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Popular Music, Culture and Society

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Duration 9 weekly meetings
Tutor Dr Danijela Spiric Beard
Course code MED23A5070A
Fee £249
Concessionary fee £199 (find out about eligibility and funding options)

Online course

Why does popular music matter so much to us?

How and why does popular music become meaningful for us in particular ways in our everyday lives? How do we use music to understand our own identities and those of others?

This course will enable you to address these questions and seek to explore them from a variety of perspectives.

Key themes will include thinking and writing critically about music, the emotional significance of music, the use of music in popular culture and the media, and the impact of digitisation on our engagement with music.

Learning and teaching

The module will be delivered through nine 2-hour sessions, made up of lectures, class discussions, small group work and debates. Class sessions will be supplemented by resources available to students via Learning Central.

Teaching will be online and is likely to be conducted via Zoom.

Topics are likely to include:

  • popular music and identity: why does music matter?
  • popular music in culture and society
  • uses of popular music in everyday life
  • popular music and the media
  • video, lyrics and popular music
  • music audiences and music fans
  • popular music, gender and sexuality
  • race, ethnicity and popular music
  • popular music at the movies.

Coursework and assessment

To award credits we need to have evidence of the knowledge and skills you have gained or improved. Some of this has to be in a form that can be shown to external examiners so that we can be absolutely sure that standards are met across all courses and subjects.

The most important element of assessment is that it should enhance your learning. Our methods are designed to increase your confidence and we try very hard to devise ways of assessing you that are enjoyable and suitable for adults with busy lives.

Students will complete a portfolio of written work, including short analyses and essays. The portfolio will be around 1500 words in length.

Reading suggestions

You may find the following texts useful as introductions but a full reading list will be given at the beginning of the module. You should not embark on any extensive reading without consulting the module tutor first.

  • Brabazon, T. (2012) Popular Music: Topics, Trends, Trajectories. London and California: Sage
  • DeNora, T. (2000) Music in Everyday Life. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
  • Klein, B. (2009) As Heard on TV: Popular Music and Advertising. Aldershot: Ashgate
  • Shuker, R. (2008) Understanding Popular Music (2nd Ed.). London and New York: Routledge
  • Wall, T. (2003) Studying Popular Music Culture. London: Hodder and Stoughton
  • Wikström, P. (2009) The Music Industry: Music in the Cloud. Cambridge: Polity

Library and computing facilities

As a student on this course you are entitled to join and use the University’s library and computing facilities. Find out more about using these facilities.


Our aim is access for all. We aim to provide a confidential advice and support service for any student with a long term medical condition, disability or specific learning difficulty. We are able to offer one-to-one advice about disability, pre-enrolment visits, liaison with tutors and co-ordinating lecturers, material in alternative formats, arrangements for accessible courses, assessment arrangements, loan equipment and dyslexia screening.