Module Details

The information contained in this module specification was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change, either during the session because of unforeseen circumstances, or following review of the module at the end of the session. Queries about the module should be directed to the member of staff with responsibility for the module.
Title Foundations in Tonal Harmony
Code MUSI181
Coordinator Miss RK Minton
Year CATS Level Semester CATS Value
Session 2023-24 Level 4 FHEQ First Semester 15


This module aims to equip students with the core music theory and aural skills required for music courses at University level. It reviews the most fundamental elements of Western Classical music theory, in order that students emerge with a deeper understanding of their relationships and of the function of the key building blocks of the musical repertoire. By the end of the module, students will be able to recognise and utilise complex harmonies and cadences, and be able to take these foundational skills on to further analytical study.

Learning Outcomes

(LO1) Ability to identify and notate all notes on treble, bass, alto, and tenor clefs, and describe them in terms of their scale degrees.

(LO2) Ability to identify and notate all 12 keys, major and minor, on treble, bass, alto, and tenor clefs, and to transpose between keys.

(LO3) Ability to identify (aurally and on score) and construct intervals in notated form using correct notational spelling.

(LO4) Ability to identify (aurally and on score) and construct, using correct notational spelling, major, minor, and diminished chords on treble, bass, alto, and tenor clefs, and describe them in terms of Roman numeral system (Ia, Vc, etc.), description (tonic root/dominant second inversion, etc.), and function (5/3, 6/4, etc.).

(LO5) Understanding of basic figured bass terminology and symbols, and how they relate to broader musical terminology (e.g., "6/4 cadence").

(LO6) Ability to identify (aurally and on score) and construct, using correct notational spelling, cadences in all major and minor keys, and to identify and construct pre-dominant chords (Neapolitan, Italian, French and German 6ths).

(LO7) Ability to use standard technical terminology for descriptions of time (rhythm, bars/measures, etc.), dynamics (Italian terms), individual musical lines, and harmony.

(LO8) Ability to reduce an orchestral score to 1-4 stave lines.

(S1) Communication (oral, written and visual) - Presentation skills - written.

(S2) Communication (oral, written and visual) - Following instructions/protocols/procedure.

(S3) Critical thinking and problem solving - Evaluation.

(S4) Critical thinking and problem solving - Creative thinking.



The specific order of syllabus and week-to-week content may vary according to student need and preexisting ability, but the module content will include:

Clefs (treble, bass, alto, tenor).

Keys (all 12, major and minor).

Major and minor scales (note content, naming notes by scale degree and symbol).

Intervals and spelling.

Chord construction (names, descriptions, and functions of chords).

Use, description, and possible resolution of diminished chords.

Basics of figured bass, and applicability to current terminology.

Cadences—their function and use.

Predominant chords: Neapolitan/Italian/French/German 6ths.

Suspensions and resolutions.

Introduction to voice leading up to 4-part SATB writing.

Introduction to melodic harmonisation

Transposition and transposing instruments (B-flat, F, A, D, and E-flat).

Score reduction to two and four stave lines.

Musical terminology (U.K., U.S., Italian ter ms, etc).

Teaching and Learning Strategies

Weekly lectures will be 1 hour in length, covering core content. Additional 2 hour Seminars will be practically focused, students working in groups to complete and discuss tasks. These tasks will form the basis of portfolio assessment as students write commentaries on their exercises.
Attendance recorded.

The majority of teaching will be delivered face-to-face on campus. Online delivery will be used to complement the on-campus delivery and where technology affords a better learning experience.

Teaching Schedule

  Lectures Seminars Tutorials Lab Practicals Fieldwork Placement Other TOTAL
Study Hours 12


Timetable (if known)              
Private Study 114


EXAM Duration Timing
% of
Penalty for late
An examination (on Canvas quiz function) maximum time of 90 minutes will test students on a variety of activities from the course.  24    45       
CONTINUOUS Duration Timing
% of
Penalty for late
Portfolio of 4 exercises with accompanying 250-word commentary for each exercise.    45       
Practical aural test - 25 minutes  25    10       

Recommended Texts

Reading lists are managed at Click here to access the reading lists for this module.