Syllabus for Philosophy of Music



  • 7.5 credits
  • Course code: 5ES074
  • Education cycle: Second cycle
  • Main field(s) of study and in-depth level: Aesthetics A1N
  • Grading system: Fail (U), Pass (G), Pass with distinction (VG)
  • Established: 2020-06-08
  • Established by: The Department Board
  • Applies from: week 01, 2021
  • Entry requirements: Fulfilment of the requirements for a Bachelor's degree with the main field of study within the humanities.
  • Responsible department: Department of Philosophy

Learning outcomes

At the conclusion of this course, the student will be expected to:

  • have acquired an up-to-date knowledge of different historical and contemporary perspectives on music, including relevant methodological and theoretical approaches
  • have developed an ability to critically evaluate and apply different theoretical and conceptual perspectives on music
  • have developed and improved the skills needed to define topics suitable for contribution to research in musical aesthetics, for analysing the topics and presenting the analyses in concise and comprehensible ways.


This course covers key philosophical issues in the aesthetics of music, and is designed equally for students with backgrounds in musicology and philosophy. Following an introduction to key concepts in the philosophy of music, the course will initially look at the history of musical aesthetics with a particular focus on sources from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. These include theories of mimesis, representation and expression in music, the concept of "absolute" music, and issues relating to modernism in music. The second part of the course will tackle themes of particular relevance to the contemporary study of musical aesthetics, including the problem of musical expression, the relation between music and language, and issues relating to film music.


Lectures and seminars. The language of instruction is English.


Written coursework assignments and active participation in seminars.

If there are special reasons for doing so, an examiner may make an exception from the method of assessment indicated and allow a student to be assessed by another method. An example of special reasons might be a certificate regarding special pedagogical support from the University's disability coordinator.

Reading list

Reading list

Applies from: week 02, 2021

The readings consists of articles and possibly book extracts. Information about the readings is announced in the Student Portal/Studium at the latest five weeks before the course starts.