• Class Number 4322
  • Term Code 3130
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Alexander Hunter
    • Alexander Hunter
    • Rachael Thoms
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 22/02/2021
  • Class End Date 28/05/2021
  • Census Date 31/03/2021
  • Last Date to Enrol 01/03/2021
    • Roya Safaei
SELT Survey Results

The Aural Skills and Music Theory courses are a series of courses compulsory for all Bachelor of Music students that develop core skills underpinning analytical and practical engagement in a variety of musical idioms, including common practice, jazz, and popular styles. In this course, students apply their knowledge of functional harmony to gain a deeper appreciation of music while developing greater fluency in reading and interpreting music notation and shorthands. The theory component is complemented with the sequential and aligned development of relevant aural skills, including audiation (inner hearing) and aural awareness of related melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic structures, through individual and group listening, reading and performing (singing), and dictation activities.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

  1. demonstrate, through prose and music notation, an understanding of the core elements of music, including pitch, harmony, rhythm, and form;
  2. fluently apply theoretical knowledge through analysis of music scores using appropriate terminology and notation;
  3. demonstrate an ability to read and interpret relevant music notation, including inner hearing of melody, harmony, and rhythm, through sight-singing, sight-reading, and performance activities; and
  4. aurally identify and creative interpret the various elements of music, including pitch, chords, harmony, and rhythm, as demonstrated through notation and performance tasks.

Research-Led Teaching

Lecturers in this course are working to lead the international conversation regarding the teaching and learning of theory and aural skills in the decolonising academy. We are in a constant state of reevaluating the materials, techniques and perspectives utilised in this course in order to reflect the dynamic postmodern cultural landscape of Australia and the rest of the planet in the 21st Century. Students in this course are provided with a creative, playful and academically rigorous space in which to pursue their own autoethnographic research-led praxis.

Field Trips

Students are encouraged to attend live and online concerts and other artistic and performative events throughout the semester, as well as trips to the library for research materials and training sessions.

Required Resources

Notebook (digital or paper); 600ml or larger water bottle; reusable straw (details on Wattle); headphones; access to a computer with a camera and microphone as well as notation (Sibelius, Musescore, Finale), DAW (Logic, Reaper, ProTools, Ableton, etc.), electronic music (SuperCollider), video editing (iMovie, Final Cut, Openshot, etc.) and analysis (Sonic Visualiser) software; metronome and other apps for your mobile phone (as discussed in class) - More details regarding this list will be provided on Wattle and discussed in week 1

Students will be provided with weekly resources and are also required to seek out resources from the library and various online sources throughout the semester.

Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:

  • written comments
  • verbal comments
  • feedback to whole class, groups, individuals, focus group etc

Student Feedback

ANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). The feedback given in these surveys is anonymous and provides the Colleges, University Education Committee and Academic Board with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement. The Surveys and Evaluation website provides more information on student surveys at ANU and reports on the feedback provided on ANU courses.

Other Information

Hurdle requirement: A minimum mark of 50% cumulatively across all assessment items in the aural component, and a minimum mark of 50% cumulatively across all assessment items in the theory component, is required to pass the course, regardless of performance in other items.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Intro to the course; What is theory; What is aural skills; What is musical research Students are asked to think about and reflect on their goals for the semester and year in the first of their weekly journal entries
2 Theory: What is sound and how does it work? Aural skills: Key centres and working with the major scale; hearing meter, form, instrumentation and key centre/tonality
3 Theory: What is music and how does it work? How do we get meaning out of it? Aural skills: Root movement, meter and improvising with the major scale Aural skills journal entry
4 Theory: Melodic and rhythmic motives and phrases structures Aural skills: The harmonic minor scale and working with rhythm; adding motivic markers to your transcription practice
5 Theory: Tension and release: contextual analysis and cadences Aural skills: Improvising with the harmonic minor scale and building arpeggiated triads; working with dotted rhythms and triplets Aural skills journal entry; Final theory project proposals due
6 Theory: Form and larger structures, a historical and cross-cultural study Aural skills: Conferences and revision Mid-semester aural skills conferences during tutorial times
7 Theory: James Brown and Gregorian Chant: melody and bass line interactions; Two-part counterpoint Aural skills: Working with the natural minor scale; identifying chord quality and harmonic rhythm Aural skills journal entry
8 Theory: How does harmony support narrative structures? Diatonic chords and harmonic sequences Aural skills: Improvising with natural minor; hearing and using syncopation
9 Theory: Harmonic techniques and their relationships to musical style Aural skills: Strategies for building other scales; developing your transcription (melody, rhythm, harmony, bassline)
10 Theory: Tying it all together in case studies: analysis of a notated work Aural skills: Building audiation with repertoire; developing your transcription (melody, rhythm, harmony, bassline) Aural skills journal entry; Theory project annotated bibliography due
11 Theory: Tying it all together in case studies: analysis of a recorded work Aural skills: Extending audiation practice with repertoire; developing your transcription (melody, rhythm, harmony, bassline)
12 Theory: Tying it all together in case studies: analysis of a performed work (live performance, dance, musical theatre, opera) Aural skills: Conferences End of semester aural skills conferences during tutorial times; Aural skills project and theory project due during exam period

