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MUI1006 Musical Contexts: Popular Music

Semester 2, 2022 Online
Units : 1
Faculty or Section : Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts
School or Department : School of Creative Arts
Student contribution band : 2021 Grandfather Funding Cl 2
Grading basis : Graded
Version produced : 30 June 2022


Examiner: Helen Russell


Enrolment is not permitted in MUI1006 if MUI2006 has been previously completed.


Creative artists working within the contemporary popular music industry benefit from an understanding of the historical context in which their work is situated. Critical, scholarly reflection on, and analysis of popular music are therefore important skills for musicians. As increasing emphasis is placed on popular music in school syllabi, this course will allow students to continue their secondary studies in popular music to the tertiary level and, in turn, provide input to potential private and classroom music teachers. This course is also designed for students interested in music as recreation or wishing to cultivate cross-disciplinary interests.

With a focus on key musical works and trends from throughout the twentieth century, this course will provide an overview of the musical development, principal styles, and the social and cultural contexts of contemporary Western popular music including Australian popular music and Indigenous popular music. Students will explore, through discussion and research, the societal, technological and musicological aspects of popular music in order to better know the context of the music that they will play and listen to throughout their musical careers.

Course learning outcomes

On successful completion of this course students should be able to:

  1. Outline the historical development of Western popular music from 1950 to the present;
  2. Research, reproduce, and critically evaluate different Western popular music styles;
  3. Apply analytical skills to identify and interpret musical elements of important songs and styles;
  4. Evaluate the social, cultural, technological and ethical issues in popular music;
  5. Interpret music in a way that can be developed into further music scholarship, criticism and music journalism.


Description Weighting(%)
1. Introduction: An overview of major trends in Rock music from 1950s to the present
2. The roots of Rock and the musical characteristics of early Rock. Its manifestations and proponents in Australia
3. Societal influences and effects of rock & roll
4. An overview of developments of the ‘60s, ‘70s,’ 80s & ‘90s
5. The Australian pop and rock story
6. Pop and rock musicians’ influence, musical activism
7. Technological changes and their influence
8. The rise of ‘World Music’ and Indigenous contemporary music in Australia 10.00

Text and materials required to be purchased or accessed

Covach, J 2015, What's that sound?, Fifth edn, WW Norton, New York.

Student workload expectations

To do well in this subject, students are expected to commit approximately 10 hours per week including class contact hours, independent study, and all assessment tasks. If you are undertaking additional activities, which may include placements and residential schools, the weekly workload hours may vary.

Assessment details

Approach Type Description Group
Weighting (%) Course learning outcomes
Assignments Written Online forums A1 of 2 No 8 1,2,4,5
Assignments Written Online forums A2 of 2 No 12 1,2,4,5
Assignments Written Essay No 40 1,2,3,4,5
Examinations Non-invigilated Time limited online examinatn No 40 1,3,4,5
Date printed 30 June 2022