Module and Programme Catalogue

Search site

Find information on

2024/25 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

MUS1131 Talking About Pop Music: Discourse and Debates in Popular Music

20 creditsClass Size: 50

Module manager: Dr Ross Cole

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan), Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2024/25

Module replaces

MUSS1825 Talking about Pop Music

This module is approved as a discovery module

Module summary

Popular music is talked and written about in many different registers. From fan forums to mass market print and online journalism and academic journals, overlapping and conflicting discourses concerning the value of particular music are aired, with little enough agreement on terms or criteria. This module will not aim to construct a global aesthetic for popular music: instead, it will unpick the assumptions that ground the ways in which it is discussed across the spectrum.


This module introduces students to a range of critical resources within popular music culture. It equips them to understand the assumptions that inform debate about popular music styles, and the criteria that underpin judgements of taste within the field. Reading examples of criticism from the informal (fan forums, social media) to the more formal (academic articles and books), students will learn to write critical pieces of their own and to critique each other’s work with a confident grasp of what is at stake when we talk and write about popular music.

Learning outcomes
On successful completion of the module students will have demonstrated the following learning outcomes relevant to the subject:

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

1. Make connections between the history and development of popular music criticism, its relation to the music industry more generally, and where and how it both constructs and reflects discourses around race, gender, and class.

2. Understand the background to their own taste and judgements about popular music.

3. Identify the distinctive critical languages that have formed around different popular genres, how these translate across genre, and how they address canonicity and marginalisation.

4. Discuss how popular music discourse informs wider debates about culture and politics.

Skills Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of the module students will have demonstrated the following skills learning outcomes:

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

5. Communicate creatively to a broad audience

6. Locate, validate and reference relevant scholarly work


Topics covered may include:

•The history of writing about popular music in both the commercial press and within academia.

•The promotion of ‘authenticity’ (or ‘keeping it real’) as a positive value within various popular music fields.

•The influence of race, gender and class on the way in which particular forms of popular music are understood and reflected.

•How genre distinctions are constructed and reflected in writing about popular music.

•How technological shifts in the means of production and reproduction of music have been reflected in the ways in which music is written about.

•How the shift from print to digital has changed the form and content of music journalism.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours180.00
Total Contact hours20.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

In-class plenary feedback on the blog posts will be given in seminars.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay1800-2200 words70.00
Written WorkThree blog posts of 150-200 words30.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Assignment 1 – the blog posts – will be available for resit as an alternative short critical piece of writing.

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 21/05/2024


Browse Other Catalogues

Errors, omissions, failed links etc should be notified to the Catalogue Team.PROD

© Copyright Leeds 2019