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The University of Southampton

FILM3012 Music in Film and Television

Module Overview

In recent years, film culture has become increasingly aware of the film industry’s connections with the music industry. In some cases, critics have decried the use of films as vehicles for the sale of unconnected pop songs as if it were a new development, yet similar processes have been in place since before the advent of sound cinema in the late 1920s. This module will be concerned with the historical development of film and television music as a distinct aesthetic element. It will look into production strategies, commercial, promotional and reception concerns and the place of musical accompaniment in audiovisual products. This will include, among others, sessions focusing on the development of Classical Hollywood film music, the Classical Musical film, television incidental music, MTV and beyond.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • the history and traditions of production in film and television music, particularly those of European and American film and television.
  • the dominant theoretical approaches that have been taken to music and the moving image.
  • the aesthetic affordances of music in combination with the moving image, as illustrated by certain key audiovisual texts.
  • some techniques and approaches that might be used in the analysis of music in film and television.
  • various traditional forms of music and the moving image, including scores for dramatic films, film musicals and pop video.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • critically examine particular uses of music in film and television.
  • trace the impact of production processes and traditions on film and television music formats.
  • discuss the various techniques and conventions associated with musical accompaniment to film and television programmes.
  • evaluate and draw upon a range of scholarly and audiovisual sources in order to formulate, structure and justify your own arguments.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • analyze the details of audiovisual texts.
  • select, organise and deploy ideas and information in order to formulate cogent arguments and express them effectively in written and oral forms.
  • work independently, making effective use of library, archival and Internet resources and demonstrating efficient time management.
  • demonstrate the ability to listen to, contribute to, and lead discussion in group environments of varying sizes.
  • work productively with others and give an effective oral presentation using a variety of visual aids that engages and informs its audience and generates further debate.
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • transcribe sequences of film with music into a tabulated format.
  • listen analytically to music in film that is often not an object in the foreground of the film experience.
  • describe the processes central to music in film and the soundtrack more generally.


The module syllabus will typically include: • Sound and terms • Classical Hollywood cinema and incidental music • Classical Hollywood and other traditions of incidental music • Classical Film Musicals • Post and Pop Musicals • Pop Music Cinema and Rock documentaries • Songs and Music Culture in Films • Music and Television • Music Video • Music in Video Games • Digital audio-visual culture and beyond

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include • lectures • seminars • screenings Learning activities include • preparing and delivering presentations • independent study and research

Independent Study102
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Jeff Smith (1999). The Sounds of Commerce. 

K.J.Donnelly (ed) (2001). Film Music: Critical Approaches. 

Rick Altman (ed) (1992). Sound Theory, Sound Practice. 

Jamie Sexton (ed) (2007). Music, Sound and Multimedia. 

Ian Conrich and Estella Tincknell (eds) (2006). Musical Moments. 

K.J.Donnelly (2006). The Spectre of Sound: Music in Film and Television. 

Michel Chion (1994). Audio-Vision. 

Kay Dickinson (ed) (2004). Movie Music: The Reader. 

Steve Cohan (ed) (2004). Movie Musicals: The Reader. 


Assessment Strategy

Assessments designed to provide informal, on-unit feedback - Discussion of essay work - Feedback on presentations - Tutorials


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay 60%
Project  (2000 words) 40%


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (5000 words) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

Linked modules

FILM1001 or FILM2006 or FILM1027 or FILM1020

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