• Offered by School of Music
  • ANU College ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Course subject Music
  • Areas of interest Music
  • Academic career UGRD
  • Course convener
    • Dr Pat O'Grady
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Co-taught Course
  • Offered in First Semester 2023
    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 and 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:

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

Indicative Assessment

  1. Critical analysis of an allocated album/ text, 3000 words (50) [LO 1,4,5]
  2. One paired presentation on a chosen popular music theme, 15 minute e-presentation with embedded multimedia materials (50) [LO 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.


130 hours of total student learning time made up from:

a) 36 hours of contact over 12 weeks: a mixture of lectures, seminars, tutorials and workshops; and

b) 94 hours of independent student research, reading and writing.

Inherent Requirements

Not applicable

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must have completed 36 units of courses towards an ANU degree, or with consent of the convener. You are not able to enrol in this course if you have previously completed MUSI2216 or MUSI6006.

Prescribed Texts

Prescribed texts will be provided via the Wattle class page.

Preliminary Reading

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.  

Commonwealth Support (CSP) Students
If you 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). More information about your student contribution amount for each course at Fees

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are a domestic graduate coursework student with a Domestic Tuition Fee (DTF) place or international student you will be required to pay course tuition fees (see below). Course tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found 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
2023 $3660
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2023 $5100
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

ANU utilises MyTimetable to enable students to view the timetable for their enrolled courses, browse, then self-allocate to small teaching activities / tutorials so they can better plan their time. Find out more on the Timetable webpage.

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.

First Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
2806 20 Feb 2023 27 Feb 2023 31 Mar 2023 26 May 2023 In Person View

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