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Unit information: Critical Analysis of Media Music in 2019/20

Please note: Due to alternative arrangements for teaching and assessment in place from 18 March 2020 to mitigate against the restrictions in place due to COVID-19, information shown for 2019/20 may not always be accurate.

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Critical Analysis of Media Music
Unit code MUSIM0020
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Heldt
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Music
Faculty Faculty of Arts


The unit is designed to introduce students to different theoretical perspectives for looking at music in screen-media texts, and to the choice of different analytical tools and methods, depending on the features of the screen-media texts and the music in question.
The unit introduces the students to characteristic examples from different periods of the history of film, television and the internet, from silent cinema to recent Youtube clips, including original as well as pre-existing music, and to appropriate theoretical frameworks (including narrative theory, semiotics, genre theory, critical theory) and analytical methods to adequately understand and describe different aspects of screen-media music, and the relationship between the modes of production and consumption of screen-media texts and their music.

The unit also aims to equip students to discuss music in screen-media texts in a variety of formats: in classroom discussion, in academic writing, and in the audiovisual form of a video essay.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:

1. understand and critically discuss a range of theoretical approaches to music in screen-media texts with regard to their disciplinary origins, conceptual foundations and potential analytical usefulness;
2. analyse music in screen-media texts from a variety of theoretical perspectives, and apply terms and concepts from different theories appropriately;
3. discuss different screen-media music practices and aesthetics in relation to modes of media production and consumption and to related aspects of cultural history;
4. apply verbal and non-verbal (e.g. graphic) techniques to represent features of screen-media music in a given text;
5. provide insight into music in screen-media text in audiovisual form.

Teaching details

11 two-hour classes

Assessment Details

1. A video essay of up to 10 minutes on an aspect of music in one or more screen-media texts (30% of the unit mark). The video essay will allow students to demonstrate learning outcomes 1-3 and 5.

2. A coursework essay on the music in a screen-media text (4,000 words; 70% of the unit mark). The essay will allow students to demonstrate learning outcomes 1-4.

Reading and References

1. James Buhler: Theories of the Soundtrack. New York: Oxford University Press, 2019.
2. James Buhler & David Neumeyer: Hearing the Movies. Music and Sound in Film History. New York & Oxford: Oxford University Press, 22016.
3. Michel Chion: Film, a Sound Art (trans. C. Gorbman). New York: Columbia University Press, 2009 (orig. Art sonore, le cinéma, Paris 2003).
4. Mervyn Cooke: A History of Film Music. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008.
5. Jonathan Godsall: Reeled In. Pre-existing Music in Narrative Film. London & New York: Routledge, 2018.
6. Guido Heldt: Music and Levels of Narration in Film. Steps across the Border. Bristol& Chicago: Intellect, 2013.