• Offered by School of Music
  • ANU College ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Course subject Music
  • Areas of interest Music

The impact of Western popular music transcends its origins in composition, recorded artefact and concert performance. Popular music and politics are inextricably linked. In just a few decades, popular music has [re]defined [sub]cultures, influenced politics & policy and empowered minority groups. Drawing upon extensive examples and contemporary scholarship, this course explores how and why contemporary popular music is one of the most widespread, meaningful, and influential cultural phenomena in the world today. Avoiding a chronological or historical approach, this course examines the political significance of popular music through a variety of cultural and contextual lens, including music aesthetics, textual analysis, race, gender and sexuality. Cultural-theoretical backdrops include a consideration of sound recording technology, ethnomusicology, feminism and ‘queer theory’. Case study examples taken from broad genre spectra will illuminate the social impact of popular music and its relationship[s] to particular cultural themes such as identity, censorship and violence.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

1. Describe the interrelationship[s] between popular music, culture and politics from several theoretical perspectives;

2. Evaluate the role, significance and influence of popular music in cultural and political contexts;

3. Speculate on the potential influence of popular music on the culture[s] and politics of the future;

4. Analyse popular music using appropriate tools and descriptors specific to the discipline;

5. Demonstrate research, written and oral communication skills on the culture and politics of popular music

Indicative Assessment

One critical analysis of an allocated album/ text. [50%]

-- Deliverable: 3000 words written critical analysis. [Learning Outcomes 1, 4, 5]


One paired presentation on a chosen popular music theme (15 minutes). [50%]

-- Deliverable: One e-presentation with embedded multimedia materials. [Learning Outcomes 2, 3, 5]

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.


A mixture of lectures, tutorials, seminars and workshops equivalent to three hours per week, plus seven hours of independent study per week.

Prescribed Texts

Bennett, A. (2001) Cultures of Popular Music. Open University Press.

Middleton, R. (1990) Studying Popular Music. Open University Press.

Moore, A. (2012) Song Means: Analysing and Interpreting Recorded Popular Song. Ashgate.

Negus, K. (1996) Popular Music in Theory - An Introduction. Polity Press.




Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Students continuing in their current program of study will have their tuition fees indexed annually from the year in which you commenced your program. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee Description
1994-2003 $1470
2014 $2478
2013 $2478
2012 $2358
2011 $2310
2010 $2250
2009 $2178
2008 $2178
2007 $2178
2006 $2178
2005 $2178
2004 $1836
International fee paying students
Year Fee
1994-2003 $2454
2014 $3246
2013 $3246
2012 $3090
2011 $3090
2010 $3090
2009 $3090
2008 $3090
2007 $2988
2006 $2988
2005 $2988
2004 $2778
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

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Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

Second Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
3399 20 Jul 2015 07 Aug 2015 31 Aug 2015 30 Oct 2015 In Person N/A

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