Module Catalogue 2020/21

MUS3029 : Music, Politics and Policy

  • Offered for Year: 2020/21
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Adam Behr
  • 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 develop students’ critical understanding of the relationship between music and politics
• To introduce students to political theories and their application to the study and practice of music and the musical career.
• To explore the relationship between music and the political contexts within which it is made (city, nation state and international relations)
• To examine the various specific policies that have been enacted with reference to the production, distribution and reception of music
• To enable students to respond critically and analytically to current developments in the political landscape as they affect the production, performance and reception of music
• To introduce students to the ways in which music research intersects with political concerns and to develop their primary research skills.
• To introduce students to the practical research and analytical methods necessary for interacting with the policy sphere.
• To improve student communication, research and critical thinking skills.

Outline Of Syllabus

The course develops an understanding of key concepts from Popular Music Studies through the lens of political analyses, beginning with an introduction to key discourses and an examination of music’s relationship to social movements. It introduces students to the ways in which policymaking affects, and intersects with, music provision and music research. Case-studies of key interactions in the 20th and 21st centuries between genre and political discourses align with a discussion of freedom of expression and music’s relationship with the state. Case studies of previous and current research projects investigating music and politics will introduce students to the latest developments in the field. Historical and current legislative developments are discussed in relation to their effect on the production, aesthetic and reception of music in the UK and internationally.

Students will discover:

• How to critically evaluate the political context of music making from a range of theoretical and practical perspectives.
• The relationship between political discourse and music production, performance and reception
• An understanding of the evolution of music’s legislative context (particularly in the U.K)
• How civic, national and international bodies affect musical practice, movements and careers
• The different types of research method used to investigate and shape the relationship between music and politics.

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

Students will gain an increased awareness and understanding of:
• The broad political and party political contexts of music
• The effect of party politics and state organisations on music as both an industry and art form as well as the effects of legislation on musical practice and freedom of expression.
• The ideologies of musicians and the music industries.
• The relationships between music and ideological debates (dissent, appropriation, political movements, market forces and state funding)
• The specific political and legislative mechanisms that affect music and cultural provision in the U.K and internationally.
• Increased insight into the research culture in Popular Music Studies, the creative industries and humanities research more widely and how they interact with the surrounding music industries and political culture.
• The organisations and bodies – in the UK and elsewhere - that interact with musicians and political concerns from lobby groups through trade bodies to statutory bodies, and how these pertain to the musical practice and research.

Intended Skill Outcomes

Students will develop skills in:
• Sourcing primary information and data pertinent to music and politics (e.g. policy documents, Hansard, databases)
• Critical analysis of primary sources (surveys, interviews, news items)
• Analysing and synthesizing academic and non-academic research
• Conducting and presenting primary research in the field (e.g. interview techniques, survey design)

This will prepare students for the practical skills necessary for postgraduate research and the practical skills required in the workplace.

Teaching Methods

Please note that module leaders are reviewing the module teaching and assessment methods for Semester 2 modules, in light of the Covid-19 restrictions. There may also be a few further changes to Semester 1 modules. Final information will be available by the end of August 2020 in for Semester 1 modules and the end of October 2020 for Semester 2 modules.

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials122:0024:00Online lecture materials with associated tasks
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion180:0080:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching121:0012:00Synchronous and online
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery22:004:00Online tutorial surgeries related to lecture materials and assignments
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study180:0080:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Online lecture materials and tasks provide an introduction to key critical concepts, historical materials and current debates illustrated by examples. Weekly set readings support the case-studies for each topic.

Lecture materials also introduce students to examples of research into the relationships between music and politics, to key research methods and their application to different aspects of, and stakeholders in, music and politics.

Independent reading and research by students involves reflecting on primary sources to develop a rich knowledge of the field and working with sources to understand their practical application for both researchers and musicians.

Seminars provide a forum for developing in-depth discussion between students and with the module leader of the concepts and case-studies covered in the lectures and reading.

Drop in surgeries provide a space for students to formulate and discuss their essay/research project topics and develop appropriate methodologies.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

Please note that module leaders are reviewing the module teaching and assessment methods for Semester 2 modules, in light of the Covid-19 restrictions. There may also be a few further changes to Semester 1 modules. Final information will be available by the end of August 2020 in for Semester 1 modules and the end of October 2020 for Semester 2 modules.

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise1A20Covering methodological & historical aspects of policy research with aspects of a plan pertinent to researching music & politics
Essay2A803,500 words. Historical essay from desk research or report based on primary research on a topic set by or agreed with module leader.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

• The first written exercise assessment tests students’ understanding of the skills need to develop a larger project and guides students towards appropriate topics and methods for the main essay/report assessment with the opportunity to develop a topic in response to feedback

• The essay/report tests critical analysis of thematic elements and ability to apply the political concepts examined over the course to specific examples. It tests students’ ability to select appropriate materials and methods and bring them to bear upon the chosen topic.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2020/21 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 2021/22 entry will be published here in early-April 2021. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.