Find out more about some of our current modules by clicking on the links below. A fuller view of the course structure, including a full list of current optional modules, is offered on the ‘Overview’ tab.
Elements of Music I
This core module will consolidate your knowledge of the fundamental building blocks of music across all periods and genres. Topics will include notation, mode, chord, time and texture.
Elements of Music II
This core module focuses upon principles of form construction in music. Topics will include partimenti, baroque forms, song form, sonata and the principles of tonal and thematic relationships.
Global Music Studies
This module offers an introduction to the different meanings, practices, and theories of popular and art music from a diverse range of cultures, surveying traditions from Asia, the Americas, Africa, the Middle East, Europe, and the Pacific. It incorporates an introduction to ethnomusicological theory and method.
Reasoning and Argument: An Introduction to Philosophical Method
In this module you will learn a series of key skills needed to follow critical methods of philosophical inquiry. It will help you understand the structure and nature of arguments of others and improve your reasoning ability to assist you in your further studies during your course.
Introduction to Ethics
This module introduces you to some of the main ethical questions studied by philosophers. The first part focuses on some contemporary moral problems (for example, the justification of punishment). The second part of the course looks at some normative ethical theories and concepts that provide ways of approaching such moral problems. The third part of the course considers some challenges to the idea of systematic moral inquiry (such as relativism, egoism and emotivism).
Self, Mind and Body
In this module you will be introduced to the important central issues in philosophy of self, mind and body which continue to be debated to present day. You will examine Descartes’s Meditations focusing on his thoughts on dualism and mind-body interaction, comparing these with other related topics.
Appearance and Reality
In this module you will examine some of the central themes surrounding the work of John Locke, one of the first philosophers who sought to integrate philosophy with our modern scientific worldview. Topics covered include empiricism and science, perception, justification and scepticism and the nature of objects among others.
This module provides an introduction to modern logic including technical vocabulary required to aid your understanding of modern philosophical work. You will discuss the symbolism of modern logic, the theory of the structure of thought and practice translation between symbolism and English.
You will receive instrumental or vocal lessons (including guidance on programming) from a specialist tutor. These lessons will be complemented by regular, interactive performance workshops examining performance style, stage presentation and recital preparation. You will be assessed through a 15-minute public recital in the Djanogly Recital Hall.
Skills in Composition
This module explores the relationship between musical raw materials and the realisation of their creative potential by examining a wide range of compositional techniques and musical styles. Topics include musical textures and forms, scales, basic serial techniques, and contrasting harmonic idioms.
This core module introduces you to key developments in Early Music and Opera. Through a combination of lectures and seminars, you will become familiar with fundamental developments in these areas of the repertoire, cementing basic knowledge essential for all trained musicians.
This core module introduces you to key developments in 19th and 20th-century music. Through a combination of lectures and seminars, you will become familiar with fundamental developments in these areas of the repertoire, cementing basic knowledge essential for all trained musicians.
This module is based upon participation in and preparation for rehearsals and performances of the University Choir and/or Philharmonia. Through intensive preparation of demanding repertoire with a professional conductor, you will develop your understanding of the demands and pleasures of large ensemble performance and knowledge of the repertoire concerned, and be encouraged to reflect upon the roles and responsibilities of individual performers within the group. You will also be required to attend a professional ensemble concert or concerts in the Djanogly Recital Hall, which you will review and on which will prepare a report. Your learning will be assessed through monitoring participation, and by two short written assessments.
Issues in Feminist Philosophy
This module will provide an introduction to some of the issues discussed in contemporary feminist philosophy, considering a range of sometimes opposing feminist views on topics including: pornography, feminine appearance, and gender roles within the family and in the workplace. You will also examine the ways in which feminist writers have shown that matters not traditionally considered political do in fact have political significance.
History of Western Philosophy
Through considering some of the greatest thinkers who have ever lived, you will become familiar with some of the main philosophical ideas which have shaped western analytical philosophy. You will understand how and why these ideas arose and the context in which they were developed. The thinkers which could be covered include: Plato, Aristotle, Epicurus, St Augustine, St Aquinas, and Hume, among others.
This module aims to provide you with the knowledge and guidance necessary to achieve success in a range of career paths relevant to Music students. Nottingham alumni representing a wide variety of employment sectors will share their experiences, and the Department of Music and Careers Service staff will provide a range of complementary sessions, addressing both practical skills essential to obtaining employment and a broader understanding of the changing nature of employment markets.
