Module Catalogue 2022/23

MUS2071 : Jazz Today: Tomorrow Is The Question

  • Offered for Year: 2022/23
  • Module Leader(s): Dr William Edmondes
  • Co-Module Leader: Dr Mariam Rezaei
  • Lecturer: Mr Stewart Smith
  • Teaching Assistant: Ms Greshauna Sanders
  • Owning School: Arts & Cultures
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
Pre Requisites
Pre Requisite Comment


Co Requisites
Co Requisite Comment



- To provide students with a thorough working knowledge of how Jazz has evolved as a global culture since 2000, combining a critical study of the music’s developments in the USA, Europe, Africa and the Far East with the experience of making music in ways that relate to lecture content.

- To give students the opportunity to apply the insights and understandings from lectures, seminars, screenings and personal research on literature and repertoire to a hands-on practical encounter with challenges defined by cultural, socio-economic and political dynamics of the contemporary music context.

Outline Of Syllabus

- A series of 10 lectures introduce students to the recent history, repertoire and criticism of Jazz as distinct from the manner in which its music and culture have been subject to a deeply engrained systemic racism that trivialises its meaning and purpose through the reinforcement of crude stereotypes and diverts focus away from the music’s vital contemporary relevance and ongoing influence.

- The lectures are supported by seminars in small groups where key elements introduced in lectures are discussed in greater depth and critical scrutiny alongside a weekly requirement for seminar participants to report on one new/newly discovered work from the repertoire of 21st century Jazz.

- The module as a whole is supplemented by non-mandatory Wednesday evening screenings, fortnightly, in the Culture Lab cinema space; alternate Wednesday evening improvisation sessions are also open to students on the module as potential means to further apply what they have learned in class.

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

- A more expansive and in-depth knowledge of the broader spectrum of contemporary Jazz and its historical roots and origins

- A fuller knowledge and understanding of how specific ventures and initiatives in different parts of the world have helped established a living culture that is socially and politically grounded and informed

- A much more comprehensive and insightful understanding of how the ideas behind/within the music and its development are materially manifest in the playing experience

- A more nuanced and informed understanding of how distinct styles and traditions influence each other and overlap in ways that are not always evident or obvious from popular and reductive narratives.

Intended Skill Outcomes

- An improved ability to analyze contemporary Jazz through specific examples and by applying specific critical positions, informed in part by first-hand experience of applying core dynamics to actual performance

- Greater skill in making critical links and identifying cultural cross-references

- Learning to discern and identify core critical dynamics from the aesthetic characteristics (not just semantic content) of a particular aspect, dimension or approach in Jazz and practicing the ability to apply those to specific, pertinent examples

- Learning to forge critical insights on cultural phenomena that are not necessarily (or initially) guided by reading critical texts, rather by using one’s accumulated listening experience and the experience of trying things out in real-life playing conditions, and skills to eke out critical perspectives

- Learning to articulate immersive listening and participation discursively and critically

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture102:0020:00PiP. If necessary these can be delivered asynchronously online.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching101:0010:00Drop-in surgery. PiP. Can be delivered synchronously online if required.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching21:002:00Seminars. PiP. Can be delivered synchronously online if required.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching82:0016:00Interdisciplinary seminars. PiP. These can take place synchronously online if required.
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1152:00152:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Through an innovative approach to combining historical-cultural, critical-theoretical study, discussion and research (lectures and independent study) with the experience of applying their accumulated insights and understandings to actual playing in groups, students will gain a much more thorough grounding in the aesthetics and meanings of contemporary Jazz and how they relate to key political contexts (including Black Lives Matter, class conflict and the global rise of populist right wing politics) in a post-imperial, post-colonial world. Rationale for exceeding 33 contact hours relates to the practical, performative engagement element in this module.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Both modes of assessment will reflect the extent to which the student has engaged with the course materials as a means to developing more nuanced and informed insights into how Jazz functions today, its relevance to broader social and cultural issues and narratives and its relationship to its own roots and traditions and the wider culture. The mid-term essay (max. 1,000 words) will focus on key concepts introduced in the first five lectures applied to specific contemporary repertoire discussed in class; students respond to specific questions for this. The final essay (max. 3,000 words) requires the student to develop a question of their own, drawing on the various critical frameworks introduced and discussed in class and apply them to materials they select themselves.

The first essay is intended to provide the chance for the student to gather together core materials from the first half of the module in order to build a foundation towards the more extended final essay; feedback for the first essay will be oriented towards this end.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2022/23 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 2023/24 entry will be published here in early-April 2023. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.