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Course overview

If you're a keen musician who wants to explore the exciting world philosophy offers then this is the course for you.

Contemporary composers Philip Glass and Steve Reich both have philosophy degrees. And renowned philosopher Schopenhauer considered music the highest art, playing the flute his whole life.

You'll study each subject separately but equally. The first year gives you a good grounding in both subjects. In your second and third years, you have free choice in both. This allows you to follow your interests and construct your own degree.

Music

Our music department has particular specialities in musicology, performance, composition and technology and the purpose-built facilities support your choices. There are spaces to compose, rehearse, perform, record and experiment!

You are spoilt for choice if you want to carry on playing an instrument. There are opportunities across all genres - both on-campus and as part of Nottingham's dynamic music scene.

Philosophy

The philosophy department offers an unusually diverse range of modules. Explore traditional topics along with emerging areas such as environmental and social philosophy.

You'll also get to explore across Western, Indian and Chinese traditions. 

Uniquely, you will also work with professionals such as lawyers and journalists. They'll help you apply your new philosophical skills to a range of careers.

Your departments

This joint honours degree is a collaboration between two departments. Find out more about what it’s like to study in the:

Why choose this course?

  • Combine practical skills with academic understanding
  • No need to give up an existing passion - study two subjects at degree level
  • You're not locked in to a set programme - build a degree that suits your interests
  • Develop a set of skills that apply to a wide range of careers
  • Work experience and study abroad options to enhance your experience and CV
  • Learn a language as part of your degree

Entry requirements

All candidates are considered on an individual basis and we accept a broad range of qualifications. The entrance requirements below apply to 2022 entry.

UK entry requirements
A level ABB - including music or music technology. Alternatives to A-level music accepted.
Required subjects

A or B in music or music technology at A level.

ABRSM Graded Theory Grade 5 or Trinity of Rockshool Theory grade 6 may be accepted in place of A-level music. 

We also accept many alternative qualifications including DDD in the BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in Music.

We are always happy to discuss different qualifications as suitable entrance requirements.

IB score 32 (5 in music at Higher Level)

Extended Project Qualification (EPQ)

If you have already achieved your EPQ at grade A you will automatically be offered one grade lower in a non-mandatory A level subject.

If you are still studying for your EPQ you will receive the standard course offer, with a condition of one grade lower in a non-mandatory A level subject if you achieve an A grade in your EPQ.

Foundation progression options

If you have faced educational barriers and are predicted BCC at A Level, you may be eligible for our Foundation Year. You may progress to a range of direct entry degrees in the arts and humanities.

Learning and assessment

How you will learn

We are preparing your tutorials, laboratory classes, workshops and seminars so that you can study and discuss your subjects with your tutors and fellow students in stimulating and enjoyable ways. While we will keep some elements of online course delivery, particularly while Covid-19 restrictions remain in place or where this enhances course delivery, teaching is being planned to take place in-person wherever possible. This will be subject to government guidance remaining unchanged.

We will use the best of digital technologies to support both your in-person and online teaching. We will provide live, interactive online sessions, alongside pre-recorded teaching materials so that you can work through them at your own pace. While the mix of in-person and digital teaching will vary by course, we aim to increase the proportion of in-person teaching in the spring term.

Each subject bring their own methods and approaches to teaching.

Different types of philosophy suit different methods of teaching. You might get involved in small-group study of texts or learn alternative styles of presentation - from press releases to legal briefs.

Workshops with professional musicians and composers give you industry insights, practical experience and networking opportunities. 

Collaboration amongst students is encouraged in both subjects.

Teaching quality

We work hard to provide meaningful and stimulating teaching:

  • all music teaching staff have nationally recognised qualifications
  • philosophy teaching staff been awarded three Lord Dearing Awards in the past five years. Nominated by students and other academics they recognise outstanding student learning

If you have worries about your work we won't wait for them to become problems. You'll have a personal tutor who will support your academic progress and help find solutions to any issues.

“You'll meet regularly with your personal tutor to consult on your personal and academic progress and ensure you feel part of our community. They'll be your first port of call should you encounter any academic or personal difficulties and advise you on career options and write references as required.”

Simon Paterson, Senior Tutor

Teaching methods

  • Lectures
  • Practical classes
  • Seminars
  • Tutorials
  • Placements
  • Workshops

How you will be assessed

All assessments in the 2021/22 academic year will be delivered online unless there is a professional accreditation requirement or a specific need for on-campus delivery and in-person invigilation.

A combination of essays and exams are the norm for most modules. Weekly reading summaries, presentations and online quizzes and tests may also be used by individual lecturers.

Depending on the music modules you take you will also be assessed through recital performances, a composition portfolio, sound recordings and conducting performances.

Assessment methods

  • Commentary
  • Dissertation
  • Essay
  • In-class test
  • Portfolio (written/digital)
  • Presentation
  • Reflective review
  • Written exam

Contact time and study hours

We provide a structure of lectures, seminars and tutorials around which you organise other study and commitments. Our minimum expected contact time with you is:

  • Year one - 12 hours
  • Year two - 10 hours
  • Year three - 8 hours

Weekly tutorial support and the accredited Nottingham Advantage Award provide further optional learning activities, on top of these class contact hours.

In addition, your lecturers can be available outside your scheduled contact time to help you study and develop. This can be in person and online.

As well as your timetabled sessions you’ll carry out extensive self-study. This will include course reading, seminar preparation and group study with course mates. As a guide 20 credits (a typical module) is about 200 hours of work (combined teaching and self-study).

Class sizes vary depending on topic and type. A popular lecture may have up to 200 students attending while a specialised seminar may only contain 10 students.

Your lecturers will usually be from our academic staff in Music and Philosophy many of whom are internationally recognised in their fields.

Music performance tuition

All students taking solo performance modules will receive fully-paid tuition with one of our experienced instrument and vocal tutors. The allocations are generous:

  • Year one - 16 hours
  • Year two - 18 hours
  • Year three - 20 hours

Additionally, for each assessed recital performance, students will receive a bursary to support practice with an approved accompanist.

Many of our performance tutors are happy to provide additional paid-for support.

Study abroad

Nottingham's a global university so we support a range of opportunities for you to study abroad.

In the past five years over 1500 of our students have benefitted from living and learning in a different culture. And boosted their CVs for prospective employers.

You've a range of options - from short summer schools, a single semester to a whole year abroad.

We've a dedicated team to help you with the practicalities and many opportunities mean you pay reduced fees.

If you need support for your language skills before you go our Language Centre will have resources to help.

Explore your study abroad opportunities

Placements

Become 'workplace-ready' with our work experience opportunities. You'll develop professional skills and experience that allow you to stand out to potential employers.

Music

We are one of very few UK music departments to offer a curricular, credit-bearing Work Placement module. Placement providers include professional orchestras and venues, promoters, record labels and recording studios.

You can also apply for paid part-time traineeships with Nottingham Lakeside Arts and the Denis Arnold Music Library.

We offer voluntary mentoring placements at local primary schools in conjunction with Nottingham Music Hub

Philosophy

Our successful and long-running Philosophy in Schools project gives volunteers:

  • classroom practice with Key Stage 2 children
  • experience of team working and safeguarding
  • training on how to deliver philosophy

You also have access to a wide range of work experience and volunteering schemes through the:

Why study two subjects?