Critical Thinking about Music
This module develops awareness of and interest in a variety of broadly based critical and investigative topics that go beyond the orthodoxies of chronological history and technical/stylistic commentary. The module aim is to enable you to see music not just as a self-sufficient artistic and intellectual tradition but also as an activity that is embedded in social-cultural contexts and informed by your values and attitudes. Important critical issues, embracing ethical and philosophical ideas as they relate to music, as well as a range of aesthetic and interpretive questions, will be addressed in a theoretical and a practical way.
Advanced Ensemble Performance
This module assesses student performance in a small ensemble setting. Weekly coaching sessions will be given to student ensembles, plus individual instrumental tuition. The module will be assessed through a public ensemble performance, plus involvement in the larger student ensembles.
This module develops key skills in composition as a necessary basis for undertaking later composition modules. The module explores the creative potential of present-day orchestral instruments and the specific notational requirements of contemporary composition. The relationship between full-score and instrumental part is also illuminated.
This module develops core skills in professional digital composition, using Logic Pro software. Topics addressed will include the analysis and study of different examples of digital composition techniques, and the completion of industry-specific composition briefs. The aim is to provide a basic grounding in computer based music composition and industry standard software.
This module offers opportunity for intensive development of performing skills. You will receive regular individual lessons with your assigned performance tutor, with whom you agree a corpus of works to be studied. Individual lessons are complemented by regular performance workshops. Your end of year recital will usually include items selected from the appropriate syllabus of the ABRSM, Trinity or Rockschool.
This module involves part-time placement (1 day a week) in an external organisation, and is aimed at developing hands-on work experience and employability skills in a workplace relevant to Music graduates. Each placement will be arranged by the Department, and will be provided by organisations involved in music or other areas of the creative and cultural industries.
Approaches to Popular Music
This module aims to provide a grounding in approaches to thinking and writing about popular music, with some theoretical and musicological background in musical, historical and cultural issues. It will cover a variety of general approaches and perspectives, as well as exploring key issues in relation to featured songs, videos, and case studies.
Jazz: Origins and Styles
This module investigates the origins of jazz in ragtime and the blues, and the development of contrasting jazz styles from 1917 to the present day. Topics include: New Orleans and Chicago ensemble jazz; Harlem stride piano; swing bands; be-bop and hard bop; the 'cool' school; modal jazz; free jazz; jazz-rock fusion.
Philosophy and Aesthetics of Music
This module introduces the student to the traditions of philosophical reflection on music, dating from Kant to the present day. Students will be encouraged to apply the ideas of key philosophers to a present-day case study.
Aesthetics of Electronic and Computer Music
This module investigates technological shifts in recording and performance and assesses their impact on the perception of music. Students will explore how cultural changes and advances in technology have shaped existing genres and created new movements.
Composing for Word, Theatre and Moving Image
This module explores musical composition in dialogue with other artistic media. Topics will include text-setting and writing for voice, new possibilities for opera and music theatre, and film composition.
Can Classical Music Change Lives?
This module examines projects that have used music to tackle situations of conflict or social disadvantage. Case studies include El Sistema, the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, Streetwise Opera and Music in Prisons.
Opera and Politics
This module considers political ‘meanings’ embedded in individual operas, and examines ways in which political theories might be related to the aesthetic dimension of opera. Themes include race, nationalism, gender, religion, fascism.
Music in Asia
This module examines musical traditions throughout Asia, with an emphasis upon the different functions played by musical practice in different cultural contexts.
This module provides an introduction to the various styles of film music developed during the history of cinema. Topics include silent film, the golden era of Hollywood, genre characteristics (eg, animation, musical comedy, science fiction etc.), European cinema, and jazz/pop soundtracks.
Beethoven and Schubert
The position of Beethoven and Schubert in music history will be examined from a dual perspective: as a continuation of the maturity of the Classical style and as a point of departure for the Romantic era. Their respective biographies will be studied, both psychologically and professionally, in relation to the musical life of the times and their individual creative trajectories.
Narrative and Emotion
This module examines ways in which visual artists and composers tell stories and convey feelings in the period 1600-1750. Topics will include: the portrayal and projection of character, the delineation of emotion, the development of plot and action, the build-up of situations and the relation of these to the narrative sequence.
This module examines aspects of style and structure in a wide variety of twentieth-century classical music. Topics to be considered include post-tonal harmony, serial thought, block form, minimalism and new concepts of rhythm and texture.
