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PS30171: The psychology of music

[Page last updated: 15 October 2020]

Follow this link for further information on academic years Academic Year: 2020/1
Further information on owning departmentsOwning Department/School: Department of Psychology
Further information on credits Credits: 6      [equivalent to 12 CATS credits]
Further information on notional study hours Notional Study Hours: 120
Further information on unit levels Level: Honours (FHEQ level 6)
Further information on teaching periods Period:
Semester 2
Further information on unit assessment Assessment Summary: ES 80%, OR 20%
Further information on unit assessment Assessment Detail:
  • Oral Presentation (OR 20%)
  • Essay (ES 80%)
Further information on supplementary assessment Supplementary Assessment:
Like-for-like reassessment (where allowed by programme regulations)
Further information on requisites Requisites: Before taking this module you must take PS20107 AND ( take PS20108 OR take PS20167 ) AND ( take 2 MODULES FROM {PS20104, PS20109} OR take PS20168 )
Description: Aims:
The intention of this unit is:
* To introduce students to the role of music in different aspects of life, including development, social interaction, and well-being
* Introduce to students to the tools, theories, and methodologies that can be employed to investigate the nature and role of music in human experience
* Provide an interdisciplinary approach to exploring the phenomenon of music, and the associated cognitive, emotional, and behavioural responses
* Develop in students a critical awareness of how psychology of music theories are used to describe the phenomenology of music
* Enable students to reflect on the implications of psychology of music theories and research on social life broadly, including in human interactions, health, well-being and therapy/rehabilitation.

Learning Outcomes:
In completing this unit students would be expected to:
* Understand the main theoretical and empirical work conducted in the field of psychology of music, and be able to critique and evaluate this, especially in regards to methodology
* Critically apply the knowledge in applied settings, such as improving relations between individuals or groups of individuals, music therapy, and music rehabilitation
* Employ the knowledge of music learning and development to other domains of psychology such as intelligence, development, and expertise
* Investigate musical phenomena using theories from cognitive, social, and developmental psychology perspectives
* Critically appreciate and evaluate the individual differences that exist regarding musical ability and performance, and critically examine the relevant factors that have an effect on this
* Critically examine the role of culture on music and the role it plays in everyday life, as well as in rituals, human bonding, and worship


* Comprehensive and scholarly written communication (e.g. essays)
* Concise, time-bound and effective written communication (e.g. briefings / exams)
* Ability to select, summarise and synthesis written information from multiple sources
* Ability to develop rigorous arguments through precise use of concepts and models
* Ability to apply theory into practice
* Ability to select and use appropriate ideas to produce a coherent response to a pre-set question
* Ability to produce work to agreed specifications and deadlines
* Ability to work independently, without close supervision of guidance

The unit will explore a series of key questions, including:
* What is music, and how can psychologists study it?
* Music perception and cognition (including memory and intelligence)
* Music and emotional response, in both the musician and the audience
* The social and everyday function of music, including in relationships
* Learning music, including individuals differences and motivation
* Musical performance, including the social, cognitive, and emotional components
* The role of culture in music and musical expression/function
* Music therapy and rehabilitation
* Music, health, well-being and positive psychology.
Further information on programme availabilityProgramme availability:

PS30171 is Optional on the following programmes:

Department of Psychology


  • This unit catalogue is applicable for the 2020/21 academic year only. Students continuing their studies into 2021/22 and beyond should not assume that this unit will be available in future years in the format displayed here for 2020/21.
  • Programmes and units are subject to change in accordance with normal University procedures.
  • Availability of units will be subject to constraints such as staff availability, minimum and maximum group sizes, and timetabling factors as well as a student's ability to meet any pre-requisite rules.
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