Accessibility statement

Music & Human Flourishing - MUS00082M

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  • Department: Music
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Andrea Schiavio
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2024-25

Module summary

This module explores recent interdisciplinary literature that seeks to understand why music can be meaningful for our lives. By focusing on musical learning and performance – studying music as something people do and experience contextually - the module will help you to become familiar with a broad range of issues associated with emotions, culture, embodiment, well-being, empathy, communication, and self-realization through music across the life span.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 2 2024-25

Module aims

In general terms, human flourishing describes the condition of cultivating a life of fulfilment, enrichment, value and social participation. The module delves into a rich body of research in music and the cognitive humanities concerned with how different forms of musical engagement can support flourishing across the life span, benefitting at the same time ourselves and the cultural community in which we are situated. You will be exposed to recent approaches to musical emotion, embodiment, well-being, communication, and empathy, and will be encouraged to reflect on your own musical experiences and your individual and societal benefits. By providing an in-depth look into how multiple musical activities can be understood as central to our lives, the module will help you develop integrative thinking and self-reflection, discover the links between musical participation, cognition and meaning-making, and explore music’s unique potential to foster positive transformation and self-realization from childhood to adulthood.

Module learning outcomes

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

  • identify the main dimensions of human flourishing through music and its practices

  • articulate a personal vision on human flourishing and musical meaning-making

  • examine possibilities to facilitate flourishing in a rich variety of musical contexts

  • enhance critical thinking abilities through analysis of written material and discussion

  • become familiar with relevant literature and discover suitable additional readings that can be discussed critically in the context of your own choice of essay topic

  • improve the ability to integrate knowledge across complementary scholarly areas as evidenced in a piece of critical writing prepared for assessment purposes


Task Length % of module mark
N/A 100
Research project proposal
N/A 0
Oral presentation/seminar/exam
Mock PhD interview based on research proposal
N/A 0

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
N/A 100

Module feedback

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

Indicative reading

Carlson, L. (2015). Music, intellectual disability, and human flourishing. In B. Howe, S. Jensen-Moulton, N. Lerner, and J. Straus (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of music and disability studies, (37–53). Oxford University Press.

DeNora, T. (2000). Music in everyday life. Cambridge University Press. (selected chapters).

Hallam, S. (2010). The power of music: Its impact on the intellectual, social and personal development of children and young people. International Journal of Music Education, 28(3), 269–289.

Hays, T., & Minichiello, V. (2005). The meaning of music in the lives of older people: A qualitative study. Psychology of Music, 33(4), 437–451.

Huron, D. (2001). Is music an evolutionary adaptation? Annals of the New York Academy of

Sciences, 930(1), 43–61.

Joseph, S. (Ed. 2015). Positive psychology in practice. Promoting human flourishing in health, education, and everyday life (2nd ed.) John Wiley & Sons, Inc. (selected chapters).

MacDonald, R., Kreutz, G., & Mitchell, L. (Eds., 2012). Music, health, and wellbeing. Oxford University Press. (selected chapters).

Malloch, S. & Trevarthen, C. (2018) The human nature of music. Frontiers in Psychology, 9: 1680. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01680.

North, A.C., Hargreaves, D.J., & O’Neill, S. (2000). The importance of music to adolescents. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 70, 255–272.

O’Neill, S. (2016). Transformative music engagement and musical flourishing. In G. McPherson (Ed.), The child as musician: A handbook of musical development (2nd ed., pp. 606–625). Oxford University Press.

Schiavio, A., Ryan, K., Moran, N., van der Schyff, D., & Gallagher, S. (in press). By myself but not alone. Agency, creativity, and extended musical historicity. Journal of the Royal Musical Association

Schiavio, A., Moran, N., van der Schyff, D., Biasutti, M., & Parncutt, R. (2020). Processes and experiences of creative cognition in seven Western classical composers. Musicae Scientiae, online first.

Schiavio, A., van der Schyff, D., Gande, A., & Kruse-Weber, S. (2019). Negotiating individuality and collectivity in community music. A qualitative case study. Psychology of Music, 47(5), 706-721. doi: 10.1177/0305735618775806.

Small, C. (1998). Musicking: The meaning of performing and listening. Wesleyan University Press. (selected chapters).

Smith, G.D., & Silverman, M. (Eds., 2020). Eudaimonia. Perspectives for music learning. Routledge. (selected chapters).

Van der Schyff, D., Schiavio, A., & Elliott, D.J. (2022). Musical bodies, musical minds. Enactive cognitive science and the meaning of human musicality. MIT Press. (selected chapters).

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.