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University of Edinburgh

Fundamentals of Music Theory

University of Edinburgh via Coursera


This course, revised in 2022, will introduce you to the theory of music, providing you with the skills needed to read and write Western music notation, as well as to understand, analyse, and listen informedly.

It will cover material such as pitches and scales, intervals, clefs, rhythm, form, metre and time signatures, phrases and cadences, and basic harmony.

This course covers the fundamentals of Western music theory, from the absolute basics to some more advanced concepts. As such, it is the perfect course for beginners and more experienced musicians alike.


  • Pitches, Scales, Modes and Chords
  • Keys, Minor Scales, Intervals and Clefs
  • Rhythm and Form
  • Harmony 1: Functional Harmony
  • Harmony 2: Inversions, Cadences and Sequences
  • Harmonic Analysis Practice and Final Exam

Taught by

Michael Edwards, Zack Moir and Richard Worth


4.1 rating, based on 24 Class Central reviews

4.5 rating at Coursera based on 1614 ratings

Start your review of Fundamentals of Music Theory

  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    Very challenging for complete beginners. The taught material is minimal for the complexity of the subject matter, and the quizzes/assignments often go beyond what has been adequately taught, so you're forced to resort to Google and Wikipedia. Quizzes...
  • Craig L

    Craig L is taking this course right now, spending 3 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.

    The teachers do not teach well. One example is the section using Ami to build triads from. A girl and a guy are teaching. The girl says they will use " A relative natural minor of C major ". However, at the third degree the guy says they will use the...
  • Michael Steel
    I'm pretty much a beginner in music and I learned an awful lot from this course. I found it very difficult though and spent a lot more time on it each week than is suggested. The weekly exams made you think very hard about what you had been taught, but...
  • Profile image for Mircea Rafael Moldovan
    Mircea Rafael Moldovan
    Hey there, everyone!

    This is Mircea Rafael and I love everything about Music and Music Production... Now my question is this; About the Certificate, does it has an expiration date, or never expire?

    Very much agree to pay for the Certificate, and what's most important it's the 'LEARNING TOOL' and all the deep foundation one gets from the course, especially if u are one of these passionate about Learning and Music, but it would be really nice if, there won't be any expiration date on the Certificate.

    What's your opinion, kindly someone could answer my question?

    Thank You!
    Mircea Rafael

  • Profile image for Pam Gould
    Pam Gould

    Pam Gould completed this course, spending 10 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be very hard.

    This is fundamentals, not an introduction. My music knowledge was not good enough to complete the course this time, but I've downloaded it and I'm still making progress. A fabulous course. I'll do it again for sure - and perhaps be able to finish it this time.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    Intense course, from scratch to total analysis of a classical piece of music. Great course, but absolutely not for starters in music theory.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    This class has much going for it. Lectures are interesting. Good organization. Links to sites that would further explain topics. Unfortunately there appears to be little or no instructor interaction on the discussion page, and corrections or clarifications that could have been made after the course was beta-tested were not made, ( except for an additional video on modulation) so questions are sometimes confusing. However, the worst thing is that, as far as I can see, they teach to one level and then base the final test, especially the second, peer-reviewed part, to a substantially harder level. I would not recommend this class for a total beginner, especially if they are paying for it. Suggest taking a more basic class first.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    I found this incredibly frustrating. The lectures were great and easy to follow, I felt I was really developing a deeper understanding. BUT then the exams at the end of each lecture consistently required you to use these obscure cleffs that only people singing in large classical choirs need. Seriously. This course does not set itself out to be the intro to choral works of the great masters so why do we need to use these to demonstrate fundamentals like diminished chords? I found this too frustrating to complete the exams. Sorry Coursera this also means I won't pay to get the certificate and I am onto udemy now. Hopefully I get something a bit less oriented to the obsscure.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    I entered this course with a minimal knowledge of scales, pitches, and dynamics. Can I lie? No. This course is not for the faint of heart! However, I pushed hard, finishing with a deeper—almost philosophical—understanding of the structure, expression, and notation behind music theory. If you're willing to brave a challenge, I highly recommend this course.
  • Marianne

    Marianne completed this course.

    Fantastic course ... Phenomenal teaching team. They are intensely engaged and very helpful over the tough patches. Hang in there and you will have a foundation that will support any further pursuits in music. I plugged along and learned heaps. Did not take the final, but will take the class again and go for it because those that tried for it seemed like they were having a blast .
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous is taking this course right now.

    Excellent course. Teaching is of a high standard. The community ecosystem on FB, Twitter and Coursera Forum brings the whole course alive. Humorous posts from around the world, side by side with in depth analysis by both staff and more experienced students. I decided to pay Coursera for the Signature Track, which involves using a webcam and type on a PC keyboard. The webcam was also useful on a Google Hangout on Air tutorial I attended in week 2. A really good course.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous is taking this course right now.

    Needs an introductions course as this one comes a bit out of nowhere, and the lectures are a bit too short for someone looking to get started with it, and things are emphasized enough for a person that's potentially going to be doing the test.
  • Anonymous
    Sou apaixonado por musica , queria poder viver so da música a cada acorde que eu faço ele mim leva a outra dimensão
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    I really like this course. It was a bit intense for my knowledge so I did not do my final test however I learnt a lot and would take it again !
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous is taking this course right now.

    Loving this course! I'm finding it really challenging, as it introduces a lot of new concepts and information, and I've never had any formal training in music, but the staff are helpful, engaged and approachable.
  • Profile image for Jos Gysenbergs
    Jos Gysenbergs

    Jos Gysenbergs completed this course, spending 6 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.

    Excellent! Never learned so many fundamentals about music in such a short time. Never boring but needs a bit of perseverance though.
  • Dog Person

    Dog Person completed this course, spending 3 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be hard.

    I didn't like how teachers presented the topics. Was very hard to follow and ended up quitting the course frustrated.
  • Stephen Root

    Stephen Root completed this course and found the course difficulty to be hard.

    I go through the first 4 weeks of this course. The tests each week were esoteric and by week 4 would have required me to practice the materials for many, many hours in order to truly understand and implement the materials. Obviously, since one can retake the qualifying tests repeatedly, one can find a way to move on to the following week, but what for?
  • Profile image for Stella Mendonça
    Stella Mendonça

    Stella Mendonça is taking this course right now.

  • Marat Minshin

    Marat Minshin completed this course, spending 8 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.

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