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Music Perception & Critical Listening - ELE00073M

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  • Department: Electronic Engineering
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Helena Daffern
  • Credit value: 10 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2019-20

Module summary


This module considers the perception of music, critical listening and the technical elements of audio and music technology within a higher level musical context. The course provides an introduction to several different topics, approaches, and theories of music perception, including theories of nature / nurture and enculturation. This module gives students the chance to challenge conceptions about music perception and how current theories align with their practical understanding of audio and music technology,  engaging in debate about the interpretation of current research approaches and findings that are both empirical and descriptive.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Spring Term 2019-20

Module aims

Subject content aims:

  • The aim of this module is to develop students' critical listening skills in order to relate perceptual aspects of audio and music technology to theoretical concepts from acoustics and psychoacouatics
  • The module will be taught through a series of practical workshops with the aim of engaging students in practical listening skills, critical evaluation of sound/audio, and a hands-on exploration of musical structure/content as it relates to audio and acoustics.
  • The module will introduce students to current issues in the area of music perception and develop skills for critical evaluation of current research and methodologies.

Graduate skills aims:

  • Group learning
  • Autonomous task planning and implementation
  • Analytical skills
  • Collate and summarise data from a variety of sources

Module learning outcomes

Subject content learning outcomes

After successful completion of this module, students will be able to:

  • Describe rhythm, tempo, pulse, melody, harmony, voice leading, dissonance and consonance, timbre, repetition and change, musical forms, textures and stylistic characteristics of different musical/compositional styles both in terms of musical structure and psychoacoustic underpinning.
  • Explain and summarise tuning systems and temperaments
  • Recognise a variety of musical genres and describe the similarities/distinctions between them
  • Summarise historical and modern approaches to soundscapes.


Graduate skills learning outcomes

After successful completion of this module, students will be able to:

  • Develop and apply critical listening skills to a variety of music and audio content
  • Produce and evaluate a number of audio examples to illustrate a topic related to auditory perception or musical structure.
  • Produce a written piece of critical evaluation of a portfolio of chosen music or sound art.


Task Length % of module mark
Departmental - aural assessment
N/A 15
Critical Analysis Portfolio
N/A 85

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Reassessment: Critical Analysis Portfolio
N/A 100

Module feedback

'Feedback’ at a university level can be understood as any part of the learning process which is designed to guide your progress through your degree programme. We aim to help you reflect on your own learning and help you feel more clear about your progress through clarifying what is expected of you in both formative and summative assessments. A comprehensive guide to feedback and to forms of feedback is available in the Guide to Assessment Standards, Marking and Feedback. This can be found at The Department of Electronic Engineering aims to provide some form of feedback on all formative and summative assessments that are carried out during the degree programme. In general, feedback on any written work/assignments undertaken will be sufficient so as to indicate the nature of the changes needed in order to improve the work. Students are provided with their examination results within 20 working days of the end of any given examination period. The Department will also endeavour to return all coursework feedback within 20 working days of the submission deadline. The Department would normally expect to adhere to the times given, however, it is possible that exceptional circumstances may delay feedback. The Department will endeavour to keep such delays to a minimum. Please note that any marks released are subject to ratification by the Board of Examiners and Senate. Meetings at the start/end of each term provide you with an opportunity to discuss and reflect with your supervisor on your overall performance to date.

Indicative reading

Howard DM and Angus JAS, (2009). Acoustics and psychoacoustics, 4th Ed., Oxford: Focal Press.

N Zacharov, S ¸ren Bech, (2006) The Perceptual Audio Evaluation: Theory, Method and Application, Wiley- Blackwell, ISBN-10: 0470869232

In addition a module web-page will be produced giving links to online resources.

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.