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2020/21 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

MUSS1811 Popular Music and the Press: Analysing the Rock Media

10 creditsClass Size: 60

Module manager: Dr Stan Erraught

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2020/21

This module is approved as a discovery module

Module summary

Popular music magazines have played a key role in the emergence of rock and pop styles since the mid-1950s. These publications have reported and reflected musical trends from Elvis Presley to Eminem, the Beatles to Lady Gaga. But they have become more than mere mirrors to pop culture: they have also helped to shape the way music is heard and the way music is consumed. This module aims to unravel some of the mythologies of the pop press. It will consider the relationship between the print media and the industry, the role of the writer and critic as 'gatekeeper', the long running struggle between the inkies and the glossies and the manner in which, in recent years, the mainstream press has taken an increasing interest in pop and rock matters. It will also consider how digital outlets have brought changes to this field of activity. The discovery module will provide a historical overview of the development of pop magazines, with particular focus on the UK, a survey of some of the key writers to have made their mark in this field and a number of case studies to evaluate the function that publications, from New Musical Express to Top of the Pops magazine, Kerrang! to Mixmag, perform in this complex marketplace. Assessment is by coursework (a 500 word interim report) with an essay of 2,000 words at the end of the module.


On completion of this module, students should be able to:

- demonstrate an understanding of the structure of the popular music print media in the UK and have a basic understanding of the US scene;
- demonstrate an understanding of the history of the pop/rock magazine since the 1950s;
- show an appreciation of the different ways in which writers and journalists in this sector express their critical views;
- reveal insights into the relationship between the music industry and the media publications that report and review its products;
- show an understanding of how popular music in print and the digital media share a relationship.


The course will begin by considering the content and meanings of the popular music press: what do magazines cover and how do they express their ideas? Through this process of dissection, we will work towards a style and content analysis and consider the ideological functions of this kind of publication. What social, cultural and even political messages can we recognise beyond the headlines and images? To follow, the module will feature a historical survey of the UK pop and rock press from the 1920s to the present day.The module will also provide an introduction to digital media coverage of popular music and consider how that shares a relationship with the print sector. Towards the course's conclusion we will home in on the role of journalists in reporting this area of activity and explore the notion of the critic as 'gatekeeper'. How far is rock writing concerned with issues of the artistic and aesthetic and how far does it have to toe the line of the corporate industry?

Teaching methods

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours89.00
Total Contact hours11.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)100.00

Private study

- Reading for lectures: 40 hours
- Preparing interim report: 12 hours
- Productin final essay: 37 hours

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

1 x 500 word report mid term

Methods of assessment

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay2000 words80.00
Report500 words20.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 10/08/2020 08:43:06


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