Module Catalogue 2022/23

MUS1011 : Ethnomusicology: People Making Music

  • Offered for Year: 2022/23
  • Module Leader(s): Professor Nanette De Jong
  • Lecturer: Prof. Simon McKerrell
  • Owning School: Arts & Cultures
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 10.0
Pre Requisites
Pre Requisite Comment


Co Requisites
Co Requisite Comment



• To introduce students to the ethnographic study of music
• To introduce core methods and ideas from ethnomusicology
• To support students to undertake their own first experiences of ethnography in musical cultures
• To provoke analytical thinking about both familiar and unfamiliar styles of music and their cultural and social values
• To promote an ethical understanding of people making music
• To equip students with a fundamental set of skills to enable them to undertake ethnography in music
• To provide the intellectual framework for further development of ethnomusicological investigation at more advanced stages of the undergraduate curricula in music.

Outline Of Syllabus

The syllabus introduces the core methods and ideas in the ethnographic study of people making music. The module does this in two key ways: 1) through lectures and seminar discussions on core methodological and case study examples from ethnomusicology, and; 2) through supporting students to undertake their own first ethnographic project in music during the year. The syllabus therefore examines the following core topics drawing on the professional research of ethnomusicological staff in music: Ethnography; music and fieldwork; generalizability; Self and Other(s) in music cultures; Thick Description; emic-etic knowledge; digital ethnomusicology; encountering difference through music; musical performance as a fieldwork technique; ethics in ethnomusicology; models of fieldwork from immersion to multi-site ethnographies; applied ethnomusicology, and social change; and; small-scale surveys and survey design in musical communities.

During the first semester, we will challenge preconceptions of what music and ethnography are by examining concepts and functions of ethnomusicology, music-making practices across different cultures and ways to study those practices. We ask what is ethnomusicology? What is ethnography? What is ‘the field’? In answering those questions, we explore some of the strategies for analysing Self and Other in music cultures.

Students will be asked to undertake a small self-designated ethnographic project in second semester, and will be supported on such possible topics as writing fieldnotes, conducting original research in the community, participant observation, preparing for and conducting interviews and creating research questions. The goal of second semester is for students to put their ethnomusicological field methods to use; to show the effectiveness of a research design; to analyse original data; and to present findings within a final essay.

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

On completion of this module, students will:
• Have a basic understanding of the core methods of ethnomusicology
• Have been supported to complete their first ethnographic project on music
• Understand what sort of research questions are answerable through ethnographic research (and what are not)
• Gain knowledge about some core ideas and methodological challenges in ethnomusicological research on music.

Intended Skill Outcomes

On completion of this module, students will:
• Have developed basic practical skills in fieldwork with musical communities (whether in person or digital)
• Developed the ability to research sub-fields of music studies online and using library resources
• Developed improved analytical skills in qualitative data
• Improved ability to synthesise theory and method in a real world case study of musical culture

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture102:0020:0010 in sem1 - with seminars, and 5 in sem 2, with more substantive seminars on student projects
Structured Guided LearningStructured research and reading activities402:0080:00Student directed reading & written responses to lecture ideas building to Sem 1 portfolio submission
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching122:0024:00Small seminars with lecturers or TAs - unpack core ideas, support student projects. Weighted to Sem2
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study761:0076:00Independent research, fieldwork & writing on students’ own ethnographic research project.
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

• Encourages students to engage with the materials individually as well as part of a group, within a variety of learning contexts.

The combination of teaching activities allows students to receive a thorough grounding in core concepts via lectures which are then unpacked in greater detail in small group seminars, which additionally work to support the incorporation of these ideas into their individual projects. The weighting of the seminars in semester 2 allows students to take the core materials and concepts from semester 1 and develop them on an individual basis in their own projects through independent research.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1A401,200-1,500 words
Essay2A60Field research project, 2,500 words.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Portfolio assesses comprehension and engagement with lecture topics in Semester 1.This will comprise a set of 8 essay responses to issues addressed in semester 1 dealing with the core ideas and methods in ethnomusicology of around 250-300 words each. To be submitted in January at the end of semester 1.

The written exercise assesses students capacity to synthesize the module concepts and ideas, and apply them to a specific case study. This comprises an ethnographic project submitted in text (and optionally including audio) that enables students to mobilize the key fieldwork methods and ideas from ethnomusicology in a basic research project on people making music (whether in person or digital). Nominally 1,500-2000 words total.


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.