MUSA231-23S1 (C) Semester One 2023

Western Music of Past Ages

15 points

Start Date: Monday, 20 February 2023
End Date: Sunday, 25 June 2023
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 5 March 2023
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Sunday, 14 May 2023


This course fosters students' understanding of music in the Western classical tradition, including chamber music, orchestral music, church music, and opera. Students will gain an appreciation of musical style, national identity, and the relationship between music, society, and culture.

This course combines western music history with a focus on the relationship between music and ideas, and especially ideas related to change, radicalism and revolution.  Drawing mainly on case studies from music history between the late 18th and early 20th centuries, we explore topics such as the roots and nature of musical romanticism, nationalism, the cult of the personality, exoticism, and early musical modernism.  In doing so we see how the practices, ideas and values of these case studies have shaped and help inform our attitudes to music in the present day.

MUSA231 is one of a series of courses relating periods of music history to key themes with contemporary relevance.  The others are MUSA237/337 Music in Context: Church, State, Community,  focusing on the relationship between music and institutions of patronage from the 12th to early 18th centuries, and MUSA234/334 Contemporary Music, exploring the roots of the contemporary musical situation in  developments since the first world war.  In all these courses although we will sometimes refer to music theory and notation, it is possible to complete the course and get 100% in the assessments without prior knowledge of this.

Learning Outcomes

  • Be familiar with and able to describe significant aspects of western music and its reception between the 18th and early 20th centuries.
  • Be able to relate these developments to their economic, social, ideological and/or cultural context.
  • Have a critical understanding of methods, approaches and live issues in music historical research.
  • Be able to use and evaluate primary source documents relevant to musicological research.
  • Possess advanced skills in using library and information resources related to musicology, including library databases, bibliographic tools, scholarly editions, and electronic resources.
  • Be able to demonstrate advanced oral and written communication skills, including language appropriate for scholarly communication.
  • Be able to demonstrate independence in research, argument and analysis of relevant case studies.
  • Have a professional attitude to research and to the dissemination and public discussion of music history and musical culture.
    • University Graduate Attributes

      This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attributes specified below:

      Critically competent in a core academic discipline of their award

      Students know and can critically evaluate and, where applicable, apply this knowledge to topics/issues within their majoring subject.

      Employable, innovative and enterprising

      Students will develop key skills and attributes sought by employers that can be used in a range of applications.

      Globally aware

      Students will comprehend the influence of global conditions on their discipline and will be competent in engaging with global and multi-cultural contexts.


MUSA131 or MUSA132, or
60 points at 100 level from the Schedule V of the MusB or Schedule V of the BA.


Course Coordinator

Jonathan Le Cocq


Assessment Due Date Percentage 
Programme Note/Podcast assignment 25%
Essay 30%
Contribution to Tutorials 15%
Final Exam 30%

Please check the course LEARN page for further details and updates.

Textbooks / Resources

There is no set text for this course.  Weekly readings will be available on the LEARN site.  Useful background reading is:  Peter Burkholder, Claude Palisca, and Donald Jay Grout, A History of Western Music, 9th edn (New York: Norton, 2014).

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $916.00

International fee $4,488.00

* All fees are inclusive of NZ GST or any equivalent overseas tax, and do not include any programme level discount or additional course-related expenses.

For further information see Humanities .

All MUSA231 Occurrences

  • MUSA231-23S1 (C) Semester One 2023