The benefits of doing a joint honours degree.

Modules

We know everyone comes from a variety of backgrounds and experiences so our first year:

  • ensures you have the necessary skills and knowledge to thrive
  • is designed to help you connect to and build relationships with your fellow students

You will take up to 120 credits-worth of modules split as follows:

  • Core modules (80 credits)
  • Optional modules (20 credits in each subject) - develop existing passions or explore new topics

You must pass year one but it does not count towards your final degree classification.

Core modules

Elements of Music 1
This 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 2
This module continues the survey of fundamental building blocks of music undertaken in Elements of Music I. It introduces a variety of analytical theories and interpretative methods, applied to a broad range of genres and styles. The precise content may vary from year to year, depending upon available staff expertise, but typical topics include partimento, jazz harmony, and approaches to form. 
Mind, Knowledge, and Ethics

This module covers issues in ethics, epistemology, and the philosophy of mind.

Topics might include:

  • the mind body problem
  • the nature of persons
  • perception
  • knowledge
  • free will
  • the nature of ethics
  • normative theories
  • the problem of moral motivation
  • the nature of ethical judgements
Reasoning, Argument, and Logic

This module introduces a series of key skills relevant to the aims and methods of philosophical inquiry. It is designed to:

  • help you understand the nature and structure of arguments
  • acquire critical tools for assessing the arguments of others
  • improve your ability to present your own reasoning in a clear and rigorous manner, particularly in essays
  • supply the basic minimum knowledge of logic and its technical vocabulary which every philosophy student requires

Optional music modules

Aesthetics of Electronic and Computer Music
Investigates technological shifts in recording and performance and assesses impact on the perception of music. Explores how cultural changes and advances in technology have shaped existing genres and created new movements, and asks how society and laws have adapted to the democratisation of music creation and distribution which technology has enabled.

Topics include:

  • Examining recording technologies; e.g. digital and analogue workflows; their respective advantages and limitations
  • Sampling and tape loops, plunderphonics • programming, development of computer technology, MIDI
  • Rights and ownership and relation to creativity
  • Recording spaces; acoustics
  • Performance technology, haptics
Ensemble Performance
This module is based upon participation in and preparation for rehearsals and performances of the University Choir or the University Philharmonia. Through intensive preparation of demanding repertoire with a professional conductor, students will develop their understanding of the demands and pleasures of large ensemble performance and their knowledge of the repertoire concerned, and be encouraged to reflect upon the roles and responsibilities of individual performers within the group. Conducting workshops will give them initiation and insight into the role (especially the practical tasks) of the conductor. They will also be required to attend a professional ensemble concert or concerts in the Djanogly Recital Hall, which they will review and on which they will prepare a report. 
Global Music Studies

Explore a range of musical cultures beyond the traditional canon of Western art music.

Introduce the fields of ethnomusicology and popular music studies. You'll look at different:

  • meanings
  • practices
  • theories of music

from a diverse range of cultures and communities.

We delve into musical traditions and popular culture from around the world, including case studies from Asia, the Americas, Africa, the Middle East, Europe, and the Pacific.

As well as ethnomusicological theory and method you'll get an overview of key issues and debates in Anglophone popular music. You will also develop critical skills for the analysis of musical practice in diverse contexts.

 

This module is worth 10 credits.

Performance 1

Develop your performance skills towards a professional level.

You will work with a dedicated tutor, agreeing pieces to work on at the appropriate level.

Repertoire:

  • instrumental: at least one item at DipABRSM level or equivalent (Trinity, Rockschool)
  • vocal: at least two items at DipABRSM level or equivalent (Trinity, Rockschool)

You will combine 16 hours of individual tuition with group masterclasses and workshops, and personal practice using our specialised facilities. Workshop topics covered will include rehearsal strategies, diversifying repertoire choices, musician’s wellbeing, and writing programme notes.

Final assessment is through an end of year recital and supporting programme notes, in which you will have the opportunity to work with a collaborative pianist, funded by the department.

This module is worth 10 credits.

You would normally be expected to have Grade 8 ABRSM or equivalent standard before starting this module.

Repertoire Studies 1: Music Before the 20th Century

You'll get a thorough knowledge of European musical repertoires from the Renaissance to the turn of the twentieth century.

As well as learning about composers, styles and genres, you’ll develop an appreciation of how musical traditions have been shaped by their cultural contexts – and how cultures have been shaped by their musical traditions.

Topics covered will include:

  • early opera and oratorio
  • chamber music
  • choral and religious music
  • programme music
  • historical instruments and period performance
  • the invention of ‘Classical Music’
  • women in music history
  • histories of amateur participation
  • global perspectives on European music

You'll also learn about how music history is researched and studied today, and how the stories we tell have changed over time.

As this is one of the first modules you will take at university you'll also get an introduction to the skills required to research and write essays effectively.

 

This module is worth 20 credits.

Repertoire Studies 2: 20th-Century Music

You'll be exploring a wide range of genres and stylistic trends in key repertoire from the late nineteenth century to the present day.

Topics covered will include:

  • impressionism
  • modernism
  • neo-classicism
  • atonality and its consequences
  • nationalism
  • film music
  • jazz
  • the work of female composers
  • cross-cultural influences
  • minimalism

You'll also develop an appreciation of the cultural contexts in which these repertoires developed.

As this is one of the first modules you will take at university, it will also help you develop the general skills required to research and write essays effectively.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Skills in Composition
 The 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 melody, scales and modes, and contrasting harmonic idioms.

Optional philosophy modules

Gender, Justice, and Society
  • What is institutional racism?
  • What do feminists mean when they say, 'The personal is political'?
  • Are borders unjust?
  • Are direct action and criminal damage legitimate forms of protest?

These are just some of the questions you'll think about on this module.

We'll take a critical look at some of the answers given by thinkers across the political spectrum, from right-wing libertarians like Robert Nozick to socialist anarchists like Emma Goldman.

We'll also look at some of the political contexts in which these questions have been asked and answered. This might include the:

  • Peterloo Massacre
  • civil rights movement
  • invention of the police
  • Paris Commune of 1871
  • Black Lives Matter and Youth Strike4Climate movements

This module is worth 20 credits.

History of Philosophy

Philosophy develops, confronts and destroys previous thinking. It reinforces the status quo and acts as a foundation for revolution. It's a product of its time and helps to shape the future.

Together we'll become familiar with some of the main philosophical ideas and thinkers that have shaped philosophy. And you'll come to understand how and why these ideas arose and developed in response to wider contexts and movements.

Influential thinkers might include:

  • Plato and Aristotle
  • Ibn-Tufayl and Ibn-Rushd
  • Montaigne, Locke and Wollstonecraft
  • Marx and Gandhi
  • Fanon, Sartre and de Beauvoir
  • Murdoch

Particular topics might include:

  • ancient Greek conceptions of the good life
  • reason and tradition in classical Islamic philosophy
  • medieval philosophy
  • existentialism
  • Afro-Caribbean philosophy

You won't be taught whether any of these thinkers and thoughts were right. But by the end of the module you'll be able to recognise and judge for yourself the strengths and weaknesses of arguments on both sides of each philosophical issue.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Metaphysics, Science, and Language

This module will cover topics from each of Metaphysics, Epistemology and the philosophy of science, and the philosophy of language. Indicative questions include:

  • metaphysics – why is there something rather than nothing? Does it make sense to talk of a telos, or purpose, to the universe? Is the universe deterministic, or is there chance
  • philosophy of science – is science the guide to all of reality? Is there a scientific method
  • philosophy of language – what is truth? Is truth relative? Does language create reality?
Philosophy and the Contemporary World

Philosophy can teach us to ask hard questions and help change the world for the better. 

