Module Catalogue 2023/24

MUS2108 : Music and Empire

MUS2108 : Music and Empire

  • Offered for Year: 2023/24
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Charlotte Bentley
  • Lecturer: Dr Eric Doughney
  • Owning School: Arts & Cultures
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System

Modules you must have done previously to study this module

Pre Requisite Comment



Modules you need to take at the same time

Co Requisite Comment



1. To develop a broad knowledge of European colonialism and its legacies in relation to music, c. 1500 to the present.
2.To explore how colonial epistemologies have informed methods of musical study, and to introduce students to postcolonial, decolonial, and indigenous modes of music historiography.
3. To provide students with the tools to critically appraise recent initiatives to “decolonise the curriculum” in music studies.

Outline Of Syllabus

The course will comprise several individual sections, each one unpacking specific elements of the topic, including key concepts, events, and musical case studies. Indicative examples of these topics include:
-The roots of colonialism
-Music within and under colonialism
-Music against colonialism
-Music and decoloniality.

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

By the end of the course, students should be able to:
- identify and contrast the ways that music has served to build, enforce, and celebrate colonialism.
- identify and contrast the ways that music has served to resist colonialism and to imagine decolonial and postcolonial alternatives.
- explain basic definitions of key terms and concepts in relation to the study of colonialism, and identify the key colonial powers from the early modern period to the present.
- evaluate colonialism’s role in shaping the global circulation of musical sounds, commodities, knowledge, and people, both within colonial and postcolonial contexts.
- assess the extent of colonialism’s continued impact on present day musical activity, and on our understanding of the aesthetic, political, and economic value of music.
- identify and contrast pre- and para-colonial approaches to music-making and musical knowledge in colonial contexts.

Intended Skill Outcomes

By the end of the course, students should have developed their ability to:
- formulate a response to an essay brief using assigned texts and further reading, recommended listening and other primary source material
- reflect critically on the relationship between the history of colonialism and their own engagement with listening, performing, and studying music.
- apply theoretical and conceptual frameworks relating to the social, economic, and political dimensions of colonialism – and particularly those drawn from outside of musicology – to the study of music.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture112:0022:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion401:0040:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading102:0020:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching111:0011:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyReflective learning activity101:0010:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery21:002:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study951:0095:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The course will be taught using a combination of lectures and seminars. Lectures will review weekly topics, outlining key terms, concepts, debates, historical figures, and musical works in relation to the assigned weekly reading(s) and listening. Seminars will develop students’ comprehension of key concepts and debates by working with primary source materials, and through class discussion and structured group tasks. Student independent learning will involve guided reading, listening, and the completion of a weekly reflective commentary on the virtual learning environment; these tasks will allow students to participate fully in seminar sessions.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1A502000 words
Portfolio1A50Reflective portfolio - 2000 words
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Essay assesses students’:
- comprehension of lecture materials
- critical responses to seminar discussion
- skills in locating and comprehending further secondary literature, primary sources, and further listening
Reflective portfolio assesses students’:
- comprehension of lecture materials
- critical responses to seminar discussion
- ability to relate historical events and debates to contemporary context
- ability to reflect critically on the continued legacy of colonialism on studying, performing, and consuming music as citizens of a former colonising power and/or of a formerly colonised territory.

Students will receive verbal formative feedback during the seminars on the preparatory tasks they complete before each session. This formative feedback will help them to shape their portfolio submission.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


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The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2023 academic year.

In accordance with University Terms and Conditions, the University makes all reasonable efforts to deliver the modules as described.

Modules may be amended on an annual basis to take account of changing staff expertise, developments in the discipline, the requirements of external bodies and partners, and student feedback. Module information for the 2024/25 entry will be published here in early-April 2024. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.