Approaches to Music Therapy
This module considers both the history and the present day practice of therapeutic uses of music. The intention is to give a students a grounding in the basic theories of music therapy, and an appreciation of the range of music’s use in different contexts.
In this module you’ll discuss key issues in social philosophy. Indicative topics that might be covered include: philosophy of gender; philosophy of race; philosophy of disability; philosophy of relationships and friendship; slavery and abolition; social and psychological oppression; the political thought of Hannah Arendt. Recently, the focus for this module has been on the Philosophy of Race and has concerned questions such as: How should race be conceptualised following the discrediting of biological conceptions of race? What does it mean to consider race as a social construct? Should we be eliminitivists about race? What are the implications of how we conceptualise race for understandings of racism? The teaching will be delivered through a mixture of lectures and seminars.
The Nature of Meaning
The module begins with an exploration of various theories of naming, paying particular attention to the works of Frege, Russell, and Kripke. We then turn our attention to various puzzles concerning the nature of meaning, including the distinction between analytic and synthetic sentences. In the final part of the module, we move on to a discussion of some of the mainstream theories of meaning; particularly, a truth-conditional semantics, and we explore how this might be developed to take into account indexical terms such as `I', `now', and `here'. You’ll have a weekly two hour lecture and one hour seminar.
Freedom and Obligation
This module combines consideration of the political philosophy of Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, and J.S. Mill with related themes in contemporary debates. The module is designed to introduce you to each of the thinkers and then to consider how related issues are treated by contemporary writers. You’ll have a weekly two hour lecture and one hour seminar.
Mind and Consciousness
This module aims to introduce you to some of the major issues within contemporary philosophy of mind. We will examine four topics and the interactions between them: intentionality, consciousness, mental causation and the status of physicalism. You’ll have a weekly two hour lecture and one hour seminar.
History of Philosophy
The module involves the study of one or more texts by one or more influential pre-twenty-first century philosophers. The module will proceed via a close reading of the texts set and also draw on additional material by scholars, background material, and influential responses. For the 2015–16 session, the philosopher selected for study in this module is the 18th century philosopher David Hume, arguably the greatest, and undeniably one of the most influential, of all British philosophers. We focus on some of Hume’s most striking and influential contributions to philosophical topics (in the theory of knowledge, metaphysics, and philosophy of mind), including induction, causation, scepticism, and the implications of empiricism in general. The principal text is Hume’s short work An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding (also known as his ‘First Enquiry’), supplemented with some passages from Hume’s other writings. Although the focus is on Hume’s philosophy, the module will include comparison of his views with those of some of his predecessors and contemporaries, including Locke and Berkeley. In addition, one of the aims of the module is to provide students with knowledge of ways in which Hume’s work has influenced subsequent theorizing in philosophy up to the present day. There is a weekly two hour lecture and one hour seminar.
Knowledge of Justification
This module explores contemporary treatments of issues pertaining to knowledge and the justification of belief. It addresses issues such as the following: the structure of justification and its relation to one's mental states and evidence; the justification of induction; the notion of a priori justification and the relation between your evidence and what you know, among others. You’ll have two hours of lectures some weeks and a hour-long lecture with an hour-long seminar on others throughout the semester.
We all have opinions about moral matters. But for most of us, our moral opinions are not very well-organized. Indeed, upon reflection we may discover that some of our beliefs about morality are inconsistent. One of the main projects of moral theorizing over the past few hundred years has been the attempt to systematically denominate right and wrong actions. In this module you will examine some of these, including consequentialism, deontology and virtue ethics. Teaching will be via a weekly two hour seminar and one hour lecture.
Being, Becoming and Reality
In this module you’ll discuss several topics in contemporary metaphysics. You will examine a number of topics in detail. Recent examples include: What is metaphysics? Do composite objects exist? And, if so, when does composition occur? Do numbers, sets, propositions (etc.) exist? Do other possible worlds exist? What is the nature of time?The teaching will be delivered through a mixture of lectures and seminars.
Are there moral fact? What is moral truth? Do psychopaths really understand moral language? These are just some of the questions we’ll be asking on this module. Metaethics isn’t anything like normative or applied ethics; rather it is about asking how ethics works. This means we’ll be thinking about, amongst other things, moral ontology, moral language, moral psychology and moral reasons. The teaching will be delivered through a mixture of lectures and seminars.
