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Unit information: Aesthetics and Criticism in 2021/22

Unit name Aesthetics and Criticism
Unit code MUSI30029
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Scheding
Open unit status Not open

This unit is normally only available to students registered on a Single or Joint Honours Music programme



School/department Department of Music
Faculty Faculty of Arts


This unit introduces certain central concepts within music aesthetics through close reading of selected texts. These concepts will include theories of imitation (mimesis), expression and form, concepts of musical time, classifications of art and the phenomenology of musical works. Both topical and historical perspectives will be invoked. The texts will be drawn mainly from classical thought (Aristotle, Plato), 18th- and 19th-century German philosophy (Kant, Hegel, Schopenhauer), and 20th-century critical theory (Adorno, Barthes).


This unit aims to introduce students to the sometimes complex aesthetic contexts within which music was situated during the later eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It will focus on key problematics such as the concept of an art-work in music, formation of judgements, the nature and status of instrumental music, the emergence of romanticism, usage of music, authorship and readership, and the role of the creative artist in society.

Intended learning outcomes

Successful completion of this unit will enable students to:

  1. comment in detail on the main issues involved in music aesthetics
  2. comment in an informed way on certain key aesthetic texts and their premises
  3. discuss a range of aesthetic issues touching on music, and relate to other art forms
  4. develop and demonstrate a questioning approach to musicology gained through the study of philosophical writings about music and musical meaning
  5. develop and demonstrate a sophisticated critical awareness

Teaching details

Teaching will be delivered through a combination of synchronous and asynchronous sessions, including lectures and self-directed exercises.

Assessment Details

Five 500-word blogposts corresponding to specific classes, of which three are self-selected for marking (50%, ILOs1-5) and one 2500-word individual project on an approved topic (50%; ILOs 1-5).


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. MUSI30029).