Popular Music Cultures (W3052)

15 credits, Level 4

Autumn teaching

This module will provide you with an introduction to the critical discourses regarding jazz and popular music. This module will broaden your historical awareness and critical understanding of different traditions in jazz and popular music, although it is not designed to be a historical overview.

Likewise, while some technical understanding is required, the primary focus is not on minute analytical distinctions between different styles or practical instruction in song-writing, production or performance. Rather, we will concentrate on the social and cultural functions and meanings of the popular music cultures studied and the reasons why they exert such a powerful hold on audiences and practitioners alike.

Every week we will focus on a critical issue that has been central in discussions about popular and jazz music. Deliberately, these issues transcend the boundaries of style (or 'genre') and historical period. Thus, rather than honing in on the minutiae of individual styles, we will seek to contextualise them more broadly and see what, perhaps surprisingly, they have in common and what historical lineages connect them. It is the intention that this wider awareness of historical, social and cultural contexts will also enable those of you who are musicians to reflect more critically on their own artistic practice, thus enriching their work.


50%: Lecture
50%: Seminar


100%: Coursework (Essay, Report)

Contact hours and workload

This module is approximately 150 hours of work. This breaks down into about 20 hours of contact time and about 130 hours of independent study. The University may make minor variations to the contact hours for operational reasons, including timetabling requirements.

We regularly review our modules to incorporate student feedback, staff expertise, as well as the latest research and teaching methodology. We’re planning to run these modules in the academic year 2022/23. However, there may be changes to these modules in response to COVID-19, staff availability, student demand or updates to our curriculum. We’ll make sure to let our applicants know of material changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.