MUS 144G : Turning-points in Western Music

Creative Arts and Industries

2024 Summer School (1240) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

A study of significant people, major discoveries and inventions, and key factors (artistic, intellectual, social, technical) that were important agents of change in Western music. No previous knowledge of music is assumed.

Course Overview

Ranging across more than a thousand years of music from plainchant to sonic art, and from Bach to Beyoncé, this course illustrates how the work of musicians has always reected the age in which they live, inuenced by historical events, inventions, artistic ideas and the prevailing social ethos. By focusing on an eclectic mix of topics, students are introduced to some signicant historical events and made aware of the inuence these have had on artistic thought and musical development.

Course Requirements

No pre-requisites or restrictions

Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 1: People and Place
Capability 2: Sustainability
Capability 3: Knowledge and Practice
Capability 4: Critical Thinking
Capability 5: Solution Seeking
Capability 6: Communication
Capability 7: Collaboration
Capability 8: Ethics and Professionalism
Graduate Profile: Bachelor of Music

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Identify key musical works, genres, and styles drawn from Western music history (Capability 1.2, 3.1, 3.2, 4.1 and 7.1)
  2. Discuss key contexts and socio-cultural factors that are relevant to developments in Western art music (Capability 1.1, 1.2, 2.1, 3.1, 3.2, 4.1, 5.1 and 6.1)
  3. Become familiar with key terms and concepts used in writing about music (Capability 1.1, 1.2, 2.1, 3.1, 3.2, 6.1 and 7.1)
  4. Learn about basic reference and writing tools, including online tools, of relevance to the study of music (Capability 1.1, 1.2, 2.1, 4.1, 5.1, 7.1, 8.1 and 8.2)
  5. Write Write clearly and with critical insight on a variety of topics relating to Western art music (Capability 1.1, 1.2, 2.1, 3.1, 3.2, 4.1, 5.1, 6.1, 7.1, 8.1 and 8.2)
  6. Understand the relevance of music history for the present (Capability 1.1, 1.2, 3.1, 3.2, 4.1, 5.1, 6.1 and 7.1)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Music Research Assignment 20% Individual Coursework
Writing Portfolio 30% Individual Coursework
Final Exam 50% Individual Examination
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5 6
Music Research Assignment
Writing Portfolio
Final Exam

Assignments are to be submitted, according to submission type specied on CANVAS, by the due date. In the event of illness or other circumstances that prevent completing an assignment, please contact the course coordinator with evidence as appropriate before the due date. Late assignments that do not have an approved extension will be penalised 10% for each day or part thereof. No assignment will be accepted after that assignment has been returned to students.

Pass Requirements

A minimum of 50% combined mark from coursework, tests and the  final examination

Teaching & Learning Methods

This course is delivered as a series of two-hour lectures. The course follows a broadly chronological trajectory, beginning with the emergence of music notation in the Middle Ages and concluding with transformative and disruptive developments in Western art music in the 20th century. A number of important themes and ideas recur throughout the course as we examine how musicians both drove change and responded to it during the periods in which they were active.

Students are expected to attend all lectures, to complete weekly reading and listening tasks, and to complete a series of coursework assignments. There will be a final 2-hour examination.

Workload Expectations

 This course is a standard 15 point course and students are expected to spend 10 hours per week involved in each 15 point course that they are enrolled in.

For this course, you can expect 24 hours of lectures, 84 hours of reading and thinking about the content, 24 hours of work on assignments, and 18 hours of exam preparation.

Delivery Mode

Campus Experience

Attendance is expected at lectures. 
Lectures will be available as recordings. 
The course will not include live online events.
The examination will held online.
The activities for the course are scheduled as a standard weekly timetable.

Learning Resources

Course materials are made available in a learning and collaboration tool called Canvas which also includes reading lists and lecture recordings (where available).

Please remember that the recording of any class on a personal device requires the permission of the instructor.

There is no set textbook for this course. Required readings will be posted on Canvas.

Three excellent general resources are:

1. Burkholder, J. Grout, D. and Palisca, C. A History of Western Music, 10th ed (2019). This is available in the University Bookshop.
2. Oxford Music Online available through the Library website databases (; choose Oxford Music Online). This is an excellent resource for checking on terms you do not understand, details of composers’ lives and works, music styles, etc.
3. Taruskin, R. Oxford History of Western Music (2010). This is available in print and online through the University library.

Listening material played in the lectures will be available on a class playlist on Naxos Music Library. 

The University library holds a large collection of books, journals, scores and audio-visual material that will be useful during the course. For background knowledge, basic dates, and terms, use Oxford Music Online in the first instance.

Student Feedback

At the end of every semester students will be invited to give feedback on the course and teaching through a tool called SET or Qualtrics. The lecturers and course co-ordinators will consider all feedback and respond with summaries and actions.

Your feedback helps teachers to improve the course and its delivery for future students.

Class Representatives in each class can take feedback to the department and faculty staff-student consultative committees.


Academic Integrity

The University of Auckland will not tolerate cheating, or assisting others to cheat, and views cheating in coursework as a serious academic offence. The work that a student submits for grading must be the student's own work, reflecting their learning. Where work from other sources is used, it must be properly acknowledged and referenced. This requirement also applies to sources on the internet. A student's assessed work may be reviewed for potential plagiarism or other forms of academic misconduct, using computerised detection mechanisms.

Class Representatives

Class representatives are students tasked with representing student issues to departments, faculties, and the wider university. If you have a complaint about this course, please contact your class rep who will know how to raise it in the right channels. See your departmental noticeboard for contact details for your class reps.

Inclusive Learning

All students are asked to discuss any impairment related requirements privately, face to face and/or in written form with the course coordinator, lecturer or tutor.

Student Disability Services also provides support for students with a wide range of impairments, both visible and invisible, to succeed and excel at the University. For more information and contact details, please visit the Student Disability Services’ website

Special Circumstances

If your ability to complete assessed coursework is affected by illness or other personal circumstances outside of your control, contact a member of teaching staff as soon as possible before the assessment is due.

If your personal circumstances significantly affect your performance, or preparation, for an exam or eligible written test, refer to the University’s aegrotat or compassionate consideration page

This should be done as soon as possible and no later than seven days after the affected test or exam date.

Learning Continuity

In the event of an unexpected disruption we undertake to maintain the continuity and standard of teaching and learning in all your courses throughout the year. If there are unexpected disruptions the University has contingency plans to ensure that access to your course continues and your assessment is fair, and not compromised. Some adjustments may need to be made in emergencies. You will be kept fully informed by your course co-ordinator, and if disruption occurs you should refer to the University Website for information about how to proceed.

Student Charter and Responsibilities

The Student Charter assumes and acknowledges that students are active participants in the learning process and that they have responsibilities to the institution and the international community of scholars. The University expects that students will act at all times in a way that demonstrates respect for the rights of other students and staff so that the learning environment is both safe and productive. For further information visit Student Charter


Elements of this outline may be subject to change. The latest information about the course will be available for enrolled students in Canvas.

In this course students may be asked to submit coursework assessments digitally. The University reserves the right to conduct scheduled tests and examinations for this course online or through the use of computers or other electronic devices. Where tests or examinations are conducted online remote invigilation arrangements may be used. In exceptional circumstances changes to elements of this course may be necessary at short notice. Students enrolled in this course will be informed of any such changes and the reasons for them, as soon as possible, through Canvas.

Published on 25/10/2023 11:12 a.m.