich understandings of contextual studies embedded within these repertories;
•       to provide an intermediate-level training in the study of a key phase in music history, and so to prepare students for advanced-level contextual studies in their final year;
•       to cultivate independent learning through student participation in seminars and student-led presentations.

The Renaissance is one of the most significant epochs in the history of Western music, not only in terms of the breadth (and quality) of its musical repertories, but in the richness of its contexts. Musical styles and repertories changed and stabilised in response to specific, identifiable historical factors: intellectual regeneration, artistic re-invention, political and religious upheaval and economic transformation. The place of music in everyday life was affected by specific innovations such as the invention and commercial success of music printing, as well as by more general changes in the ways that both private and public life was lived at every level of society. Although there are different ideas about the duration and even the usefulness of the concept ‘Renaissance’ in music history, this module takes as its broad remit the period between the early fifteenth century and the early seventeenth century, and a geographical area ranging across most of Europe. In the course of the module we will consider many different kinds of musical works and how they are constructed, but also for whom, as well as by whom, and how these works were performed. This will help us to ask important broader questions about the relationships between music and Renaissance culture in general.

Outline Of Syllabus

This module consists of a series of ten lectures in which you are introduced to the principal repertories, contexts and questions. The following lecture titles are an indicative list - although the precise topics may vary slightly from year to year to reflect the current research interests of the contributing staff:

What was ‘the Renaissance’, and how does music figure in it?
Courtly and civic contexts for music in the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries
The invention and development of music printing in the Renaissance
The cultural legacy of purgatory
The Lutheran Reformation and music in sixteenth-century Germany
The English Reformation
The Counter-Reformation
The Italian madrigal
The madrigal 'English'd': music, poetry and politics in Elizabethan England
The French chanson and its influences

The lectures are organised into three broad thematic units, exploring contexts (institutions, technologies and musical styles), sacred music (with a focus on the Reformation and its consequences), and secular music. Each unit includes one or more seminars for which students are required to prepare presentations on specific topics arising from the preparatory lectures.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture102:0020:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops62:0012:00seminars
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery22:004:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1164:00164:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Team-taught lecture series establishes epistemological framework; seminars encourage student-led learning; private study allows for reading and essay-writing ; group learning makes allowance for seminar/presentation preparation.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2A1004,000 words
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The essay evaluates students’ ability to research within a defined bibliographical area (the topic to be decided by the student, in consultation with the module leaders), and tests their knowledge and intellectual understanding of the subject as a whole and well as their ability to draw comparisons and make syntheses between different topics within the field. Presentations (formatively assessed) encourage students to participate in group work, to compress large-scale tracts of knowledge and understanding into concise verbal formulations.

Reading Lists