• Offered by School of Music
  • ANU College ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Course subject Music
  • Areas of interest Cultural Studies, Music, Creative Arts, Arts, Politics
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Mode of delivery Blended
  • Offered in Second Semester 2015
    See Future Offerings

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 applying appropriate research methology;
  2. Evaluate the role, significance and influence of popular music across cultural, sociological and political contexts;
  3. Speculate on the potential influence of popular music on the culture[s] and politics of the future;
  4. Critically analyse popular music using appropriate tools and descriptors specific to the discipline;
  5. Demonstrate a high level of research, written and oral communication skills on the culture and politics of popular music

Indicative Assessment

Critical analysis of an allocated album/ text, 3500 [50%] [Learning Outcomes 1, 4, 5]

Individual research paper (2000-words) and paper presentation (20 minutes) on a chosen popular music theme [50%] [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 for 13 weeks, plus a further seven hours of independent study per teaching week over the semester (total 130 hours).

Requisite and Incompatibility

You are not able to enrol in this course if you have previously completed MUSI2216 or MUSI3316.

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. Tuition fees are indexed annually. 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
2015 $2604
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2015 $4146
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

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The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
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
3600 20 Jul 2015 07 Aug 2015 31 Aug 2015 30 Oct 2015 In Person N/A

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