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MUS3029 : Music, Politics and Policy

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Adam Behr
  • 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: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System


- 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 examples of 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 musical activity and the state political align with a discussion of the relationships and tensions between conceptions of music as a cultural asset and as an economic asset. These are set against an introduction to the broader mechanisms of the nation state and the regulatory and funding contexts of musical production and reception. Indicative topics include: music censorship, live music and the law, music and urban development, musical identities in rural economies, copyright, the regulation of ticketing, music tourism, music and election campaigns.

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.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion841:0084:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture102:0020:00Lecture materials. PIP but can be delivered non-synchronous online if necessary
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching101:0010:00Seminars (PIP, but can be delivered synchronous online if necessary)
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery13:003:00Drop-in tutorial surgery related to lecture materials and assignments. PIP, can be online if needed
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study831:0083:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lecture materials 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's 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.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise1M20Covering methodological & historical aspects of policy research with aspects of a plan pertinent to researching music & politics
Essay1A803,500 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.

Reading Lists