PY3MLB-Music, Language and the Brain

Module Provider: Psychology
Number of credits: 10 [5 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn term module
Pre-requisites: PY2RM Research Methods and Data Analysis
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2018/9

Module Convenor: Dr Fang Liu


Type of module:

Summary module description:


1. To develop an interdisciplinary overview of the processes that underlie music and language processing in humans.

2. To form and refine perspectives on neurodevelopmental disorders (congenital amusia and autism spectrum disorder) marked by atypical music and language processing.

3. To develop the ability to study independently and critically comment on published studies.

4. To appreciate and imbibe the key features of good experimental design in studies of music and language processing.

Assessable learning outcomes:

By the end of the module, the student will be able to:

1. Critically analyse behavioural and neural studies of music, language and the brain.  

2. Apply their understanding of research on music, language and the brain in neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism and amusia. 

3. Critically evaluate published studies and/or design empirical studies.


Additional outcomes:

Students will gain experience from participating in evaluative discussions of research and theory in large and small groups.

Outline content:

The module comprises seven 2-hour seminars. 

Music and language are fundamental traits of human existence. They both rely on complex sound sequences to convey meaning. It has been hotly debated whether the two are processed through distinct cognitive modules or using shared mechanisms. This module will explore the cognitive relationship between music and language and how the two are processed in the brain through the lens of two neurodevelopmental disorders, congenital amusia and autism spectrum disorder. Topics will include: neurobiology of music and language, pitch, melody, syntax, meaning, emotion and interventions.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

Students will be given directed reading which they will be expected to have completed before attending seminars. Seminars involve lectures, interactive discussions, practical activities and student presentations. The format includes short presentations by the lecturer, illustrated by sound examples and video material. Small and large group discussions and activities will allow critical analysis of theory and research and will emphasise theory-evidence links. During the course of the module, students will prepare a research proposal on a relevant topic. 

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Seminars 14 1
Guided independent study 85
Total hours by term 99.00 1.00
Total hours for module 100.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 75
Written assignment including essay 25

Summative assessment- Examinations:

1.5 hours

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

This module is assessed through coursework (25%) and a final exam (75%). 

The 1.5-hour Summer Exam will require students to answer 1 essay question on topics covered in the module.

Coursework will comprise a 2000-word research proposal.


Formative assessment methods:

Students will be provided with feedback on their collaborative research proposal activities. This feedback will help students prepare for the final exam.

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convener will apply the following penalties for work submitted late:

  • where the piece of work is submitted after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for that piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day[1] (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at:
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Assessment requirements for a pass:

    A mark of 40% overall 

    Reassessment arrangements:

    Re-examination in August/September

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

    Last updated: 20 April 2018


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