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Unit information: Art and Music in the Medieval West in 2021/22

Unit name Art and Music in the Medieval West
Unit code MUSI20129
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Professor. Hornby
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Music
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

There has always been a close relationship between music and the visual arts --- from the design of musical instruments and of the costumes and settings in which music is performed to the larger cultural interests expressed in both media. This unit explores the marriage of visual arts and music in the medieval period. Students will be encouraged to engage with the material and visual evidence base pertaining to medieval music, and to appreciate the sonic environment in which medieval art was originally experienced. We will discuss the representation of music and musicians in medieval art, the presence of art in musical manuscripts, the influence of visual arts and theories on medieval music and musicology, and the simultaneous experience of art and music in medieval settings. Through a series of collaborative case studies, students will develop their skills in interdisciplinary investigation of materials that are culturally distant from us.

This unit aims:

  • to expand the breadth of the students’ historical knowledge in the fields of both medieval music and visual arts
  • to comment accurately and perceptively on matters of visual and musical interpretation
  • to develop their ability to assemble and assimilate information from a wide variety of sources including those from diverse disciplines
  • to engage in critical evaluation of texts about music and visual arts, including texts that engage with both disciplines
  • to develop effective and detailed arguments, both orally and in writing to display competence in the practices, processes, techniques and methodologies that underpin the study of music, art and culture

Intended Learning Outcomes

At the end of the unit, students will be able to demonstrate:

1. knowledge and understanding of specific musical pieces and works of art from the middle ages studied in class, from a variety of methodological perspectives (interdisciplinary, analytical, style-historical, notational, cultural)

2. knowledge and understanding of related works of music and art, including selected case studies studied independently

3. knowledge and understanding of scholarly debates involving the arts and the medieval period

4. collaborative working with other students, engaging with their ideas.

5. the ability to describe complexities and argue effectively in a variety of written formats

Teaching Information

11x2 hour lectures for the whole cohort

11x1 hour of asynchronous materials for the whole cohort (including guided listening, reading and engagement with art works)

Assessment Information

1x2500-word essay (50%). This will be an opportunity to demonstrate learning outcome (1) and (5) as well as (2) in light of (3).

Individual workfile (50%). This consists of blog entries for any four weeks of the course, summarising the key points of the material encountered in pre-class reading and responding to it critically, or undertaking analysis of case study primary material. Students will post their entries on a course blog. Students submit 4 weekly posts (up to 900 words each) out of a possible five blogpost options; the best three marks of these four posts will count towards the unit mark (17% of the unit mark each). The students will also make comments on other students’ posts (totalling 900 words; credit points only). The workfile will demonstrate the learning outcomes (1), (3) and (4).


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. MUSI20129).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.