MUS20400 Early European Music

Academic Year 2023/2024

This module introduces students to the music of the Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque eras of European musical history from 750 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.
- 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.
- conduct research using a variety of reliable sources and write a coherent essay reflecting current scholarship.

Indicative Module Content:

Thinking about Early Music - challenges, questions, scholarship
The development of notation and relationships between oral and written transmission of music
Renaissance polyphony - techniques and context
The invention of a genre - Opera in seventeenth-century Italy and France

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 In Module Component Repeat Offered
Continuous Assessment: Preparation and participation in discussions at lectures Throughout the Trimester n/a Graded No


Multiple Choice Questionnaire: Assessment 3 focusing on the lectures of weeks 9-12 Week 12 n/a Graded No


Multiple Choice Questionnaire: Assessment 2 focusing on the lectures of weeks 5-7 Week 7 n/a Graded No


Essay: Research essay of 3,000 words. Initial outline of topic to be prepared during week 8 and submitted in week 9. Final essay due at end of trimester (week 14). Unspecified n/a Graded No


Multiple Choice Questionnaire: Assessment 1 focusing on the lectures of weeks 1-4 Week 4 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).