Music and the Mind

Unit code: ACO3003 | Study level: Undergraduate
(Generally, 1 credit = 10 hours of classes and independent study.)
Footscray Nicholson
Footscray Park
Students enrolled in course code ABAB and LBLA  must complete at least 24 credit points (equivalent to 2 units) of an Arts Major before undertaking any Level 3 units.
(Or equivalent to be determined by unit coordinator)


This unit of study explores how musical sound is identified and processed by the human ear and brain and the subsequent effects and interrelationships music has with our memory, emotions, and physical wellbeing. Students begin with a review of hearing and brain anatomy and function, with a focus on the neural processes that transfer sound from the ear to the brain and the parts of the brain responsible for processing auditory information. This leads to an exploration of how people identify and recognise sounds, undergoing the process from sensation to cognition. The unit then continues with studies of the relationship between music and memory, and between music and emotion including the educational and therapeutic contexts. The unit includes the application of an exploration of theories of musical talent, and the essential cognitive traits of a professional or expert musician.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:

  1. Articulate key theoretical concepts and terminology related to psychoacoustics, music perception and cognition;
  2. Analyse and evaluate how sound and music affect intellectual, emotional and physical states in both everyday and therapeutic contexts;
  3. Discriminate between objective physical sensations and responses, and subjective emotional/intellectual sensations and responses to sound and music;
  4. Reflect on the effects music has on life experience, memory and cultural identity; and
  5. Investigate the effects of musical exposure and practice on human development.


For Melbourne campuses

Assessment type: Exercise
Grade: 25%
Theory and aural exercises
Assessment type: Literature Review
Grade: 25%
Review of current research in the field
Assessment type: Test
Grade: 25%
Online quiz
Assessment type: Presentation
Grade: 25%
Musical presentation

Required reading

Selected readings will be made available via VU Collaborate.

As part of a course

This unit is not compulsory for any specific course. Depending on the course you study, this unit may be taken as an elective.

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