We'll help you develop the skills to critically understand and constructively engage with a wide range of contemporary issues. Together we'll tackle topics relevant to university life and wider society. You should finish the module with a greater understanding of:

  • the value of philosophical thinking in relation to the contemporary world
  • using key philosophical arguments, concepts and methods in everyday contexts

Possible topics we'll look at

  • What is the purpose of education?
  • Why value free speech?
  • Censorship and pornography
  • Race and Racism
  • Sexual identities
  • Disability
  • Implicit bias
  • People, animals and the environment
  • Migration and refugees
  • Drugs and sport
  • Ethics and artificial intelligence
  • Mental illness

This module is worth 20 credits.

Philosophy of Religions

All religions have a distinctive philosophical framework. Together we'll look at some of the common concerns such as:

  • the variety of conceptions of ultimate reality
  • goals for the spiritual life
  • the nature of religious experience
  • the relations of religion and morality
  • explanations of suffering and evil
  • human nature and continuing existence after death

As there is such a range of beliefs we'll also look at the problems of religious diversity.

Some of the sources we draw on might include (but is not limited to):

  • atheists - Feuerbach, Nietzsche
  • Buddhists - Śāntideva, Dōgen, Thich Nhat Hanh
  • Christians - Augustine, Pascal, Weil
  • Hindus - such as the writers of the Upanisads and Shankara
  • Jews - Spinoza, Buber
  • Muslims - Mulla Sadra, Nasr
  • Taoists - Zhuangzi

More contemporary thinkers might also be included.

With such a wide range of issues and traditions the exact mix will vary - each year will focus on a few key thinkers and themes.

This module is worth 10 credits.

The above is a sample of the typical modules we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Modules (including methods of assessment) may change or be updated, or modules may be cancelled, over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for information on available modules. This content was last updated on Monday 17 May 2021.

You'll study both subjects equally with free choice of modules across both. This allows you to:

  • build on subjects studied in year one
  • explore new interests as you develop

Some year three modules are also available to year two students.

Gain professional experience with our Work Placement module.

We also provide the option to take a module from outside Music and Philosophy. This allows you to explore a topic from another angle or try something entirely new.

You must pass year two and it counts one third towards your final degree classification.

Optional music modules

Composing for Words, Theatre and Moving Image

Get an introduction to composing music that responds to and interacts with work by non-musical artists.

By the end of the module you'll have composed two short pieces:

  • a choral work on an English-language text of your choice
  • a score for a short film clip

In past years, students have chosen a wide variety of texts for their choral compositions, from Romantic poetry to political speeches. Students have composed new scores for film clips from a range of films, from Dziga Vertov's pioneering Man With a Movie Camera to BBC nature documentaries.

For an example of the final work you might produce see this video - 'Apotheosis' by George Littlehales

This module is worth 20 credits.

Conducting
This module provides an introduction to some fundamental techniques and practical skills of instrumental/orchestral and choral conducting. It addresses the various problems and challenges from a variety of angles, and will include practical work both in class and in front of an ensemble. Rehearsal techniques, score literacy, interpretation, and the practical psychology of conducting will be examined in plenary meetings (thorough preparation and independent work on all aspects of the module will be required). Technical issues (including stance, movement, beating patterns and other relevant gestures, as well as knowledge and preparation of scores) will be explored in workshops. Students will practise conducting specific pieces (with the rest of the group singing/playing), and will gain feedback both from group discussion and from the tutor.
Creative Orchestration
This module will introduce students to the art of writing for orchestral instruments including strings, woodwinds, brass, percussion and keyboard with some coverage of writing for popular instruments.
Digital Composition

Develops core skills in digital composition.

Using Logic Pro software you'll gain professional technical skills in:

  • creation of sounds using synthesis
  • audio recording and sampling techniques
  • audio and MIDI programming and editing
  • scoring (inc. exporting to Sibelius)
  • mix techniques such as dynamic processing, time-based effects (reverb, modulation), equalisation and automation to attain width, height, space and depth
  • audio files and formats
  • mastering (metering, loudness)

As well as technical skills you'll also:

  • look across genres at how different techniques are used in particular settings
  • learn to work in a professional way using industry specific composition briefs.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Electroacoustic Composition
In this course, students will compose a portfolio of original electro-acoustic compositions for soloist and electronics that will be performed towards the conclusion of the module. The course will cover a range of contemporary music in the creation of a series of etudes in compositional areas that will encourage the development of current practice and an understanding of electroacoustic compositional ideas and related performance practice. It will establish a thorough technical base for future compositional output in a wide range of areas within fixed and live electroacoustic music that includes aspects synthesis, sampling, and computer music. The final submission will be judged on both technical merit and creativity. The goal of the module is for each student to develop a body of work expressive of their individual creative voice.
Performance 2

Build on your performance abilities developed in the first year.

You will work with a dedicated tutor, agreeing pieces to work on at the appropriate level.

Repertoire:

  • one item at DipABRSM level or equivalent (Trinity, Rockschool)
  • one work by a female or female-identifying composer

You will combine 18 hours of individual tuition with group masterclasses and workshops, and personal practice using our specialised facilities. Workshop topics covered will include rehearsal strategies, diversifying repertoire choices, musician’s wellbeing, and writing programme notes.

Final assessment is through an end of year recital and supporting programme notes, in which you will have the opportunity to work with a collaborative pianist, funded by the department.

This module is worth 20 credits.

There is also a 10 credit version of this module available for part-time students and students who take the opportunity to study abroad for one semester in their second year.

Jazz: Origins and Styles

Jazz covers a multitude of styles from trad to free, plus any number of contemporary ‘fusions’.

We'll start by looking at its origins in ragtime and blues and then delve into a wide range of contrasting styles from 1917 to the present day. These might include:

  • New Orleans and Chicago ensemble jazz
  • Harlem stride piano
  • swing bands
  • be-bop and hard bop
  • the ‘cool’ school
  • modal jazz
  • free jazz
  • symphonic jazz
  • jazz-rock and other fusion styles

We'll also take a look at jazz film scores.

Throughout the module we'll explore cultural, racial, analytical and aesthetic issues at each stage in jazz's development.

 

This module is worth 20 credits.

Aesthetics of Music

Discussions of music have a long-established history of engaging with philosophical issues, while music has often challenged and shaped philosophical thought. This module introduces the student to relationships between the two disciplines and examines some of the crucial issues at stake.

The first half of the module will explore the foundations of modern aesthetics in the writings of enlightenment and nineteenth-century philosophers, including Kant, Hegel,Schopenhauer, and Nietzsche.

The second half will explore key twentieth-century contributions from thinkers including Adorno, Barthes and Lydia Goehr.

