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MUSC2645 Psychology of Music

Coordinator: Dr Helen Mitchell


Consultation times:
Semester 2, 2018
By appointment, please email

Introduction and Rationale for this unit of study:

Psychology of Music examines music cognition and behaviour to explore the way music is
created, produced and perceived. This unit will introduce recent interdisciplinary research as a
way to explore music as a social activity. It will consider the methods used by sociologists and
psychologists to investigate music and encourage students to think conceptually about their own
musical activities.

Aims and Learning Outcomes:

After successfully completing this unit of study, students will be able to:
 Demonstrate broad understanding of studies in psychology of music
 Understand empirical research projects
 Identify appropriate topics and methods for future study directions
 Present research study designs
 Facilitate the exchange of ideas between musicians and researchers
 Apply new knowledge to their own music practice

Contribution to University of Sydney graduate qualities:

The above aims and learning outcomes relate to the following graduate qualities of a University of
Sydney graduate:

Graduate qualities

Depth of disciplinary expertise – applying and Knowledge of leading research in music

continuing to develop disciplinary expertise psychology.

Ability to critique and evaluate current

research and consider ways to extend it.
Graduate qualities

Broader skills: Ability to research, speak and write critically

about relevant literature and its musical and
 Critical thinking and problem solving social context.
 Communication skills (oral and written)
 Work effectively with digital and online Initiate and design psychology of music
tools and information project
 Inventiveness – respond creatively to
novel problems

Cultural competence – work effectively with Understand social, cultural, global and
cultures different from your own environmental responsibilities in research
Interdisciplinary effectiveness – work effectively Develop a broad knowledge and
with others studying in different field(s) from you understanding of methods of enquiry in
music research
An integrated professional, ethical and Identify future directions in the field of music
personal identity – respond constructively to psychology and investigate topics pertinent
challenge to their music practice.

Recognise responsible research practices

in the collection, dissemination and storage
of research data.

Identify ethical considerations in research

Influence – contribute positively to the community, Discuss and debate research with others
and exercise leadership and influence where
required. Present research and proposals, spoken
and written

Mandatory or recommended prior learning

Students enrolling in this unit of study are expected to be proficient in spoken and formal written

Outline of curriculum:

The teaching format of this unit of study is a one hour lecture Wednesday 10-11 + 1 hour tutorial
(Wednesday 9, 11 or 12noon) per week.


Week Topic
1 Introduction to psychology of music
How does it fit into the study of music performance?
Reading papers, interpreting empirical studies of music performance and
pedagogy, working with people, ethical issues.
2 Music in everyday life
Music choices, music preferences, musical exposure
3 Music in the community

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Sharing music with others
4 Musical development and ability
Practice, motivation, support
AVCC No class
5 Musical identities
Identity formation and development
6 Music performance
Psychology of musical performance
7 Music expressivity and communication
From rehearsal to performance
8 Multisensory music
Music by sight and sound
9 Music and judgment
Assessment and bias (POSTER PRESENTATIONS in tuts)
10 Music and the mind
Music and memory
11 Music Health and Wellbeing
Music and psychology of wellbeing
12 Music through life
Choices, chances, opportunities

Minimum learning commitments:

As this is a 6 credit point unit of study, it is expected that the student commitment is 9-12 hours
per week, averaged out over the semester.

Attendance requirements:

As per the Sydney Conservatorium of Music resolutions,

http://sydney.edu.au/handbooks/conservatorium/rules/faculty_resolutions.shtml (Item 12):

Students are expected to attend a minimum of 90% of timetabled activities for a unit of study,
unless granted exemption by the Dean, Head of School or professor most concerned. The Dean,
Head of School or professor most concerned may determine that a student fails a unit of study
because of inadequate attendance. Alternatively, at their discretion, they may set additional
assessment items where attendance is lower than 90%.

Lecture Recording

Lectures for this unit of study will be recorded and made available to students via the Learning
Management System (LMS).

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The following assessment tasks and due dates for this unit of study are as follows:

Assessment title: Readings summaries and class discussion participation

Assessment type and category:
 In-class Assessment: Small continuous assessment worth <30%

Description of assessment: Readings Summaries

1. Identify the key idea/s of a reading for each week

2. Identify points of similarity and contrast between the readings,
3. Consider future directions for your chosen study and what studies should follow on from the
reading list

You will use your summaries to inform your weekly class participation. You will be asked to lead
a class discussion on the readings at least once.

Exam/Quiz type:
 N/A
Individual or group work assessment: Length / duration:
 Individual work Word length or equivalent: 2 x 1500w
Percentage contribution of this assessment 30%
to the final mark:
Due date and time: 2 x summary portfolios
due Friday Week 6 and Friday week 12.

