module specification

SM6054 - Analysing Popular Music (2023/24)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2023/24
Module title Analysing Popular Music
Module level Honours (06)
Credit rating for module 15
School School of Computing and Digital Media
Total study hours 150
45 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
80 hours Guided independent study
25 hours Assessment Preparation / Delivery
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 25%   Book Review
Coursework 75%   Essay
Running in 2023/24

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Autumn semester North Wednesday Morning

Module summary

The focus of this module is the examination of Popular Music with respect to culture and society, as well as the identification of Popular Music as a commercial enterprise.

The module introduces key critical analyses of the nature and development of popular music as a cultural form. In doing so it explores the key social and cultural factors that shape our experience of music and the way we give it meaning within our lives, giving particular attention to issues such as gender, ethnicity, sexuality and social class.

Drawing on studies produced within a range of theoretical fields, the module includes discussion of the relationship between popular music and processes of globalisation, the construction of star personas and celebrity culture, and the nature of audiences, fans and subcultures.

By also examining examples of the historical development and the contemporary organisation of the music industry, the module encourages students to reflection upon the social production of popular music, and the impact of technological change on its creation and distribution.

Students will be introduced to the important ways in which digital technologies in particular currently impact upon Popular Music and its audiences. This includes the roles of digital distribution and streaming in Popular Music, along with the use of social media and the creation of global audiences.

This module aims to:

1. Critically consider key theoretical perspectives developed in relation to the analysis of popular musical forms and genres.
2. Examine historical shifts in the nature and operation of the popular music industry.
3. Examine the impact of new technologies on the production, circulation and consumption of popular music.
4. Familiarise students with theories regarding the social and cultural significance of popular music.


The module will address the analysis of Popular Music in three main blocks:

The examination and application of key Culture Study approaches in the analysis of Popular Music.

The Music Industry, its development, structure and current trends.

The influence of technology on the consumption, creation and production of Popular Music.

Learning Outcoimes LO1 - LO3

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

This module will be delivered through a combination of modes of delivery, including formal lectures, seminars and individual tutorials. The mixed-mode module delivery will used to encourage a supportive environment for individual and peer-group learning. 

A blended learning strategy will be employed to enhance the learning experience, facilitate communication between students and tutors and develop collaboration among students. The Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) will be used as a platform to support online activities including on-line discussions, evaluation of online resources, and access to electronic reading packs. The VLE will also be used to facilitate formative assessment and related feedback, as well as a tool to integrate useful online learning materials provided by research institutions, academic publications, professional organisations and other relevant sources.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module, students will be able to:

1. Manage their own learning, and make use of scholarly studies related to the analysis of popular music and its cultural significance.
2. Describe and comment upon theories regarding the production, circulation and consumption of popular music.
3. Apply the ideas and arguments they have learned to review, consolidate and extend their knowledge in a research project of their own

Assessment strategy

This module includes two pieces of assessment work:

1. Book Review – This is a formative piece of assessment, to be submitted in Week 7. Students will submit a review of a book related to some aspect of popular music. The choice of book is open, but must be agreed with the seminar tutor beforehand. The review must be critical and analytical, and must situate the book within a context of wider issues and debates within the study of popular music. The word count for the book review is c. 1,000 words. The book serves as a basis on which the second piece of assessment can be developed.

2. Essay – This is a summative piece of assessment, to be submitted in Week 15. Students will be given a list of 12 essay questions or appropriate written exercises, from which they must choose one. The options will relate to all the key themes and issues dealt with during the module. The word count for the assessment is c. 3,000 words.



Adorno, Theodor W. & Bernstein, J. M. (2001) The culture industry: selected essays on
mass culture, London: Routledge.
Bargfrede, Allen (2017) Music law in the digital age: copyright essentials for today's
music business, Boston, MA: Berklee Press.
Bennett, Andy (2000) Popular music and youth culture: music, identity, and place,
London: Macmillan.
Bennett, Andy (2003) Cultures of popular music, Buckingham: Open University Press.
Bennett, Andy & Peterson, Richard A. (2004) Music scenes: local, translocal and virtual,
Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press.
Bennett, Andy, Shank, Barry & Toynbee, Jason (2016) The popular music studies reader, London: Routledge.
Bloustien, Gerry; Peters, Margaret; Luckman, Susan (2008) Sonic synergies: music,
technology, community, identity, Aldershot: Ashgate.
Burns, Lori & Lafrance, Mélisse (2002) Disruptive divas: feminism, identity & popular
music, London: Routledge.
Connell, John & Gibson, Chris. (2003) Sound tracks: popular music, identity and place,
London: Routledge.
DeNora, Tia; Adorno, Theodor W. (2003) After Adorno: rethinking music sociology,
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Frith, Simon & Goodwin, Andrew (1990) On record: rock, pop, and the written word, ,
London: Routledge.
Frith, Simon, Street, John & Straw, Will (2001) The Cambridge companion to pop and
rock, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Gilroy, Paul (1993) The black Atlantic: modernity and double consciousness, London:
Hawkins, Stan (2009) The British pop dandy: masculinity, popular music and culture,
Aldershot: Ashgate.
Hesmondhalgh, David & Negus, Keith (2002) Popular music studies, London: Arnold.
Hesmondhalgh, David (2019) The cultural industries, London: Routledge.
Huq, Rupa (2006) Beyond subculture: pop, youth and identity in a postcolonial world,
London: Routledge.
Jarman-Ivens, Freya (2013) Oh Boy!: Masculinities and Popular Music, London:
Katz, Mark (2010) Capturing sound: how technology has changed music, Berkeley:
University of California Press.
Laughey, Dan (2006) Music and youth culture, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
Longhurst, Brian & Bogdanović, Danijela (2014) Popular music & society, Cambridge:
Polity Press.
Machin, David (2010) Analysing popular music: image, sound and text, London: Sage.
Owsinski, Bobby (2017) Bobby Owsinski's social media promotion for musicians : the
manual for marketing yourself, your band, and your music online (2nd Edition), Burbank,
CA : BOMG Publishing
Passman, Donald S. (2019) All you need to know about the music business (10th
Edition), New York: Simon & Schuster.
Shuker, Roy (2016) Understanding popular music culture, London: Routledge.
Storey, John (2003) Inventing popular culture: from folklore to globalization, Oxford MA:
Wall, Tim (2013) Studying Popular Music Culture, London: Arnold.
Whiteley, Sheila (1997) Sexing the groove: popular music and gender, London:
Whiteley, Sheila (2000) Women and popular music: sexuality, identity, and subjectivity,
London: Routledge.
Wikström, Patrik (2020)  The music industry: music in the cloud, Malden MA: Polity.