The module offers a variety of conceptual tools that will enable the student to develop critical and philosophical skills relevant for the historical and theoretical study of music.

The Hollywood Musical

Hollywood musicals have been hugely popular from the invention of “talkies” to the present day. But how are they different to musicals written for the stage?

We'll use a range of case studies, from The Jazz Singer (1927) to The Greatest Showman (2017), to consider specific issues such as:

  • theatricality and “backstage narratives”
  • star casting
  • dance on screen
  • the role of animation in developing the form.

You'll develop a broad knowledge of the:

  • range of musicals produced
  • key figures in their development
  • musicological debates around them.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Research Seminar: The Art of 18th-Century Performance - Improvisation

In the eighteenth century all professional musicians had to undergo an apprenticeship of up to 10 years, either with a family member or within a church school or orphanage (conservatoire). The first three years of training involved singing and imparted essential skills in performance, improvisation, and composition. After that, apprentices would specialise in either singing, composing, or playing an instrument. If they chose to play, then they would repeat the entire three years of rudiments upon their instrument (unless they chose the keyboard, which involved a different system called partimento). 

In this module, we will undertake the same real lessons of an eighteenth-century apprentice, both sung and played. Students should expect to participate in improvisations and sing or play in class. By the end students will be able to read 84 different staves fluently (7 clefs multiplied by 12 key signatures), improvise a stylish and correct melodic composition instantaneously, and perform scores in a novel yet historically authentic way. 

Research Seminar: Music and Environmentalism

This module aims to:

  • develop individual and group-based research skills in a specific field of study
  • undertake basic research efficiently and productively
  • develop promising lines of enquiry to an appropriate level of sophistication
  • develop an understanding of the potential social and environmental impact of music and musicology
Race and Music Theatre

You will examine the role of race in “music as drama”. Using critical race theory you'll explore issues of representation, agency, and identity in a safe, supportive and constructive environment. You will also begin to develop the connections between new musicology, theatre studies, and identity theory.

Examples will cover:

  • opera (for example Aida and Madama Butterfly)
  • musical theatre (for example Kiss Me, Kate, Hamilton, The Lion King)
  • plays with music (for example Morgan Lloyd Malcolm’s Emilia)

This module is worth 20 credits.

Approaches to Popular Music

Get a grounding in approaches to thinking and writing about popular music critically.

You'll cover a variety of perspectives and explore key issues in relation to featured songs, music videos and performers.

We'll ask fundamental questions about the contexts of popular music and their role in forming and responding to social and political issues. We'll also explore connections with other cultural traditions and artistic media.

Overall you will develop a sense of the richness and diversity of scholarly approaches to popular music in the Anglophone world.

 

This module is worth 20 credits.

The Social Life of Scores

This module looks at musical scores as material (or virtual) objects, from the earliest medieval songbooks to IMSLP and the PDF, via five centuries of music printing.

With attention to objects in the Nottingham library collections, as well as famous items online and in facsimile, we will be asking what do scores tell us about their makers, their owners and their users?

Classes will think about matters including literacy, musical interpretation and cultural memory, as well as intersections between music books and race, gender, power and social class.

Analysing Early Music

This module introduces students to the analysis of European music to circa 1700, from the Ancient Greeks to the beginnings of the Baroque.

With the help of the latest scholarly conversations our classes will consider the challenges and possibilities of assessing style, structure and meaning in pre-modern musical repertories.

In particular, we will be thinking about:

  • musical traditions built upon different systems of pitch, tonality and rhythm
  • repertories that are partially notated, improvised or inherently variable in their transmission
  • the relationship between repertories and the writings of contemporary theorists
  • whether or not analysis can disclose musical meanings (hermeneutics).

Although Western Europe is our focus, the issues encountered in this course also readily pertain to popular repertories, and to musical cultures worldwide.

Optional philosophy modules

Mind and Consciousness

Where does the mind meet the world? In sensory perception.

By perceiving, we become conscious of a reality beyond our minds. Or do we?

Mind and Consciousness explores perception and perceptual consciousness.

It asks question such as:

  • Do we really perceive a world beyond our minds?
  • What are the theories of perception and perceptual consciousness?
  • How do we distinguish different senses – what makes seeing different from hearing?
  • Can our perceptions be biased? Do our prejudices change the way we see things?
  • Is dreaming perceiving, or does it belong to another category of mind like imagining?

By the end of this module, you'll be able to:

  • understand the main positions in the philosophy of perception
  • analyse and evaluate rival views on these topics

This module is worth 20 credits.

Social Philosophy

This module addresses issues in social metaphysics and social epistemology. We will examine the metaphysics of social kinds and explore different accounts of social kinds that have been offered. We will also examine how the fact that we are situated in a social world can affect what we can or cannot know or understand about ourselves, each other, and the social world itself. We will also address ethical and/or political issues that arise once we take account of social metaphysics and social epistemology.

In particular, we might consider whether there are special kinds of injustices that arise due to our social reality. What is epistemic injustice and how does it relate to social injustice? How do certain privileged groups structure the social world that create and maintain privilege and patterns of ignorance that perpetuate that privilege? What are some obligations that we have, given metaphysical and epistemological concerns we have explored? 

The Nature of Meaning

The module begins with an exploration of various theories of naming, paying particular attention to the works of Frege, Russell (including the theory of descriptions), 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'. Some of the skills acquired in Elementary Logic will be applied in this module.

Philosophy of Art
  • What is art?
  • Is there a relationship between art and ethics?
  • What is the relationship between art and emotion?

Together we'll explore these philosophical issues and more. By the end of the module you'll:

  • have a good awareness of many of the critical debates in the philosophy of art
  • recognise and judge for yourself the strengths and weaknesses of arguments on the issues

This module is worth 20 credits.

Ancient Greek Philosophy

This module explores some of the major thinkers, texts and themes of Ancient Greek philosophy. Ancient Greek philosophy stands at the beginning of the western philosophical tradition and western philosophy has been shaped by a sustained engagement with Ancient Greek thought in areas of philosophy, such as epistemology, metaphysics, ethics and political theory.

Topics and thinkers may include: Presocratic Philosophy; Heraclitus; Parmenides; the Sophistic movement; Plato and Platonism; Socrates and the Socratic Schools (Cynics, Cyrenaics and Megarics); Aristotle (ethics, political theory, natural philosophy, metaphysics); Epicurus and Epicureanism; Stoicism; Academic and Pyrrhonian Scepticism; Plotinus and Neoplatonism; Pythagoreansim. No knowledge of the Ancient Greek language is required.

Philosophy of Science: From Positivism to Postmodernism

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 postmodernism-relativism of the late-20th century and its aftermath.

Readings will include seminal works by Ayer, Hempel, Popper, Kuhn, Lakatos, Feyeraband, Bloor, and Laudan. While we may consider various examples from the history of science, no background knowledge of science or logic (beyond elementary first-year logic) is presupposed. 

Continental Philosophy

This module will introduce the European tradition of philosophical thinking prevalent over the past two centuries. It will begin with an introduction to the influence of Kant and Hegel and recurrent characteristics of European thought, before turning to focus on representative texts by key thinkers.

