Musical Revolutions (W3032)

15 credits, Level 5

Spring teaching

This module examines the radical explosion of ideas that took place between 1890 and 1970, resulting in counter-cultures that subverted the authority of the 'classical', both within the concert-hall and beyond. The module explores a lineage of radical paradigm shifts in musical thinking and experimentation, incorporating new ways of thinking about ‘modernism’. This might include studying Debussy, Reich, Alice Coltrane, or Kaija Saariaho, whose works will be unpacked against their social, historical and political contexts. The module considers modernism's estrangement from the tastes of concert goers, how composers of the twentieth century responded to mass popular culture, and the impact of electronic and digital technology.


50%: Lecture
50%: Seminar


100%: Coursework (Essay)

Contact hours and workload

This module is approximately 150 hours of work. This breaks down into about 22 hours of contact time and about 128 hours of independent study. The University may make minor variations to the contact hours for operational reasons, including timetabling requirements.

We regularly review our modules to incorporate student feedback, staff expertise, as well as the latest research and teaching methodology. We’re planning to run these modules in the academic year 2023/24. However, there may be changes to these modules in response to COVID-19, staff availability, student demand or updates to our curriculum. We’ll make sure to let our applicants know of material changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.


This module is offered on the following courses: