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Unit of study_

MCGY3602: Understanding East Asian Music

Semester 2, 2022 [Normal day] - Sydney

Students will learn about, discuss and play different musical forms from East Asia - ranging from ancient guqin music to contemporary K-Pop. They will develop an understanding of key aesthetic concepts, musical instruments and musical features of the music cultures in this region. Students will be encouraged to develop awareness of the diversity of East Asian musics and cultures, and of music's interrelation with and great significance to East Asian societies both in the past and today.

Unit details and rules

Unit code MCGY3602
Academic unit
Credit points 6
Assumed knowledge


Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Catherine Ingram,
Lecturer(s) Lewis Cornwell,
Lu Liu,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Assignment Major essay (50%)
Written or video essay
50% Formal exam period
Due date: 23 Nov 2022 at 23:59
3000 words or 6-7 minutes edited video
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Participation Class participation (30%)
Seminar preparation and presentation
30% Ongoing Ongoing
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO4 LO3 LO2
Assignment Academic blog post: visualizing East Asian music (20%)
Academic blog post and 2 best comments
20% Week 04
Due date: 26 Aug 2022 at 23:59
800 word post + 200w comments
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO4 LO3 LO2

Assessment summary

  • Academic blog post: visualising East Asian music (20%): Discussion of an aspect of East Asian music related to an artwork you viewed in an East Asian art exhibition during weeks 1 and 2 (details provided in week 1 and on canvas). Submission should take the form of an academic blog post of 800 words (models will be provided in class), with accurately cited references, as well as your 2 best comments on others’ posts.
  • Seminar tasks and participation (30%): Assessment of participation has 3 components. (1) Participation in weekly activities and discussions (10%); (2) Involvement in “roundtable” based on set readings in one selected week (15%). (3) Evidence of completion of weekly tasks and hurdle requirements (5%). Detailed requirements for these will be provided in class and via canvas.
  • Major essay (scaffolded approach) (50%): Essay on set topic relating to the themes of the course. Essay questions will be provided during semester. May be presented as 3000 word written essay or 6-7 minute video essay.

Assessment criteria

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 length.

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 documentation.

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.

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 


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 1. Introduction to the unit; 2. Tips on research and assessment #1; 3. Background to the East Asian region Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO2
Week 02 Musical instruments and musical performance contexts & structures of East Asia Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 03 Musical transmission in East Asia: Focus on China Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 04 Aesthetic concepts in East Asian music: Focus on Japan Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 05 Ritual music and ritual musical notation in East Asia Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 06 The shakuhachi: An East Asian musical instrument in a global context Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 07 Folksong in China Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 08 Rhythm and percussion in Korea Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 09 East Asian art music in the 20th and 21st centuries Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 11 Gender, pop and globalization in East Asia Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 12 Minority musics in East Asia Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 13 East Asian musical authenticity and identity Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4

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

Please see canvas site as readings are on eReserve

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 greater knowledge of music from the East Asian region and its social, cultural and geographical context
  • LO2. demonstrate a greater awareness of musical diversity
  • LO3. utilise improved analytical and research skills
  • LO4. present your analysis and opinion in an enhanced manner in written and oral forms, including within the online environment

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.

The class participation activities have been slightly revised to encourage students to better hone their analytical skills.

Please see canvas site for further details about the course.


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.