Tutorial Registration

Students will have the opportunity to select a theory tutorial and an aural skills tutorial via the course Wattle site (each week you will be required to attend both theory and aural skills lectures and tutorials).

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Theory project proposal (10%) 10 % 28/03/2021 11/04/2021 1,2,3
Mid-semester aural skills conference (20%) 20 % 04/04/2021 18/04/2021 1,2,3,4
Theory project annotated bibliography (20%) 20 % 16/05/2021 30/05/2021 1,2,3
End of semester aural skills conference (10%) 10 % 30/05/2021 13/06/2021 1,2,3,4
Aural skills project (20%) 20 % 06/06/2021 20/06/2021 1,2,3,4
Theory project (20%) 20 % 10/06/2021 24/06/2021 1,2,3

* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details


ANU has educational policies, procedures and guidelines, which are designed to ensure that staff and students are aware of the University’s academic standards, and implement them. Students are expected to have read the Academic Misconduct Rule before the commencement of their course. Other key policies and guidelines include:

Assessment Requirements

The ANU is using Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the Academic Integrity . In rare cases where online submission using Turnitin software is not technically possible; or where not using Turnitin software has been justified by the Course Convener and approved by the Associate Dean (Education) on the basis of the teaching model being employed; students shall submit assessment online via ‘Wattle’ outside of Turnitin, or failing that in hard copy, or through a combination of submission methods as approved by the Associate Dean (Education). The submission method is detailed below.

Moderation of Assessment

Marks that are allocated during Semester are to be considered provisional until formalised by the College examiners meeting at the end of each Semester. If appropriate, some moderation of marks might be applied prior to final results being released.


Students are expected to attend and participate in weekly lectures and tutorials, as well as scheduled conferences with lecturers. There will also be opportunities for communicating with, learning from and supporting your classmates online via Teams throughout the semester.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 10 %
Due Date: 28/03/2021
Return of Assessment: 11/04/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3

Theory project proposal (10%)

At the end of week 5 you will be asked to submit (via Wattle) a 500-word proposal outlining your plans for the final project. This proposal should include the following sections:

  • Summary of your topic and your research goals
  • Context and justification for your interest, including a discussion of relevant existing knowledge and experience
  • An idea of which sources might be relevant to your study
  • An outline/timeline of your plan for the semester

Assessment submission:

  • Word document submitted via Wattle (~500 words)

Assessment criteria:


  • Demonstrated ability to clearly explain your project and research goals
  • Demonstrated ability to contextualise your project and describe relevant sources
  • Demonstrated ability to design a research project of appropriate scope and content
  • Grammar, spelling and clarity of academic writing

Assessment Task 2

Value: 20 %
Due Date: 04/04/2021
Return of Assessment: 18/04/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4

Mid-semester aural skills conference (20%)

This assessment consists of two parts:

Part 1: You will be supplied with a template to establish a digital Reflective Journal/Practice Diary. Your daily/weekly practice entries are for your private planning and monitoring purposes. In weeks one, three and seven you are asked to write an entry (~200 words each) reflecting on the following: 


  • Week One: reflect on your Aural Skills learning goals for the semester.  
  • Week Three: revisit your week one learning goals. Are they still important/relevant? Explain why or why not and how you’ve developed new ones (if applicable). 
  • Week Five: how are you progressing towards your goals? What do you still need to achieve? What will you do to achieve this?  


