MUS20310 Popular Music and Culture

Academic Year 2022/2023

This module examines the development of Western Popular Music from the 1950s to the present day. Although the course content is arranged chronologically, the course is not an exhaustive survey. Rather, each week focuses on a selected genre or thread in modern popular music, from rock and roll to hip-hop to underground and dance music; by examining these genres and threads, students are introduced to theoretical frameworks by which they can analyse and understand the music in question. These frameworks include media theory, gender and performativity, and the critical examination of race and identity. We also focus more broadly on how popular music propagates itself over time via its relationship to technology, cultural and subcultural movements, and political currents. Although the course does introduce and employ a few basic musical-analytical concepts, it is an elective course and has no prerequisites.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

In this course, students will:

1. Undertake close and sustained study of a number of representative genres in popular music.
2. Examine and gain knowledge of the social significance and contexts of these genres.
3. Develop skills in representing popular music and its theoretical issues through writing and analysis.
4. Become familiar with a number of current approaches to discussing and conceptualizing the structure, history, and cultural significance of popular music.

Indicative Module Content:

Week 1 – Popular Music(s), Popular Culture(s): an introduction
Week 2 – Technologies and Transformations
Week 3 – Rock, Roll, and Corporate Control
Week 4 – The Beatles, Pop Culture, and Artistry
Week 5 – Festivals and Countercultures
Week 6 – Motown, Funk, and Soul
Week 7 – The Mask(s) of Performance: Glam and Punk in the 1970s
Week 8 – Video Killed the Radio Star? Music Videos in the 1980s and 2010s
Week 9 – Hip Hop: Roots, Reactions, and Aesthetics
Week 10 – Do It Yourself: Undergrounds and Microscenes

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning






Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
Students will be provided with a weekly resource pack on Brightspace (UCD's virtual learning environment), which will consist of audio (and sometimes video) examples of music, required and supplementary reading material, short video lectures and/or powerpoint slides, and (sometimes) musical scores. Students will also be given a road map through this material, indicating how to work through it. Weekly live virtual classes will consist of both lecture and discussion. Students are expected to attend these live sessions, and to have reviewed the materials in the folder for that week prior to attending (all materials will be posted at least one week in advance of the virtual class). 

Weekly attendance is expected and will be monitored, though of course we are aware of the fact that these are challenging times, and students may have a valid reason for missing one.  
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Essay: Final Essay: 2000 word essay Coursework (End of Trimester) n/a Graded No


Journal: Weekly Learning Journal (10 entries over 11 weeks) Throughout the Trimester n/a Graded No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Autumn No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, on an activity or draft prior to summative assessment
• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Each week, students will prepare a journal entry that responds to a prompt based on the materials in your weekly resource packs. The entry, which will be due on Thursdays (two days following online class discussion of the topic at hand) will be roughly 300 words. You will receive feedback and a grade on these entries within two weeks. The 50% of your mark will consist of an average of all 10 entries. The final portfolio builds upon this work. You will choose two or three of your best entries and expand upon them, submitting a final portfolio of roughly 2500 words. Detailed guidelines for this expansion will be provided at the beginning of the trimester.

Name Role
Dr Donal Fullam Tutor
Assoc Professor Jaime Jones Tutor
Timetabling information is displayed only for guidance purposes, relates to the current Academic Year only and is subject to change.
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33 Tues 13:00 - 14:50