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MUS2054 : Music and Cultural Theory

  • Offered for Year: 2021/22
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Paul Attinello
  • Lecturer: Dr Ian Biddle
  • Owning School: Arts & Cultures
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 10.0


- To provide an introduction to basic concepts and approaches, and important debates in the cultural theory of music.
- To provide a solid foundation in the cultural theory of music for students intending to go on to (or already engaged in ) Masters-level courses which rely upon such knowledge.
- To investigate systematically a range of hermeneutic, text critical and theoretical approaches to music from recent music scholarship.

This module is intended to help you gain knowledge of a range of cultural-theoretical paradigms. These may vary from year to year, but would typically include: structuralist and poststructuralist theories, theories of authorship, other approaches to theorising identity, presence and subjectivity, theories of musical autonomy, modernism, mass and popular culture and their inter-relationships, Marxist theories of culture, ideology and hegemony, theories of power theories of cultural materialism and social semiotics.

Outline Of Syllabus

A series of lectures and seminars will cover a variety of topics, including: structuralist and poststructuralist theories, theories of authorship; other approaches to theorising; identity, presence and subjectivity; theories of musical autonomy; modernism; mass and popular culture and their inter-relationships; Marxist theories of culture, ideology and hegemony; theories of power; theories of cultural materialism and social semiotics.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture162:0032:00PIP or converted online if need be
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching11:001:00Tutorial (PiP or converted to online if need be)
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1167:00167:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures and discussions act as a forum in which key concepts are introduced, explained and discussed. Sessions will often be based on texts which are set for close reading during your private study time. By this point in your programme it is assumed that you will have developed sufficient independent learning abilities to be able to use your study of these texts and their musical applications as the core of your learning for this module.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Portfolio2A20written assignments
Essay2A803,500 words
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The portfolio and essay assess how well you have assimilated aspects of the course material, (ii) your ability to formulate a critical position on the material, and (iii) your ability to communicate this concisely.

Reading Lists