At the end of week six you will be asked to submit (via Wattle) edited versions of these three excerpts (Week One, Week Three and Week Five) from your Reflective Journal (~200 words for each individual excerpt, total ~600 words).   


Part 2: You are also asked to develop, describe and demonstrate an Aural Skills exercise that you created to address the learning goals you have identified in your Reflective Journal and that responds to your reflections on progress towards achieving those goals. Your exercise should:

  • Address skills relevant to your specific goals
  • Demonstrate creative problem-solving abilities and effective practice strategies
  • Draw on several of the key aural skills concepts (melody, intervals, harmony, rhythm) covered in Weeks 1 – 5 of the course. 

You are asked to submit a ~500-word justification for and explanation of your Aural Skills exercise, which must include a notated sample (using appropriate software; Sibelius/Musescore) of the exercise and include at least one external source/citation. You will be asked to demonstrate the exercise as part of your Week 6 Feedback Conference.  


Assessment Submission:


  • A single word document submitted via Wattle including your 3 x ~200-word Reflective Journal and your ~500-word Aural Skills exercise justification and explanation, including a notated sample of the exercise (embedded or as an appendix)  
  • Demonstrate your Aural Skills exercise as part of your Week Six 10-minute Individual Feedback Conference


Assessment criteria: 


  • Appropriateness of exercise based on Aural Skills learning goals and progress identified in Reflective Journal entries.  
  • Demonstration of creative problem-solving abilities, effective practice strategies and inclusion of several key aural skills concepts.  
  • Demonstrated ability to succinctly explain and justify your exercise. 
  • Demonstrated ability to accurately perform your Aural Skills exercise in accordance with the notated sample.  
  • Grammar, spelling, clarity of writing, accurate and clear music notation.  
  • Demonstrated ability to make use of appropriate resource and sources/citations. 

Assessment Task 3

Value: 20 %
Due Date: 16/05/2021
Return of Assessment: 30/05/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3

Theory project annotated bibliography (20%)

At the end of week 9 you will be asked to submit (via Wattle) an updated summary of your theory project (~100 words). Has it changed since week 5? If so, why and how?

You are also asked to submit an academic-style annotated bibliography with at least 10 sources that you investigated during your research this semester in the context of your final project. There should be a mix of sources which may include: interviews, scores, recordings, articles, album reviews, blog posts, etc. Each entry should contain the formatted citation and a brief discussion of the relevance of the sources and content to your research, and an evaluation of its (and the author's) credibility.

Assessment submission:

  • Word document submitted via Wattle with the ~100-word summary at the top of the page, followed by the annotated bibliography

Assessment criteria:

  • Demonstrated ability to make use of at least 10 appropriate resources in the context of a research project
  • Demonstrated ability to critique the relevance and credibility of listed sources.
  • Formatting, spelling and grammar and appropriate formatting of a Chicago Style bibliography

Assessment Task 4

Value: 10 %
Due Date: 30/05/2021
Return of Assessment: 13/06/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4

End of semester aural skills conference (10%)

Continuing your digital Reflective Journal/Practice Diary, in weeks seven and ten, you are asked to write a paragraph (~200 words each) reflecting on the following: 


  • Week Seven: after your Week Six conference discussion, what thoughts do you have about your goals and your progress?  
  • Week Ten: write about the achievement or progress towards your learning goals so far this semester. Are there any additional learning goals you’ve thought of?  


In Week 12 you will be asked to submit (via Wattle) these two excerpts (Week Seven and Week Ten) from your Reflective Journal (~200 words for each individual excerpt, total ~400 words).   


You will also be invited to a 10-minute Individual Feedback conference to discuss feedback, ask questions, reflect on the Aural Skills course and content, and plan for your final project.  