Texts for more in- depth study might include, for example: Ludwig Feuerbach’s Principles of the Philosophy of the Future; Henri Bergson’s Creative Evolution; Friedrich Nietzsche’s Twilight of the Idols; Martin Heidegger’s Being and Time; Hannah Arendt’s The Human Condition; and Luce Irigaray’s Speculum of the Other Woman.

Emphasis will be placed on the different images of thought at work in European philosophical texts, as well as on how differing approaches to metaphysics, ethics and politics are grounded in newly created perspectives.

Topics in Asian Philosophy

This module explores some of the major figures, texts, and schools of the philosophical traditions of India, China, and Japan. The Asian traditions address familiar philosophical themes - in ethics, epistemology, and aesthetics - but often approach them in ways that may seem unfamiliar. Studying them can challenge our culturally inherited presuppositions in instructive ways, as well as illuminating the history and current state of those cultures - an important thing in an age when many Westerners are ‘looking East’.

Topics may include:

  • Confucianism, Mohism, Daoism, and Hinduism
  • the Analects, Bhagavad Gita, and Zhuangzi
  • the relationship between morality and religion
  • etiquette, ethics and aesthetics
  • the nature of ultimate reality and the good life
  • the relation of Asian philosophies to the Western tradition
An Introduction to Metaethics

Metaethics is about how ethics works. It's not about judging whether something is morally good or bad in any particular instance but critiquing the foundations used to make the judgements. Some of the questions we might ask are:

  • Are there moral facts?
  • What is moral truth?
  • Do psychopaths really understand moral language?

Like many areas of philosophy metaethics has several branches and by the end of this module you'll be able to:

  • understand the main positions in contemporary metaethics
  • analyse and evaluate rival views on these topics

This module is worth 20 credits.

For a good pre-module introduction to the subject have a read of chapter six of Ethics for A level by Mark Dimmock and Andrew Fisher. It's an open-source resource so free to access.

Normative Ethics

We all have opinions about moral matters. But for most of us, our moral opinions are not very well-organised. Indeed, upon reflection we may discover that some of our beliefs about morality are inconsistent. One of the main projects of moral theorising 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. 

Freedom and Obligation
  • Are you obliged to obey the law even when you disagree with it?
  • What features must a state have in order to be legitimate?

In this module we will approach these classic questions of political philosophy by examining the work of a number of important past political philosophers. This might include Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau but this isn't a fixed list - it may vary according to particular issues and student input.

We will look at both:

  • why the thinkers' works have been open to different interpretations
  • evaluate their arguments under these different interpretations

This module is worth 20 credits.

Being, Becoming and Reality

We look at some fundamental metaphysical questions about the cosmos. A selection of the following topics will be studied:

  • Objects: concrete vs. abstract; existence and nothingness
  • Sets and mereology
  • Properties, Property bearers, Relations
  • States of affairs and non-mereological composition
  • Modality (including counterfactuals) and possible worlds
  • Time, persistence, change, and the non-present
Intermediate Logic

This module takes formal logic beyond the basics (as covered in first year Reasoning, Argument, and Logic). We’ll cover Propositional Logic, First-Order Logic, and Modal Logic (going into more detail where these were covered in first year).

We’ll learn about existence, identity, possibility, and necessity, and we’ll learn formal techniques for testing the validity of arguments. We’ll apply these logical techniques to help us make sense of challenging concepts and arguments in metaphysics and philosophy of language.

The above is a sample of the typical modules we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Modules (including methods of assessment) may change or be updated, or modules may be cancelled, over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for information on available modules. This content was last updated on

You again have free choice of modules, split equally across both subjects. The modules reflect the research expertise of your lecturers.

The dissertation module allows you write a longer piece of work on a topic of your own choosing, supported by a member of staff. This can focus on a single subject or combine both philosophy and music.

As in year two we also provide the option to take a module in another subject.

You must pass year three and it counts two thirds towards your final degree classification.

Optional music modules

Many year two modules are also offered as year three options.

Composition Portfolio

Develop your creative voice by composing at least 15 minutes of original music.

In this module, you will receive individual support in regular tutorials, alongside group sessions exploring different aspects of composition. You will also have the chance to work with a professional guest ensemble.

The module will culminate in a performance of your own work that you'll organise yourself.

Your compositions will be judged on both technical merit and originality.

By the end of the module you will have an advanced understanding of the practical realities of contemporary composition.

This module is worth 40 credits.

Dissertation or Editorial/Analytical Project

Your opportunity to pursue an extended individual project in the areas of musicology, analysis, or transcribing and editing.

The topic covered will be your choice and agreed before you start with the module convenor.

Supported through a series of seminars and tutorials, you'll demonstrate original research and critical thinking in producing a 8,000‒12,000 word written project (or equivalent).

You'll give a presentation on aspects of your project at a Finalists Conference and get additional on-the-spot feedback from staff and students

 

This module is worth 40 credits.

Music Production

Music production covers creation, performance, recording, mixing and delivery.

You’ll look at current production processes and explore:

  • artistic expression via musical direction and arrangements
  • factors affecting performance (such as acoustic environment)

Through examples and discussion you’ll assess the impact of the role of Producer and its application within various genres and fields of practice.

Specific topics you'll cover include:

  • Arrangement (linear and vertical)
  • Sonic, stylistic and artistic considerations
  • Microphones: types, polar patterns, theory and practical application of techniques
  • Recording media and considerations of their respective workflows
  • Signal path
  • Multi-track recording technique
  • Mixing: dynamics, EQ and FX; ITB and OTB
  • Mastering, files and formats: recording and delivery

Practical work will give you:

  • an understanding of demands and expectations of commercial project briefs
  • the capacity to produce creative product to a precise brief and deadline

This module is worth 20 credits.

Performance 3

Build on your performance skills developed in your second year.

You will work with a dedicated tutor, agreeing pieces to work on at the appropriate level.

Repertoire:

  • at least two items from DipLRSM level or equivalent (Trinity, Rockschool)

You will combine 20 hours of individual tuition with group masterclasses and workshops, and personal practice using our specialised facilities. Workshop topics covered will include rehearsal strategies, diversifying repertoire choices, musician’s wellbeing, and writing programme notes.

Final assessment is through an end of year recital and supporting programme notes, in which you will have the opportunity to work with a collaborative pianist, funded by the department.

This module is worth 40 credits.

Recording Studio Practice

The recording studio is one of the key spaces where technology and creative musical practice meet.

You'll develop professional skills in:

  • applications of microphones and their placement within a variety of acoustic spaces, and for a variety of instrumentation.
  • mixing techniques with reference to current standards
  • audio processing, signal paths and workflows
  • file-types applicable to recent trends in musical consumption

You'll work in small groups to allow you to specialise in techniques and styles for your particular music interests such as chamber music, jazz ensemble, rock or ethno-music groups.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Digital Composition

Develops core skills in digital composition.

Using Logic Pro software you'll gain professional technical skills in:

  • creation of sounds using synthesis
  • audio recording and sampling techniques
  • audio and MIDI programming and editing
  • scoring (inc. exporting to Sibelius)
  • mix techniques such as dynamic processing, time-based effects (reverb, modulation), equalisation and automation to attain width, height, space and depth
  • audio files and formats
  • mastering (metering, loudness)

As well as technical skills you'll also:

  • look across genres at how different techniques are used in particular settings
  • learn to work in a professional way using industry specific composition briefs.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Creative Orchestration
This module will introduce students to the art of writing for orchestral instruments including strings, woodwinds, brass, percussion and keyboard with some coverage of writing for popular instruments.
Composing for Words, Theatre and Moving Image

Get an introduction to composing music that responds to and interacts with work by non-musical artists.

