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MUS2051 : Case Studies in Early Music

  • Offered for Year: 2021/22
  • Module Leader(s): Professor Magnus Williamson
  • Owning School: Arts & Cultures
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 10.0


• To provide an introduction to the study of European early music, with an emphasis on music before 1600;
• To extend students’ historical knowledge of music – including composers, genres, institutions, writings about music and the broader contexts in which music was produced and consumed – before 1750;
• To increase awareness of the issues and methodologies involved in the study of early music;
• To provide a platform for the study of specialist historical-cultural options at finalist stage and for those wanting to pursue specialist study dissertations and projects in the field of early music.

Outline Of Syllabus

This module is split into two ‘case study’ units typically covering the period from the Renaissance to the mid-eighteenth century. Each unit enables students to engage in depth with discrete musical case studies over this period. The units are not exhaustive, but rather allow for detailed explorations of specific repertoires, historical moments, institutions, sources, musicians or contexts. Collectively they span from the late Renaissance to the mid-eighteenth century and range across a variety of topics and approaches: sacred and secular music; professional and amateur activity; production and consumption; close readings and wider contextual approaches.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture82:0016:00Synchronous present-in-person (or asynchronous online if circumstances dictate)
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops82:0016:00Workshops: synchronous present-in-person (or synchronous online, if circumstances dictate)
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery52:0010:00Tutorial surgeries: synchronous present-in-person (or synchronous online, if circumstances dictate
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1158:00158:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The module is organized into four case-study units, each unit typically consisting of two lectures, two workshops and a surgery; there is an additional tutorial in each semester for students to discuss their summative assessment. Lectures introduce overarching topics, themes, music, musicians and sources while workshops allow for more detailed explorations of primary sources and secondary scholarship in small groups. Source-based workshop activities include collaborative work on primary sources, discussion and group presentations. The surgeries allow students to seek help with skills development (e.g., in mensural notation) and the tutorials provide opportunities to discuss the development of summative projects prior to submission.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Case study1M50Project 1: 2000 words
Case study2A50Project 2: 2000 words
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Each semester culminates in a piece of assessed work relating to one of the two case studies covered in the preceding teaching weeks. This will usually be in the form of either a 2000-word essay or a notation-based task (e.g., transcription) to the equivalent substance of 2,000 words. All assessments will require you to engage with primary source materials – both textual and musical – as well as relevant secondary source research. These essays test your ability to undertake a piece of research based on the topics explored in each unit, and to prepare a piece of written work over the course of several weeks. It gives you the opportunity to do further reading and to explore an aspect of each of the units in greater depth.

Reading Lists