Assessment Submission:  


  • Word document submitted via Wattle with 2 x ~200-word Reflective Journal 
  • Attend 10-minute Individual Feedback Conference 


Assessment criteria: 


  • Demonstrated ability to reflect on feedback, develop appropriate goals and plan effective practice.   
  • Effective communication and clarity of discussion and reflective writing pertaining to Aural Skills development.   
  • Grammar, spelling, clarity of writing, accurate and clear music notation and citations (where applicable)  

Assessment Task 5

Value: 20 %
Due Date: 06/06/2021
Return of Assessment: 20/06/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4

Aural skills project (20%)

 Using your Week 6 Aural Skills exercise, your Reflective Journal entries (in particular weeks three, five, seven and ten), your Practice Diary and your Individual Feedback Conferences to guide you, develop a 5-minute Aural Skills YouTube Tutorial.  Your video should focus on aspects of your Aural Skills development that have presented a significant challenge, or the achievement of a learning goal you identified in your Reflective Journal.  

You will be asked to submit a Word document containing a short summary (2-3 sentences) explaining and justifying your exercise, a notated sample of the exercise (using appropriate music notation software), and a bibliography that includes at least 5 sources relevant to the Aural Skills concepts in your YouTube tutorial.  


Assessment Submission:  


  • Word document submitted via Wattle with embedded YouTube or Vimeo hyperlink to your 5-minute tutorial video (this video should be unlisted - please get in touch if this is an issue), written summary (2-3 sentences), notated musical example and bibliography (at least 5 sources in Chicago Style).  


Assessment criteria: 


  • Appropriateness of tutorial video based on Aural Skills learning goals and progress identified in Reflective Journal entries and Individual Feedback Conferences.  
  • Demonstrate creative problem-solving abilities, effective practice strategies and inclusion of more than one key aural skills concept.  
  • Demonstrated ability to explain and demonstrate/perform your exercise in a 5-minute video tutorial (in accordance with the notated sample and the written summary).  
  • Grammar, spelling, clarity of writing, accurate and clear music notation (using Sibelius, Musescore, etc.).  
  • Demonstrated ability to make use of and accurately format at least 5 sources in Chicago Style. 

Assessment Task 6

Value: 20 %
Due Date: 10/06/2021
Return of Assessment: 24/06/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3

Theory project (20%)

Students may choose from (additional formats/topics must be approved by the lecturer if different from either the week 5 or 9 assessments):


A) Analysis of a piece you are performing or have performed, with a discussion of its historical and cultural context and how this relates to performance practice

B) Discussion of the evolution of a musical instrument, ensemble, style or form of music over time and/or geographical location (in the context of the course material)

C) Performance journal documenting your progress learning a piece of music, with ongoing (e.g. weekly) documented score annotations, supported with theoretical and historical sources

D) A short composition or arrangement/orchestration demonstrating the application of a topic(s) discussed in class, with justification and context from the literature

E) A ‘theme and variations’ composition (any instrumentation) in which each variation demonstrates a different style, technique or historical practice, with some discussion of how the original material is differently affected by each of these variations

F) An arrangement/contrafact in which you take some part(s) of an existing work (e.g. the melodic line, harmonic progression or rhythmic patterns) and rewrite other parts (e.g. the melody, harmonic structure or phrase structure) and discuss the effects and implications of your changes in the context of the original work


Assessment submission:

  • Annotated score(s) identifying and labelling the passages and theoretical concepts discussed
  • ~1000-word exegesis discussing your topic and findings with in-text citations and embedded score excerpts and diagrams
  • Bibliography with at least 10 sources relevant to the topic and analysis (these may be the same as in the annotated bibliography assessment)


Assessment Criteria:

  • Appropriateness of topic (scale and relevance to the course material)
  • Effective communication and clarity of discussion pertaining to relevant musical ideas
  • Effective formulation and organisation of ideas in terms of a coherent argument(s)
  • Grammar, spelling, clarity of writing, and neatness of score annotations (including embedded excerpts)
  • Demonstrated ability to appropriately support your arguments formally through reference to relevant sources via citations and a Chicago Style bibliography

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of the ANU culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically, committing to honest and responsible scholarly practice and upholding these values with respect and fairness.

The ANU commits to assisting all members of our community to understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. The ANU expects staff and students to be familiar with the academic integrity principle and Academic Misconduct Rule, uphold high standards of academic integrity and act ethically and honestly, to ensure the quality and value of the qualification that you will graduate with.

