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Philosophy & Psychology of Music Education - MUS00083M

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  • Department: Music
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Andrea Schiavio
  • 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 offers an introductory look at a wide range of topics in music education, examined from philosophical and psychological perspectives. What is musical expertise? Is there a way to assess musical creativity? What are the main conceptual frameworks adopted in the field? Through a series of interdisciplinary readings, you will become familiar with current scholarship, and explore how different theoretical and empirical contributions can inform pedagogical practices with both children and adult learners.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Semester 1 2023-24

Module aims

In recent years, a wealth of philosophical and psychological research has contributed novel, fascinating perspectives to our understanding of the musical mind, impacting in turn theories and approaches specific to music education. This module combines lectures and group discussion to explore a selection of themes from this broad scholarship and equip you with the necessary tools to envision and carry out empirical and theoretical research in music education. Topics to be covered include music cognition, improvisation, individual and collective music tuition, phenomenology of music, informal learning, and musical creativity. By examining a wide range of literature (including case studies), the module will help you become familiar with key concepts and methods specific to the field, gain an understanding of ethical procedures for empirical research, reflect on themselves as learners and teachers, and translate theoretical knowledge into practice. Assessment is either via oral poster presentation combined with a written research project proposal, or via individual essay.

Module learning outcomes

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

  • identify and evaluate the main philosophical and psychological theories informing music education

  • reflect on your own musical experiences, both as learners and teachers

  • explore how different research methods and approaches can be implemented

  • analyse theoretical and empirical papers with reference to broader frameworks

  • apply the skills developed through the module to other musical domains

  • develop the ability to translate theoretical knowledge into practice

  • present ideas in written/written and oral form(s), pursuing a specific topic of interest


Task Length % of module mark Group
Essay : Title to be agreed with module tutor
N/A 100 A
Essay : Research Project Proposal
N/A 50 B
Poster Presentation
N/A 50 B

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

Students can choose one of two assessment options:

A) a 3000-word essay: literature review, conceptual analysis or report on an empirical project carried out individually (100%) OR

B) a poster presentation with oral presentation (50%) plus a 1500-word research project proposal (50%)


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. (Ed., 2011). A cultural psychology of Music Education. Oxford University Press (selected chapters).

Borgo, D. (2007). Free jazz in the classroom: An ecological approach to music education. Jazz Perspectives, 1(1), 61–88.

Bowman, W. (2004). Cognition and the body: perspectives from music education. In L. Bresler (Ed.). Knowing bodies, moving minds: Toward embodied teaching and learning (pp. 29–50). Kluwer Academic Press.

Elliott, D. J. & Silverman, M. (2015). Music matters: A philosophy of music education (2nd ed.). Oxford University Press. (selected chapters).

Elliott, D. J., McPherson, G., & Silverman, M. (Eds., 2019), The Oxford handbook of philosophical and qualitative perspectives on assessment in music education. Oxford University Press. (selected chapters).

Hallam, S. (2006). Psychology in Music Education. IOE Press. (selected chapters).

Hallam, S., & Bautista, A. (2018). Processes of instrumental learning: The development of musical expertise. In G. McPherson, & G. F. Welch (Eds.), Vocal, instrumental, and ensemble learning. An Oxford handbook of music education (Vol. 3, pp. 108–125). Oxford University Press.

Hargreaves, D.J., Marshall, N.A., North, A.C. (2003). Music education in the twenty-first century: A psychological perspective. British Journal of Music Education, 20, 147–163.

Hodges, D. A. (2003). Music psychology and music education: What’s the connection? Research Studies in Music Education, 21(1), 31–44.

Kokotsaki, D., & Newton, D.P. (2015). Recognizing creativity in the music classroom. International Journal of Music Education, 33(4), 491–508.

Larsson, C., & Georgii-Hemming, E. (2019). Improvisation in general music education – a literature review. British Journal of Music Education, 36(1), 49-67. doi:10.1017/S026505171800013X

Lehmann, A.C. & Jørgensen, H. (2018). Practice. In G. McPherson, & G. F. Welch (Eds.), Vocal, instrumental, and ensemble learning. An Oxford handbook of music education (Vol. 3, pp. 126–144). Oxford University Press.

Meissner, H., & Timmers, R. (2020) Young musicians' learning of expressive performance: The importance of dialogic teaching and modeling. Frontiers in Education, 5:11. doi: 10.3389/feduc.2020.00011

Odena, O. (2018). Musical creativity revised. Educational foundations, practices, and research. Routledge. (selected chapters).

Schiavio, A., Biasutti, M., & Antonini Philippe, R. (2021). Creative pedagogies in the time of pandemic. A case study with conservatory students. Music Education Research, 23(2), 167–178. doi: 10.1080/14613808.2021.1881054

Schiavio, A., Biasutti, M., van der Schyff, D., & Parncutt, R. (2020). A matter of presence: A qualitative study on teaching individual and collective music classes. Musicae Scientiae, 24(3), 356–376.

Schiavio, A., Stupacher, J., Parncutt, R. & Timmers, R. (2020). Learning music from each other. Synchronization, turn-taking, or imitation? Music Perception, 37(5), 403–422.

Williamon, A., Ginsborg, J., Perkins., R., & Waddell, G. (2021). Performing music research. Methods in music education, psychology, and performance science. Oxford University 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.