Critical Perspectives on Music in Society - CMAT6050

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2023 to 2024
Autumn Term 6 15 (7.5) Anna Neale Widdison checkmark-circle


Music plays an important role in our daily lives and is woven into the fabric of society. We listen to music in a variety of contexts and via different media. The omnipresence of music raises several questions: why do we listen to, play and create music and how does it affect our lives, identity and political views? What is the relation between the society we live in and the role, meaning and value of music within that society? How is music influenced by and how does it influence social norms, the political economy, media industries and technological developments? The module concentrates on post WWII popular music live and mediated through its study in context (of a time and place) and as a multimedia/intertextual phenomenon (involving sound, image and the written word). Students will engage with the ways in which culture and ideology, politics and economy, and notions of race, gender and class continue to shape and influence the production and reception of popular music culture.


Contact hours

Total Contact Hours: 22
Independent Study Hours: 128
Total Study Hours: 150

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods
This module will be assessed by the following methods:

1) Individual Seminar Presentation (20 minutes) 25%
2) Essay (3,000 words) 75%

Reassessment methods
This module will be re-assessed by the following methods:


Indicative reading

Indicative Reading List

Bennett, A., Shank, B., & Toynbee, J. (eds.) (2006) The Popular Music Studies Reader. Routledge.
Clayton, M., Herbert, T., and Middleton, R. eds. (2003) The Cultural Study of Music: A Critical Introduction. New York: Routledge.
DeNora, T. (2000). Music in Everyday Life. Cambridge: CUP.
Feld, S. 2000. "A Sweet Lullaby for World Music." Public Culture 12(1): 145-171.
Frith, S., Straw, W. and J. Street (eds.) (2001). The Cambridge Companion to Pop and Rock. Cambridge University Press.
Leonard, M. (2007) Gender in the Music Industry. Ashgate.
Longhurst, B. and D. Bogdanovic´ (2014) Popular Music and Society. Third edition. Polity Press.
Scott, D. B. ed. (2000) Music, Culture and Society: A Reader. OUP.
Shuker, R., (2012) Popular Music Culture: The Key Concepts. Third Edition. Routledge.

See the library reading list for this module (Medway)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1) assimilate key facts, concepts, principles and theories relevant to contemporary and commercial music;
2) demonstrate a systematic understanding of recent music genres and their associated repertoires and texts, and the historical and cultural issues that inform knowledge about them;
3) demonstrate an in-depth knowledge of the contemporary cultural and contextual elements that inform and impact upon music and in turn the contribution of music to public culture and the arts;
4) recognise and describe musical organisation, style, genre or tradition for a broad range of contemporary and commercial types of music.

The intended generic learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1) gather, evaluate and synthesise evidence including the identification of reliable academic sources;
2) analyse data and to formulate and express relevant arguments and hypotheses;
3) assimilate different theoretical and aesthetic systems of thought and to relate theory to practice;
4) examine assumptions, concepts and hypotheses critically in the light of evidence, to make informed choices and to apply insights from one area of study to another;
5) synthesize inputs (knowledge, materials, information) in order to generate outputs in written and audio format.


  1. Credit level 6. Higher level module usually taken in Stage 3 of an undergraduate degree.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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