Assessment title: Poster presentation

Assessment type and category:
 Submitted work: Assignment such as essay, report, literature review proposal, portfolio

Description of assessment: Identify a key question for study, and design a study to
investigate it. Present this in poster form, and be prepared to answer questions from peers/staff
at the poster presentation session. Your poster should have the following sections

You will need an introductory section, where you describe the topic and the research question.
This will also include a short overview of the literature covered as the background or context to
their work. Think mini-literature review and include key references.

State the aims of your proposed research project

How will you undertake the study? Consider participants, stimuli, materials, procedure as
discussed in class.

Prospective findings
Consider the type of results you will generate, how you will analyse them, and how you will
contextualise them in the current literature. (You don’t need to make up findings, just think in
advance on what data you will have and how you might analyse it).

APA style

Please hand in the written content in a word document at the end of the class and submit on
eLearning. Add a photo of your presentation to your document!

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Exam/Quiz type:
 N/A
Individual or group work assessment: Length / duration:
 Individual work Word length or equivalent: 1000w

Percentage contribution of this assessment 30%

to the final mark:
Due date and time: Week 9 in TUTORIALS

Assessment title: Essay

Assessment type and category
 Submitted work: Assignment such as essay, report, literature review proposal, portfolio

Description of assessment: Pick an area of PoM studies, identify sources which investigate it,
report key findings and explain the importance of these investigations to the field of music and
musicians. Essay questions/titles will be work-shopped in tutorials and discussed with UoS
coordinator. Consider a two-section title to help guide your work from topic area to essay
Exam/Quiz type:
 N/A
Individual or group work assessment: Length / duration:
 Individual work Word length or equivalent: 2000
Percentage contribution of this assessment 40%
to the final mark:
Due date and time: Wednesday Week 14 at 1159

Assessment Criteria:

The following assessment criteria are used for written work in this unit of study:

Fail: (Below 50%) Work not of acceptable standard.

Work may fail for any or all of the following reasons: Unacceptable paraphrasing; irrelevance of
content; poor spelling; poor presentation; grammar or structure so sloppy it cannot be
understood; failure to demonstrate understanding of content; insufficient or overlong word

Pass: (50%-64%) Work of acceptable standard.

Written work meets basic requirements in terms of reading/research; relevant material;
tendency to descriptive summary rather than critical argument; makes a reasonable attempt to
avoid paraphrasing; reasonably coherent structure; often has weaknesses in particular areas,
especially in terms of narrow or underdeveloped treatment of question; acceptable

Credit: (65%-74%) Highly competent work demonstrating potential for higher study.
Evidence of broader understanding than pass level; offers synthesis with some critical
evaluation of material; coherent argument using a range of relevant evidence; some evidence
of independent thought, good referencing. A high credit (70-74) shows some evidence of ability
to problematise and think conceptually.

Distinction: (75%-84%) Work of superior standard.

Demonstrates initiative in research and wide, appropriate reading; complex understanding of
question and ability to critically review material in relation to underlying assumptions and
values; analyses material in relation to empirical and theoretical contexts; properly documented;
clear, well-developed structure and argument with some signs of literary style.

High Distinction: (85%-100%) Work of exceptional standard.

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Demonstrates high level of initiative in research and reading; sophisticated critical analysis of
evidence; high level engagement with theoretical issues, innovative use of reading/research
material and impressive command of underlying debates and assumptions; properly
documented and written with style, originality and precision.

Oral presentations will be assessed against the following criteria:

Shows evidence of broad research, taking into account a variety of sources
Clear argument, supported by relevant reasons and evidence

Shows evidence of critical thinking about the topic, including:
 Considers alternative views 

 Where appropriate, questions assumptions implicit in the literature 

 Draws meaningful connections between facts and / or concepts 

Uses terminology accurately and appropriately 

Is clearly expressed

Is interesting and engages other students 

Makes appropriate use of examples and presentation methods relevant to the material
presented (e.g. presentation software, handouts, recordings where relevant) 

Covers the topic effectively in the available time 

Assessment criteria for assessments in this unit of study can be found in the LMS in the
appropriate folder. Assessed work will be marked according to these criteria.

Academic Honesty:

All assessed work in this unit of study is subject to the University’s Academic Honesty in
Coursework Policy. Any breaches of this policy will be investigated and followed through
according to University policy and procedures.

Please also see the University’s page on Academic Honesty for Students, which includes links to
the online academic honesty module.

