MU3003 - Theory, Harmony and Improvisation

What will I learn on this module?

In this module, essential knowledge of harmony will be delivered in a fresh, innovative and creative way. You will focus on absorbing a sense of harmonic progression through learning to play guitar chords. You will gain the facility for harmonising a range of melodic material, identifying similar progressions of chords in disparate genres. You will also experiment with improvising on your instrument over chord progressions you have learned, and use repertoire on your instrument as inspiration for your own creativity. This experiential learning is at the heart of the course, but as well as learning through doing, you will also study music theory and aural to help you relate your experience to written music. Although the guitar is used as a tool to teach harmony, you will also acquire some basic guitar playing skills that may be of use to you in a career in Music.

How will I learn on this module?

You will explore harmony and improvisation creatively in weekly workshops. There is a series of lectures introducing you to music theory which ties into computer-based self-directed learning which enables you to proceed at your own pace, and to spend time consolidating any areas of weakness.

You will be set tasks to do in preparation for workshops.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

You will be given considerable support by the Module Tutor within workshops, during publicised office hours and via email. You will be constantly working with your peers in a spirit of mutual support, encouragement and collaboration. The programme leader will guide you through the requirements and expectations of your course. You will receive on-going feedback each week during the workshops which will help you prepare for the final assessment.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at:
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team –

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:
1. Through an experiential understanding of how music is created, you will gain a knowledge of music theory and develop an understanding of key musical concepts essential for further study.
Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
2. You will demonstrate a capacity for independent, self-motivated learning and time management through regular practice.

3. You will develop confidence in harmonisation and improvisation.

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
4. You will demonstrate a capacity for curiosity, creativity, and intellectual openness

How will I be assessed?

1. FORMATIVE: In-course tests within theory/aural software packages. MLOs: 1, 2. Instant feedback within software.
2. SUMMATIVE harmony/improvisation assessment (50%). MLOs: 1, 2, 3, 4. Feedback through annotations to musical score and/or short report on improvisation.
3. SUMMATIVE Theory examination (50%). MLOs: 1, 2. Normally, just a mark will be given.

Feedback will also be given in class on weekly formative assignments in harmony/improvisation, which will mostly be practical in nature.


Entry to the Music Foundation Year in Music



Module abstract

You will be taught harmony in a fresh, innovative and creative way through the medium of the guitar. You will learn how to harmonise a range of melodic material, and develop a repertoire of common chord progressions. These then become the basis of improvisation on your instrument, and you can also explore your creativity by taking inspiration from repertoire for your instrument/voice. At the same time, you will study theory and aural to help you relate your experiential learning to written music. You will explore harmony and improvisation creatively in weekly workshops. Fortnightly lectures will support your computer-based, self-directed learning in theory and aural.

Course info

UCAS Code W310

Credits 20

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 1 year full-time followed by a further 3 years full-time or 4 years with a placement (sandwich)/study abroad

Department Humanities

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2023 or September 2024

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing.

Full time Courses starting in 2023 are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but may include elements of online learning. We continue to monitor government and local authority guidance in relation to Covid-19 and we are ready and able to flex accordingly to ensure the health and safety of our students and staff.

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with additional restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors, potentially to a full online offer, should further restrictions be deemed necessary in future. Our online activity will be delivered through Blackboard Ultra, enabling collaboration, connection and engagement with materials and people.


Current, Relevant and Inspiring

We continuously review and improve course content in consultation with our students and employers. To make sure we can inform you of any changes to your course register for updates on the course page.

Your Learning Experience

Find out about our distinctive approach at

Admissions Terms and Conditions

Fees and Funding

Admissions Policy

Admissions Complaints Policy