Module Catalogue 2024/25

MUS1014 : Introduction to Popular Music Studies

MUS1014 : Introduction to Popular Music Studies

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Matthew Ord
  • Owning School: Arts & Cultures
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System

Modules you must have done previously to study this module

Pre Requisite Comment



Modules you need to take at the same time

Co Requisite Comment



- To provide students with an introduction to the study of popular musics at UG level.
- To explore and consider the pollinations of popular musics across the 20th and into the 21st Century.
- To introduce students to Popular Music Studies as an academic field and provide students with conceptual tools for understanding and engaging with contemporary and popular musics academically, in relation to their own musical practices and in the context of the modern music industries.
- To raise the student’s awareness of professional approaches to reading and writing about music, by introducing them to high quality texts.
- To help students make a successful progression to further (i.e. honours degree) study, where appropriate.

Outline Of Syllabus

This module will introduce you to the challenges of studying contemporary and popular musics. You will be introduced to a range of scholarly approaches to musics from across the 20th and into the 21st Century across a range of ideological, political, cultural, and epistemological orientations in the reading, writing and performing of contemporary and popular musics.

This module may reasonably include in any one year discussions of a wide range of musical topics and examples, and their relationship to an array of social and industrial contexts (e.g. Rock and Roll and youth culture; sampling, reappropriation and copyright; jazz, blues and racial discrimination; the changing mechanisms and practices of the music industries; the social and cultural construction of genres; the cross pollination of musics from across the world; music’s use in other media; the politics of music, musicians and Protest Song; music and gender)

Questions we may consider on this course include:

What do we mean by ‘popular’? How do contemporary and popular musics create identities? How have supposed boundaries been constructed between musics to form these particular identities? How has technology affected the attitudes of everyone involved in the production and consumption of popular music? How and why do audiences and musicians ascribe authenticity? Is there more than meets the eye (or ear) in the lyrics of a song? In a commercial, material world how can popular music be something more than a commodity?

These questions point to the fascinating complexity of the world in which people make and consume contemporary and popular musics. They are questions of vital significance for today’s musical practitioners across genres and across professions.

This module helps you navigate such issues in the company of important thinkers and commentators. It is designed to get you thinking critically, to help you become smarter, and also to encourage you to approach your own musical practice more reflectively.

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

By the end of the module students should:

1. know more about what is at stake socially and culturally in the practices of popular and contemporary music
2. be familiar with critically informed approaches to such issues and some of the literature surrounding them
3. have a greater awareness of key moments in 20th and 21st Century musics

Intended Skill Outcomes

By the end of the module students should have:

1. enriched their understanding of how 20th and 21st Century music can be thought about and discussed
2. improved their own ability to think, talk, and write about music, with particular emphasis on the conventions of academic writing, and ideally in such a way as to improve their understanding of their own musical practice, including their own listening to music
3. learned how to make more effective use of academic resources, e.g. scholarly books and journals, and to make good use of library resources (including electronic ones)

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion181:0081:00Reading and research for essays 1 and 2
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture112:0022:00Weekly PiP lectures
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching111:0011:00PiP seminars - small group teaching.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery22:004:00Scheduled tutorial surgeries in weeks preceding submission of assessments in semester 1 and 2
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study182:0082:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lecture materials introduce key topics and essential readings.

Seminars in alternate weeks provide a forum for small group discussion and exercises exploring key concepts, lecture themes and readings.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1A401,500 words
Essay2A602,500 words
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Essay 1 – tests your ability to compare and contrast at least two pieces of scholarly writing representing different perspectives, writing contexts and theoretical orientations on key issues in the study of Popular Music.

Essay 2 – tests your ability to undertake a piece of research based on one of the topics presented in the lectures, and to prepare a piece of written work over the course of several weeks. It gives you the opportunity to do further reading and to explore one of the topics in greater depth.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


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The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2024 academic year.

In accordance with University Terms and Conditions, the University makes all reasonable efforts to deliver the modules as described.

Modules may be amended on an annual basis to take account of changing staff expertise, developments in the discipline, the requirements of external bodies and partners, and student feedback. Module information for the 2025/26 entry will be published here in early-April 2025. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.