By the end of the module you'll have composed two short pieces:

  • a choral work on an English-language text of your choice
  • a score for a short film clip

In past years, students have chosen a wide variety of texts for their choral compositions, from Romantic poetry to political speeches. Students have composed new scores for film clips from a range of films, from Dziga Vertov's pioneering Man With a Movie Camera to BBC nature documentaries.

For an example of the final work you might produce see this video - 'Apotheosis' by George Littlehales

This module is worth 20 credits.

Jazz: Origins and Styles

Jazz covers a multitude of styles from trad to free, plus any number of contemporary ‘fusions’.

We'll start by looking at its origins in ragtime and blues and then delve into a wide range of contrasting styles from 1917 to the present day. These might include:

  • New Orleans and Chicago ensemble jazz
  • Harlem stride piano
  • swing bands
  • be-bop and hard bop
  • the ‘cool’ school
  • modal jazz
  • free jazz
  • symphonic jazz
  • jazz-rock and other fusion styles

We'll also take a look at jazz film scores.

Throughout the module we'll explore cultural, racial, analytical and aesthetic issues at each stage in jazz's development.

 

This module is worth 20 credits.

Aesthetics of Music

Discussions of music have a long-established history of engaging with philosophical issues, while music has often challenged and shaped philosophical thought. This module introduces the student to relationships between the two disciplines and examines some of the crucial issues at stake.

The first half of the module will explore the foundations of modern aesthetics in the writings of enlightenment and nineteenth-century philosophers, including Kant, Hegel,Schopenhauer, and Nietzsche.

The second half will explore key twentieth-century contributions from thinkers including Adorno, Barthes and Lydia Goehr.

The module offers a variety of conceptual tools that will enable the student to develop critical and philosophical skills relevant for the historical and theoretical study of music.

Research Seminar: The Art of 18th-Century Performance - Improvisation

In the eighteenth century all professional musicians had to undergo an apprenticeship of up to 10 years, either with a family member or within a church school or orphanage (conservatoire). The first three years of training involved singing and imparted essential skills in performance, improvisation, and composition. After that, apprentices would specialise in either singing, composing, or playing an instrument. If they chose to play, then they would repeat the entire three years of rudiments upon their instrument (unless they chose the keyboard, which involved a different system called partimento). 

In this module, we will undertake the same real lessons of an eighteenth-century apprentice, both sung and played. Students should expect to participate in improvisations and sing or play in class. By the end students will be able to read 84 different staves fluently (7 clefs multiplied by 12 key signatures), improvise a stylish and correct melodic composition instantaneously, and perform scores in a novel yet historically authentic way. 

Research Seminar: Music and Environmentalism

This module aims to:

  • develop individual and group-based research skills in a specific field of study
  • undertake basic research efficiently and productively
  • develop promising lines of enquiry to an appropriate level of sophistication
  • develop an understanding of the potential social and environmental impact of music and musicology
The Hollywood Musical

Hollywood musicals have been hugely popular from the invention of “talkies” to the present day. But how are they different to musicals written for the stage?

We'll use a range of case studies, from The Jazz Singer (1927) to The Greatest Showman (2017), to consider specific issues such as:

  • theatricality and “backstage narratives”
  • star casting
  • dance on screen
  • the role of animation in developing the form.

You'll develop a broad knowledge of the:

  • range of musicals produced
  • key figures in their development
  • musicological debates around them.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Electroacoustic Composition
In this course, students will compose a portfolio of original electro-acoustic compositions for soloist and electronics that will be performed towards the conclusion of the module. The course will cover a range of contemporary music in the creation of a series of etudes in compositional areas that will encourage the development of current practice and an understanding of electroacoustic compositional ideas and related performance practice. It will establish a thorough technical base for future compositional output in a wide range of areas within fixed and live electroacoustic music that includes aspects synthesis, sampling, and computer music. The final submission will be judged on both technical merit and creativity. The goal of the module is for each student to develop a body of work expressive of their individual creative voice.
Music and Health

This module will address issues relevant for professional performing musicians including:

  • injury prevention and treatment
  • nutrition
  • exercise
  • integrative medicinal approaches.

We will explore research on topics such as:

  • healthy movement for musicians (including Tai Chi / Qi Gongand Yoga)
  • therapeutic approaches such as physiotherapy and Alexander Technique
  • the latest directions in working with performance anxiety and stage fright such as visualisation, mindfulness and “smart practice” methods as well as time and stress management.

Seminars will introduce readings on these topics supplemented by occasional guest lectures and practical activities, discussion and student presentations.

 

This module is worth 20 credits.

Performance V

To develop a capacity for instrumental or vocal performance normally well beyond Grade VIII standard and sufficient in some cases to enable further development towards a professional standard.

Performers may elect at the start of the module (and with the agreement of their teachers and the module convener) to be examined as duos, trios or quartets rather than as individual candidates.

The recital should usually include items selected from the appropriate syllabus of the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (http://www.abrsm.ac.uk/diplomas.html).

  • Instrumental recital: two items at LRSM level
  • Vocal recital: three items at LRSM level.
Approaches to Popular Music

Get a grounding in approaches to thinking and writing about popular music critically.

You'll cover a variety of perspectives and explore key issues in relation to featured songs, music videos and performers.

We'll ask fundamental questions about the contexts of popular music and their role in forming and responding to social and political issues. We'll also explore connections with other cultural traditions and artistic media.

Overall you will develop a sense of the richness and diversity of scholarly approaches to popular music in the Anglophone world.

 

This module is worth 20 credits.

Race and Music Theatre

You will examine the role of race in “music as drama”. Using critical race theory you'll explore issues of representation, agency, and identity in a safe, supportive and constructive environment. You will also begin to develop the connections between new musicology, theatre studies, and identity theory.

Examples will cover:

  • opera (for example Aida and Madama Butterfly)
  • musical theatre (for example Kiss Me, Kate, Hamilton, The Lion King)
  • plays with music (for example Morgan Lloyd Malcolm’s Emilia)

This module is worth 20 credits.

Analysing Early Music

This module introduces students to the analysis of European music to circa 1700, from the Ancient Greeks to the beginnings of the Baroque.

With the help of the latest scholarly conversations our classes will consider the challenges and possibilities of assessing style, structure and meaning in pre-modern musical repertories.

In particular, we will be thinking about:

  • musical traditions built upon different systems of pitch, tonality and rhythm
  • repertories that are partially notated, improvised or inherently variable in their transmission
  • the relationship between repertories and the writings of contemporary theorists
  • whether or not analysis can disclose musical meanings (hermeneutics).

Although Western Europe is our focus, the issues encountered in this course also readily pertain to popular repertories, and to musical cultures worldwide.

The Social Life of Scores

This module looks at musical scores as material (or virtual) objects, from the earliest medieval songbooks to IMSLP and the PDF, via five centuries of music printing.

