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Music Across the Lifespan 1: Early Childhood & Special Education - MUS00081M

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  • Department: Music
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Caroline Waddington-Jones
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2023-24
    • See module specification for other years: 2022-23

Module summary

This module combines practical facilitation skills with learning theories. It explores current research and practice surrounding teaching music to pupils with complex needs and children in the early years. You will learn how to plan, facilitate and assess effective and inclusive learning activities for these pupils.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Semester 1 2023-24

Module aims

The module explores current research around how pupils in the earliest stages of musical development, specifically pupils with complex needs and children in the early years, learn and engage with music. You will develop an understanding of the principles of inclusive music education and the social model of disability in relation to teaching disabled learners. Students gain knowledge of effective teaching materials, different ways of approaching and facilitating music education in early childhood, and an understanding of professional ethics and concerns; you also develop reflective skills both verbally and in written form.

Module learning outcomes

On completion of the module, you will be able to:

  • Identify contexts for teaching disabled pupils and pupils in the early years and understand professional concerns and obligations

  • Recognise how individuals in these early stages of development may learn, and apply understanding of learning theories in their own teaching practice in different learning environments

  • Plan, facilitate and assess effective learning activities for pupils in the early stages of musical development

  • Plan, facilitate and assess effective learning activities for learners with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND)

  • Articulate understanding of the pupil-teacher-parent relationship for SEND and early years contexts

  • Apply technology to enhance learning for pupils in the earliest stages of musical development and in SEND contexts

  • Articulate critical insight into recent research in the subject in written form, demonstrating the ability to critically appraise and convey relevant ideas

Other learning outcomes

  • Develop the quality of academic work, for example, through understanding and applying study skills, referencing, structuring and presenting ideas in written form

Module content

Module Syllabus (indicative)

  • How do we learn?

  • Infants’ musical worlds

  • Children as little scientists

  • Learning from and with others

  • Learners with additional needs

  • Multisensory learning

  • Technology for music learning

  • Approaches to supporting early music learning


Task Length % of module mark
Essay Title to be agreed with module tutor
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Essay Title to be agreed with module tutor
N/A 100

Module feedback

You will receive written feedback in line with standard University turnaround times.

Indicative reading

Barrett, M. S. (2009). Sounding lives in and through music: A narrative inquiry of the “everyday” musical engagement of a young child. Journal of Early Childhood Research, 7(2), 115–134.

Barrett, M. & Welch, G. (Eds.) (2021). The Oxford Handbook of Early Childhood Music Learning and Development. Oxford University Press

Hargreaves, D., & Lamont, A. (2017). The psychology of musical development. Cambridge University Press.

Huhtinen-Hilden, L., & Pitt, J. (2018). Taking a learner-centred approach to music education: Pedagogical pathways. Routledge.

Illeris, K. (2009). Contemporary theories of learning: Learning theorists in their own words. Routledge.

Jellison, J. (2018). Inclusive music classrooms and programs. In G. McPherson and G. F. Welch (Eds.), Special needs, community music and adult learning: An Oxford handbook of music education (pp. 63–79). Oxford University Press.

Juntunen, M-L. (2021). Ways to enhance embodied learning in Dalcroze-inspired music education. International Journal of Music in Early Childhood, 15(1), 39 - 59.

Malloch, S. & Trevarthen, C. (2009). Communicative musicality: Exploring the basis of human companionship. Oxford University Press.

Ockelford, A. (2008). Music for children and young people with complex needs. Oxford University Press.

Voyajolou, A., & Ockelford, A. (2016). Sounds of Intent in the Early Years: A proposed framework of young children’s musical development. Research Studies in Music Education, 38(1),

Young, S., & Ilari, B. (Eds.)(2020). Music in early childhood: Multidisciplinary perspectives and interdisciplinary exchanges. Springer.

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.