Undergraduate course

Popular Music Studies

  • ECTS credits15
  • Teaching semesterAutumn
  • Course codeMUV280
  • Number of semesters1
  • LanguageEnglish
  • Resources

Level of Study


Teaching semester


Place of Instruction


Objectives and Content

The course aims to give a broad basis for the study of popular music. The course gives an introduction to central approaches in popular music studies. The course takes as a point of departure theoretical perspectives from both the social sciences and the humanities. Specific topics to be explored and discussed include the music industry; readings of popular music texts in relation to race, class, age and gender; music video and popular music in film; ethnographic and historical approaches; world music and world beat; and issues related to globalization.

Learning Outcomes

On completion of the course the student should have the following learning outcomes defined in terms of knowledge, skills and general competence:

  • knowledge of the relationships between popular musics, mass media, and related technologies and industries
  • competence to productively discuss how cultural and historical conditions are implicated in the development and performance of popular music genres and styles
  • competence to assess the ways in which audiences, fans, and communities contribute to the formation of popular musics
  • competence to evalute specific styles and genres of popular musics in relation to current acadmic debates and paradigms (including for example, gender and sexuality, authenticity, and globalization)
  • skills to assess how processes of representation and reception contribute to the creation and mediation of meaning in popular music texts
  • skills to analyze multimedia popular music texts in terms of their structural and stylistic attributes, as well as their relationships to cultural, historical and technological contexts

Required Previous Knowledge

The course is open for students with 60 study points (ECTS credits) in subjects within the humanities and/or social sciences.

Teaching Methods and Extent of Organized Teaching

Teaching takes place in the form of lectures. There is also an obligatory seminar for presentation of the term paper.

Compulsory Assignments and Attendance

Attendance at lectures and seminars.

The students will present their drafts of their term papers orally in seminar form.

All instruction is obligatory. Absence of more than 20% leads to loss of right to take the exam. All mandatory instruction must be completed and approved of before the exam. Approved obligatory activities are valid for 2 semesters after they are completed.

Forms of Assessment

Term paper of ca. 5000-6000 words. This paper will be either a reading (analysis/interpretation) of a specific musical text, or a discussion of a research question in which the task is to set the music within a specific cultural, social or historical context. The term paper can be written in Norwegian or English.

Internal evaluation with at least two examiners.

Grading Scale

Letter grade from A to F.

Subject Overlap


Reading List

Reading list of approximately 1200 pages, of which some (1000 pages) will be core readings, and the rest (200 pages) supporting literature. The students will themselves, in consultation with the instructors, choose texts to use as supporting literature.

Course Evaluation

The teaching will be evaluated in accordance with the University of Bergen's quality assurance system.


Contact Information

Griegakademiet - Institutt for musikk. Email: studieveileder@kmd.uib.no

Exam information

  • Type of assessment: Semester paper

    Examination system
    Digital exam