Theory, Taste and Trash (V3052)

15 credits, Level 5

Autumn teaching

This module aims to introduce students to two related issues, namely:
a) a historically-rooted account of how the study of popular culture came to be established in British higher education and of some of the key theoretical approaches that helped to shape those studies
b) an exploration of how the bringing together of popular culture and ‘the academy’ has and continues to pose intriguing problems around hierarchies of taste, questions of value, and definitions of educational worth.

A series of lectures will offer students both a historical overview of those issues and an introduction to the influence of key writers, theorists and approaches, while the module seminars would help students to engage with particularly significant and talismanic texts (from writers such as Hall, Bourdieu and Bakhtin) in the field and also to test out the interpretive frameworks they offer by undertaking some case study analyses of contemporary popular cultural texts and practices (in fields such as television, popular music, the leisure industries and youth culture).


31%: Lecture
69%: Seminar


100%: Coursework (Essay)

Contact hours and workload

This module is approximately 150 hours of work. This breaks down into about 15 hours of contact time and about 135 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 2024/25. However, there may be changes to these modules in response to feedback, staff availability, student demand or updates to our curriculum. We’ll make sure to let you know of any material changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.


This module is offered on the following courses: