Popular Music Studies

Undergraduate course

Course description

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 globalization.

Learning Outcomes

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


The student...

  • Has knowledge of the relationships between popular musics, mass media, and related technologies and industries.


The student...

  • Can assess how processes of representation and reception contribute to the creation and mediation of meaning in popular music texts.
  • Can analyze multimedia popular music texts in terms of their structural and stylistic attributes, as well as their relationships to cultural, historical and technological contexts.

General competence

The student...

  • Can identify and make use of relevant academic literature in independent research on popular music.
  • Can productively discuss how cultural and historical conditions are implicated in the development and performance of popular music genres and styles.
  • Can assess the ways in which audiences, fans, and communities contribute to the formation of popular musics.
  • Can evaluate specific styles and genres of popular musics in relation to current academic debates and paradigms (including for example, gender and sexuality, authenticity, and globalization).

ECTS Credits

15 stp

Level of Study


Semester of Instruction

Required Previous Knowledge
Access to the Course
The course is open for students with 60 study points (ECTS credits) in subjects within the humanities and/or social sciences.
Teaching and learning methods
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.
  • One mid-semester group presentation on a course-related topic.
  • 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. 4500-5500 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.
    Reading List
    The literature list will be available by 01.07. 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.