With attention to objects in the Nottingham library collections, as well as famous items online and in facsimile, we will be asking what do scores tell us about their makers, their owners and their users?

Classes will think about matters including literacy, musical interpretation and cultural memory, as well as intersections between music books and race, gender, power and social class.

Optional Philosophy modules

Advanced Logic

This module investigates different kinds of contemporary logic, as well as their uses in philosophy. We will investigate the syntax and semantics of various logics, including first order logic, modal logics, and three-valued logics, as well as ways to apply formal techniques from these logics to philosophical topics such as possibility and necessity, vagueness, and the Liar paradox.

We’ll cover ways to reason and construct proofs using the logics we study, and also ways to reason about them. We’ll look at proofs regarding the limits of formal logic, including proofs of soundness, completeness, and decidability.

Buddhist Philosophy

This 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).

Communicating Philosophy

This module will teach you 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, webpages, funding bids and posters (with optional presentations).

A number of the sessions will be delivered by professionals from outside the university, with support from the module convener. Seminars will be used to develop each of the items for assessment. You will be invited to draw upon your prior philosophical learning to generate your assessments, except in the case of handout where you will be set a specific philosophical task and asked to complete some (very basic) independent research.

Dissertation in Philosophy

The aim of this module is to provide you 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.

Free Will and Action

This module involves the study of a set of related issues concerning the nature and explanation of action and the requirements for free action and free will. Questions to be discussed are likely to include all or most of the following:

  • What would it take for an action to be free (or an exercise of ‘free will’) in a sense that would make it an action for which we are morally responsible?
  • 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?
  • And what about the fact that at least some of our actions seem to have purely physical causes?
  • If they do, doesn’t this make any ‘mental causes’ of those actions redundant?
  • 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?
Marx

Karl Marx's thoughts and words have had an enormous impact on history. Revolutions have been fought, economic policies pursued and artistic movements established by followers (and opponents) of Marxism.

Together we'll examine some of Mark's original writing and explore his thinking. Specific themes we'll cover include:

  • alienation
  • the materialist conception of history
  • ideology
  • the labour theory of value

By the end of the module you should have a good overview of Marx's attempt to synthesise German philosophy, French political theory, and British economics.

This module is worth 20 credits.

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. This power relationship raises a host of important philosophical questions, such as:

  • 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?
  • Is criminal punishment justified? If so, why?
  • What is the proper role for the presumption of innocence: Who must presume whom to be innocent of what? 
  • 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?

We'll look at thinking from across history, from seminal figures such as Plato, Bentham, and Kant, to more contemporary philosophers such as Hart, Hampton, Duff, and others.

No experience of criminal law necessary. Ideal for both philosophers and practitioners.

 

This module is worth 20 credits.

Taking Utilitarianism Seriously

This module is an extended discussion of utilitarian approaches to moral and political philosophy, including utilitarian accounts of:

  • the nature of wellbeing
  • reasons and rightness
  • rights and justice
  • democracy
  • individual decision-making
  • praise and blame
Philosophy and Mortality

This module explores philosophical issues related to human mortality - illness, ageing, death and dying, and other dimensions of our embodied vulnerability. Typical topics might include:

  • the phenomenology of chronic somatic illness
  • psychiatry and mental health
  • the oppression of ill persons
  • the nature and practice of pathography (narrative accounts of the lived experience of illness)
  • the social experiences of ill persons
  • the moral and spiritual significance of illness and ageing
  • anti-natalism
  • the experience of dying
  • empathy, grief, and mourning
  • death and the meaning of life
  • the significance of human mortality to wider philosophical issues and concerns

By the end of the module, you should be able to identify and articulate the ethical and existential significance of various experiences of human mortality; to employ a range of different methods and approaches to understanding those experiences; and to think sensitively and humanely about human experiences of ageing, illness, and dying.

Environmental Ethics

In this module we'll ask questions like:

  • How should human beings interact with the non-human natural world?
  • Is nature intrinsically valuable, or does it possess value only by being valuable to us?

As part of this we'll cover topics such as:

  • the moral status of animals
  • the ethics of zoos
  • responsibility for climate change
  • whether there is any connection between the twin oppressions of women and nature
  • the environmental impact of having children
  • the ethics of restoring nature after it has been damaged by human development

This module is worth 20 credits.

Advanced Topics in the Philosophy of Mind

The philosophy of mind addresses philosophical questions about the mind and aspects of the mind: mental or psychological states and capacities. Advanced topics in the philosophy of mind will focus on a specific area (or areas) of the philosophy of mind.

Which specific area (or areas) of philosophy of mind is in focus may vary from year to year. So the topics for this area of philosophy of mind may include:

  • the nature of perception
  • the nature of perceptual consciousness
  • the directness or indirectness of perception
  • the perception-knowledge link
  • what properties or kinds perception can present
  • issues about the senses
  • specific issues about vision and audition
Advanced Topics in Aesthetics

This module is a discussion of some philosophical problems pertaining to art. Topics could include definitions of art, the objectivity versus the subjectivity of aesthetic evaluations, emotional response to art, the ontological status of artworks, and Walton's theory of make-believe.

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 the status of aesthetic evaluations, and to present the main contemporary viewpoints pertaining to the nature of artworks.

Language, Metaphysics, and Metametaphysics

Typically, this module introduces you to some advanced topics in contemporary analytic metaphysics. The module focuses on important topics, which have received recent attention. The topics covered will include:

  • metaphysical nihilism (why there is something rather than nothing, and the subtraction argument)
  • causation (the counterfactual theory and other accounts)
  • the metaphysics of grounding (and concerns with such a notion)
  • the metaphysics of absolute and relational space and time, and vagueness and indeterminacy

The module presupposes a certain basic familiarity with general issues in metaphysics and the philosophy of language, but is designed to serve as an advanced introduction to new topics that is completely accessible to the uninitiated.

Knowledge, Ignorance and Democracy

Politics and truth have always had a complicated relationship. Lies, bullshit, spin, and propaganda are nothing new.

Polarization is on the rise in many democracies and political disagreements have spread to disputes about obvious matters of fact.

But have we really entered the era of 'post-truth' politics? Is debate now framed largely by appeals to emotion disconnected from the facts?

In this module, we'll explore questions such as:

  • Should the existence of widespread disagreement in politics make us less confident in our own views?
  • Are voters morally or epistemically obligated to vote responsibly?
  • Is it rational for citizens to base their political views on group identity rather than reasoned arguments?
  • Should we have beliefs about complex policy questions about which we are not experts?
  • Is democracy the best form of government for getting at the truth?

 

This module is worth 20 credits.

Subjectivism and Relativism in Ethics

One often hears the opinion that ethics is subjective. But what does this mean, exactly?

And one often hears the view that ethics is relative. But relative to what?

And what is ‘ethics’ anyway?

And if ethics is subjective, or relative, what does that mean for ethics as a discipline? Does it mean, for example, that our ethical pronouncements can never be incorrect, never be challenged, or never disagreed with?

This module addresses these and other questions about the foundations of ethics, and gives you the material to develop your own views of this peculiarly human phenomenon.

Philosophy of Education

Education plays a fundamental part in all our lives. It shapes who we are as individuals, our value systems, our political and religious outlooks. As a consequence it changes how society looks, how it operates, and what we think society ought to be like. Education then, is of the most profound importance.

