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Study information

Music Drama

Module titleMusic Drama
Module codeDRA3095
Academic year2024/5
Module staff

Professor Adrian Curtin (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

Music often plays an important, supportive role in theatre – helping to set the scene, for example, or underscoring the action. Sometimes, however, music and related elements are the subjects of drama. Theatre is made that is thematically or conceptually about music, music-making, music-appreciation, and/or being a musician. Such work sheds light on associated factors, such as identity-construction, social formations and relationships, and ways of perceiving – and being in – the world.

This module investigates ‘music drama’, an umbrella term for plays and performance pieces that are about music. It considers different styles of Western drama and theatre from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. What can drama reveal about our understanding of music, its place in society, its cultural and aesthetic value, and its significance in our lives? We will set out to explore the philosophical and sociological implications of drama and theatre that is about music (and, by extension, about many other things), engaging various musical genres and modes of expression in the process.

Module aims - intentions of the module

  • This module aims to show that analysis of plays and performance pieces that are thematically concerned with music, informed by relevant scholarship, can yield insight into the ways that music is socially meaningful.
  • The module is intended to help you to develop your ability to engage in critical thinking as well as your academic and creative writing skills.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Explain how drama yields insight into music and related phenomena.
  • 2. Integrate textual analysis, theory, and other forms of scholarship relevant to music and/or drama in academic writing
  • 3. Write, and critically reflect upon, a short play that intelligently explores one or more aspects of music

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 4. Demonstrate the advanced ability to utilise research tools and to translate theory into practice
  • 5. Demonstrate the ability to engage critically and analytically from different theoretic perspectives, to explore theoretical concerns through practice, and vice versa.
  • 6. Demonstrate the ability to apply a wide range of library and IT skills in detailed independent research

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 7. Develop advanced personal research skills using personal initiative; to set personal objectives that are linked to a sense of challenge and extending boundaries and to identify and evaluate personal learning strategies that are self-critical as much as self-reflective
  • 8. Demonstrate the ability to think laterally and demonstrate originality in problem solving, to express and communicate creative ideas and images, and the ability to initiate and sustain creative work, both group and solo

Syllabus plan

Whilst the content may vary from year to year, it is envisioned that it will cover some or all of the following topics:

  • Teaching will take the form of instructor-led seminars on topics connected to the module (e.g., music and identity, music and wellbeing, words and music). The assigned reading for each week will typically include one or more plays/performance pieces and several items of scholarship. You will be offered an individual tutorial near the end of the term to discuss your work on the module.

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching33Seminar and online forum activities
Guided Independent Study75Seminar preparation (assigned reading; writing of draft critical responses)
Guided Independent Study96Portfolio preparation
Guided Independent Study96Research & writing of essay

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Critical responses1000 words (approx.)1-2, 5Written
Short play1-2 pages1, 3-4, 8Oral
Essay plan1-2 pages1-2, 5-7Oral

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Portfolio503000 words1-5, 7-8Written, oral upon request
Essay503000 words1-2, 5-7 Written, oral upon request

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
PortfolioPortfolio1-5, 7, 8Referral/Deferral period
EssayEssay1-2, 5-7Referral/Deferral period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • Bennett, Andy and Steve Waksman, The SAGE Handbook of Popular Music (London: SAGE, 2013)
  • Cochrane, Tom, et al, eds. The Emotional Power of Music (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013)
  • Cook, Nicholas. Music: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000)
  • DeNora, Tia. Music in Everyday Life (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000)
  • Leppert, Richard. The Sight of Sound: Music, Representation, and the History of the Body (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993)
  • Roesner, David. Musicality in Theatre: Music as Model, Method, and Metaphor in Theatre-Making (Farnham: Ashgate, 2014)
  • Scharff, Christina. Gender, Subjectivity, and Cultural Work: The Classical Music Profession (London: Routledge, 2018)
  • Small, Christopher. Musicking: The Meanings of Performing and Listening (Hanover: University Press of New England, 1998)
  • Walden, Joshua S., ed. Representation in Western Music (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013)

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Key words search

Music, drama, theatre, representation

Credit value30
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date