Philosophy of Art
This module includes a discussion of some philosophical problems pertaining to art. Topics will include: definitions of art, Walton’s theory of make-believe, art, music, and the emotions, and the ontological status of artworks. This module aims to promote a deeper understanding of philosophical issues pertaining to art. By the end of the module, you should be able to discuss and evaluate different views of the expressive power of art, to explain certain current views on expression and representation, and to present the main contemporary viewpoints pertaining to the nature of artworks. The teaching will be delivered through a mixture of lectures and seminars.
This module involves student performers, composers and music technologists working together to develop a new creative project, for performance in a venue in Nottingham. Improvisation will be fundamental to the developmental stages of the project.
Building on previous performance modules, you will develop your performing skills to a professional standard. You will receive regular individual lessons with your assigned performance tutor, with whom you agree a corpus of works to be studied. Individual lessons are supplemented with regular performance workshops. The recital should usually include items selected from the appropriate syllabus of the ABRSM, Trinity or Rockschool.
This module offers the opportunity to develop creative ability and technical skill in composition to an advanced level. Individuality of compositional voice is encouraged in a project or programme of projects agreed between yourself and the module tutor.
This module investigates current production processes within historical contexts; explores communication of artistic expression via musical direction and arrangements, and factors affecting performance; develops communication and time management skills in working with artists; and skills in effective digital file management.
This module provides you with the opportunity to prepare for an extended individual prose study of 11,000-13,000 words, on a self-selected subject, agreed with the module convener. Credit will be given for the scope and depth of the study, for clarity of expression and thoroughness of presentation. One-to-one supervision will be supplemented by regular group classes and attendance at Department Music Colloquia.
Every year a number of research seminars are offered in subjects directly relating to staff research interests. In the next two years these will be on Britten and Sondheim, Music and Minorities, Musicians’ Health, Music in Historic Cities, and The Romantic Imagination.
Introduction to Contemporary Meta-Ethics
This module will take a detailed look at the main arguments and themes in contemporary meta-ethics. It will trace the development of contemporary debates in meta-ethics from their beginnings in the work of G E Moore up to the most recent arguments between naturalism and non-naturalism, cognitivism and non-cognitivism.
Environmental ethics addresses the issue of how human beings should interact with the non-human natural world. This module will cover a range of topics from contemporary philosophical literature on environmental ethics, including: the scope of moral concern (i.e. whether and how our moral theory should concern itself with animals, plants, rocks, ecosystems); whether nature is intrinsically valuable, or whether it possesses value only by being valuable to us; whether it is reasonable to search for just one overarching ‘environmental ethic’ (i.e. the debate between monism and pluralism in ethics); the metaphysics, ethics and politics of the ‘deep ecology’ movement; whether there is any connection between the twin oppressions of women and nature (as ecofeminists claim); the nature of sustainability and whether it is worth seeking; the ethics of restoring nature after it has been damaged by human development; whether there are any distinct environmental virtues..
Free Will and Action
This module will focus on a number of questions, including: what would it take for an action to be free (or an exercise of ‘free will’)? Is there is any way in which our actions could be free in the relevant sense, whether or not determinism is true? How do actions differ from bodily movements that are not actions? Actions are typically (perhaps always) done for reasons, but what exactly is the relation between the reasons and the actions? Do the reasons cause the corresponding actions – and if they do, can this be the same kind of causation as is involved in ordinary ‘mechanistic’ causal explanation? What is the connection between intentional or voluntary action and rational action? In particular, it seems that we sometimes intentionally and voluntarily do things that we ourselves regard as irrational – but how is such ‘weakness of will’ possible? You’ll be taught through a two-hour lecture each week.
In this module you’ll be introduced to the theories of Karl Marx through selected texts from his works. Topics covers will include: alienation, the material conception of history, the labour theory of value and French political theory among others. You’ll gain an understanding of concepts essential for advanced study on this course.
This module investigates different kinds of contemporary logic, as well as their uses in philosophy. We will look at logics of possibility and necessity, time, and knowledge, as well as alternative logics, including ‘anti-realist’ logic and fuzzy logic. We will apply formal techniques from these logics to philosophical topics including vagueness, the liar paradox and anti-realism. We will also investigate basic set theory, infinity and the limits of formal logic, including soundness, completeness and decidability proofs.