As philosophers we are uniquely placed to think long and hard about education:

  • what is its role?
  • what should its role be?
  • who gets to decide what is taught?

Rising to this challenge this module creates the space, and provides the tools, for you to do just this.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Philosophy of Recreation

We expect recompense when we work but appear to do recreational activities just for their own sake.

You'll use philosophical tools to examine the meaning and value of such recreational activities, exploring questions such as:

  • Is recreational sex and drug consumption merely about pleasurable sensations?
  • Why do we put such great effort into achieving seemingly arbitrary goals in sport?
  • Does it make sense for fans to feel elated if they played no part in a team’s success?
  • Is there something special about being in a zone of effortless attention whilst playing an instrument?
  • Could risking death seeking sensations of the sublime by climbing a mountain be better than safely siting on your sofa watching trash tv?
Philosophy of Sex
  • How many people have you had sex with?
  • Is there a difference between sex work and working in a supermarket?
  • What is love? Do we chose who we love?
  • What is gender? What do we mean when we say 'trans women are women'?

These are some of the many philosophical questions which arise when you start thinking about sex and related topics.

During this module we will tackle the conceptual, moral, political, and metaphysical issues raised by sexual activity. Possible topics we'll look at include:

  • the nature of sexual desire
  • sexual consent
  • sexual objectification
  • prostitution
  • pornography
  • sexual orientation

Together we'll look at the experiences and testimony of a variety of groups, including those considered sexual and gender minorities. Then we'll use philosophical tools to explore the issues that such testimony raises.

This module is worth 20 credits.

The above is a sample of the typical modules we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Modules (including methods of assessment) may change or be updated, or modules may be cancelled, over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for information on available modules. This content was last updated on

We're keen to offer you the opportunity to develop your language skills while studying here.

You can learn a language for its own sake or because it complements your degree or intended career.

We cater for all levels - from complete beginners to near-native competence.

There are currently nine language options available.

Check out the Language Centre for more information

Fees and funding

UK students

£9,250
Per year

International students

To be confirmed in 2021*
Keep checking back for more information
*For full details including fees for part-time students and reduced fees during your time studying abroad or on placement (where applicable), see our fees page.

If you are a student from the EU, EEA or Switzerland starting your course in the 2022/23 academic year, you will pay international tuition fees.

This does not apply to Irish students, who will be charged tuition fees at the same rate as UK students. UK nationals living in the EU, EEA and Switzerland will also continue to be eligible for ‘home’ fee status at UK universities until 31 December 2027.

For further guidance, check our Brexit information for future students.

Additional costs

Essential course materials are supplied.

Music performance modules

Some tuition and accompaniment is provided within the course tuition fees. If you elect to have extra tuition or accompaniment, this will be at an additional cost. You may also need to purchase sheet music where this is not provided in the Denis Arnold Music Library.

Books

You'll be able to access most of the books you’ll need through our libraries, though you may wish to buy your own copies of core texts.

A limited number of modules have compulsory texts which you are required to buy.

We recommend that you budget £100 per year for books, but this figure will vary according to which modules you take.

The Blackwell's bookshop on campus offers a year-round price match against any of the main retailers (for example Amazon, Waterstones, WH Smith). They also offer second-hand books, as students from previous years sell their copies back to the bookshop.

Volunteering and placements

For volunteering and placements, such as work experience and teaching in schools, you will need to pay for transport and refreshments.

Scholarships and bursaries

For each assessed recital performance, students will receive a bursary to support practice with an approved accompanist.

Scholarships from local churches are available to some students who sing in choirs or play the organ.

The University of Nottingham offers a wide range of bursaries and scholarships. These funds can provide you with an additional source of non-repayable financial help. For up-to-date information regarding tuition fees, visit our fees and finance pages.

Home students*

Over one third of our UK students receive our means-tested core bursary, worth up to £1,000 a year. Full details can be found on our financial support pages.

* A 'home' student is one who meets certain UK residence criteria. These are the same criteria as apply to eligibility for home funding from Student Finance.

International students

We offer a range of international undergraduate scholarships for high-achieving international scholars who can put their Nottingham degree to great use in their careers.

International scholarships

Careers

This joint honours degree can help you get started in a particular career. It can also open the door to a wide range of professions!

You'll develop key skills in:

  • analytical reasoning
  • articulating complex arguments and lines of reasoning
  • constructive criticism and reflection
  • presenting and persuading
  • creativity and innovation
  • independence and collaboration
  • planning and organising

The skills you develop will make you:

  • resilient - as the nature of work changes you can adapt
  • flexible - you can choose across different sectors as you develop and grow and opportunities arise

Recent music graduates have gone to work at:

  • the BBC
  • London Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Boosey and Hawkes
  • Harrison Parrott Artist Management
  • Oxford University Press Music
  • Blackheath Halls

Many have also gained employment in:

  • businesses such as KPMG, Deloitte UK, PwC, Deutsche Bank, Charles Russell LLP, Citigroup, Christie's
  • education and other public sector organisations including King’s College London, Arts Council England, Royal College of Music and schools across the country

Find out more about opportunities for our Music students.

Our philosophy graduates are equipped for a diverse range of jobs in law, politics, the media, education, the charity sector, business, management, the arts – to name just a few. We also have a good record of our undergraduates progressing to Masters and PhD study.

Find out more about opportunities for our Philosophy students.

Key fact

Only 14% of employers state that specific degree subjects are a selection criterion. (Institute of Student Employers recruitment survey 2019)

Average starting salary and career progression

75% of undergraduates from the Department of Music secured graduate level employment or further study within 15 months of graduation. The average annual salary was £21,038.*

*HESA Graduate Outcomes 2020. The Graduate Outcomes % is derived using The Guardian University Guide methodology. The average annual salary is based on graduates working full-time within the UK.

78.9% of undergraduates from the Department of Philosophy secured graduate level employment or further study within 15 months of graduation. The average annual salary was £22,390.*

*HESA Graduate Outcomes 2020. The Graduate Outcomes % is derived using The Guardian University Guide methodology. The average annual salary is based on graduates working full-time within the UK.

Studying for a degree at the University of Nottingham will provide you with the type of skills and experiences that will prove invaluable in any career, whichever direction you decide to take.

Throughout your time with us, our Careers and Employability Service can work with you to improve your employability skills even further; assisting with job or course applications, searching for appropriate work experience placements and hosting events to bring you closer to a wide range of prospective employers.

Have a look at our careers page for an overview of all the employability support and opportunities that we provide to current students.

The University of Nottingham is consistently named as one of the most targeted universities by Britain’s leading graduate employers (Ranked in the top ten in The Graduate Market in 2013-2020, High Fliers Research).

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" Studying music and philosophy at Nottingham opened up opportunities for learning which I never expected. The enthusiasm and friendliness of the lecturers enabled me to gain the richest understanding of every topic. "
Alice Roberts BA Music and Philosophy

Related courses

The University has been awarded Gold for outstanding teaching and learning

Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) 2017-18

Important information

This online prospectus has been drafted in advance of the academic year to which it applies. Every effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content) are likely to occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for the course where there has been an interval between you reading this website and applying.