MUS31270 The Ethnomusicology of Popular Music

Academic Year 2021/2022

This course is an advanced approach to the study of popular music, using the tools and methods of the discipline of ethnomusicology, which theorises the relationship between music and culture. In our weekly seminars, students will examine a series of topics, including technology, music production, authenticity, the racial imagination, Internet 2.0, globalization, and fandoms, and explore readings from both ethnomusicology and popular music studies. These sessions will always focus on a small number of relevant case studies, and aim to demonstrate how ethnomusicological approaches might shed light on these topics. Our practica sessions will focus on methodology, helping students understand the genre of ethnography, develop interview and analysis skills necessary for conducting fieldwork, and refine and expand their approaches to writing, including some experimental forms of writing about music and culture. The module is intended to benefit students interested in ethnomusicology OR popular music, as the two areas of focus will complement each other.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

Students will be able to:
- Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the key issues in the study of popular music
- Assess and employ the methodology of ethnomusicology as a tool for examining popular music
- Write vivid accounts of live and mediated musical experiences
- Prepare, research, and produce a major ethnographic project on a specific topic in popular music of their choice

Indicative Module Content:

1. Introduction to Ethnomusicology and Popular Music Studies
2. Ethnomusicology: Theory and Method
3. Popular Music Studies: Key Concepts
4. The Music Industry
5. Production and Technology
6. The Discourse of Authenticity
7. Identity and the Racial Imagination
8. Gender and Popular Music
9. Liveness from Gigs to Festivals
10. Internet 2.0 and the Experience of Popular Music
11. Fandoms

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning








Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
In this module students are asked to learn through a variety of different types of activities, some critical and individual, and others practical and shared. The module is divided into seminars, which will combine lecture with critical discussion of key readings, and practica, which will have students actively participating in writing and listening experiments designed to develop students fieldwork and writing skills. 
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
Portfolio: Ethnographic Project Materials Portfolio Varies over the Trimester n/a Graded No


Continuous Assessment: Practica Assignments Throughout the Trimester n/a Graded No


Project: Ethnographic Project - Final Report Coursework (End of 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
• Peer review activities
• Self-assessment activities

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

- Attendance and Participation (20%). This is evaluated because much of the learning is hands on and you need to be present for it. - Ethnography Review (20%) In order to write an ethnography, students must read an evaluate an ethnography. We will prepare for this in our practica and the feedback you receive will help you with the final project. - Ethnographic Project Materials (20%) You will submit all three of the main components of your final project prior to the end of the semester and receive feedback on these materials prior to the final submission. - Ethnographic Project (40%) At the end of the semester, you will submit an ethnographic project that incorporates elements of original documentation (interview, recording, video) on a popular music topic of your choice. There will be several parts to this project that will be assigned over the course of the semester, and we will prepare for these in our practica sessions.

Name Role
Ms Anne Hallinan Tutor
Mr John Millar Tutor