Skip to main content
Unit of study_

MCGY2611: Music from the Middle Ages to Baroque

Semester 2, 2021 [Normal day] - Sydney

This unit explores major topics in the history of Western art music from the 9th century to c. 1750 in a broad historical context. Beginning with Gregorian chant and the invention of music education notation, we investigate a wide range of genres and styles of the Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque eras, as well as innovations including the development of music printing, developments in musical instruments, and the emergence of opera, sonata and concerto. Musical works for analysis and discussion include examples by Hildegard of Bingen, Machaut, Dufay, Josquin, Palestrina, Gesualdo, Monteverdi, Frescobaldi, Corelli, Lully, Purcell, Vivaldi, Handel and J.S. Bach.

Unit details and rules

Unit code MCGY2611
Academic unit
Credit points 6
Assumed knowledge

Ability to read musical notation

Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Alan Maddox,
Lecturer(s) Alan Maddox,
Tutor(s) Zoltan Szabo,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Participation Preparation and participation, in class discussions, and tutorial activities
Preparation, participation, discussion and activities
15% Ongoing n/a
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO4 LO3 LO2
Assignment Short assignment
Short assignment
15% Week 04 800 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Assignment Mid-semester test
Aural and written test
15% Week 06 30 minutes
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO4 LO3 LO2
Assignment Essay
40% Week 09 2000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Assignment End of semester test
Aural and written test
15% Week 13 30 minutes
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO4 LO3 LO2

Assessment summary

  • Short Assignment: A written assignment of 800 words. Details in Canvas.
  • Essay: an essay on one of the topics posted on the assessment page of the unit Canvas site.
  • Preparation and participation, in class discussions, and tutorial activities: prepare for tutorials by studying the set works specified for each week and come to tutorials ready to ask informed questions and participate in discussion.
  • In-semester tests: quizzes at mid-semester and end of semester will include listening, score reading/analysis, and paragraph answer questions.

Detailed information for each assessment can be found on Canvas.

Assessment criteria

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

Result name

Mark range


High distinction

85 - 100

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.


75 - 84

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.


65 - 74

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.


50 - 64

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 documentation.


0 - 49

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 length.

For more information see

For more information see guide to grades.

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website  provides information on academic integrity and the resources available to all students. The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic integrity breaches seriously.  

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breach. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breaches, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

Simple extensions

If you encounter a problem submitting your work on time, you may be able to apply for an extension of five calendar days through a simple extension.  The application process will be different depending on the type of assessment and extensions cannot be granted for some assessment types like exams.

Special consideration

If exceptional circumstances mean you can’t complete an assessment, you need consideration for a longer period of time, or if you have essential commitments which impact your performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Special consideration applications will not be affected by a simple extension application.

Using AI responsibly

Co-created with students, AI in Education includes lots of helpful examples of how students use generative AI tools to support their learning. It explains how generative AI works, the different tools available and how to use them responsibly and productively.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 01 Chant and the medieval Christian church Online class (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 02 Chant, polyphony & vernacular song: ca.1000–ca.1200 Online class (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 03 Secular and sacred: ca.1200 to the early Renaissance Online class (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 04 Renaissance and Reformation Online class (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 05 A Golden Age: secular music in the 16th century. Online class (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 06 Early baroque Italy and the invention of opera Online class (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 07 Italy and the German lands in the 17th century Online class (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 08 Lully and French music in the Baroque era Online class (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 09 Purcell and the English Baroque Online class (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 10 Sonata and concerto: Italian instrumental music in the late baroque. Online class (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 11 Handel and late baroque Italian opera Online class (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 12 J.S. Bach and late baroque sacred music Online class (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4

Attendance and class requirements

  • Attendance: 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%.

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Required readings

Set texts for this unit are

  • J.P. Burkholder, D.J. Grout and C.V. Palisca, A History of Western Music, 10th ed. (New York: Norton, 2019)
  • J.P. Burkholder and C.V. Palisca, Norton Anthology of Western Music, vol. 1, 8th ed. (New York: Norton, 2019)

The previous edition of each of these books may also be used, but note that they do not coincide with the current editions in some details.

Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University's graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. demonstrate a knowledge of key features of the music of the Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque periods, including a knowledge of major composers and representative musical works, and an understanding of the role of music and musicians in the society and culture of the periods
  • LO2. describe and explain the major musical styles, genres and instruments of the periods, and apply relevant analytical methods to the study of this music
  • LO3. identify important musical styles, genres, and instruments of the periods aurally and from music notation
  • LO4. think, speak, and write critically about Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque music, and use relevant terminology appropriately.

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities

This section outlines changes made to this unit following staff and student reviews.

This year we are adapting the lectures to online delivery. In response to student feedback, we have revised some elements to focus in on key concepts.

Assessment tasks for this unit have been modified from those shown in the handbook, to accommodate online learning and assessment due to the COVID-19 situation.


The University reserves the right to amend units of study or no longer offer certain units, including where there are low enrolment numbers.

To help you understand common terms that we use at the University, we offer an online glossary.