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Unit outline_

MUSC1503: Fundamentals of Music 1

Semester 2, 2022 [Normal day] - Remote

An introduction to basic music literacy skills, including learning to read and write music, and an understanding of fundamental aspects of its structure and composition. The material covered in this unit of study concentrates upon the basics of music theory and listening to ensure that participants have a solid grounding for a firm understanding of music notation and organisation.

Unit details and rules

Academic unit
Credit points 6
Assumed knowledge


Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Ella MacEns,
Lecturer(s) Ella Macens,
Tutor(s) Chloe Sinclair,
Jonathan Byrnes,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Final exam (Record+) Type B final exam Final exam
Final exam
30% Formal exam period 1.5 hours
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO3 LO4 LO5
Assignment Weekly submitted tasks
Weekly set tasks (10% for written tasks, 10% for aural tasks)
20% Multiple weeks Variable from week to week
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5
Assignment Assignment
Written assignment
30% STUVAC Equivalent to 1000 words.
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5
In-semester test (On-campus supervised) Mid semester exam
RE students online. CC students to do BringYourOwnLaptop test in class.
20% Week 08
Due date: 19 Sep 2022 at 17:00

Closing date: 19 Sep 2022
50 minutes
Outcomes assessed: LO5 LO1 LO3
Type B final exam = Type B final exam ?

Assessment summary

As it is not possible to outline every weekly task here, 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 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 Lecture - Rhythm (1) – Beat and Metre. Online class (1 hr) LO1 LO3 LO4
Written and Aural tutorials as per Canvas site. Tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO4 LO5
Week 02 Lecture - Rhythm (2) – Showing time signatures. Note Values in relation to the beats. Tempo. Examples from notated music. Online class (1 hr) LO1 LO3 LO4 LO5
Written and Aural tutorials as per Canvas site. Tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO3 LO4 LO5
Week 03 Lecture - Pitch (1) – the staff, note names, accidentals, piano keyboard, tones and semitones. Online class (1 hr) LO1 LO3 LO4
Written and Aural tutorials as per Canvas site. Tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO3 LO4
Week 04 Lecture - Pitch (2) – major and minor, scales, key signatures. Online class (1 hr) LO1 LO3 LO4
Written and Aural tutorials as per Canvas site. Tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO3 LO4
Week 05 Lecture - Pitch (3) – intervals (thirds), triads. Online class (1 hr) LO1 LO3 LO4
Written and Aural tutorials as per Canvas site. Tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO3 LO4
Week 06 Lecture - Pitch (4) – chords from scales, roman numerals. Online class (1 hr) LO1 LO3 LO4
Written and Aural tutorials as per Canvas site. Tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO3 LO4
Week 07 Lecture - More on rhythm - Revision of what we already know + tuplets, syncopation. Online class (1 hr) LO1 LO3 LO4 LO5
Written and Aural tutorials as per Canvas site. Tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO3 LO4 LO5
Week 08 Lecture - Reading a score (1) - Instrumentation, orchestration, expressive techniques. Online class (1 hr) LO1 LO3 LO5
Written and Aural tutorials as per Canvas site. Tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO3 LO5
Week 09 Lecture - Pitch (5) – chord progressions. Online class (1 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5
Written and Aural tutorials as per Canvas site. Tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5
Week 11 Lecture - Pitch (6) – Putting chords to a given melody. Online class (1 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Written and Aural tutorials as per Canvas site. Tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 12 Lecture - Writing a melody over a given chord progression. Online class (1 hr) LO1 LO2 LO4
Written and Aural tutorials as per Canvas site. Tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO4
Week 13 Lecture - Analysis. Online class (1 hr) LO1 LO3 LO5
Written and Aural tutorials as per Canvas site. Tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO3 LO5

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%. For each lecture or tutorial missed, you will lose 1 attendance mark. For each piece of nonassessed tutorial work not completed, you will lose 1 attendance mark. Be warned that missing even one lecture may severely impact upon your learning in this unit of study.

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

Students will need to download either the free Sibelius First notation software or the free MuseScore notation software. The final assignment and some weekly assignments must be completed using this software.

Students will need to purchase a yearly license to Auralia. Details will be given in the first Aural tutorial.

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. understand basic music notation
  • LO2. create new music using music notation skills and using techniques common to many Western music composers
  • LO3. recognise musical structures and in many cases, notate them
  • LO4. use pieces of music technology and be able to apply these skills to other forms of music technology in the future
  • LO5. gain an insight into alternative forms of music-making, both Western and non-Western.

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 Canvas quizzes will be updated to more seamlessly show student responses and correct marks.


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.