Studying online

There are now 2 possible online modes for units:

Units with modes Online timetabled and Online flexible are available for any student to self-enrol and study online.

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Unit Overview


This unit provides students with an introduction to music and science. It focuses on the interaction between the two disciplines in order to develop an understanding of music through scientific approaches to the study of musical production and performance, perception and cognition. It examines its acoustical properties (instruments and performance venues being considered); its biological, neurobiological aspects as related to musical phenomena (evolutionary function, brain architecture); and its psychological aspects including why and how music is perceived and processed by the performer and listener. Key questions include—What are the physical properties of sound? What are the physical processes of listening? What has scientific research illuminated about our perception of sound? What distinguishes music from other sound phenomena? How do the acoustical features of musical instruments operate? What are the acoustical features of musical instruments? How has musical performance been extended by technologies? How have new technologies and scientific discoveries affected musical creativity and perception over time? How do musicians learn to work with room acoustics to get the best out of their playing? How is musical pitch and rhythm apprehended and then used by the perceiver and the performer? What evidence is there that music is processed in similar and different ways to spoken language? These are some of the questions that are explored in the unit. This unit is an elective unit in the Specialist Music Studies major in the Bachelor of Arts degree. It is also open to students enrolled in other majors and degree pathways who fulfill the prerequisites and who have an interest in music.

6 points
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Level 2 elective

Students are able to (1) understand organising principles and concepts of musical acoustics, biology and neurobiology of music processing, and music perception and cognition; (2) articulate some of the main lines of enquiry within the discipline of music science; (3) explain how advances in scientific knowledge have affected musical creativity and understanding over time; and (4) demonstrate a practical understanding of music science, using skills acquired in laboratories and workshops.


This comprises an analytical task, a laboratory report and an examination.

Student may be offered supplementary assessment in this unit if they meet the eligibility criteria.

Unit Coordinator(s)
Associate Professor Alan Lourens
Unit rules
any Level 1 Music unit
or ANHB1101 Human Biology I: Becoming Human
or ANHB1102 Human Biology II: Being Human
or PSYC1101 Psychology: Mind and Brain
or PSYC1102 Psychology: Behaviour in Context
Contact hours
lectures: 2 hrs per week
  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Unit readings, including any essential textbooks, are listed in the unit outline for each unit, one week prior the commencement of study. The unit outline will be available via the LMS and the UWA Handbook one week prior the commencement of study. Reading lists and essential textbooks are subject to change each semester. Information on essential textbooks will also be made available on the Essential Textbooks. This website is updated regularly in the lead up to semester so content may change. It is recommended that students purchase essential textbooks for convenience due to the frequency with which they will be required during the unit. A limited number of textbooks will be made available from the Library in print and will also be made available online wherever possible. Essential textbooks can be purchased from the commercial vendors to secure the best deal. The Student Guild can provide assistance on where to purchase books if required. Books can be purchased second hand at the Guild Secondhand bookshop (second floor, Guild Village), which is located on campus.
  • Contact hours provide an indication of the type and extent of in-class activities this unit may contain. The total amount of student work (including contact hours, assessment time, and self-study) will approximate 150 hours per 6 credit points.