Music in World Cultures

Undergraduate course

Course description

Objectives and Content

This course presents a survey of music in selected cultures of the world, drawing from areas including Native America, Africa, India, Indonesia, Japan, the Middle East, and Latin America. The course will also present an overview of research methods in ethnomusicology, which the students will apply in their own individual fieldwork research projects. The course should be of interest to students in music and other students in the humanities.

Learning Outcomes

On completion of the course the student should have the following learning outcomes:


The student...

  • can recognize and place specific musical traditions within their cultural, geographical, historical and stylistic contexts.
  • has an understanding of ethnomusicology as a field of academic study.


The student...

  • can apply ethnomusicological concepts and methods to the study of music in their own society.
  • can critically assess pieces of ethnomusicological research in the form of books and articles.

General competence

The student...

  • can reflect on the place of music in social and cultural phenomena such as religion, ritual, collective memory, and identity.
  • can reflect on the global circulation of musical pieces and styles.

ECTS Credits

15 stp

Level of Study


Semester of Instruction

Required Previous Knowledge
Recommended Previous Knowledge
Basic knowledge of music theory, but this does not need to be formally documented.
Access to the Course
The course is open for all students at the University of Bergen.
Teaching and learning methods
One semester of lectures including listening examples.
Compulsory Assignments and Attendance
  • Attendance at lectures.
  • Students will carry out and report on, in both written and oral form, a fieldwork project on a local musical culture.

All mandatory instruction must be completed and approved of before the exam. All instruction is compulsory. Absence of more than 20% leads to loss of right to take the exam.

Forms of Assessment

Grading of assignment portfolio. The student will turn in 2 assignments totalling 4000-6000 words (12-15 pages, one and one-half line spaced):

  • One assignment is a book review (1700-2000 words, 4-5 pages at one and one half spacing), worth 25% of the total grade.
  • The other assignment is a report (3200-4000 words, 7-10 pages at one and one-half spacing) on a fieldwork project the student will carry out, worth 75% of the total grade.

Internal evaluation with at least two examiners. Both assignments must be completed with a passing grade.

Grading Scale
Letter grade from A to F.
Assessment Semester
Reading List
The literature list will be available by 01.06. for the Autumn semester and 01.12. for the Spring semester.
Course Evaluation
The course will be evaluated in accordance with the quality assurance system of the University of Bergen.
Programme Committee
The Program Board is responsible for the academic content and structure of the study program, and for the quality of all the subjects therein.
Course Administrator
The Grieg Academy - Department of Music at the Faculty of Fine Art, Music and Design has the administrative responsibility for the course and the study programme.