MUS3029 : Music, Politics and Policy

Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 10.0


• 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 political artists and key interactions in the 20th and 21st centuries between genre and political discourses lead to 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 genres, movements and individual 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 completion182:0082:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture112:0022:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching121:0012:00Seminars
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery21:002:00Tutorials and surgery for guidance on essay/project
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study182:0082:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

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

Lectures 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 exercise1M20Students design a policy research tool pertinent to researching music and politics in preparation for final essay
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 ‘research tool’ 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