This module will take a detailed look at one of the main topics of contemporary analytical political philosophy: the theory of distributive justice. This theory attempts to specify abstractly the conditions under which a distribution of benefits and burdens amongst a group of persons would be just. You will consider challenges to the legitimacy of any redistributive principle, and attempts to accommodate values such as responsibility and choice in different patterns of distribution. You’ll have a two hour lecture and one hour seminar each week.
The module will focus on a critical examination of core aspects of Buddhist thinking, with emphasis on some of its basic psychological, spiritual, and metaphysical conceptions. These include, in particular: the origin and nature of suffering, the no-self thesis, enlightenment, consciousness, experiential knowing, and the doctrine of Emptiness ( the lack of inherent nature in all things and impermanence). The module will focus particularly on Nâgârjuna’s philosophy of the ‘middle way’ and some modern commentaries on it. The module will approach Buddhism as a philosophical world-view, rather than as a religious one. The module will not be involved in detailed exegesis of ancient texts. When possible the module will try to link Buddhist conceptions to contemporary ideas about personhood, consciousness and the fundamental nature of reality. You will have a mixture of seminars and lectures for this module.
The aim of this module is to provide students with an opportunity to write an 8,000 word dissertation on a philosophical topic, the precise subject of which is by agreement with the supervisor. At the completion of the module you will have had an opportunity to work independently, though with the advice of a supervisor.
Metaphysics and Language: Quine, Kripke and Lewis
The module involves the study of Naming and Necessity, a seminal text in the philosophy of language, philosophical logic and metaphysics of one of the most influential philosophers of the second half of the twentieth century: Saul Kripke. His work is generally considered the starting point of a twentieth century revolution in the philosophy of language and metaphysics, overturning the consensus established through the writings of Frege and Russell on reference and naming, and inaugurating a new era of analytical metaphysics, central to which is the acknowledgement of necessary a posteriori truths and a division between essential and accidental properties of individuals and kinds. The course will proceed via a close reading of Naming and Necessity, and also draw on additional material by Kripke, background material and some influential responses.
Philosophy of Criminal Law
There is perhaps no more vivid example of the exercise of state power over individuals than through the institution of criminal law. The criminal law raises a host of important philosophical questions, such as these: Is there a general obligation to obey the law? If so, what is the basis for this obligation? What sorts of acts should be criminalised, and why? What does it mean for someone to be responsible for a crime, or for the state to hold someone responsible? What is the proper role for the presumption of innocence: Who must presume whom to be innocent of what? Is criminal punishment justified? If so, why? Is the state ever justified in imposing legal restrictions on offenders even after they have completed their punishment? How should the criminal law function in the international context? Readings will include seminal works by historical figures such as Plato, Bentham, and Kant, as well as prominent work by more contemporary philosophers such as Hart, Hampton, Duff, and others.
This module will teach students how to communicate philosophy through a variety of different mediums, assessing them in each. We will look at how philosophy can be communicated through legal documentation, press releases, handouts, lesson plans, digital marketing campaigns, funding bids and posters (with optional presentations). A number of the sessions may be delivered by professionals from outside the University, with support from the module conveners.
If you and another person had your brains swapped, would you have swapped bodies? Or should we say that you still exist in your old body, only now your memories, beliefs, personality traits, etc. are different? Would you survive teleportation? What if teleporting worked by recording your body state, destroying your body, and then creating a copy of it elsewhere? Would this copy be morally responsible for your crimes? What if the teleporter created two copies? These puzzles raise the issue of what your continued existence consists of - are you essentially a brain, a soul, a body, a set of mental states, or something else? This is the issue we will examine in this course. We will also examine the moral implications of personal identity.
Philosophy of Science
What is science? Is there a scientific method, and if so, what is it? Can science tell us what the world is really like? Is it the only way to know what the world is really like? Does science progress? What is a “paradigm” and when/how does it “shift”? Is science “socially constructed”? Can a sociological study of the practice of science tell us anything about the nature of science? Is science "value-neutral"? Should we “save society from science”? What are "the science wars" and who won? These are some of the questions we will explore in this module. We will start with the positivism-empiricism of the early 20th century and culminate with the postmodernismrelativism of the late-20th century and its aftermath. Readings will include seminal works by Ayer, Hempel, Popper, Kuhn, Lakatos, Feyeraband, Bloor, and Laudan.
Many Year Two modules are also available at Year Four.
The modules we offer are inspired by the research interests of our staff and as a result may change for reasons of, for example, research developments or legislation changes. This list is an example of typical modules we offer, not a definitive list.