If you are unfamiliar with academic honesty requirements, please contact the Educational Integrity
Coordinator of the Conservatorium, Dr. Rachel Campbell rachel.campbell@sydney.edu.au

Text-matching Software:

All text-based assignments at the University of Sydney must be submitted through the
LMS using Turnitin. Text-based assignments may only be submitted online. Such assignments
may not be emailed to lecturers, nor printed out and handed in.

Students should note that all written assignments in this unit of study will be submitted to similarity
detecting software and scrutinised for academic honesty by markers. The software and the
markers will detect material taken from published sources or the internet, other external sources,
other students, or the student’s own work previously submitted for assessment in this or another
Unit of Study, or at another institution. 

Special Consideration:

The University's assessment system is designed to ensure that conditions are fair to all students,
are as consistent as possible and that individual students are not disadvantaged by adverse
personal circumstances beyond their control or by the activities of other students.

Generally, serious illness, injury or misadventure will be taken into account when considering a
student’s performance in a course or unit of study.

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More information on Special Consideration, including the online form, is available through MyUni
or at: http://sydney.edu.au/current_students/special_consideration/index.shtml

Simple extensions are an informal arrangement between a student and a unit of study
coordinator to permit late submission of work. The Unit of Study coordinator may approve a
request, though it must be in writing, and for a maximum of 2 days. Please see the following:

Late submission of work:

As per the Sydney Conservatorium of Music resolutions,

http://sydney.edu.au/handbooks/conservatorium/rules/faculty_resolutions.shtml (Item 11):

(1) It is expected that unless an application for Special Consideration has been approved,
students will submit all assessment for a unit of study on the due date specified. If the
assessment is completed or submitted within the period of extension, no academic penalty
will be applied to that piece of assessment.

(2) If an extension is either not sought, not granted or is granted but work is submitted after the
extended due date, the late submission of assessment will result in an academic penalty as

(a) For work submitted after the deadline but up to three calendar days late, a penalty of
10 per cent of the possible marks awarded for the assignment will apply.

(b) For work submitted after 3 days and less than one week after the deadline, a penalty
of 15 per cent of the possible marks awarded for the assignment will apply.

(c) For work submitted more than one week late but less than two weeks after the
deadline, a penalty of 20 per cent of the possible marks awarded for the assignment
will apply.

(d) Work submitted more than two weeks after deadline will not be assessed (Fail).


Student appeals against a grade for assessed work should be made in relation to the University
of Sydney (Student Appeals against Academic Decisions) Rule
in particular, Part 3: Procedures for Undergraduate and Postgraduate Coursework Students.

As per clause 3.1.1, any student who believes that there are genuine grounds for contesting an
academic decision should first discuss his or her concerns with the relevant teacher or unit of
study co-ordinator.

As per clause 3.1.2, any such discussions should most usually take place within:

(a) 15 working days of the student being advised of the academic decision; or

(b) within 15 working days of the result being posted by the University in the case of academic
decisions relating to the completion of a unit of study.

As per clause 3.1.3, the teacher or unit of study co-ordinator will address the Student’s concerns
promptly, and provide to the Student a full explanation of the reasons for the Academic Decision.

If this process does not resolve the student’s concerns, there are further appeals process, details
of which can be found in the Policy document referenced above.

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Expectations relating to conduct:

The Student Code of Conduct for all students at the University of Sydney is available through the
MyUni portal. Students are expected to abide by this Code of Conduct and be aware of its

Disability Services:

The University is committed to supporting students to achieve their best possible results. The
University’s Disability Services offer a range of services and adjustments to minimise the impact
of any disability on your learning experience and to optimise your academic success. Please see:
http://sydney.edu.au/study/academic-support/disability-support.html for more information and to
register for relevant support.

University policies:

It is each student’s responsibility to be familiar with University policies, and abide by their
contents. This includes the Academic Honesty in Coursework Policy. Up-to-date policies can be
viewed at the Policy Register on the University of Sydney website.

Learning analytics:

Participation in this unit of study permits the University to use your learning analytics for the
purpose of improving your learning. This includes data from the LMS website, and the results of
the Unit of Study Survey conducted at the end of the semester.

Students should complete the Unit of Study Survey at the end of this unit of study. Comments
and survey results are confidential. Only the Unit of Study coordinator, the Associate Dean
(Education), and the Head of School and the Dean can view student comments made in this

It is essential that you complete this survey so that we can maintain the highest standards
of teaching at the SCM and the University.

Changes made to this unit of study:

As a result of student feedback from the last time this unit of study was run, the following changes
were made:

 Reading lists available online from week 1

Helen Mitchell

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