MUS20400 Early European Music

Academic Year 2022/2023

This module introduces students to the music of the Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque eras of European musical history from 1200 to 1750. Students will begin by being introduced to the key questions and debates, as well as current scholarship on Early Music. We will then examine three key topics encompassing the development of music in each of the eras under consideration. In addition, students will be expected to prepare for lectures by completing the reading and listening tasks assigned each week and by familiarising themselves with the contents of the prescribed textbook. Lectures will focus on the following topics: thinking about Early Music; the development of notation - oral and written relationships; Renaissance polyphony - techniques and context; Baroque Opera - the creation of a genre. Students will be encouraged to develop an interest in one of the three eras under consideration with a view to writing a final research essay on a topic of interest.

Folders containing preparatory reading and listening materials for each week will be available on Brightspace. The lectures on each topic will include opportunities for discussion based on the weekly reading and listening materials.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of this module students should be able to:
- name and describe important composers, genres and styles of the period in question and discuss selected aesthetic dimensions of the music
- recognise, analyse and compare selected compositions in terms of their style and origin
- evaluate the relationship between music and its cultural and historical context
- discuss and explain key aspects of each topic in the light of contemporary musicological scholarship
- demonstrate a structured and coherent approach in written presentation skills
- consult and use a wide range of bibliographic sources

Indicative Module Content:

Introduction. Thinking about Early Music: music history vs musicology; how Early Music differs from later European art music; current scholarship and debates in Early Music; approaches to essay writing.
2. Polytextuality in the Medieval Motet;
3. Renaissance Polyphony; compositional techniques; composers; social and cultural contexts.
4. Baroque Opera - the creation of a genre: Monteverdi and beginnings in Italy - what is opera?; The French Connection - Lully, language and power; Handel - a German synthesis in London.

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours


Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
Lectures supplemented by discussion based on the close reading of texts. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Multiple Choice Questionnaire: Focusing on the material of weeks 1 - 2 [Thinking about Early Music] Week 5 n/a Graded No


Essay: 2,000 word essay Week 7 n/a Graded No


Multiple Choice Questionnaire: Focusing on the materials of weeks 3 - 12. Week 12 n/a Graded No


Essay: 3,000 word essay. Week 12 n/a Graded No


Carry forward of passed components
Remediation Type Remediation Timing
In-Module Resit Prior to relevant Programme Exam Board
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Not yet recorded.

Burkholder, Grout and Palisca, A History of Western Music, 10th edition (New York: W. W. Norton, 2019).
Burkholder and Palisca, Norton Anthology of Western Music. Vol. 1, Ancient to Baroque. 8th edition (New York: W. W. Norton, 2019).

A detailed reading list and a list of weekly reading assignments will be provided on Brightspace.