The Academic Misconduct Rule is in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Very minor breaches of the academic integrity principle may result in a reduction of marks of up to 10% of the total marks available for the assessment. The ANU offers a number of online and in person services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. Visit the Academic Skills website for more information about academic integrity, your responsibilities and for assistance with your assignments, writing skills and study.

Online Submission

You will be required to electronically sign a declaration as part of the submission of your assignment. Please keep a copy of the assignment for your records. Unless an exemption has been approved by the Associate Dean (Education) submission must be through Turnitin.

Hardcopy Submission

For some forms of assessment (hand written assignments, art works, laboratory notes, etc.) hard copy submission is appropriate when approved by the Associate Dean (Education). Hard copy submissions must utilise the Assignment Cover Sheet. Please keep a copy of tasks completed for your records.

Late Submission

Individual assessment tasks may or may not allow for late submission. Policy regarding late submission is detailed below:

  • Late submission permitted. Late submission of assessment tasks without an extension are penalised at the rate of 5% of the possible marks available per working day or part thereof. Late submission of assessment tasks is not accepted after 10 working days after the due date, or on or after the date specified in the course outline for the return of the assessment item. Late submission is not accepted for take-home examinations.

Referencing Requirements

Accepted academic practice for referencing sources that you use in presentations can be found via the links on the Wattle site, under the file named “ANU and College Policies, Program Information, Student Support Services and Assessment”. Alternatively, you can seek help through the Students Learning Development website.

Returning Assignments

Feedback and marks will be provided within two weeks of assessment submission.

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure. Extensions may be granted for assessment pieces that are not examinations or take-home examinations. If you need an extension, you must request an extension in writing on or before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to request it after the due date.

Resubmission of Assignments

As music theory and aural skills are ongoing processes of development, students are always encouraged to consider and discuss the potential for the re-submission of assessments. Please get in touch ASAP to chat about this if you think you would like to resubmit anything.

Privacy Notice

The ANU has made a number of third party, online, databases available for students to use. Use of each online database is conditional on student end users first agreeing to the database licensor’s terms of service and/or privacy policy. Students should read these carefully. In some cases student end users will be required to register an account with the database licensor and submit personal information, including their: first name; last name; ANU email address; and other information.
In cases where student end users are asked to submit ‘content’ to a database, such as an assignment or short answers, the database licensor may only use the student’s ‘content’ in accordance with the terms of service – including any (copyright) licence the student grants to the database licensor. Any personal information or content a student submits may be stored by the licensor, potentially offshore, and will be used to process the database service in accordance with the licensors terms of service and/or privacy policy.
If any student chooses not to agree to the database licensor’s terms of service or privacy policy, the student will not be able to access and use the database. In these circumstances students should contact their lecturer to enquire about alternative arrangements that are available.

Distribution of grades policy

Academic Quality Assurance Committee monitors the performance of students, including attrition, further study and employment rates and grade distribution, and College reports on quality assurance processes for assessment activities, including alignment with national and international disciplinary and interdisciplinary standards, as well as qualification type learning outcomes.

Since first semester 1994, ANU uses a grading scale for all courses. This grading scale is used by all academic areas of the University.

Support for students

The University offers students support through several different services. You may contact the services listed below directly or seek advice from your Course Convener, Student Administrators, or your College and Course representatives (if applicable).

Alexander Hunter

Research Interests

Open/Non-linear Music (especially mobile moment form); Open Music Notation (graphic, prose, game pieces, etc.); Spectralism; Acoustic Ecology; Generative, Interactive and Dynamic Music; Intersectional Feminism in musical composition and performance; Anarchism in musical composition and performance; Improvisation Ensembles

Alexander Hunter

Wednesday 09:00 11:00
Wednesday 09:00 11:00
Alexander Hunter

Research Interests

Alexander Hunter

Wednesday 09:00 11:00
Wednesday 09:00 11:00
Rachael Thoms

Research Interests

Rachael Thoms

Roya Safaei

Research Interests

Roya Safaei

Responsible Officer: Registrar, Student Administration / Page Contact: Website Administrator / Frequently Asked Questions